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9 Things to Do with Your Kids at Scioto Audubon

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The Scioto Audubon is a really awesome Metro Park as far as kids are concerned – you should definitely take your kids there! I had been there a few times for work events in my past life, but I had never explored the park with kids until this past spring! I was missing out!

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Here are 9 things you can do there with your kids! (I don’t necessarily recommend doing them all in one day, we did a lot of them and were pretty worn out!) We’ve since been back a few times just to play in the sandbox and have a much more relaxed morning, and that’s just as great, too!

1. Attend a Story Time

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We arrived in time for the Pre-K Storytime on a Thursday morning. These story times take place at 10:00 AM on Thursdays and Saturdays in the Grange Insurance Audubon Center. The library area was full of children’s books and there was a tee pee to play in, as well as scientific equipment to investigate. The story time was laid back and fun for small kids. There was a wide age range of kids there and I felt that the volunteer was very understanding of their varying levels of concentration!

2. Visit with Live Animals

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After the story time, a volunteer took us down the hall to visit with frogs, turtles and other water creatures. I wouldn’t have known about this room if it wasn’t for our friendly story time leader!

3. Check Out the Play Room

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I had no idea that there was a play area inside the Center. I would have been coming here during the winter, that’s for sure! There are puppets in a cave-like play area and a climbing structure! There were also really cute animal costumes for dressing up. Inside the same room were animal pelts and skulls the kids could touch.

4. Play in the Sand Box

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Just outside the Audubon Center, there is a sand box to play in. My kids could have stayed here all day! There were already sand toys in the area, so we did not have to bring our own. There’s a chalkboard for drawing on and several paths for the kids to walk on in the area.

5. Walk the Boardwalk

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We took a walk out the back of the Audubon Center, down the path that leads to the rock climbing wall and playground. It’s a good hike, but still doable with small children. We didn’t actually see any animals, but we heard frogs croaking! This spot was a little scary for me with an almost 2 year old peering over the boardwalk. If you can trust your kids not to dive in, it’s worth doing! I wished I could enjoy it a little more but I was trying not to have a heart attack every time they walked close to the edge. 😉

6. Check out the River Overlook

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The park has a river overlook, out over the Scioto River. There are binoculars available for long distance viewing!

7. Play on the Playground

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You can walk down the boardwalk to the playground, or park in the parking lot right next to it. We walked down after already having a full morning playing, so the walk back up was a bit tiring. I might recommend driving down so you can leave from the park. There is a play area for older and younger kids and a mister for really hot days! There are several picnic tables with umbrellas overhead. For older kids, there is a rock climbing wall and an obstacle course nearby. I love the gorgeous views of downtown from the park!

8. Go Bird Watching

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Well, this should be obvious at an audubon center, I guess, but there are a lot of bird watching opportunities. 😉 If you can get your kids to stay still enough (definitely a challenge for me!) the birds will congregate at the feeders around the building. We saw quite a few from the windows in the library, and we were able to walk by the feeders on the outside decks (which are also on my list of places to come WITHOUT kids)! There are lots of opportunities to learn about birds inside the center, too!

9. Climb the Water Tower

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Or more accurately, climb two stories of the water tower! 😉 And this is a bonus tip because we didn’t actually do it! If I thought it wasn’t going to mean carrying a toddler up and down the steps, I would have totally done this for the awesome view, but I was pushing the limit as it was! I imagine it would be fun to eat a packed lunch up there!

Know Before You Go:

Scioto Audubon Metro Park, 400 W. Whittier St., Columbus, OH 43215, 614-202-5197
Park Hours:
6:30 AM to 10:00 PM April through September
6:30 AM to 8:00 PM October through March

Grange Insurance Audubon Center, 505 W. Whittier St., Columbus OH 43215, 614-545-5475
Spring/Summer Hours:
Closed Monday
Tuesday – Saturday 10:00 AM – 8:00 PM
Sunday 12:00 PM to 8:00 PM

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ICYMI: Cheap Family Outings in Columbus for Every Day of the Week


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Exploring Blendon Woods Metro Park

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This summer I am on a quest to explore as many Metro Parks as we can. One crazy morning we did two! We started out at the playground at Rocky Fork and then headed to Blendon Woods. One thing about the Metro Parks here in Columbus is that they open up a totally different world. So many times we end up somewhere and find myself saying, “wow, I didn’t know this was here!” And even though you’re less than 20 miles from downtown Columbus, you can walk through the woods and all of a sudden stumble upon something that makes you feel like you’re somewhere far away. That’s how I felt at Blendon Woods!

We started out at the Nature Center . . .

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Right away, we headed straight for the back where there is a wildlife viewing room. Luckily for us, there was a wild turkey right outside the window and a squirrel doing acrobatics from the feeder! There are binoculars available for long distance viewing.

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There are a lot of mounted animals on display inside the center.

