Columbus Christmas Staycation 2017

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If you’ve got kids off school or family in town and you’re enjoying a Columbus staycation over winter break, you’re probably going to need to get out of the house! I’ve got some ideas for you! For each day, I’m featuring one main idea and a couple of other events going on that day! I suggest reading through the whole post first instead of taking it day by day, because many things on the list are going on more than one day!  You can mix and match your plan as needed! 🙂

Monday, December 25, 2017

Chinese Lantern Festival

The Ohio Chinese Lantern Festival is open every day from 5:30 PM – 10:00 PM through January 7, 2018. Enjoy cultural performances and eat Chinese and traditional fair food. The light displays are really something to see! There are traditional Chinese sculptures and also American Christmas sights like Santa and Mrs. Claus. On Mondays, you can receive a $2 discount for bringing a canned good donation.

More Events:


Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Gardens Aglow at Franklin Park Conservatory

Gardens Aglow offers special holiday decorations, performances and evening hours at Franklin Park Conservatory. Throughout the season live music and special events are scheduled and the Conservatory is decorated for the holidays. From December 1-31 (except for the 24th and 25th) they are open until 9:00 PM. There will be special family-friendly activities and on Tuesday, December 26, Erica Carlson and her pet hedgehog will be at the Conservatory for a fun magic show at 11:00 AM and 2:00 PM! Also, make sure not to miss the rotating railroad!

More Events:


Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Ohio Wildlife Center

The Ohio Wildlife Center is only open to the public a few times a month and today is one of them! Join them from 1:00 PM – 4:00 PM for Celebrate with the Critters where kids can make a bird feeder and meet some of the resident animal ambassadors! Admission is $5/person or free with a donation from their wish list. Many animals can be seen on a tour of the grounds as well!  See our visit to Ohio Wildlife Center here!

More Events:


Thursday. December 28, 2017

Easterseals of Central and Southeast Ohio

Kids ages 1-7 can get out all of their energy in the ball pit, slides, rock climbing wall, tire swing, basketball hoop and more! Open Play is happening from 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM, December 27-29, 2017. Cost is $5 per child and parents must stay on the premises.

More Events:


Friday, December 29, 2017

COSI- Center of Science and Industry

COSI has extended its hours for Winter Break! From December 20th through January 6th they will be open from 10:00 AM – 7:00 PM! (Closed Dec. 24th and 25th). On Friday, December 29th, they stay open even later for Family Friday Night! Family Friday Night includes reduced admission from 5:00 PM – 9:00 PM and access to all exhibits. If you haven’t seen the new American Museum of Natural History Dinosaur Gallery, it’s included with membership or admission so Friday night would be a great chance to see it at a discount!

More Events:


Saturday, December 30, 2017

HOOT 82: Dance at Gateway Film Center

This family-friendly movie time is free with a canned good donation to benefit The Open Shelter! Watch short movies and cartoons and dance along to The Shazzbots! There are also activities in the lobby beforehand! This month there will be a special appearance by Movement Afoot Tap Dance Company! Activities start at 10:00 AM and movies end at 12:00 PM.

More Events:


Sunday, December 31, 2017

Christmas Open House at Central Ohio Model Railroad Club

On each Saturday and Sunday in December COMRC is hosting their Christmas Open House! Admission and parking are free and the open house includes model train layouts and kids can run trains on a Thomas the Train display!

More Events:


Monday, January 1, 2018

Ohio History Center

The Ohio History Center will be offer special hours from Tuesday, Dec. 26, 2017 through Sunday, Jan. 7, 2018. They will be open from 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM. During this time you can see the Holiday Train and the Lustron House will be decorated for the holidays! The museum has recently updated the kids’ area near the wild animals and there is an exhibit towards that back where kids are free to touch “historical” items like rotary phones and typewriters. 😉 See all there is to do at Ohio History Center here!

More Events:


Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Recreations Outlet

This retail store doubles as a play area with lots of playground equipment, trampolines, basketball hoops, soccer goals and more! There’s plenty of room to run, very few chances to break anything, and the best part is that during Charitable Play Hours on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 9:00 AM – 11:00 AM, it’s only $2 per child to play! See more pictures and info about our visit here.

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Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Columbus Metropolitan Library, Main Library

Don’t miss the Holiday Train at Main Library! Wednesday, January 3rd is the last day you can see it! Story times will be happening each morning throughout Winter Break at 10:30 AM. If you haven’t been to Main Library, it can be a full outing in itself! The kids will love the train, there’s a cafe in the library serving coffee, food and snacks and outside you can walk through Topiary Park, where you can see a tree-sculpture version of Georges Seurat’s A Sunday Afternoon on the Isle of La Grand Jatte!

