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5 Things to do with Your Kids this Summer in Columbus Part 3

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My oldest son starts preschool in September and with that, we will enter the stage of life where our days are dictated by a school schedule. I’m looking at this summer as our last slice of compete freedom! We’re trying out lots of new things which I’ve written about in PART 1 and PART 2 of this Summer post. Here is PART 3:  5 more things you can do this summer with your kids!

1. Play in the Sandbox at Scioto Audubon

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We’ve enjoyed the Scioto Audubon a few times this summer! You know one of the great things about it? There’s this awesome sand pit behind the Center and all of the sand toys are already provided for you. Also it’s shady. Also my 2 year old is sitting next to me while I’m typing and he’s saying, “I want to go to that sandbox,” so I would take that as a good sign! 😉 There’s also an outdoor chalk board for drawing and a play area inside. And also this playground. It’s so great there!

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2. KidX Club at Polaris Fashion Place

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KidX happens on Friday mornings at the fountains at Polaris Fashion Place. Each week has a different theme. We went on safety day. We did a scavenger hunt to find little plastic firemen hidden around the fountain area and when we marked them all off, the kids each got to pick a prize out of the treasure chest. Sunny 95’s treat truck is on site giving out free ice cream and each week has different activities, sponsors and give aways! Of course kids can jump in the fountains so bring your swimsuits! There are just two more opportunities to do this, this summer: August 5 and August 12!

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3. Visit the Animals at Stratford Ecological Center

We spent at afternoon at Stratford Ecological Center in Delaware County in early June. When we were there, there were baby goats, baby chicks, and baby piglets, as well as lots of other animals like cows, llamas, and the adult forms of the aforementioned babies. 😉 The gardens were just starting to come in, so only lettuce was available for picking, but you can pick and purchase your own vegetables from the garden all summer and there should be many more options now! See my full post about our visit here!

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4. Play at Shores Park at Columbus Zoo

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Shores Park is a new interactive playground. With animal structures to climb in and through, this was a lot of fun for my kids. Several of the features have water that shoots out at random times, which provided a suspense-filled play time for lots of kids, including my youngest who got drenched by one of the fountains! There is also a life-sized board game where you can move along the path on the ground to become an Ocean Explorer! Also new in the area is a 4-D theater. In case you’re wondering what 4-D is, like I did, the films are 3-D with the addition of multi-sensory effects. I can’t tell you for sure what those effects are because we haven’t tried it yet, but the tickets are $5/person or $4 for Zoo members (Free for Gold Members and those with a Zoo-It-All wristband). Current films being shown are short, 8 minute offerings from Ice Age and Happy Feet. My kids enjoyed it here and could have stayed longer, but we pushed them along in search of dinner! 😉

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5. See a $1 Movie at Studio Movie Grill’s Children’s Summer Series

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On a hot morning, we cooled off with a kid’s movie at Studio Movie Grill This was my kids’ first movie theater experience and, for the most part, it was a success.  There was that excruciatingly long Ice Age snippet before the movie that was a bit overwhelming and loud for my kids, but after that, they settled in pretty happily with Peanuts. Peanuts was a sweet movie and rated G. You can see a list of their upcoming movies here. There is a different kids’ movie each week through September 2, 2016. The $1 showings are at 11:00 AM. Studio Movie Grill also serves food while you watch. You order by pressing a button on your seat table and a server will come to take your order. Parking in the garage is $2 with validation. $4 for the movie tickets and $2 for parking made the $7 popcorn (with free refills!) a little more bearable! There is also the Cinemark Summer Movie Clubhouse with $1 movies at 10:00 AM on Wednesdays and Thursdays, but that ends this week!

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I don’t want to think about summer coming to an end . . . but it’s not over yet, so we’ll keep exploring and sharing our ideas with you! Thanks for reading!

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ICYMI: Exploring Blendon Woods Metro Park


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DayTrip: The Farm at Walnut Creek

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This week I’m sharing with you a day trip we took this past Labor Day weekend.  I’m gonna be real honest here . . . I grew up around Amish Country so it became this place my parents would drag me to as a begrudging middle-schooler and a place I opted out of when I was old enough to stay at home by myself.  I wanted to live in the “big city” and I had very little appreciation for the simple life.  (Cut me some slack, I was 13.)

