3 Places I Love to Take My Kids in Columbus: Kathleen Murray

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Each month I will be featuring a local parent who will tell us about three places they love to take their kids in Columbus!

Thanks to Kathleen for sharing 3 of her favorites with us this month!

1. Homestead Park

We LOVE being outside and because my son is very active, this park is perfect for him!  There are so many different areas so he never gets bored.  He especially loves the fun tunnels that connect the different areas!  Plus, it has plenty of shade and picnic tables, and access to the Rails to Trails bike path that we enjoy running on.


2. Hilliard’s Station Park Splash Pad

The Hilliard splash pad is a great spot to cool off on a hot summer day!  It’s right off Main Street in Old Hilliard (and bonus, right across the street from Coffee Connections!) but it’s sunken down a bit which gives it a much more private feel.  The whole space isn’t huge or overwhelming and there’s plenty of spots to sit and watch your little one play!  We always pack a picnic because it tends to be less crowded during lunch! 


3. Frank’s Park/Little Ice Cream Shoppe

Another outdoor option (can you tell we like to be outside??)!  Frank’s Park is a little playground tucked in-between neighborhoods in Hilliard!  It’s not a huge park, but has a nice pond and picnic tables, plus lots of space to play soccer!  There’s also a great path that circles the whole park.  Another huge perk is that you can walk over to the Little Ice Cream Shoppe to grab a sweet treat!


Kathleen Murray is a health and fitness blogger at Just Keep it Simple Fitness.  She is an ACE certified personal trainer and enjoys teaching others that leading a healthy life does not need to be fancy, complicated, expensive, or time consuming.  Her background in soccer and her young son motivate her to stay active every day!  Apart from blogging, she works part time as a chemical engineer and enjoys going on runs with her family.  You can follow her simple fitness tips on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.

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ICYMI:  7 Ways to Give Back in Columbus By Doing Things You Already Do

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New and Improved Ten Pin Alley Provides Family Friendly Fun in Hilliard

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Ten Pin Alley has been newly renovated to provide a super fun, family-friendly night out in Hilliard!

My husband and I attended the Grand Opening VIP Party at the newly expanded and remodeled Ten Pin Alley in Hilliard earlier this month, and later in the month, Ten Pin Alley hosted my family, and a few other local bloggers’ families, for a night of family fun!

Hilliard Ohio

I think we can all agree that the indoor smoking ban has much improved the bowling alley experience for everyone involved! Bowling alleys are seeing a resurgence that offers activities for the whole family to enjoy together!

Picture of family at bowling alley

I had never been to Ten Pin Alley before its renovation, but I have been told by others that it is much improved! Some of the changes include 8 additional bowling lanes, a 2-story laser tag arena, a new patio and bar, 2 bocce courts and an arcade!

bowling alley in Hilliard Ohio

Having had two very different Ten Pin Alley experiences – one as a date night, and one with kids in tow – I am actually torn between which experience I enjoyed more! Which, I guess, is a good sign that you can’t go wrong doing either!

couple at Ten Pin Alley

Here are all the fun things you can do at Ten Pin Alley:

1. Bowl

Let’s start with the obvious. There is a larger bowling alley with 16 lanes, and a smaller, private area with 8 lanes called The Brooklyn Side, which features its own bar and restrooms. Kids can bowl with ramps and bumpers!

Kids bowling at Ten Pin Alley

Bowling with a 6 and 3 year old pretty much requires putting any competitiveness on the back burner. It’s more of an exercise in letting go – literally and figuratively. My kids, however, had a blast!

Ten Pin Alley, Hilliard, Ohio

kid bowling at Ten Pin Alley

2. Eat

Whether you decide to eat pizza while bowling or eat a meal in the full restaurant, there are tons of options for dining!

food at Ten Pin Alley

There is a kid’s menu which includes a choice of a main dish (cheeseburger, pizza, chicken tenders or grilled cheese) plus a side (fries or celery and peanut butter) plus a drink for $6. (Add on Vanilla ice cream for $1!)

