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 things to do with a toddler in Columbus!

indoor play area, columbus ohio

6 Fun Things to do with Toddlers 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.

things to do with 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!

things to do with 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

Story times are great things to do with 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!

things to do with 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!

things to do with 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!

things to do with toddlers at Aquarium Adventure

The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium offers a really fun activity for toddlers in Columbus 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 Fun Things to do with Toddlers in Columbus, Ohio

Need more ideas to keep your toddler or preschooler busy in Columbus? Check out one of theses links for more!
2 Great Metro Park Nature Centers for Columbus Kids

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Two Fun Libraries for Columbus Kids

Two Fun Libraries for Columbus Kids

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

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North, South, East and West: Great Libraries for Reading AND Playing!  Part 1

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Great libraries for kids in the Columbus Metropolitan Library system!

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Five Go-To Places You Need to Know About if You're a New (or New-to-Columbus) Parent

Five Go-To Places You Need to Know About if You're a New (or New-to-Columbus) Parent

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playground, 6 best outings for toddlers in columbus, ohio


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Free Columbus and Central Ohio Splash Pads and Fountains

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These Central Ohio and Columbus splash pads are easy ways to cool off in the summer and a safer alternative for young kids who don’t yet know how to swim!

All of these splash pads are free to enter and most are open Memorial Day through Labor Day. It’s always a good idea to check the link for dates and hours of operation! You may want to read: 25 Things to Pack for a Successful Trip to the Splash Pad before you go!

Free Columbus and Central Ohio Splash Pads and Fountains

1. Bicentennial Park

233 S. Civic Center Dr., Columbus, OH 43215

fountain at Bicentennial Park

Bicentennial Park on the Scioto Mile

2. North Bank Park

311 W. Long St., Columbus, OH 43215

  • The splash pad is behind the pavilion at the end of Neil Ave.

3. Hilliard’s Station Park

4021 Main St., Hilliard, OH 43026

Splash pad at Hilliard's Station Park

Hilliard’s Station Park

4. Easton Town Center Fountains

160 Easton Square Pl, Columbus, OH 43219

Fountain at Easton Town Center

Easton Town Center

5. Grove City Splash Pad

3600 Discovery Dr., Grove City, OH 43123

6. Ballantrae Community Park Spray Fountains

6350 Woerner Temple Rd., Dublin, OH 43016

Fountains at Ballantrae Park in Dublin, Ohio

Ballantrae Park

7. Powell Splash Pad

47 Hall St., Powell, OH 43065

Splash Pad in Powell, Ohio

Powell Splash Pad

8. Hanby Park

115 E Park St., Westerville, OH 43081

9. Fountain at Polaris Fashion Place

1500 Polaris Pkwy., Columbus, OH 43240

fountain at Polaris Fashion Place

Polaris Fashion Place

10. Partners Park

125 E 6th St., Marysville, OH 43040here

11. Spray and Play at Veterans Park

1121 South Houk Rd., Delaware, OH 43015

Spray and Play at Veteran's Park in Delaware

Veteran’s Park

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splash pads in Columbus Ohio

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Kids Eat Free or Cheap in Columbus and Central Ohio

 


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Easterseals Recommended Accessible Parks, Playgrounds and Trails in Central Ohio and Surrounding Area

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I’m excited to collaborate with Easterseals Central and Southeast Ohio to share this list of accessible parks, playgrounds and trails around Central Ohio!

Accessible Playgrounds

Emerald Fields – 4040 Wyandotte Woods Blvd, Dublin, OH 43016

Darree Fields Park – 6259 Cosgray Rd., Dublin, OH 43016

wheelchair accessible park

Windsor Park Dream Field, Photo Credit: Nikki Seeley

Windsor Park Dream Field – 3400 Ventura Boulevard, Grove City, OH 43123

Tanglebrook Park – behind Fire Station 201 off Grove City Road.

accessible park in Westerville, Ohio

Millstone Creek Park

Millstone Creek Park – 745 N Spring Rd., Westerville, OH 43082

Liberty Township Boundless Playground – 2507 Home Rd., Powell, OH 43065

carriage place park

Carriage Place Park

Carriage Place Park – 4900 Sawmill Rd., Columbus, OH 43235

ADA park

Homestead Metro Park

Homestead Metro Park – 4675 Cosgray Road, Hilliard, OH 43026

Slate Run Park – 1375 SR 674 N. Canal Winchester, OH 43103

fryer park, grove city

Fryer Park

Fryer Park – 3899 Orders Rd., Grove City, OH, 43123

John Bishop Memorial Park – 4815 Etna Road, Whitehall, OH 43213

Rotary Park – 929 Sharon Valley Rd., Newark, OH 43055

Columbus Recreation and Parks Department Parks with ADA swings:

  • Flint Road Park – 8008 Flint Rd., 43235
  • Milo Grogan Park and Community Center – 862 E. 2nd Ave. 43201
  • Cremeans Park – 3146 Maize Rd., 43224
  • Franklin Park – 1755 E Broad St., 43203
  • Marion Franklin Park and Community Center – 2801 Lockbourne Rd., 43207
  • Fairwood Park – 1372 Fairwood Ave., 43206
  • Sycamore Fields Park at Three Creeks – 2748 Spangler Rd., 43207
  • Alumcrest Park – 2575 S. Cassady Ave., 43207

Additionally, ADA swings will be available soon at the following locations:

  • Saunders Park – 1380 Acheson St., 43203
  • Harrison Smith Park – 2646 Gatgewood Rd., 43219
  • Freedom Park – 5757 Westdale Park, 43119
  • Goodale Park – 120 W. Goodale St., 43215
  • Wynstone Park – 9280 S. Old State Rd., 43035

See a complete list of Columbus Recreation and Parks Department Parks here.

Wheelchair Accessible Trails

Foor Leisure Path
Blacklick Creek Greenway Trail
Ohio to Erie Trail
Camp Chase Trail
Heritage Rail Trail
Canal Winchester Trail System
Scioto Greenway Trail
Alum Creek Greenway Trail
Westerville B & W
Genoa Trail
Olentangy Trail

Wheelchair Accessible Trails at Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks

Big Meadows Path and Scenic River at Highbanks Metro Park
Darby Creek Greenway at Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park
All six trails at Blacklick Woods Metro Park
Marsh Hawk and Ironweed Trails at Glacier Ridge Metro Park
Edward S. Thomas and Multipurpose Trails at Sharon Woods Metro Park

Helpful Links

Accessible Ohio State Park Facilities
Ohio Wheelchair Accessible Trails and Maps
Ohio Accessible Playground Directory
Accessible Nature

Thanks to Easterseals Central and Southeast Ohio for collaborating on this post!

*Please be aware,  information is gathered from multiple community sources. Please call ahead or check links to confirm the best fit for your child.  Enjoy what you do today!*


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Easterseals Recommended Accessible Parks, Playgrounds and Trails in Central Ohio and Surrounding Area


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