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There is a separate room where there were some activities for kids, nature books (for adults and children), more mounted animals and also live animals like fish, turtles and a snake!

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Here you could make crayon rubbings of different kinds of leaves. There were other nature activities for children and cards with animal paw prints on them to match up with the various mounted animals in the room.

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Probably the biggest hit with my kids were the “please touch” containers. Even in the Metro Parks, I’ve found the there can be a lot of “don’t touch” and “don’t walk here” situations, so the fact that my kids could freely explore interesting objects like feathers and antlers and turtle shells was a lot of fun for them!

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I pretty much had to tear them away from the “please touch” buckets and out the door, down the path toward the waterfowl refuge.

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When you get to the fork in the road, choose one of these paths . . . we ended up doing both!

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This is a must do! Here is a great example of walking down a wooded path, not knowing what to expect, and then all of a sudden being amazed at what you find. I guess I’m about to ruin that experience for you by showing you pictures 😉 but in case you’re like me and you get to this:

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. . . and you think maybe this is just some storage area or ranger station closed off to the general public, and are tempted to turn around, like I was, I’m telling you to keep going inside! And see this:

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Inside each of the two shelters, there are viewing windows, a telescope and some open-air slots for viewing wildlife and birds. It was peaceful and I could have stood there staring for quite some time. But my kids weren’t quite as patient.

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Maybe someone can tell me what kind of bird that is in the picture above? 🙂

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After we walked back down the path and to our car, we drove to one of the playgrounds. There are a couple of them and this one is on the west side by the Natural Play Area. My kids loved the wire tunnels to crawl through.

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Within walking distance of the playground is the Natural Play Area where kids can freely roam in the creek and woods, and be free to play. We didn’t make it there because this was our second Metro Park of the day, after all, and it was starting to rain. I took that as a sign that it was time to call it a day and head home for nap time!

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Blendon Woods Metro Park has a lot of free programs available to the community. Throughout the week there are preschool programs, yoga classes for adults and activities for grade schoolers. This weekend there is a treasure hunt in the Natural Play Area and a program about Monarchs. I have had varying experiences with the programs for kids at the Metro Parks, some are welcoming of younger siblings tagging along and others are not, so I would recommend giving them a call if you have any questions about attending.

Check out this map of all of the Metro Parks! I encourage you to take advantage of all our great Metro Park system has to offer!

Know Before You Go:

Blendon Woods Metro Park
Address: 4265 E. Dublin-Granville Road Westerville, OH 43081
Hours: 6:30 AM to 10:00 PM, April through September, 6:30 AM to 8:00 PM, October through March
Phone: 614-620-1861
Nature Center Phone: 614-895-6221

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ICYMI: 12 Columbus Parks to Try This Summer


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What Should We Do This Weekend? Jan 29-31, 2016

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Here are five things you can do with your kids this weekend!

1.  Carpe Diem’s Free Family Concerts

Date: Sunday, January 31, 2016
Location: McConnell Arts Center
Hours: Sunday 1-1:45 p.m.
Address: 777 Evening Street, Worthington, 43085
Phone: 614-431-0329, 614-205-8160

Carpe Diem String Quartet’s free Sunday concerts for families are fun, hands on, and entertaining! All ages are welcome!

2.  Family Fun at Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens: Songbirds

Date: Saturday, January 30, 2016
Hours: 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
Admission: $13 (free for members)
Address: 1777 East Broad Street, Columbus, 43203
Phone: 614-715-8000

Make a colorful paper songbird to brighten up your winter day. Free with admission.

3.  Family Friday Night at COSI

COSI offers extended hours (open until 9PM!) and price reduced admission to families so you can visit, learn, and play late! General admission is only $11 after 5pm and includes all of COSI’s permanent exhibitions. (Free for members.)

4.  Pre-K Storytime at the Scioto Audubon Metro Park

Join one of our dynamic volunteers for Preschool Story Time at 10am on Thursday and Saturday mornings. Enjoy a nature based story in our beautiful library and bird viewing room. After the story your little ones can romp and play in the Forest Room where they can dress up like birds, play with puppets and climb into the tree tops in our forest.

These are drop-in programs, registration is not required.

Place: Grange Insurance Audubon Center
505 W. Whittier St.
Columbus, OH 43215
Date:  Saturday, January 30, 2016
Time: 10:00 AM
Fee: Free
Age Range:  3-5

5.  Saturday Story Stomp!

Date: Saturday January 30, 2016
Time: 11:00 am – 11:30 am
Location: Karl Road Library, 5590 Karl Rd., Columbus, OH 43229

Age Group: 2-6 years
An active storytime with plenty of books, music and movement for children ages 2-6 and their families

 

*Please be aware that most information has been taken from the websites of these organizations and is subject to change.  Please call ahead to confirm activities.  Enjoy what you do today!*


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