Top 10 Things to do with Kids in Columbus, Ohio

Top 10 Things to do with Kids in Columbus Ohio

Columbus has so much to offer families! It’s a great place to live, work, play and visit! Every day it seems I run across something new going on or a special event to check out! My family moved here 10 years ago and we have fallen in love!

If you’re new to Columbus, planning a trip to Columbus or a new parent in Columbus, these are the top 10, can’t miss family-friendly things to do in this amazing city!

1. Center of Science and Industry

One of the top science museums in the country, the Center of Science and Industry (COSI) has something for kids (and adults) of all ages! There are 2 full floors of hands-on science exhibits with different themes from Oceans to Gadgets to Energy, a cafe, a little kidspace that’s perfect for the 6 and under crowd, a permanent American Museum of Natural History Dinosaur Gallery and seasonal, traveling exhibits.

2. Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

Another gem in Columbus is the Zoo and Aquarium! Highlights include the Heart of Africa, the Polar Frontier and the new Shores Play Park! The Zoo is open every day of the year except Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. Don’t miss the special shows, programs for kids and holiday events like Boo at the Zoo and Wildlights! During the summer you can combine your visit with water play at Zoombezi Bay (additional tickets required)!

3. Columbus Metropolitan Library, Main Library and Topiary Park

The Main Library in downtown Columbus was remodeled in 2016 and offers a large children’s area, reading rooms, a coffee shop and cafe, gift shop with unique items, and outdoor patio and access to the internet. It’s worth stopping here even if just to check out the unique Topiary Park just East of the library. There is access to the park from the library. The park is a sculptural interpretation of Georges Seurat’s A Sunday Afternoon on the Isle of La Grand Jatte. There are 54 people made of plants and bushes as well as boats, dogs and other animals, standing up to 12 feet tall!

4. Columbus Commons

Looking for a green space in the middle of the city to put your feet up and let the kids run around? Look no further than Columbus Commons. Not only is there a huge green space for kids to run around in, during the warmer months there is access to art supplies and books on most days and a carousel! There are two permanent cafes in the park, Tortilla – Mexican street food and Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams – some of the best ice cream in Columbus! Throughout the season the park hosts many events, concerts and festivals including Commons for Kids on Friday mornings during the summer.

5. Columbus Museum of Art

Believe it or not, there is a lot for kids to do at the Columbus Museum of Art! Check out the Wonder Room, a space completely dedicated to kids where they can explore various textiles and activities to inspire the artist inside. Throughout the museum there are rotating activities for kids to make connections to the art on the walls. Each year the museum is home to Think Outside the Brick, a huge LEGO display and opportunities for free building. Look for opportunities to take a Family Adventures Tour or drop in on a Young Child Studio. Bonus: the museum is FREE on Sundays!

6. Inniswood Metro Gardens

Many of the Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks offer amazing play and learning opportunities for kids, indoors and outdoors, but Inniswood Metro Gardens is especially magical for children. The park includes a Sister’s Garden with places for kids to play, look for frogs and hide in the Secret Garden. Kids can walk amongst the trees on suspension bridges and climb into a treehouse. The park also offers programs for children throughout the year.

7. Franklin Park Conservatory

Franklin Park Conservatory offers the opportunity to step into another climate, be it the desert or the rain forest! Amazing botanical displays are a guarantee and exhibits rotate throughout the seasons. In the spring Blooms & Butterflies opens and your family can watch newly emerged butterflies be released into the habitat. There is a small children’s play area, preschool programs and family friendly activities on Saturdays. The conservatory has indoor and outdoor components. The grounds of the park are beautiful in themselves and also include a playground!

8. Scioto Audubon Metro Park

The only Metro Park in downtown Columbus is the Scioto Audubon Metro Park. Within it is the Grange Insurance Audubon Center. The best views of downtown Columbus can be seen from the Center and inside there is a children’s play area, live animals on display and lots of opportunities for bird watching! Walk through the park, over the boardwalk to the climbing wall and playground area for extra exercise! Outside the Audubon Center there is a sand box for kids to play in, a chalk board and overlook decks to spot wildlife! See 9 Things to do with Your Kids at Scioto Audubon for more ideas!

