6 Best Outings to Keep Toddlers Busy in Columbus, Ohio

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When your baby becomes a toddler life becomes busy! Toddlers are full of energy and lots of fun! It’s also a lot of work keeping them entertained! Luckily for us, there are a ton of fun and affordable ways to entertain a toddler in Columbus!

6 Ways to Entertain a Toddler in Columbus, Ohio:

1. Play Cafes for Toddlers in Columbus

Play Cafes are all the rage with the 5 and under crowd! Seriously, though, they’re a safe place to play and moms and dads can grab a coffee or a snack while their kids play. Firefly Play Cafe has been a favorite of ours for the wide variety of things to do for kids and a good seating area for adults.

outings for toddlers in columbus, boy playing at Hoot Studio

Friends rave about Tree of Life Play Cafe and they have during toddler time with Get Air right next door! You may also want to check out HOOT Studio for the simple fact that for a slight upcharge, they will watch your kid for you while you get work done or have a coffee date in the adjoining cafe! Awesome!

If you’re looking for the best deal in town, I highly recommend a COSI membership! Yes, even for a toddler! The little kidspace inside COSI contains water play, an art studio, and a huge area for kids to engage in imaginative play: including a large play house, vegetable stand, doctor’s office, fire truck and so much more!

outings for toddlers, play area at fun in the jungle

Looking for a free option? Don’t worry, there are tons of places for your toddlers to play inside for free in Columbus! From mall play areas to rec centers, check out Over 20 Free Indoor Play Areas in Columbus for more ideas!

Some of the indoor play areas for older kids (think Magic Mountain, Fun in the Jungle, etc.) also have smaller, separate areas for toddlers to play! You can see more ideas in 6 Free or Cheap Indoor Places for Kids to Run Wild in Columbus.

2. Story Times for Toddlers in Columbus

Libraries were the first place I started taking my son when he was just a baby. We were big fans of the baby lap time at Grandview Library and the play area there is perfect for toddlers! Baby lap times happen at almost of all of the libraries in town and can be a great way to get out of the house with a little one!

outings for toddlers in Columbus, ohio, two boys at Ohio Wildlife Center

Beyond libraries, many local bookstores have regular story times, and story times are even popping up at Columbus restaurants like Duck Donuts and Chick-fil-A on Sawmill!

The Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks is another great resource for story times for toddlers! We love the story time at the Grange Insurance Audubon Center (at the Scioto Audubon Metro Park) because afterwards you can play in their free indoor play area or go outside to play in the sandbox!

3. Music and Sensory Times for Toddlers in Columbus

Toddlers love music! There are several ways to introduce your toddler to music in Columbus! We Joy Sing does drop in classes at Coffee Connections of Hilliard, taking advantage of their great indoor play area for kids! Coffee Connections is definitely one of the most kid-friendly coffee shops in Columbus!

Miss Marlene Dance and Sing is a special song and dance time for toddlers that takes place at Abbey Theatre in Dublin! There’s usually a special visitor! When we were there, we were joined by Clifford the Big Red Dog!

outings for toddlers, dublin ohio recreation center

The PBJ & Jazz concerts are kid-friendly ways to introduce your kids to music and toddlers are free to get up and dance around! During the winter, the concerts take place in the Lincoln Theater Complex and include a PB&J sandwich, juice and a cookie for $5/person. During the summer, the concerts are free and they happen in Topiary Park outside the Main Library and include a craft and story time!

4. Open Gyms for Toddlers in Columbus

What do toddlers really want? They want to run around in circles forever, really. Sometimes that’s all a kid needs! And if it turns into an extra long nap afterwards, than that’s a bonus!

A great way for toddlers in Columbus to get out all of that excess energy is at open gyms! 

What is an open gym? It’s exactly as it sounds. The gym is open and toddlers can run around and play until they fall over! Check out the Westerville Rec Center for their Pee Wee Play Gym, Dublin Community Recreation Center for their Preschool Open Gym and Prairie Township Rec Center and your local Columbus Recreation Center for specific open gym times!

We’ve attended a few of these and they usually include balls, ride on toys and other free play activities for toddlers!

5. Animal Adventures for Toddlers in Columbus

Animals seem to be another love that toddlers all have in common! We’ve found some really great ways to get up close to animals without having to bring one home and take it out to pee in the middle of the night! 😉

One place we’ve gone again and again is Aquarium Adventure! We loved the Sawmill location and recently visited the new location in Hilliard and it’s just as great! There is always something new to see and there is also a small pond area where kids can reach in and touch!

outings for toddlers at Aquarium Adventure

The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium offers a really fun activity for toddlers called Little Explorers Base Camp. This takes place on Tuesdays and Thursdays during the school year and features sensory activities set up at different stations. Kids can learn all about animals through hands on activities! My kids have LOVED this, even up to age 7!

two kids at little explorers base camp, columbus, zoo

Ohio Wildlife Center and Stratford Ecological Center are two great destinations for toddlers! Both locations offer regular story times and the option to explore the grounds, visiting the animals on site!  

