9 Things to Do with Your Kids This Fall in Columbus

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Fall is such a fun time in Central Ohio! Here are 9 things you can only do during the Fall in Columbus and Central Ohio!

What Are Some of the Best Things to do with Kids During the Fall in Columbus?

Here are 9 things we enjoy doing as a family during the fall!

1. Attend a Skull Session at St. John Arena

My kids love instruments and any kind of band, so we were excited, though a little nervous, about taking them to a Skull Session at OSU! It’s a great way to get caught up in the football spirit, even if you don’t have tickets to the game!

A Skull Session is basically a pep rally where the marching band plays, the players come out and the coach gives a little speech . . . it’s very high energy and really a lot of fun!

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I’d recommend either parking on West Campus (parking is $20!) and taking a shuttle or parking in a neighborhood along the Olentangy bike path and walking up the path to St. John Arena.

The Skull session happens 2 hours and 20 minutes before each game and lasts an hour. When it’s over, you can mull around amongst the tailgaters, pick up some free samples (1/4 of a Sugardale hot dog, anyone?) and enjoy the energy of game day.

We were nervous because we weren’t sure what would happen to our strollers when we got there! We were able to take our strollers (yes, we had two) into the arena, but we left them outside the gymnasium, along the outer wall. It was a risk, but no one decided to walk off with a stroller on game day. Phew! I don’t know where else you could put your stroller, as the seating in the gymnasium is very tight. It worked out for us and we were really glad we did it!

You can see the schedule of OSU games here! Friends recommended arriving 20-25 minutes early to get good seats, and I will pass that advice on to you. We got there around 9:20 AM for the 9:40 AM Skull Session and were able to get good seats facing the band.

2. Visit a Pumpkin Patch

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There are so many pumpkin patch options, it’s kind of amazing! Every weekend in October is filled with Fall Festivals – honestly, I had no idea before I started this blog how many there are! Make sure to visit my post, Central Ohio Pumpkin Patches and Fall Festivals for a complete list!

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We recently visited Jaquemin Farms on a Monday! This one is great, in my opinion, because it is open during the week and for only $2 kids ages 3-10 can play in the corn box and run through the straw maze! Kids 2 and under are free! During the weekends, they have bouncy houses and the price is a bit higher. So if you have preschoolers at home during the week, this is a great way to spend an inexpensive morning at a pumpkin patch! Other weekday options include Circle S Farms, evenings at Lehner’s Pumpkin Farm.

If you want the BIG pumpkin farm experience complete with kettle corn, a zip line, a huge pumpkin trampoline, mazes, corn bins, pedal carts and more, make sure to check out 15 Things to Do at Leeds Farm!

Another place we love to go is Smith’s Farm Market! The picture below is a few years old, but they always have a large selection of pumpkins and picturesque settings for fun pictures with pumpkins!

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3. Go Apple Picking

I’ve shared about our visit to Orchard and Company, and Branstool Orchards, and here’s a list of more apple picking ideas from Columbus Moms Blog! It’s getting late in the season, but there are still apples to be picked at many farms and a lot of them have farm festival weekends as well! If you’re looking for some options during the week (as opposed to the weekend), a few farms are open on select Fridays: Lynd Fruit Farm, and Cherry Hawk Farm, to name a few.

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4. Attend Boo at the Zoo at Columbus Zoo

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Boo at the Zoo happens for two weekends in October, the 19th – 21st, and the 26th – 28th, 2018. Dress your kids (or yourself!) in costume and visit a lot of vendors in different areas of the zoo who want to fill your kid’s basket with candy! It’s also totally acceptable to take your baby in a cute pumpkin costume in a stroller and accept candy on his or her behalf! 😉

5. Take a Road Trip

I shared 6 Ohio Road Trips to Take This Fall here, one of them being the Fall Festival at The Farm at Walnut Creek. Even if you can’t make it for the festival, a drive to Amish Country will be beautiful when the leaves (finally!) start to change!

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More fun road trip ideas include:

Fall is my favorite time of year for a road trip!

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6. Visit a Metro Park

Once the leaves start to change, there are some great options for leaf viewing in our local Metro Parks! A great one is Battelle Darby! There are walking paths through the woods and also bison viewing! While you’re there, check out the living stream in the Nature Center!

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Inniswood Metro Park is also beautiful in the fall. Seriously, check out this picture I took during the fall (below)! It felt like a fairy tale! It was amazing!

7. Visit a City Park

Don’t underestimate your local city park for fall beauty. Here is a list of all the Columbus City ParksFranklin Park is particularly beautiful in the fall! Keep an eye out for the Harvest Parties at Columbus Rec Centers. You don’t have to go far to celebrate! 🙂

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8. See Model Railroads at COSI

Mark your calendars for Model Railroad Days at COSI (2018 dates yet to be announced!) My kids LOVE this special couple of days when several model railroad clubs take over a few galleries at COSI. There are a lot of model trains to see and also trains to play with! It only comes once a year, but it’s one of those things my oldest son always asks about!

model railroad days at COSI

9. Visit the Huntington Holiday Train at Main Library

This is something I consider a Christmas tradition for our family, but it does arrive before Thanksgiving, so technically, it’s a fall activity, right? 😉  In mid November, the train will be installed at the New Main Library! It’s really beautiful, and if you have train lovers, like I do, it’s something you have to see!

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What else would you add to the list of “can’t miss” fall activities in Columbus?