9. Ohio History Center

The Ohio History Center is the hub of the Ohio History Connection, which includes 58 historic sites around Ohio. The Ohio History Center features exhibits highlighting the history of Ohio including a life in the 1950’s, pioneer Ohio, Ohio animals, including a large Mastodon on display, a children’s play area, vehicles and airplanes on display and much more. During the summer months, Ohio Village, an outdoor village that recreates life in the 1800’s is open for exploring and special events.

10. Easton Town Center

Easton Town Center is your one stop destination for shopping, eating, playing and more! This open air mall offers just about any store you can imagine, fountains for splashing, a model train and kid-friendly stores like Build-A-Bear, American Girl, The LEGO Store and coming in the fall of 2018, LEGOLAND® Discovery Center! Beyond shopping, Easton offers tons of stand-alone restaurants to choose from as well as a food court.

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ICYMI: The Complete List of Columbus Play Cafes

Top 10 Things to do with Kids in Columbus, Ohio

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Exploring Delaware with Your Kids

Here’s a fun day trip idea we stumbled onto a few weeks ago! I say stumbled because though I planned to go to the park and splash pad, the rest of the day was somewhat unplanned. Delaware is a 40-ish minute trip from downtown Columbus and has a super cute downtown area.

First of all, the park. As far as parks and playgrounds go, this one is awesome! I love that there is a playground (a REALLY nice one) so close to the splash pad. It’s the whole package in case your kids get tired of one or the other quickly. The playground area is covered in artificial turf – so no mud or mulch to deal with!

There is a dinosaur theme with large dinosaur prints in the sidewalk, a dinosaur slide and dinosaurs to run through at the splash pad.

There are some water tables on the edge of the playground – my kids really wanted something to play with inside them (which we didn’t have). So if your kids aren’t into being splashed, but still like to play in water, bring some plastic animals or cars to play with in the water!

Another nice thing about the splash pad is that there is a covered area for sitting. Throughout the park there were two large pavilions with picnic tables for shade and eating. There is also a snack shack.

If you followed me last summer, you might remember that my kids were not big fans of splash pads! 🙂 So I’ll tell you, I didn’t even pack swim suits – just an extra change of clothes! haha. Well, this year they proved to be a little bit braver than last so we needed those clothes! {See Five on Friday: Splash Pads here!}

After the Spray and Play, we headed downtown with no particular destination in mind.

We found a couple of bakeries and coffee shops and ended up choosing Fresh Start Cafe and Bakery. There were lots of yummy treats and Crimson Cup coffee. The boys chose cupcakes because they always do and I heard no complaints! 😉

  

We walked around downtown a bit and ended up at Fundamentals: Children’s Books, Toys and Games, which is a fun store for kids books and art and teacher supplies!

  

This summer, Fundamentals will be hosting a Where’s the Penguin hunt around downtown Delaware, based on the book Where’s the Penguin by Sophie Schrey! Beginning July 1, kids can search for the penguin at at least 20 participating businesses and prizes will be given away!  The Find the Penguin Grand Finale Party will take place at Fundamentals on August 4, 2017 from 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM, during the First Friday events in downtown Delaware.

The store also hosts a story time that includes stories, music, dancing, and crafts at 10:30 AM! The next one is July 26th!

Another event they have coming up is the Summer Reading Road Trip on on Sunday, July 16th from 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM which includes giveaways, costume character, author signings, crafts and activities!

I’m looking forward to returning to downtown Delaware! Does anyone have a Delaware favorite to recommend?

