Franklin Park Conservatory’s Children’s Garden is Unlike Anything Else in Columbus

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The Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation Children’s Garden at Franklin Park Conservatory will be one of the top family-friendly attractions in Columbus!

Today Mayson and I got a sneak peek of the new Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation Children’s Garden at Franklin Park Conservatory! There is nothing else like this in the city! I walked away from the tour in awe!

The Children’s Garden is going to be a full-fledged attraction in itself, but it comes at no additional cost to visitors of the Franklin Park Conservatory! Access to the Children’s Garden is included with admission or membership and can only be entered through the Conservatory. On Community Days, the first Sunday of each month, residents of Franklin County and the City of Columbus can enter the Conservatory for free with your valid ID from 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM!

A special thanks to Franklin Park Conservatory and CEO, Bruce Harkey for giving us this special tour!

Here are some of the many highlights:

A kids only entrance made of willows!

The Sunshine Celebration Arch, featuring stained glass rainbows!

The Rainbow Welcome Terrace is where you  can orient yourself and peruse the map to decide where to go first!

Larger than life topiaries throughout the park!

Misting Boulders – kids can run around in the mist, which will also create rainbows in the air!

The Flower Kaleidoscope!

Take the road less travelled!

Explore the Sensory Garden full of instruments to play!

Give or watch a puppet show!

This playhouse is made of bamboo and straw bales  wrapped in mud and clay and is the largest natural children’s playhouse in the world!

The Sunrise Lawn for rolling and running and the Boulder Scramble for rock climbing!

The Fairy Garden.

The Whispering Wall – whisper at one end and your partner can hear on the other end of this curved bench!

The Reading Garden – grab a book and enjoy this peaceful area!

The Word Garden – make your own inspirational sentences!

In an area called, My Ohio Woods, This Sandstone Bluff is modeled after Hocking Hills! Water will cascade down the bluff and will fill this creek area for children to explore! (yes, they will get wet!)

The Wetland Explore includes a boardwalk and Floating Path. In this rain garden area, water will rise and fall with the rain. The area also includes a Pollywog Pool where kids can watch for tadpoles!

The Green Man!

This Floating Frame will be a spot for floating art! Drop in floating objects to create a moving piece of artwork within a stone frame!

A gardening and cooking area!

A Nature Play Zone that includes a Stump Jump, Sand Box and Web Climb!

An amazing Canopy Walk that gives you a bird’s eye view of the entire garden!

The Hammock Lounge, which is 12 feet off the ground, may look scary, but it can literally hold 7 elephants!

A Cork Tree Rope Walk – swaying bridges that allow you to walk through the heights.

Cardinal Corner – a life sized bird’s nest!

The Children’s Garden also has a Learning Pavilion where events will be held. In this building there are also family restrooms and hand washing stations.

The Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation Children’s Garden opens to the public on Saturday, May 19, 2018. There will be a brief ceremony at 9:30 AM. However, members can RSVP for a preview on May 18, by clicking here!

Know Before You Go:

Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
1777 E. Broad Street Columbus, OH 43203
Phone: 614-715-8000
Open Daily: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM

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ICYMI:  The Unofficial West Side Ice Cream Trail


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5 of the Best Things About Ohio

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These are 5 things we love about the great state of Ohio!

Thank you to Bob Evans for partnering with us on this post!

My husband, my kids and I were all born in Ohio! While my husband and I have lived in other cities and states, we both eventually moved back to Ohio and have come to love this state for all the great things it has to offer! Here are 5 of the best things about Ohio:

1. Lake Erie Has A Lot to Offer Ohioans

Boy on Lake Erie beach

I grew up in Northeast Ohio and took Lake Erie for granted for most of my life. But after having kids, my husband and I started searching for vacation spots that didn’t require flying or a long drive in the car. We were still craving being at the beach and by water, so we started to explore Lake Erie. We have vacationed at Lake Erie for the past three years now and we have made many treasured memories with our young kids. In just a 2 hour drive from Columbus you can enjoy beaches, lighthouses, boat rides, water skiing, fishing and fresh fish to eat!

2. In Ohio You Can Experience a Variety of Landscapes

Waterfall at Hayden Falls, Dublin, Ohio

If you’re not from Ohio, the variety in landscape within this great state might just surprise you! From the hills of Hocking Hills and Southern Ohio to the rolling cornfields of Amish Country to the beaches of Lake Erie to the skyscrapers of the major cities, no matter what your scene is, you can find it in Ohio. It doesn’t take too long to get from one view to the next! You can easily spend your summer weekends road tripping through Ohio and experience a wide variety of scenery!

3. Ohio is the Birthplace of So Many Amazing Restaurants

Buckeye Hotcakes at Bob Evans Restaurants

We enjoy and take full advantage of so many local restaurants! The Ohio food scene is growing and with Ohio’s agriculture, we are able to enjoy so many local, seasonal ingredients. Living in Columbus we also enjoy being a “test market” for new products before much of the rest of the country! While there are tons of local food options, it can be easy to forget that many large restaurant chains also had their start in Ohio!

Bob Evans himself started his own restaurant in Rio Grande, Ohio nearly 65 years ago! Bob Evans was a generous man who was fiercely proud of his home state of Ohio! In celebration of Ohio, Bob Evans Restaurants has added Bob Evans Buckeye Hotcakes to the menu for a limited time and is calling all Buckeyes to share their state pride on social media by posting a picture or video of whatever it is that makes them proud to be an Ohioan, using the hashtag: #TheOhioWay. Make sure to hop over to my Instagram page where I am hosting a giveaway! You could have a chance to win a $25 Bob Evans gift card!