The huge main menu includes loads of appetizers, salads, pizzas, sandwiches, burgers and dessert! The drink menu is extensive, too, and includes local beers.

pizza at Ten Pin Alley

Happy Hour, which is Monday through Friday from 4:00 PM – 7:00 PM includes $2 off appetizers, $2 off all bar selections, 1/2 off one topping 10 inch pizzas and for the kids, $5 for one round of laser tag and double game play!

kid eating pizza at Ten Pin Alley

3. Laser Tag

laser tag arena at Ten Pin Alley

The new laser tag arena, called Steampunk H2O, simulates an underwater world with giant sea creatures and glow in the dark sea creatures!

Laser tag arena at Ten Pin Alley

There are no age regulations to play, but each child must be able to wear the vest. My 3 year old got scared and didn’t finish the game, but my 6 year old, who started out scared, ended up loving it!

Monday through Thursday and Friday before 5:00 PM, you can play one game of laser tag for $5, 2 games for $8 and 3 Games for $11.

4. Arcade

arcade at Ten Pin Alley

My kids were HUGE fans of the arcade! The arcade uses a card system and the cards can be taken home and brought back to continue to rack up tickets to win whatever prize your child covets! (Or they can be like mine and turn them in immediately for 14 pieces of individually wrapped candy and plastic fangs.) 😉

arcade at Ten Pin Alley

kid at arcade at Ten Pin Alley

I will say my husband and I had a pretty good time doing the arcade just the two of us. I highly recommend challenging your spouse to a high stakes game of Pac Man whenever you get the chance.

man at arcade at Ten Pin Alley

5. Birthday Parties

Bowling Alley in Hilliard, Ohio

The space is available for parties and social events, including kids birthday parties! You can see all the packages available for birthday parties here.

6. Daily Specials

Bowling Sign at Ten Pin Alley

Aside from Happy Hour, each day has its own theme in terms of discounts and deals! You can see all of the daily specials here, but a few of the family friendly highlights include Kids Eat Free on Wednesdays: A free kids meal and $5 game card with an adult entree purchase and the Sunday Family Fun Pack: 1 hour of bowling, 4 pairs of shoes, 1 large 1 topping pizza and 4 sodas for $49.99.

7. Give Back

Bowling Alley in Hilliard, Ohio

Ten Pin Alley has instituted Heart & Bowl, a way to give back to local non-profit organizations! For all of 2018, 2% of all sales will be given to Hilliard Food Pantry, Action for Children and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Ohio! You can see all of the information about Heart & Bowl here.

My kids are already asking to go back to Ten Pin Alley! I’m anticipating hitting up a Kids Eat Free night sometime in the very near future! See you there!

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indoor play area in Columbus, Ohio

ICYMI: 6 Free or Cheap Indoor Places for Kids to Run Wild in Columbus

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Ten Pin Alley in Hilliard Ohio

 

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9 Central Ohio Metro Park Playgrounds

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We love exploring the playgrounds in the Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks System! Combining a nature experience, be it a hike or looking for creatures in the woods, with time on a playground makes a perfect outing for my kids!

The Metro Parks offer so many free opportunities to learn about and explore nature even though we live in an urban area. I am constantly surprised every time I visit one of our Metro Parks. I always seem to say, “I can’t believe this is here!” You hike down a path and come into some kind of clearing or lake that just takes you by surprise and there is no sign of the city to be seen!

Despite all those opportunities to get up close with nature, sometimes it also just helps to have a playground as part of the experience! 🙂 Not all of the Metro Parks have playgrounds and some of them have more than one! Here are 9 Metro Parks that have fun playgrounds for kids!

9 Playgrounds within the Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks:

1. Scioto Grove Metro Park 

  • 5172 Jackson Pike, Grove City, OH 43123

Scioto Grove Metro Park Playground Slide

Scioto Grove Metro Park Playground rope climbing

Scioto Grove is the newest Metro Park in our area. This playground is really unique – it’s made nearly entirely out of rope!  This is NOT a toddler friendly playground, though, so use caution! This playground is in the Arrowhead Picnic Area. Parking and restrooms are close by.

Swingset at Scioto Grove Metro Park Playground

scioto grove metro park playground

2. Scioto Audubon Metro Park

  • 400 W. Whittier Street, Columbus, OH 43215

scioto audubon metro park playground

playground at scioto audubon metro park

The Scioto Audubon playground is in the Central Activities Area near the rock climbing wall and a water tower where you can climb to two observation decks. There are three play structures here and a shaded picnic area. Bathrooms are quite a distance away, in the Nature Center.