Know Before You Go:

Spray and Play at Veterans Park
1121 S. Houk Rd, Delaware, OH 43015

Fresh Start Cafe and Bakery
24 North Sandusky Street
Delaware, Ohio, OH 43015
(740) 990-0388
Monday: Closed
Tuesday-Thursday 7:00 AM – 7:00 PM
Friday-Saturday 7:00 AM – 9:00 PM
Sunday 7:00 AM – 2:00 PM

Fundamentals: Children’s Books, Toys and Games
25 W Winter St
Delaware, Ohio, OH 43015
(740) 363-0290
Monday-Saturday: 10:00 AM – 5:30 PM
Sunday: Closed

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ICYMI: 6 Ways to Enjoy Columbus Commons this Summer

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8 Reasons to Take Your Kids to North Market

North Market is an exciting place for kids.  There are so many colors, smells and sights to be seen!  In fact, while walking through the market, my 4 year old exclaimed, “I love this place!”  Here are 8 reasons why you should take your kids to North Market:

1. Live lobster!  One of the things my kids are intrigued by are the fresh fish at the counter at The Fish Guys.  There is also a tank of live lobster that gets a lot of attention.

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2.  Destination Donuts!  It’s hard to walk by this stand and not stop and stare.  The owner, Heather Morris, recently won The Donut Showdown on the Cooking Channel!  Jaden chose Vanilla and was not disappointed!

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3. Lan Viet Market!  Okay this is my personal favorite and go to dish at the North Market so I had to include it.  #9 on the menu right here.  Mmmmmm.

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4. The Murals!  My 4 year old loved sitting by the mural of Columbus while we ate our lunches upstairs.  He’s kind of obsessed with cities.  So am I.

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5. The Mac and Cheese at Holy Smoke BBQ!  I don’t have a picture of this because my kids pretty much inhaled it.  I didn’t get a bite but I’m assuming it was pretty darn good.

6. Flowers.  I love to look down from the balcony at all the colors of the North Market.  So did my kids.  The flowers from Market Blooms only add to the beauty!

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7. The scale.  Seriously, only kids could be excited about weighing themselves.  I don’t necessarily recommend standing on it yourself after eating, but my kids were really into it.

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8. Colorful dishes.  Maybe this one is for me, too.  I like to check out the unique offerings of The Source by Wasserstrom and I think the colors on display make this experience all the more cheerful!

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Honestly, there is very little about the North Market I’m not excited about!  It can be, of course, very busy at lunchtime and on Saturdays.  If you’re planning to push a stroller through the crowd (like me) I suggest going in the morning during the week, if possible. The hours of the market are Sunday – Monday: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM and Tuesday – Saturday: 9:00 AM – 7:00 PM.  You can pick up a coffee at Staffs or an amazing pastry at Pistacia Vera.  Or try an afternoon visit after nap time for ice cream at Jeni’s and a walk to Goodale Park.  There is an elevator to the second floor with lots of seating and great views of the market.

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You can also sit outside if the weather suits!

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There is a parking lot at North Market – make sure to get your ticket stamped by a vendor.  A stamped ticket will get you parking for $1/hour for up to 2 hours.  Also, I often park at the meters on Goodale, along the south side of Goodale Park.

On our last visit to North Market we had lunch and then walked to Goodale Park.  This is a very doable walk and if you happen to park on Goodale you can split the difference.  We were happy for the walk in the sunshine on one of the unusually warm days in early March.  The playground at Goodale Park is a lot of fun for my kids.  They also enjoy going to the pond and watching ducks and playing in the gazebo.

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During the summer, the North Market hosts an outdoor Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings and there are multiple festivals held there throughout the year.  Check out the schedule here.  A trip to North Market and Goodale park will be great outing for a warm spring day!

Know Before You Go:

North Market
Address: 59 Spruce Street · Columbus, Ohio 43215
Phone: 614-463-9664
Hours: Sunday – Monday: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM, Tuesday – Saturday: 9:00 AM – 7:00 PM

Goodale Park
Address:  120 W. Goodale St., Columbus, OH 43215

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ICYMI: 3 Parks Within Walking Distance of a Coffee Shop

 

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