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Thursday, January 4, 2018

Scioto Audubon Metro Park and Grange Audubon Center

The Grange Audubon Center offers a lot of indoor fun for kids! There is an indoor play area (pictured above) which also includes puppets and a cave to play in. There are animals to see, bird watching, and on Thursdays and Saturdays at 10:00 AM they host a preschool story time in the library area. See 9 Things to Do with your Kids at Scioto Audubon for more ideas!

More Events:


Friday, January 5 2018

Ohio History Center

Another good day to visit Ohio History Center would be on Friday when they stay open late for a family movie night! Mrs. Doubtfire will be shown at 7:00 PM and the museum is open until 9:00 PM!

More Events:

7:00 PM – Family Pajama Jam Skate at Skate Zone 71


Saturday, January 6, 2018

piccadilly play cafe 

On $5 Saturdays, kids can play between the hours of 9:30 AM and 12:30 PM for just $5/child! piccadilly has a cafe serving coffee, small meals and snacks, a play area for the kids, a large stage area for kids to play on and an art space for painting and other crafts!

More Events:


Sunday, January 7, 2018

Columbus Museum of Art

Admission to the Columbus Museum of Art is free on Sundays and this is a great chance to see Think Outside the Brick! This LEGO exhibit is a temporary exhibit that will only be on display until March 2, 2018. If your kids love Legos, it’s a must see! You can also check out the newly remodeled Wonder Room – a creative space just for kids!

If you’re still looking for more ideas, check out 10 of Our Favorite Columbus Christmas Traditions, 5 on Friday: Holiday Trains and 6 of the Most Festive Things You Can Do in Columbus This Holiday Season!


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ICYMI: 6 of the Most Festive Things You Can Do in Columbus This Holiday Season

*Please be aware,  information is gathered from multiple community sources.  Times, dates and locations are subject to change. There may be a fee to participate in a featured activity.  Please call ahead or check links to confirm activities.  Enjoy what you do today!*

 


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You Need these 7 Columbus Memberships to Survive Winter!

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A few years ago, facing my first winter as a SAHM with two kids, the panic started to set in around September. I bought a membership to everything I could think of (because some of these are really good deals!) and planned to have somewhere to go for every day of the week during the winter. Yes, I panicked, but it was worth it!

The cost of membership to most of these places more than pays for itself in usually 2 visits. After that your visits are “free” So every day it feels like you are getting to do something really fun for “free”. All year, special events are “free”. (Though I don’t necessarily suggest you buy all of these memberships in one month or you’ll find yourself spending a good chunk of change all in one month every year at renewal time. cough cough. (who would do that?) 😉 ). We do put $20/month into an envelope for our “memberships” – it doesn’t quite cover the costs to what I’ve listed here – but let’s just say it helps when renewal time comes around!

I can tell you this, I’m headed into my second winter with two kids and I have renewed every one of these memberships! 😉

1. Columbus Museum of Art

If you have children that are 5 and under, you should absolutely have a Friend membership to CMA. Cost is $60 for the year. This membership is for one person, but kids 5 and under are free! Plus you get admission for one additional adult per visit. (Regular adult admission is $14). If your kids are over 5, then the Household Membership is only $15 more. (Regular admission for children over 5 is $5/visit.)

The Museum has the Wonder Room, which is a great area for kids to create. It’s not exactly a toddler play area, so that is the one downside to taking kids that are 5 and under, but as they get closer to 5, they will get more and more out of the Wonder Room. Once a year, the museum has Think Outside the Brick, an LEGO display and exhibit! We usually see this at least twice, so we are getting our money’s worth right there! The museum offers Family Adventure Tours, Open Studio for all ages to drop in and your membership is also good for special exhibits.


2. Ohio History Center

Membership to Ohio History Center is about as affordable as you can get! This is another case where children 5 and under are free, so if your kids are young, you only need an Individual Membership which is $35. The Individual Membership also allows you to bring one unnamed adult per visit. Regular admission to OHC is $10/person, $5 for children over 5. You can also get $5 off your membership if you have AAA or are an active education (among others)! The family membership, if your children are over 5, is just $55.

Ohio History Center has a lot to offer kids. There are several educational play areas. Click this link above for my previous post about Ohio History Center and all there is for kids to do there! If you have a membership, it includes admission to Storybook Village, which is a fun day each summer when your children’s favorite story book characters come to life at Ohio Village. It also includes admission to Ohio Village Muffins vintage base ball games. (yes, it is base ball (2 words!)) as well as admission to 50 other sites and museums around the state!