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ICYMI: Fun for the Whole Family at EnterTRAINment Junction

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9 things to do with your kids this fall in Columbus, Ohio


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6 Central Ohio Metro Park Playgrounds

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All of these playgrounds are part of the Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks System! I have a personal goal of visiting all of the Metro Parks. We’re not there yet, but we’ll get there! You can visit this list of all the parks to see all of the details of what each park has to offer, what hours they are open and more. This link is one I check often to see what programs are coming up for kids – there are so many!

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 6 Metro Parks that have playgrounds. Put these on your playground bucket list! (You have one of those right? or is that just me? 😉 )

1. Scioto Grove

5172 Jackson Pike, Grove City, OH 43123

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.

2. Scioto Audubon

400 W. Whittier Street, Columbus, OH 43215

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. See 9 Things to do with Your Kids at Scioto Audubon!

3. Battelle Darby Creek

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

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 is the 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!

4. Rocky Fork

7180 E. Walnut Street, Westerville, OH 43081

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.

5. Blendon Woods

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

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. See Exploring Blendon Woods Metro Park!

6. Homestead

Homestead Metro Park, 4675 Cosgray Road, Hilliard, OH

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 there, so check the link for upcoming programs!

Do you have a favorite Metro Park playground?

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ICYMI: 5 on Friday: Unique Ice Cream Spots


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10 Things to do at Olentangy Indian Caverns

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Olentangy Indian Caverns hosted my family for a day of fun in mid-July! We had a blast! I’m sharing about all the things they have to offer in this post and combining it with a giveaway for a family 4 pack of tickets so one reader’s family can do all of these fun things for free! (See my Facebook page for the giveaway!)

If you have never been to Olentangy Indian Caverns (like me!) I think you will be surprised at all there is to do. The great part about it is that it’s not a package deal – your family can pick any one of these things to do on the property to customize your day according to your time and budget!

Here are 10 things you can do at Olentangy Indian Caverns:

1. Cavern Tour

Obviously, the first thing you’re going to think of is the Cavern tour. The caverns are naturally made tunnels and caves that were, at one time, used by Native Americans for hiding, meetings, shelter, etc. You can do a self-guided tour of the caverns or join in on a group tour with a live guide. Our guide was great, giving us the history, telling us stories and answering all of our questions! Cavern tours are $9.95 for those 13 years old and up and $6.95 for children age 3-12. Ages 2 and under are free.

Finding a fossil!

There are a lot of steps to go up and down and the caverns are often wet. We had to hop over and through a couple of puddles on our journey. I was glad I had chosen to wear closed toed shoes for that reason. So keep your family’s footwear in mind when planning for the trip as things may be wet and/or slippery.

The youngest child on our tour was just under two and she had a great time, but if you have a non-walker I would recommend an on-body baby carrier of some sort. You can’t take a stroller in and I couldn’t imagine carrying an infant car seat, but many of you might be stronger than me . . . 😉

2. Museum

The entrance to the caverns is housed in a small museum where you can read about the history of the caverns and some of the famous and infamous things that happened there, and see the bones of an ox that fell down to its untimely death around 1818 (or 1821, depending on the story!). There are also arrowheads and lots of other artifacts related to the caverns.

3. Mini Golf

The option of mini-golf is available on the property. There are 18 holes and the cost is just $3/person.

4. Gem Mining

After our cavern tour, we did some gem mining! This was another first for our boys and I was honestly surprised how much they loved this! (Though when I think about it, the act of digging through dirt, stones and water to find treasure sounds exactly like their idea of a good time! 😉 ) A bag of sand/stones/gems is provided and you use a strainer of sorts and a small stream of water to sift through the sand to find gemstones! There is a range of bag sizes available and prices range from $5.99 – $9.99/bag.

5. Petting Zoo

There is a rather large petting zoo area on the property! There are goats, cows, sheep and even deer who will happily eat out of your hand! If your kids are skittish (like mine) there is a fenced in area where the kids can stand inside and feed the animals from behind the fence. After some shrieks, we started out here and then eventually ventured into the large open area. My kids were scared of the cows but loved the smaller goats. The deer were gentle and sweet. This could definitely be unique a stand-alone activity! The cost for a wristband to enter the petting zoo is $3 and a small bag of food can be purchased for $1, a large bag for $3.

6. Spot More Animals

There are also rabbits and chickens on the farm. They are not for petting, but still fun to spot! The chickens roam around freely so they are fun to watch! The rabbits are in a fenced-in area.

7. Yard Games

On a busy day, you may have to wait for a guided tour slot. While you wait, there are tons of yard games to play on the property! Cornhole, tic tac toe, jenga, frisbees, checkers, etc. There is also a climbing wall and a playground with a fun twisty slide my boys enjoyed!

8. Picnic Area

On the grounds there is a pavilion with picnic tables and covered areas. You can bring your own food here for a picnic lunch or reserve the shelter for a group event!

9. Gift Shop

Pick up souvenirs (and all your activity tickets) at the Gift Shop! There was a surprisingly large amount of merchandise from toys and t-shirts to souvenirs and jewelry!

10. Birthday Parties/Group Events

You can also have a birthday party or other group event here! The shelters are available for rental and for groups of 25 or more you can receive a discount on the price of the activities. See info here!

Know Before You Go:

  • 1779 Home Rd. Delaware, OH 43015, 740-548-7917
  • The Caverns are open from April 1st – October 31st, every day from 9:30 AM – 6:00 PM.
  • Guided tours are only available June 1 – August 6 from 11:00 AM – 4:00 PM. You may do a self-guided tour during the other times.

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ICYMI: 4 Nature Themed Story Times Around Columbus


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