The 5 Best Membership Gifts for Columbus Kids

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Memberships are the gifts that literally keep on giving – for at least one whole year! 😉 These family memberships to these amazing Columbus institutions have been life savers for my family!

This post contains affiliate links. See my disclosure.

Giving the gift of “experience” has become popular over the past decade or so. Kids pile up toys until you can’t see a clean spot on the bedroom floor! (Or is that just my house?) Giving your family or a family you love the gift of one of these Columbus Memberships is one of the best ways to give a gift of experience because they can be used up to 365 times throughout the entire year – and they don’t take up any space on the floor!

I’ll be honest though, in the moment, my kids wouldn’t be too thrilled to receive a plastic card with a bow on top! Over time, they would understand the gift of membership, for sure, but I’ve also included a small gift idea that would go with the theme of each membership in case you want a little something for the kid in your life to open on the spot!

5 Columbus Membership Gifts that give the gift of experience all year round:


1. Ohio History Connection

Ohio History Center MastodonA membership to Ohio History Connection is one of the most affordable memberships in Ohio! If you live in Columbus or Central Ohio, you’ll have year round access to Ohio History Center and Ohio Village and their many events, but you also get access to over 50 historical sites all around the state of Ohio!

There are lots of activities for kids inside the museum including a play area, mounted animals, a 1950’s house to explore, 2 cabin areas where kids can play with historical tools and household items. (Read about our visit to Ohio History Center!) During the summer, Ohio Village is a fun place to explore with your family. The village is based in the late 1800’s and you can visit shops and businesses to meet the residents and learn about their way of life.

Cost for membership: Household memberships are just $65 and apply to 2 adults and all children 18 and under. For an additional $20 you can upgrade to the Plus membership and you can bring 2 additional guests any time you visit!

If your kids are 5 and under, consider getting an Individual membership for $45. Kids 5 and under are free and with the Individual membership, you can bring an additional guest at any time.

Discounts available: Discounts are available for adults over 60, active educators, active duty military or local history organization, Ohio Farm Bureau members, and to households who relieve WIC or have an Ohio Direction Card.

Perks: Throughout the year, several fun events are held at Ohio Village (an outdoor historical village included with your admission to Ohio History Center) such as Storybook Village, All Hallow’s Eve, vintage base ball games and more! Discounts are also available to members in the gift shop!

Fun gift idea to accompany the membership: Columbus and the State of Ohio: Cool Stuff Every Kid Should Know – learn all the cool facts about Ohio, including about Ohio Village Muffins base ball!


2. Franklin Park Conservatory

Franklin Park Conservatory's Children's Garden

A year or so ago, I would have recommended this membership with a little bit of reservation. Franklin Park Conservatory is amazing, no doubt, but when it comes to kids, there was just a small part of the museum where they could really be hands on. My kids loved all parts of the museum, especially the butterflies, so we’ve always had a membership. HOWEVER, with the opening of the Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation Children’s Garden, a membership to Franklin Park Conservatory is a MUST HAVE for Central Ohio families!

The Conservatory offers activities for families on most weekends, special holiday events, special exhibits and the ever popular annual Blooms and Butterflies exhibit where you can walk amongst hundreds of butterflies! The Children’s Garden, opened in 2018, is an amazing outdoor garden with several different themed areas for kids to explore. The garden is open year round and there are special story times and events throughout the year. It’s an entire exhibit in itself!

Cost for membership: The Family membership is $125 and includes two adults and all children 18 and under. Add an additional $50 to be able to bring 2 additional guests each visit.

Discounts available: a 10% discount off of memberships is given to full time educators and active or retired military personnel. An Access Family Membership is available at a significant discount ($30) for families in eligible programs such as CareSource, Ohio Directions Card, Medicaid, WIC or Molina.

Perks: Members get a 10% discount in the cafe and gift shop! Your membership card will get you free admission to over 300 gardens throughout North America and the Cayman Islands!