In my mind, there are very few cons to this membership! If I had to think of one, it is that they are not open on Mondays and Tuesdays. This has tripped me up a few times! Whoops!


3. COSI

If you only have very young children or are new to Columbus, you might not know that COSI has a huge play space for kids age 6 and under! little kidspace is a great place for you to take babies, toddlers and preschoolers during the winter. (Major con this winter only is that the parking lot is under construction so you will have a bit of a cold walk to get inside! I’ve heard there is a shuttle running to and from the parking lot, but I haven’t been since it got really cold!)

The COSI membership is a bit pricier than the others I’ve mentioned so far (basic family is $119), but honestly, you can’t beat the price when it comes to an indoor play area for toddlers and preschoolers. (Obviously, COSI has a lot to offer older kids as well, but for now I am thinking of those of us who are passing winter days with kids who are not old enough to be in school yet!)

Regular admission ranges from $15 – $20/person, so a family could potentially spend the cost of a membership in one visit! Plus, your admission to COSI gets you discounts on parking, movie tickets, admission to special Members Only events and special events like Farm Days, Big Machines, Model Train Weekend and more!


4. Franklin Park Conservatory

The Conservatory is a great place to go in the winter! Even though plants and flowers might make you think of summer, I actually prefer going there in the Winter! Perhaps that is because we went there on a really hot day last summer, not thinking what it might feel like to walk through a greenhouse when it was already 100 degrees outside! Eek! A basic family membership is $90. (Regular admission is $14/adult and $7/child. Children 2 and under are free.) If it will be mainly one parent who just wants to get out of the house with a baby 2 and under, you could easily make use of the Individual Membership for $45!

The Conservatory can be slightly nerve wracking with toddlers if you’re managing more than one kid by yourself, but for the most part it is pretty kid friendly. (Speaking as someone whose child knocked over a glass vase filled with water there recently . . . ) One really great part about the membership is that it includes the special events going on at the Conservatory.

There is something for families most weekends and there is a Little Adventurers program for kids ages 3-5 on Thursdays! There is usually (depending on the exhibits going on at the time) a little children’s play area on the first floor, a model train and ongoing children’s activities. Not to mention, when it gets warm, the grounds are beautiful!


5. Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

How is this one going to help you survive winter, you ask? Because you are going to get to take advantage of those unseasonably warm days that randomly pop up – I actually “strongly dislike” going to the zoo during the summer: too hot! (gosh I’m hard to please!) For me, the best times of the year to go to the zoo are spring and fall.

Membership gets you into Boo at the Zoo in October and Wildlights at the holidays. It’s also good for other special zoo events, preschool classes, and free parking! Maybe this one won’t help you survive the cold, dreary days but it’s still a must have, IMHO. 😉 If you’re really brave, there are quite a few indoor areas at the Zoo, once you get to the grounds from the parking lot!


6. Columbus Recreation and Parks Department

Ahh….I don’t take enough advantage of the Recreation and Parks program in Columbus, but we have done baby swimming lessons at Columbus Aquatic Center and a couple of Mommy and Me preschool art classes. The cost of a Leisure Card to use the facilities is $1 (and it’s good for 3 years!).

During the winter, Open Swim at the Columbus Aquatic Center is $1/person. It is REALLY hard to beat that cost! The classes and programs vary by location but they include art classes, gymnastics, yoga, pottery, soccer, basketball and more! Plus classes for adults! Check out the online schedule of programs here.


7. Your Local Library

Yes, I am technically counting this as a membership! 😉 And it is free! I think most parents figure out pretty fast that the library is the place to go for free indoor entertainment for kids! All of the libraries in the area have some form of story hour, baby lap time, regular activities and the like!

Your membership, in the form of a library card, also allows you to check out books and magazines to make sure your kids have something new to read on a regular basis! Many of the Columbus Metropolitan Library locations have Ready for Kindergarten areas where young children can play and explore. I’m all for getting out and trying new libraries (this is mainly to keep me entertained!) 🙂 Here and here are four that are fun libraries for reading AND playing!


If you have these memberships and you use them wisely, there is always an affordable and fun indoor option if you need to get out of the house! (And if you don’t want to spend a dime, there’s always my list of 20 FREE Indoor Play Areas in Columbus!) Let me know in the comments if there are any other memberships that help you survive winter in Columbus!