Don’t discount a trip to the local pet store for a fun outing as well! My kids still love visiting the nearest pet store to view fish, gerbils, snakes, birds and to pet the cats and see dogs getting groomed!

More info:

6. Parks and Playgrounds for Toddlers in Columbus, Ohio

Last but certainly not least, how could we forget parks and playgrounds? From the time they can walk, toddlers need large areas to run and explore and nothing beats a great park for getting out all of that excess energy!

However, as a parent, you soon find that not all parks are equal. Just because a toddler can walk does not mean they navigate most play structures!

playground for toddlers in columbus, ohio

Our favorite park when my kids were toddlers was one in our former neighborhood. It definitely helped that we lived two blocks from Funk-ee Town in Harrison West Park, but it is an exceptionally great area for little kids! 

I put together this list of 6 Columbus Area Parks for Toddlers to share parks that have particularly toddler-friendly play areas! No more heart attacks for mama when you find your 1 year old suddenly standing over a 10 foot drop of or about to go down an incredibly high twisty slide! 


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More Ideas to Keep Toddlers Busy in Columbus, Ohio

Need more ideas to keep your toddler or preschooler busy in Columbus? Check out one of theses links for more!

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Two Fun Libraries for Columbus Kids

These libraries have great play areas for kids in Columbus, Ohio!

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Great libraries for kids in the Columbus Metropolitan Library system!

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playground, 6 best outings for toddlers in columbus, ohio


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8 Awesome Indoor Play Areas in Ohio

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These indoor play areas around Ohio will give you lots of options for things to do with kids when traveling around the great state of Ohio!

8 Awesome Indoor Play Areas in Ohio

When traveling around Ohio with our kids, we have often found ourselves needing to find indoor play areas for the kids to burn off some energy! Whether we have time to kill in our itinerary or we’ve needed to find a kid-friendly, halfway point to meet a friend, these spots have come in handy over the last few years! Any of these play areas would also make for a fun road trip if you’re looking to do something new around Ohio!

INDOOR PLAY AREAS IN NORTHERN OHIO

1. Jungle Junction, Bellevue, OH

110 Cherry Blvd., Bellevue, OH 44811

jungle junction in Bellevue, Ohio

Jungle Junction is the largest indoor play structure in Ohio! The play area is designed for kids ages 12 and under and includes a separate area on the side just for toddlers.

Inside the Tree Top Play area there are climbing structures, slides and tunnels. There are also air cannons that shoot plastic balls all around the area. Kids must wear socks when playing inside and socks are available for purchase if you forget!

Admission is for the day, so you can come and go with a stamp on your hand. There is no charge for parents/caregivers or children under age 1 (as of May, 2017).

If you’re looking for more things to do while you’re in the area, check out: Exploring Ohio with Kids: Bellevue. There’s a great train museum in town, too!

Jungle Junction in Bellevue Ohio

2. Jump N SHOUT, Smithville, OH

877 W. Main St., Smithville, OH 44677

Jump N Shout in Smithville Ohio

This play area in Wayne County, Ohio offers something for all ages! On the first floor, the space is dedicated to the younger kids and includes a train table, puzzles, blocks, ride on cars balls, bouncy houses and more!

On the second floor, the space is geared toward older kids with larger bouncy houses, basketball arcade, inflatable darts, air hockey, foosball, a LEGO table and more! My kids’ grandparents live in Wayne County so they have been here several times and love this place! But I have to admit I’m also addicted to the basketball arcade here. 😉

A limited selection of snacks and drinks are available for sale, too and there is a small seating area where you can eat them.

Jump N Shout in Smithville, Ohio

3. Kidsplay Indoor Fun, Avon Lake, OH

32864 Pin Oak Pkwy., Avon Lake, OH 44012

Kidsplay in Avon Ohio

This indoor play area is specifically for kids ages 6 and  under and it features  kid-sized roller coasters, a ball pit, rock climbing wall, blocks, a train table and lots of opportunities for imaginative play!

There is also a “coffee area” where adult can sit with a full view of the play area. Snacks are not allowed in the play area but there is a separate room used for parties where you can eat food that you bring in or you can purchase snacks and drinks on site.

Kidsplay in Avon, Ohio


INDOOR PLAY AREAS IN CENTRAL OHIO

4.The Naz Playplace, Grove City, OH

4770 Hoover Rd., Grove City, OH 43123

The Naz in Grove City Ohio

This is a large indoor playground in Grove City and the best part is, it’s free! There is a large climbing area and also a small sectioned off area for babies and toddlers! You must remove your shoes to play and wear socks. Socks can be purchased for $1 if you forget.

There is a story time with crafts one morning a week (check the link for details)! You can also register online before your first visit to save time. Outside of the play area, there is a cafe where you can purchase food or eat your own packed lunch. There is lots of seating!