Well, fast forward so many odd years (no one needs to know exactly how many) . . . I spent my single years in a big city (Yo Philly!) and when I moved back to Ohio, I had a new found appreciation for a simpler life, green grass and WIDE open spaces!

Why am I telling you this?  I’m setting the stage to tell you that my expectations for The Farm at Walnut Creek were pretty low.  I’m not sure what I expected – a few animals behind a picket fence, I guess – but what we discovered far exceeded my expectations and I came away totally impressed and having had a really fun day with my family!

I would wholeheartedly make plans for a day trip to Amish country if I were you!  First of all, the grounds of the farm are beautiful . . . and huge!  I was a bad blogger and didn’t photograph every square inch of the place (scratch that, I wasn’t a blogger then, so my family thanks you for the fact that I didn’t push us to heat exhaustion to get every picture!)  Seriously, though, there are a lot of places on the property we didn’t make it to because 1. It was really hot that day and 2. There is just so much!  There is a produce stand, a playground, house tours, and a gift barn that we didn’t see!

What did we do?  We did participate in the main attraction which is a one-hour horse-drawn wagon ride to view many of the 500+ animals that live on the property.  You can also choose to drive your own car around the 2.3 mile loop to view the animals.  There are animals with large horns, so you do so at your own risk!

When you first arrive, you will need to pay at the drive up window or the person standing at the gate.  They do not take credit or debit cards.  You will drive further back into the property to park and then follow signs to the wagon ride.  Make note that the restrooms are in the basement of the main farmhouse, which is close to the parking lot.

When we used the restrooms, that was the most we saw of the house, but there was an amazing store room of canned goods!  Wow!  I was in awe!  A woman was working in the basement kitchen workspace, kneading bread.  This is a fully functioning house and farm and every day they are working to maintain the daily activities of the household and farm.

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Before getting on the wagon ride, there were plenty of animals to see, pet and feed around the farm.  Feed is for sale at dispensers around the grounds.

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We went to the farm on Labor Day so it was pretty busy.  There was a wait for the wagon ride, but considering how many people were there, it wasn’t too bad!  There are a lot of horses and wagons in operation.  I believe between 10-15.  As I mentioned, the day we went was pretty hot and they did have bottles of water for sale as we waited.

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On the wagon ride, they provide buckets of pellets to feed the animals as you go.  Some of the animals will come right up to the wagon to eat from your hand and the rest you can toss the food to on the ground.  Some of the animals you will see include kangaroos, zebras, giraffes, elk, deer, pot-bellied pigs, llamas, camels, and many more.

The day we went, I posted a picture on Facebook and my cousin commented with a tip that I didn’t see in time – but she was absolutely right.  You’re lucky because I am graciously going to pass this tip on to you: as you enter the wagon and are facing the back of the horse, sit on the left side of the wagon.  There were more animals on that side, including the giraffes.  (Now don’t go pushing anyone out of the way or anything.  We sat on the right side and still had a great time!)

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My youngest son was 14 months old when we went on the wagon ride.  He did get a little restless.  Of course this depends on the kid, but I would imagine kids over age 2 might be better suited for the wagon ride.  When you enter the grounds, you can choose whether or not you want to pay for the wagon ride.  (It’s an additional $3-5 depending on your age, but kids under 2 are free.)  There is a lot to see and do even if you don’t do the wagon ride.

After the wagon ride, we walked through the grounds and gardens, which were beautiful.

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After our our day at the farm, we had lunch at Der Dutchman in Walnut Creek, where again, there was a decent line to wait in to be seated, but my kids were entertained by the rocking chairs on the porch!

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The Farm at Walnut Creek has a web page dedicated to area attractions so you can choose from a variety of ways to spend the rest of your day.  The farm is about and hour and 45 minute drive from downtown Columbus.  It could be done in a day or made into a nice weekend trip.  I hope you find time to give this trip a try and enjoy the wide open spaces and beautiful scenery of Amish Country!