Fun gift idea to accompany the membership: Butterfly Garden – kids can watch their own caterpillars become butterflies just like at Franklin Park Conservatory!


3. Center of Science and Industry (COSI)

little kidspace at COSI

COSI is a must have membership for Columbus families! COSI has something for every age and even adults are sure to have fun! Even if you have littler kids (5 and under), a membership to COSI just to play in little kidspace once a week beats the cost of any other indoor play area in town!

Toddlers and babies will start out in little kidspace, a huge play area that includes an art studio, water tables, ride on vehicles, slides and climbing and so many opportunities for imaginative play! As they grow, they will progress to the other areas of the museum including tinkering with robots, exploring the ocean, learning about their bodies and visiting the permanent dinosaur exhibit!

Cost for membership: Family memberships at COSI range from $119 – $329/year depending on how much you would like to add on! The Basic Family membership is $149 and is a great starter membership! If you’d like to regularly attend Planetarium shows or bring an add on guest, consider upgrading to the Premium Family membership! Purchase a Gift Membership here!

Discounts available: A $10 discount on memberships is given for active, reserve and retired military. There is also a discounted membership for Teacher Families and Single Adult Families. The Family Access membership is available for $49 for families participating in WIC, Ohio Directions Card or Ohio Medicaid.

Perks: Members get access to special events, early entrance to new exhibits and discounts in the gift shop and cafe! Members also get discounted parking and free or discounted admission to over 350 participating science centers.

Fun gift idea to accompany the membership: My First Mind Blowing Science Kit – get kids interested in science through hands on experiments! A perfect way to continue the learning at home!


4. LEGOLAND Discovery Center Columbus

LEGOLAND Discovery Center Columbus

LEGO lovers will be in heaven at the newest Columbus attraction! Housed in Easton Station at Easton Town Center, LEGOLAND Discovery Center Columbus offers 10+ LEGO building areas, 2 rides, a 4D movie theater and a cafe! If your kids love playing with LEGO bricks, you will get tons of use out of this membership!

An Annual Pass to LEGOLAND Columbus is one of the pricier memberships listed here, but if you live in town and think you will visit more than 3 times, it’s well worth it! An Annual Pass also gets you a discount in the huge LEGO store connected to the attraction, which will also be worth it if you’re buying any LEGO sets for your kids as gifts throughout the year!

Cost for membership: The cost of an Annual Pass is $60.00 per person when you buy 3 or more passes. Keep in mind kids 2 and under are free and you must be accompanied by a child to visit LEGOLAND Discovery Center Columbus.

Discounts available: no additional discounts are available at this time on Annual Passes.

Perks: LEGOLAND is open 365 days a year! Members get express entry, 20% off food and drinks in the Coffee Shop & Cafe and 10% off select items in the LEGO Store attached to the attraction.

Fun gift idea to accompany the membership:  Pick out a LEGO set to accompany these passes, maybe something holiday themed like LEGO Duple Town Santa’s Winter Holiday


5. Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

Polar Bear and Baby at Columbus Zoo

A membership to Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is another must-have for Columbus kids! For one thing, having a membership to the Columbus Zoo takes away the pressure to see it all in one trip! The Zoo is so big, seeing it in one day can be literally exhausting. But if you have a membership, you can visit areas at your leisure, truly enjoying them with no pressure to “get your money’s worth”.

Another major bonus is that members get to park for free! Parking is $10 a pop, so this is no small savings as you visit throughout the year! The Zoo has some great programs for kids like Zoo Camps and Little Explorers Base Camp and great seasonal events like Boo at the Zoo and Wildlights that are included in your membership.

Cost for membership: Family Memberships begin at $114 (if you’re buying online) and continue up to $144.99/person if you’d like to include membership to Zoombezi Bay! The Family Plus membership is available for $144.00 (online) which allows you to bring two guests when you visit. Prices increase if you are not a Franklin County resident.

Discounts available: Discounts are given to Franklin County residents on admission and memberships!

