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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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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ICYMI: Your Kid’s First Swim Lesson at Goldfish Swim School: What to Expect


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3 Can’t-Miss Pumpkin Patches near Columbus

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First of all, let’s just talk about last year.

Our only “pumpkin patch” experience involved waiting way too long in line at a location that will remain nameless (because I honestly can’t remember which one it was). We waited so long in fact, that the price we would have to pay became too much to spend for the time we had left! My friends and I had to bribe our kids with ice cream to get them out of line and give up on pumpkins.

Then, despite the fact that he talked non stop about what he wanted to be for Halloween, it was too cold and/or rainy on trick-or-treat night and we were out of town for both weekends of Boo at the Zoo. So I just never told him when Halloween was and he managed to eventually forget about it. Major #momfail! Honestly, neither of our kids noticed or suffered any irreparable damage, as best I can tell, but I do still feel a little bit guilty that there will be no costume pictures from ages 1 and 4 of our kids’ lives.

But this year? I actually feel like we hit the lottery! First of all, October has been beautiful! And, secondly, we’ve already done 3 “pumpkin patch” experiences that will definitely stay on the rotation for next year! I did my own cost-benefit analysis 😉 and I feel like somehow I managed to make the right choices! So let me save you the effort and tell you why these 3 experiences are a great deal!

1. Jacquemin Farms

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I chose Jacquemin Farms for 2 reasons: it’s open during the week and it’s very inexpensive! Where most of the pumpkin patches have “Fall Festival Weekends” – they’re just that, only open on the weekends! I totally understand why, but I was definitely in the market for some places to take my kids during the week when there would be smaller crowds!

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Before 3:00 PM on the weekdays, kids ages 3-10 can play in the straw maze and corn box for $2 each (ages 2 and under are free)! During the weekends and after 3:00 PM on weekdays, the farm has bouncy houses (which my kids aren’t huge fans of anyway) and the cost is $6 per kid.

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If you arrive early enough, there are pumpkin donuts for sale in the market! (Alas, we did not!) But we did enjoy apple cider slushies!

You can also go out into the field to pick your own pumpkin! When we visited, the pumpkin fields were very wet and muddy. They recommended that we not go out into the field (though we were welcome to if we chose to)! We picked out a couple of pumpkins to take home from inside the market.

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Know Before You Go:
7437 Hyland Croy Rd., Plain City, OH 43064, 614-873-5725
October Hours: Monday – Saturday 10:00 – 6:00 PM, Sunday 1:00 PM – 6:00 PM.

2. DeMonye’s Haunted Greenhouse

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For years, I could see this green house from 670 and could not figure out where it was or how to get to it! I didn’t know the name of it, so there was no way to find out! When researching about different pumpkin patch options, I was able to connect the dots! There are two reasons the experience at deMonye’s is great, in my opinion! The cost is $8, but only per child (adults are free!) and what you get for $8 is a LOT!

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When the kids walk through the door, they get a goody bag with candy, pumpkin stickers and little Halloween trinkets. They each get to pick a pumpkin and can decorate it at one of the many tables they have within the greenhouse. There is unlimited popcorn and the kids each get a bottle of juice!

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Also included in the cost is…

Straw maze:

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Corn box:

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Basketball play area:

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Bean bag toss:

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Bouncy house:

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Planting a flower to take home:

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Dodge ball area:

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Petting zoo (well, more of a looking zoo):

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and the Haunted House:

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The haunted house was a bit scary for my kids. They made it through about 3/4 of the way and then got freaked out in a room full of spiders and it was kind of downhill from there. The truth is, you could do everything else and not even know this “haunted” area was there! We almost didn’t do it because, at first, I didn’t realize where it was (the back corner)!

My kids had a blast here! I felt like it was well worth $16 for both of them because there were so many things to do and the price included food AND a pumpkin!

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There are lots of Halloween decorations and other pumpkins and gourds for sale within the shop!

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Know Before You Go:
2500 Airport Dr., Columbus, OH 43219, 614-252-6046
October Hours: Monday – Friday: 8:00 AM – 7:00 PM, Saturday: 9:00 AM – 7:00 PM, Sunday: 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM

3. Freeman’s Farm

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As I mentioned earlier, my experience with pumpkin patches is pretty limited, but our experience at Freeman’s Farm was darn near idyllic.

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In my cost-benefit analysis, I noticed that most of the Fall Festival events were around $8 per person, not per child, and my kids are pretty young for some of the activities offered. The prices are not listed on the website for Freeman’s Farm, but I tracked them down in the comments of their Facebook page. I was serious about my research! 😉

Hay rides are $2 per person, the petting zoo is free (though you can buy feed for $.25 a handful) and the food prices are extremely reasonable!

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The hayride through the farm was about 20-25 minutes long and the property was beautiful!

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After the hayride, we were hungry, so we headed over to the campfire where you could buy and roast hotdogs ($2)!

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And buy your chili in a bag ($2.50)!

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I loved the communal campfire and roasting your own hot dogs! It felt like the real deal!

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The kids enjoyed feeding the miniature horses, donkeys and goats. There was a large pig too, but he was taking a nap!

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We also got kettle corn and met up with some scarecrows! You can stuff your own scarecrow for $20 – straw and all the necessary clothing were provided!

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Pumpkins were $.39/lb and were sold in the yard outside the market. There were tons of options! At this point in our pumpkin patch journey, we already have 6 pumpkins, so I vetoed taking any more home, despite the begging by my children!

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Know Before You Go:
6142 Lewis Center Rd., Galena, OH 43021, 740-548-7866
Farm Market is open Monday – Friday: 12:00 PM – 7:00 PM
The Market is open and Fall Festival Activities are Saturday : 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM and Sunday: 11:00 AM – 5:00 PM

*Only cash is accepted at all of the activity stands, but you can use your credit card inside the market to purchase vouchers for food and hayrides.

*When I typed “Freeman’s Farm” into Google Maps, it landed us on a dead end cul-de-sac on the other side of the farm. However, when I manually typed in the (same) address, it got us there – I don’t know if it would happen to you, but I just thought I’d mention it in case! 😉

Need more ideas for fall? Check out 9 Things to Do with Your Kids This Fall in Columbus! Happy Pumpkin Season!

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ICYMI: 9 Things to Do with Your Kids This Fall in Columbus


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