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ICYMI: Indoor Programs for Toddlers and Preschoolers in Columbus: Winter 2017


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Indoor Programs for Toddlers and Preschoolers in Columbus: Winter 2017

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If you’re trying to survive winter with a toddler or preschooler, I’m with you! I’ve already started looking forward to summer, which is a dangerous thing to start doing at the beginning of January. But never fear, Columbus has so many indoor options for keeping toddlers busy! Here’s what’s going on this winter:

Little Adventurers at Franklin Park Conservatory – Thursdays at 10:30 AM – this is program for ages 3-5 with nature-themed stories and activities.

Pre School and Parent/Child Classes at Columbus Recreation and Parks – Registration for Winter Session opened January 3rd.  There are pages and pages of classes available for your young children and many of them are free or at an extremely low cost!

Pre School Open Gym at Dublin Rec Center – Mondays and Fridays from 9:00 AM – 11:00 AM  for ages 6 months to 6 years. Check the link for several other toddler programs at the Dublin Rec Center!

Toddler Theater

Toddler Theater at Abbey Theater of Dublin – select Wednesdays from 10:00 AM – 10:45 AM – recommended for ages 2-5, this is an interactive performance by Marlene Hartzler. Kids are encouraged to join her on stage to sing and dance! Often there is a special costumed visitor who joins in the fun!

Toddler Story Time at Columbus Metropolitan Library, Main Library – Tuesdays from 10:30 AM – 11:00 AM – There are so many toddler and pre-K story times going on in the CML system. Make sure to check the link to search for your closest branch or explore a new one!

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Grandview Library

Tales for Toddlers at Grandview Library – Tuesdays from 10:15 AM – 10:45 AM – story time for ages 18-36 mos. Check the link for all the other story times for young children going on this winter!

Toddler Time at Westerville Rec Center – Fridays from 9:30 AM – 11:30 AM – this is a drop in program for ages Kindergarten and under and their caregivers. The time includes play and crafts!

Pee Wee Play Gym at Westerville Rec Center – Mondays from 9:30 AM – 11:30 AM – this play time is a drop in program for ages 3 and under accompanied by an adult!

Little Explorers Base Camp at Columbus Zoo and Aquarium – this is a free, drop in program where preschoolers and toddlers can learn and explore!

Curious Kids at The Works: Ohio Center for History, Art & Technology – drop in preschool program on Tuesdays from 10:30 AM – 11:30 AM – free with admission or membership! See the link for the weekly schedule and themes!

Winter Classes at piccadilly – classes are available for babies through preschoolers in things like Messy Art, Storybook Art, Squats and Tots and more! Drop in or sign up for a series!

Toddler Thursdays at Magic Mountain – from 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM kids can have unlimited KidsGym for just $2.50!

Scioto Audubon

Pre-K Storytime at Scioto Audubon – Thursdays and Saturdays at 10:00 AM – this time features nature stories for ages 3-5. Check the link for many other ongoing toddler and preschool programs at Columbus Metro Parks.

Mr. Eric’s Music at Firefly Cafe – 1st and 3rd Tuesdays at 10:30 AM – a fun singing time with Mr. Eric is included with admission to the play cafe!

My Very First Art Class! Toddler Art at Zen Kidz Play Cafe – Thursdays – several classes are available throughout the morning for parents and children together!

Toddler Time at Get Air – this special toddler jump time is available on Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday from 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM!

Toddler Time special with Get Air and Tree of Life Play Cafe – on Wednesdays and Thursdays, these neighboring businesses offer a special price to play at both locations!

Babytime and Tales for Twos and Threes at Worthington Libraries – lots of story times available for toddlers almost every day of the week!

Drop-in Preschool Storytime at Westerville Library – Monday and Thursday mornings from 11:30 AM – 12:00 PM – singing, books, instruments and more for ages 3-6!

Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

Metro Parks Preschool Programs – at least seven of the Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks have regular preschool programs that are free to attend! Most are for ages 3-5. Click the link to see the upcoming schedule at any given time and drop in!

Pre-K Classes at The Little Gym of Polaris – Gymnastics, sports and music and movement classes are available to engage the little ones and keep them moving!

Toddler/Preschool Enrichment classes at Studio J: Sing Paint Play – these classes are for kids age 1-5 and include stories, songs, instruments, art projects and more!

Did I miss anything? Leave a comment with more ideas and info if you have it! 🙂

Hang in there . . . spring is coming!

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ICYMI: 10 New Year’s Resolutions for Columbus Parents

*Please be aware,  information is gathered from multiple community sources.  Times, dates and locations are subject to change. There may be a fee to participate in a featured activity.  Please call ahead or check links to confirm activities.  Enjoy what you do today!*


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