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Know Before You Go:

The Farm at Walnut Creek
4147 County Road 114, Sugarcreek, OH 44681
Phone: 330-893-4200
Hours: Monday – Saturday: 8:30 AM – 1 hour before sunset.
Last wagon ride starts at 5:00 PM
Closed Sunday

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ICYMI: 8 Reasons to Take Your Kids to North Market


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Aquarium Adventure

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Yesterday we took a trip to Aquarium Adventure.  You know, I used to feel kind of weird for taking Jaden here until I saw that Aquarium Adventure posted an ad in Columbus Parent telling parents to bring their kids here to look at fish!  Permission granted!

I stumbled upon Aquarium Adventure a few years ago out of curiosity.  I’m sure, as parents, we’ve all spent more than our fair share of time in the shopping plaza anchored by Babies ‘R Us off Sawmill Road.  As your bump turns into a baby, you probably, like me, travelled down the plaza to Carter’s and then, eventually, to Michael’s to entertain the thought that, one day, you might once again have time to do something crafty (hence the bag of unused crochet needles and yarn in my closet – I had a 6 month old, WHAT WAS I THINKING?).  Then, when the euphoria wore off, you realized the kid’s craft section is fun entertainment for your preschooler.  Eventually you end up at the other end of the strip:  Aquarium Adventure.

This place is pretty awesome.  As you can see from these pictures, it’s pretty large, has a ton of different fish, and even caters to visiting children.  (I’m just going to interrupt here to say that since I am not an underwater expert, I am going to refer to most of the living creatures we saw here as “fish”, though I do realize that might not be the correct term!)  What is especially entertaining is the large tanks they have with bigger fish . . . and this time, a stingray!

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There used to be a creepy looking fish in the large tank that Jaden was afraid of.  It has since been replaced by a stingray – with caution tape advising you to stay behind the line while viewing!  My kids circled this tank, coming back and forth to it many times.  They also loved the turtles – the real ones and the Teenage Mutant Ninja variety!

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We got to see one of the workers feed the piranhas – she invited my kids to watch, which I thought was pretty nice.  There is also a “Touch Me Tidepool” complete with towels for wiping wet hands.  Jaden was cautious when I read off the list of things you could touch and he heard the word “crabs”.  There was no way he was putting his hand in that pool!  Though to be honest, I didn’t see any crabs!  Mayson probably would have dove in head first, so I didn’t call too much attention to this opportunity.

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As with most of my daily outings, I combined a legitimate errand on my part with something fun for my kids to do. They could have stayed at Aquarium Adventure all morning! We were probably there for at least 30 minutes as it was, but I was on a mission to Whole Foods to pick up a few groceries, which leads me to part two of the morning.

Whole Foods itself can be a fun experience for kids, but I find that my kids, like the food, have an expiration date in grocery stores. Grocery shopping is a race against the clock for me, and it can quickly decompensate into a seriously stressful experience. Whole Foods often helps stretch the time by offering samples of food and the promise of time in the play area if they can hold it together long enough for me to compare labels on the nitrate-free bacon.

On this trip, I’ll admit, I also picked up two chocolate chip muffins to sweeten the trip.

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After checking out, we made our way to the play area so I could sit and stare into space (every parent’s dream) and the kids could play while we ate our muffins.  The play area at the Whole Foods on Sawmill is nice in that it is pretty closed off, is close to the bathroom and has a lot of nice seating in the area.  In my opinion, it is not the cleanest and that is a drawback.  Maybe this is a stereotype, but my expectations are a little higher for Whole Foods.  But I let them play anyway, and they had a lot of fun.

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Overall, this was a good morning for us.  It was a happy combination of fun things for the kids and mom accomplishing a goal.  This outing took about 2.5 hours for us, including drive time.  At 18 months old, Mayson loved seeing the fish and was tall enough to see into enough fish tanks to make it worth it.  You could easily combine this trip with lunch at Whole Foods, and if it was warm, you could potentially walk between the two locations (because I am all about reducing the amount of times you have to get kids in and out of the car!).  Has anyone else checked it out?

 

Know before you go:

Location: 3632 W Dublin Granville Rd, Columbus, OH 43235

Cost:  Free

Parking:  Large parking lot in front of store


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