Perks: Membership includes FREE parking (a $10 value each time you visit), Members Only events, a discount at the Zoo Gift Shop, priority registration for programs and free or reduced admission to more than 100 AZA accredited zoos.

Fun gift idea to accompany the membership: 54 Piece Jungle Animals Set – get psyched about visiting the Heart of Africa at Columbus Zoo by playing with giraffes and lions ahead of time!


A Note About The Columbus Member Advantage:

If you buy one of these memberships listed above (except LEGOLAND), you will be eligible for the Columbus Member Advantage program!
Buy One, Get One Free admission is available through the Columbus Member Advantage program at the following participating locations. Show your membership card from any one of these participating museums and institutions to receive BOGO free tickets:
•Columbus Museum of Art
•Columbus Zoo and Aquarium
•COSI
•Ohio History Center & Ohio Village
•Wexner Center for the Arts
•Franklin Park Conservatory
The fine print: “Receive up to two free general admissions of equal or lesser value per visit when purchasing two regular-priced general admission tickets. Tickets must be purchased from the admissions area of the facility you are visiting. Cannot be combined with other discounts or offers. Not valid on prior purchases. No rain checks or refunds. Some restrictions may apply. Offer expires December 31, 2018 unless otherwise noted.” (This is usually repeated each calendar year.)

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5 Best Membership Gifts for Columbus Kids

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4 Amazing New Exhibits for Columbus Kids!

4 Amazing New Exhibits for Kids in Columbus

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Something new is always popping up for kids to do in Columbus! It’s one of the amazing things about Columbus – we never lack for something to do! It’s at least a part time job keeping up with it – I can testify to that personally! 😉

Two of these exhibits are permanent and two are temporary, so mark your calendars so you don’t miss these fun, family-friendly exhibits!

1. American Museum of Natural History Dinosaur Gallery

The new Dinosaur Gallery at COSI is a permanent exhibit that is included with admission or membership! If you have dinosaur lovers, they will be enraptured! The exhibit includes a full-size cast of Tyrannosaurs Rex, dinosaur bones, a model of an Oviraptor nest kids can actually climb on, dinosaur prints and many, many more educational displays, interactive exhibits and models! COSI is open every day, May through August, and Wednesday through Sunday beginning late September through April.

2. The Wonder Room at Columbus Museum of Art

In late October, Columbus Museum of Art unveiled a newly remodeled Wonder Room! The room was created to feel like kids are entering a large “blanket fort” in which to play and imagine! Like the previous design, there are several stations with hands-on activities for kids, but the new theme leans towards textiles, fabrics and tactile experiences. There’s felt, fashion design and weaving. You can also create spiders out of craft materials, draw, and hide out under the stars. Visiting this exhibit is included in your admission or membership to CMA.

  

3. Wizard of Oz Educational Exhibit at Easton Town Center

This temporary collaboration between Easton and Miami Children’s Museum, presented by Warner Bros. is the first licensed traveling exhibit based on the movie The Wizard of Oz. It will be housed on the 2nd floor of the Easton Station Building until March 25, 2018. Kids can create a tornado in Dorothy’s house, make their own scarecrow, see scenes from the movie, pick vegetables on the farm, try out optical illusions, climb through the the castle of the Wicked Witch of the West and take part in daily scheduled activities and crafts! Space inside the exhibit is limited so anticipate a short wait in line to get in. There are no flying monkeys or wicked witch, in case you’re concerned about scaring the kids, but there is a Wizard who lights up with a glowing red fire. This is a free exhibit!

 4. Think Outside the Brick at Columbus Museum of Art

While you’re visiting the Wonder Room at Columbus Museum of Art, be sure to check out Think Outside the Brick, a temporary, but annual, collaboration with Ohio LEGO User’s Group! This exhibit, entirely made of LEGOs includes a large display of the city of Columbus, as well as other scenes like pirates, zombies, airplanes, a park and more! On the wall of the room there is a list of items for kids to search for within the scene! Also on the first floor, check out the area for kids to make their own creations out of white LEGOs to display on shelves against a black wall. This exhibit is included with admission or membership and will be on display through March 2, 2018! The Columbus Museum of Art is free on Sundays!