4. Ohio Has a Vibrant Capital City

downtown skyline, Columbus, Ohio

If you already follow my blog then it’s no secret that we love Columbus! Columbus is the Midwest’s hidden gem, offering all of the amazing things about a large city, without a lot of the stressors of urban living. I lived in one of the top 5 largest cities in the US for 4 years and when I moved to Columbus I traded away the frustrations of parking, traffic jams, high crime and high costs of living while still enjoying all the benefits of a big city: theater, museums, job opportunities, a vibrant food scene and so much more! When it comes to things for kids and families to do, there is really no end in sight!

5. In Ohio You Experience All Four Seasons

fall trees at Inniswood Metro Park, Columbus, Ohio

I can’t believe I’m about to say this because I am not a huge fan of Winter: but what is it that makes Spring in Ohio so sweet? The fact that we survived the preceding Winter! And when it comes down to it, I am actually happy that we get to experience all four seasons in Ohio. As much as I like warmer weather and sunshine, I do love the beauty of fall, my kids love playing in the snow and I have been attempting to try to embrace each season and enjoy the rhythm that the changing seasons naturally builds into our lives.

We are proud to be Ohioans and these are just 5 of the things that make this state GREAT! What do you love about Ohio? Make sure to share your Ohio pride on social media using #TheOhioWay!

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Farmland in Ohio


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Top 10 Things to do with Kids in Columbus, Ohio

ICYMI: Top 10 Things to do with Kids in Columbus, Ohio

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Peach Picking Fun at Branstool Orchards

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This post was written in partnership with Branstool Orchards.

Peaches at the grocery store are hit or miss, am I right? Mostly miss, in my opinion. I’m always afraid to buy them because they usually disappoint. There is nothing like a sweet, juicy peach, but they are just hard to come by at your local grocery store.

Did you know you could pick your own peaches in Central Ohio? I’ll be honest, I did not. I figured peaches had to come on a truck from Georgia, therefore they were picked early with a makeshift calculation for landing on the shelf at peak ripeness. (Can you tell I’m a little bitter about grocery store peaches?)

Little did I know, amazing, juicy, sweet peaches are yours to be had less than an hour down the road from downtown Columbus (Ohio, not Columbus, GA 😉 )! Branstool Orchards is a beautiful spot off Route 62 in Utica, OH where you can pick your own peaches! (And not just peaches! Apples and pears are available, too!)

Picking your own peaches at Branstool Orchards is a relaxing and family-friendly experience. Kids are encouraged to take part, dogs are welcome, and there are picnic tables throughout the orchard where you can stop and have a snack or a picnic! Branstool Orchards wants your family to have a good time when you visit! They want it to be an outing where your whole family is relaxed and enjoying the process, not just the end result!

You can pick up a wagon (for either your kids or your peaches) and stroll through the orchard. I think most kids LOVE this kind of thing! It’s so good for them to make the connection about where their food comes from, and I think they enjoy it more when they know they’ve hand-picked what they’re eating.

I don’t know many kids you have to convince to eat a peach, but mine can be weird about eating a lot of things I personally think are delicious, so you never know. I do know that being able to pick the peaches and eat them out in the orchard made my kids 100% willing to eat them at home – something that is never a given!

You guys, it’s beautiful! It’s relaxing and unpretentious. Are there farms that are pretentious? I don’t know, but that just feels like a good way to describe the orchard!

Peach season is typically July through September. This year things came a little early at the orchard, so they are expecting just 2-3 more weeks of peach availability! Keep an eye on their Facebook page for updates on what peaches are currently available.

If you don’t have time to pick your own, no worries! Pre-picked peaches are available in the market.

Branstool Orchards handpicks their own peaches at the perfect point of ripeness and then employees hand sort them, picking out “seconds” that don’t meet their quality standards. We got to see this first hand, and you can too, as the workspace is visible from and attached to the market. Don’t worry, the “seconds” don’t go to waste, you can buy them at a reduced price for canning or jam!

Branstool Orchards is partnering with several local businesses: Columbus Brewing Company is using Branstool peaches for a peach beer! If you head down the road to Velvet Ice Cream Factory, you can get a peach sundae made from Branstool peaches!  Urban Spreads uses Branstool peaches in their jam, sold at the market! So many amazing ways to eat (or drink) a peach!

Another great thing about the produce grown at Branstool Orchards is their chemical-free initiatives. Over the past several years they have been reducing their use of chemical pesticides by using mating disruption and companion planting. You can read more about that here. They also polish their apples instead of using the wax you will find on your grocery store apples which is another bonus!

With the exception of just a few items, everything in the farm market is from Ohio. The produce that is not peaches, apples or pears is from local Amish farms, provided for your one-stop convenience, and (just so you know) there are also two options for cobbler topping available for purchase! 😉

If you can’t make it out for peaches, Apples will be available to pick until November! You can see the approximate ripening dates here and make a plan for this fall!

I hope you and your kids can carve out a day for peach picking before the season ends!

Know Before You Go:

Website: Branstool Orchards
Address: 5895 Johnstown-Utica Rd NE, Utica, OH 43080
Phone: 740-892-3989
Hours: Monday – Saturday: 9:00 AM-6:00PM, Sunday: 10:00 AM-5:00 PM

  • It is recommended that you allow at least 1 hour for U-Pick.
  • U-Pick peaches are $1.50/lb.
  • There is a $10 minimum for peach-picking.
  • Boxes are provided for picking.

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