Play first and then plan to head up to the Nature Center where there is an outdoor sandbox, an indoor play area and aquatic animals to visit.

playground at scioto audubon metro park

rock climbing wall at scioto audubon metro park

3. Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

  • Cedar Ridge Area, 1775 Darby Creek Drive Galloway, OH 43119

playground at battelle darby creek metro park

Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park has a couple of playground areas. This particular playground is in the Cedar Ridge Picnic Area. Parking and restrooms are very close. This playground has two structures: one for over 5 and one for under. There are picnic tables and pavilions close by.

Battelle Darby Creek is the Metro Park with the bison! It is possible to walk from the playground to see the bison, but it is probably around a half a mile, give or take. Definitely check out the Nature Center to see the living stream exhibit!

Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park Play area

battelle darby creek metro park playground

4. Rocky Fork Metro Park

  • 7180 E. Walnut Street, Westerville, OH 43081

rocky fork metro park playground

rocky fork metro park playground

Rocky Fork has another unique play area. It is a mostly wooden structure with steps, a bridge and slide. There is also a balance beam and some climbing opportunities! Nearby is a wildlife viewing area and picnic pavilion. Restrooms are close by as well.

rocky fork metro park playground

rocky fork metro park playground and picnic area

5. Blendon Woods Metro Park

  • 4265 E. Dublin Granville Rd., Westerville, OH 43081

blendon woods metro park playground area

Blendon Woods is another Metro Park with more than one play area. This particular play ground is in the Cherry Ridge Area near the Natural Play Area. My kids loved crawling through the wire tunnels here. Blendon Woods Nature Center has a great bird-viewing area and some hands on activities.

blendon woods metro park play ground

6. Homestead Metro Park

  • Homestead Metro Park, 4675 Cosgray Road, Hilliard, OH

homestead metro park play ground

homestead metro park play ground area

When it comes to playgrounds, I think Homestead wins the prize, hands down! It has a huge playground area! Not only is there a large play area, there is a train to climb onto, a train station replica called Bradley Station and a separate accessible playground with a train theme called Web Junktion. Train lovers rejoice!

There is a Nature Center at Homestead but the hours it is open vary based on ranger availability. Inside the Nature Center there are box turtles to visit! They do occasionally offer programs for toddlers here as well!

homestead metro park willard ohio playground area

homestead metro park playground train area

homestead metro park all abilities playground

7. Glacier Ridge Metro Park

  • 9801 Hyland-Croy Rd, Plain City, OH 43064

This new play structure was built in 2018 and is perfect for the wannabe Ninja Warrior! With a mini zip-line, climbing walls and a rope hammock, this playground is incredibly unique in the Central Ohio area!

glacier ridge metro park playground
glacier ridge metro park ninja warrior course

If you’re looking for a great Metro Park to explore, I found this one to be gorgeous! There is also a shelter with picnic tables and also information about the wildlife in the surrounding area. Also, don’t miss the watch tower where you can climb to the top to watch for birds and other creatures!

glacier ridge metro park play structure

There is also a more “traditional” playground in the same general area as well as an obstacle course!

glacier ridge metro park playground

glacier ridge metro park playground

8. Walnut Woods Metro Park

  • 6723 Lithopolis Rd, Groveport, OH 43125

walnut woods metro park playground

I love the playground at Walnut Woods Metro Park for the natural feel it has. It’s a small playground, but it’s unique!

boys rope climbing at walnut woods metro park playground

Rope and rock climbing are available, swings and a merry go round! Restrooms are close by as well!

merry go round at walnut woods metro park playground

9. Slate Run Metro Park

  • 1375 St. Rte. 674 North, Canal Winchester, OH 43110 

A new playground was built in early 2019 at Buzzard’s Roost Picnic area in Slate Run Metro Park! Also within the park is the Slate Run Living Historical Farm which will take you back in time to the 1880’s! You can visit with the farmer and his wife, meet the animals in the barn!

But back to the playground! There is a fun netted structure, a tire swing, regular swings and more!

Nearby are lots of picnic tables inside and outside of a large pavilion. Public restrooms are right on site, too, so it makes a great place for a picnic and play time!

Do you have a favorite Metro Park playground?

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Amazing Metro Park Playgrounds in Columbus and Franklin County

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