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4 Amazing New Exhibits for Columbus Kids! Don't miss these amazing exhibits in Columbus Ohio! Some are temporary!

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Indoor Fun Around Columbus: 6 Things to Do Before Spring!

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Here are some indoor activities to do around Columbus before it gets warm! Though the winter has been pretty mild, I’m still counting down until park days, evening walks and no more winter coats! If you’re getting stir crazy in the house, pick one of these ideas for a fun outing with the kids!

1. Brick of Dreams

  • UPDATE: Brick of Dreams closed in the Fall of 2017
  • 6190 Shamrock Ct., Suite C, Dublin, OH 43016

Brick of Dreams is a fun way to spend an hour or two free-building with LEGO and DUPLO blocks! You pay per kid, per hour to have full access to the thousands of LEGO bricks available! Around the room are shelves full of containers filled with LEGOs, pick one out, sit at one of the many tables and go to town! There are also DUPLO blocks for the younger crowd and a race track for your creations with wheels! I took my 5 year old for an hour one morning and it flew by! Keep an eye out for the President’s Day special – $5/hour/kid. (Regular cost is $7/hour/kid).

2. Mindbender Mansion and Amazing Mazes at COSI

  • 333 W. Broad St., Columbus, OH 43215

COSI has a new exhibit going on until April 30, 2017. It’s on the second floor and it’s filled with illusions, mazes and mysteries! Kids can create their own mazes, solve mysteries, try to figure out optical illusions and wind their way through mazes themselves! (To be honest, it’s pretty fun for adults, too!) This exhibit is free with admission or membership. We were recently hosted by COSI and invited to try the new Bean Sprouts menu in the Atomic Café. The menu offers healthy options for kids (and adults!) The P-moji Pizza and Chicken Presto Chango sandwich were really good!

3. Milk and Cookie Happy Hour at Sassafras Bakery

I know, I mentioned this a few weeks ago, but cookies are always worth mentioning again, in my book! 😉 I often find the hardest hour of the day to pass is from 4:00 – 5:00 PM. So if you need a little cheer to get you through the last part of the afternoon, head to Sassafras Bakery for Milk and Cookie Happy Hour from 3:00 PM – 5:00 PM Wednesday, Thursday or Friday. You get a free glass of milk or cup of coffee with each cookie purchased. (Most cookies are $2).

4. Gramercy Books

  • 2424 E. Main St., Bexley, OH 43209

Gramercy Books is a new independent bookstore in Bexley. There is a great selection of children’s books! If your kids love books and reading, they will love it here! On the 1st and 3rd Sundays of the month, they will host Sunday Storytime for kids at 12:00 PM. Attached to the bookstore is Kittie’s, a wonderful little coffee shop and bakery! Put the two together and you have a perfect outing!

5. Coffee Connections of Hilliard

  • 4004 Main St, Hilliard, OH 43026

Coffee Connections is a coffee shop with a mission to build community. Located in Old Hilliard, the shop has two buildings. The front (on Main St.) is where the coffee is made and served and in the back building, on the second floor, there is a play area for kids! As long as you’ve got coffee in hand, this play area is free! It is geared toward the younger crowd, I’d say 5 and under, but there is a lot of space to sit and catch up with a friend while your kids play!

6. Think Outside the Brick at Columbus Museum of Art

  • 480 E. Broad St., Columbus, OH 43215

There are just a few more weeks to see Think Outside the Brick at Columbus Museum of Art.The exhibit is on display until February 26, 2017 and is included in admission or membership. Also, remember that admission is free on Sundays! Along with the large LEGO display, there are bricks for free building, and a LEGO Pokemon scavenger hunt!

If you’re looking for more fun {INDOOR} ideas, check out 20 FREE Indoor Play Areas in Columbus or my post for Columbus Moms Blog: 5 FREE Kid-Friendly Columbus Outings!

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