Looking for more indoor play areas in Columbus? Check out: Over 20 Free Indoor Play Areas in Columbus

The Naz in Grove City Ohio

5. Scoops and Chutes Playground, Columbus, OH

2555 Bethel Rd., Columbus, OH 43220

Scoops and Chutes Play Place in Columbus, Ohio

This play area is located inside one of Ohio’s most famous ice cream shops: Graeters! The indoor play area includes a climbing gym, a teeter toter, slides, basketball hoops and balls! You must remove your shoes to play and wear socks. Socks are available for purchase here if you forget.

The store was once a factory location, and although there’s not a whole lot to see here anymore in terms of production, there are a lot of pictures and descriptions on the walls about the history of Graeters. There is also a party room for rent here where kids can have birthday parties.

Need more ideas for Columbus? Check out: 6 Free or Cheap Indoor Places for Kids to Run Wild in Columbus

Scoops and Chutes Play Place in Columbus, Ohio

6. Fun in the Jungle, Sunbury, OH

345 McGill St., Sunbury, OH 43074

Fun in the Jungle in Sunbury Ohio

Inside Fun in the Jungle there is a large indoor play area that includes a soft play zone for toddlers. For older kids, there is  mini bowling, virtual reality games and arcade games. There is also a cafe here where you can get food and drinks. Check the link for toddler time hours and prices if you have younger kids!

Interested in play cafes in Central Ohio? Check out: The Complete List of Columbus Play Cafes

Fun in the Jungle in Sunbury, Ohio


INDOOR PLAY AREAS IN SOUTHERN OHIO

7. Pogo Play, Blue Ash, OH

10870 Kenwood Rd., Blue Ash, OH 45242

Pogo Play in Blue Ash, Ohio

This is a huge indoor play area just north of Cincinnati that includes several different play areas! There is a large climbing gym, a space with LEGOS, a space with blocks, a separate area with a play kitchen and a space for life sized building blocks.

Each area is sectioned off by theme by short divider walls and there is a completely separate room just for toddlers!

There is a coffee shop cafe here with a seating area and there is also a really large seating area for parents.

Pogo Play in Blue Ash, Ohio

8. EnterTRAINment Junction, West Chester, OH

7379 Squire Ct., West Chester, OH 45069

EnterTRAINment Junction in West Chester, Ohio

Inside EnterTRAINment Junction is Imagination Junction, a play area for kids! There is a large climbing structure, a train to play on, an electric train to ride and two small model train displays. There is also a play structure with a slide and a separate area just for toddlers.

Socks are required to play here and are available for purchase if you forget! This play area is included with admission to EnterTRAINment Junction, which is home to the largest train display in the world! EnterTRAINment Junction is a destination in itself! Read all about it here: Fun for the Whole Family at EnterTRAINment Junction!

Make sure to check out 6 Super Fun Things to do with Kids in Butler County, Ohio while you’re there (including the Butler County Donut Trail)!

EnterTRAINment Junction in West Chester, Ohio


Feel free to list any other great indoor play areas that you and your family enjoy around Ohio to share ideas with other readers!

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20 Free Indoor Play Areas in Columbus

ICYMI: Over 20 Free Indoor Play Areas in Columbus

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8 Awesome Indoor Play Areas in Ohio


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3 Places I Love to Take My Kids in Columbus: Helen Bosacki

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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 Helen for sharing 3 of her favorites with us this month!

1. Scioto Audubon Metro Park

This park is gorgeous! Just like all of our wonderful metro parks, you can roam the trails and view wildlife. But, the Grange Center is where my kids really have a ball. Preschool story time is every Thursday and Saturday at 10am. Afterwards make sure to head to the Forest Room to play in the treehouse, dress up, and explore! Weekdays we’ve been known to head down post work and get in a little play time in the Forest Room before they close at 5, but typically we are all in for Saturday morning story time.

2. Tree of Life Play Cafe

Play cafes, as awesome as they are, typically haven’t been something we have been able to enjoy because many close at earlier hours. Once this new play cafe opened we were so excited to be able to come and stay until evening! Even having dinner there. They are open until 8pm and on Mondays and Tuesdays you can include a kids meal with entry for 9.99. And it’s actually a lot of food which I was so pleased to see. This has been our go to spot to take the kids while my husband renovates the house.

3. Gateway Film Center

Our newest favorite location is Gateway Film Center. We just recently discovered the Hoot Family Film Series and my only complaint is that we missed the last 12 opportunities! On the last Saturday of every month the whole family can enjoy cartoons and short films all following a particular theme. These short films are periodically interrupted by performances by the Shazzbots. There are also lobby activities and the only cost is $2 for parking in the garage. Make sure to get your parking validated at the ticket booth!


Helen is a mother of three and the owner of Diaperbag Diaries and HB Photography. Diaperbag Diaries is a Columbus based travel blog inspiring parents to get ot of the house with their littles and experience all the adventures Columbus can provide. She is also a family photographer and can be contacted for sessions through www.hb-photos.com.


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