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November in Review: Amy’s Donuts, Louisville, Toddler Theater and More!

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As I’ve gotten older, fall has started to lose its charm. Especially since I became a parent, fall has been overshadowed by the reminder that winter is coming. As a mom, to me, winter means finding indoor activities, braving the cold to leave the house, dark nights after dinner, watching the clock crawl backwards until bedtime. Winter means a lot of extra effort to get out of the house, battling bulky coats and losing gloves. It means getting out to the car and then realizing you forgot to allow time to defrost and scrape icy windows. It means standing outside in the cold while my kids build snowmen, staying at home when the roads get bad. UGH. I’m depressing myself just writing this paragraph. BUT the point I’m getting to is that this year, fall was amazing!

Sure, November was rough in a few ways: the Indians lost the World Series in a rain-delayed, extra inning Game 7, the election craziness, the loss of sleep due to staying up to watch both events unfold on TV! But there were a lot of great things about November too: abnormally high temperatures, the leaves staying full of color throughout the month, the beginning of the holidays! We had a lot of fun in November, soaking up the extra unanticipated month of warmth!

Today I wanted to share about some of the things we did in November in hopes that you might take away an idea or two!

The first weekend in November, my husband and I met my parents at the Buckeye Express Diner in Bellville, OH! I had been wanting to take the kids to eat in this train car for some time! I knew they would love it and I also wanted to personally experience it before including in my MEGA Train List!

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The diner is decorated with an OSU theme . . .

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there is a train playground outside . . .

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and they have huge burgers!

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This restaurant is about an hour drive from downtown Columbus and you could combine it with a trip to Little Buckeye Children’s Museum.

After dinner at Buckeye Express, we actually sent the kids back with my parents and my husband and I had a weekend away in Louisville – which is only 3.5 hours from Columbus! We were attending a benefit for Thistlebend Ministries, an organization that hired my husband to design their website (shameless plug), and we turned it into a little getaway to celebrate our 10 year anniversary! The two things I remember most from our trip are the walk across the Big Four Bridge:

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and Joella’s Hot Chicken:

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We checked out Tanger Outlets, Columbus for the first time! Our main goal was shoe shopping and we did succeed – new shoes for both boys! They were still wearing their rubber summer shoes made for getting wet and going in the washing machine and the warm November had lulled me into forgetting that all it would take was one cold day to freeze off their toes!

The playground at the outlets is really cute, completely closed in and my kids had a lot of fun playing there! However, it is NOT toddler friendly, there are several really high drop offs!

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While we were there, we had lunch at Rise Pies – a cheese pizza was under $6 and was pretty tasty!

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The kids and I went on a tour of Amy’s Donuts with a couple of other blogger friends from Columbus Moms Blog! It was a short, fun tour where we watched the donuts get cut, friend and iced. Each kid got to decorate two donuts at the end! You can read Helen’s post on her blog, Diaper Bag Diaries for more info and pictures! Tours are done every Monday, Tuesday and Thursday afternoon. Just give them a call (614-641-7721) to schedule.

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Mayson and I attended our first Toddler Theater at the Abbey Theater of Dublin with Miss Marlene – Dance and Sing! Clifford the Big Red Dog was in attendance and Mayson had absolutely no interest in getting anywhere near him! These Toddler Theaters are $2 per child and take place on select Wednesdays from 10:00 AM – 10:45 AM (see the link for dates).

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One of our favorite annual November activities is Model Railroad Days at COSI. Always the weekend before Thanksgiving, the displays here are a hit with my kids! There are several large models set up across two rooms and each room has train tables for playing as well!

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I also took my kids on a blogger tour of Downtown Powell! Hosted by Storgē, the tour included stops in Espresso 22:

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Cute as a Button:

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And Storgē:

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All three shops were beautiful, the owners were friendly (and gracious, as I was the only one toting around two kids . . . haha), and there were kid friendly items for sale at each location! Keep these places in mind for unique Christmas gifts!

We finished up November with a Thanksgiving trip to my brother’s house in Barlow, KY! It was a long drive, but we survived with a lot of new library books and DVD’s. When we visit them, we love to go see the Christmas lights at Patti’s 1880’s Settlement in Grand Rivers, KY.

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It’s almost December! I love our Columbus Christmas traditions and I’m looking forward to trying some new things as well! There is a lot to enjoy during the holiday season, but I think it’s also important to pace yourself and choose your activities wisely. I can tend to cram too much in, but having kids has made me more realistic in what I can accomplish and what I should even attempt! I still overdo it (just ask my husband) but I’m looking forward to a busy yet peaceful holiday season and I wish you the same!

***I’m working on a new feature spotlighting my readers and their favorite places! Would you take a minute to tell me about YOUR favorite places to take your kids in Columbus? Pretty please?! You will be entered into a drawing for a free family play pass at Recreations Outlet! Click HERE to participate! *******

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ICYMI: MEGA Train List for Central Ohio and Beyond (MORE items have been added!)


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MEGA Train List for Central Ohio and Beyond

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My kids love trains! I have been to *almost* every place on this list! When Jaden was 3, he could have gone to Barnes and Noble every single day to play with Thomas. This list isn’t so much for your kids as it is for you! Of course your kids will love these places, but this list is to keep YOU from going insane from doing the same thing every day! 😉 A good number of these things are special events that are only available for a short time! So check the list and mark your calendars because many of those are coming up this month! You, too, can be a really useful engine! 😉

1. Paul Busse Model Garden Railway at Franklin Park Conservatory, downtown Columbus

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The train in the picture below is up nearly year round, but the one above makes a special appearance during the holidays! Check the link for info on Merry and Bright!

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2. Grandview Library, Grandview Heights

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One great library with a train table!

3. Huntington Holiday Train at Columbus Metropolitan Library, downtown Columbus

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The Huntington Holiday Train arrives in mid-November and the Main Library hosts an Open House on November 30th, which will include hot chocolate and cookies, crafts and the lighting of Topiary Park! For even more trains, keep an eye on the Hilliard and Gahanna branches which will offer Polar Express programs this year!

4. Ohio Railway Museum, Worthington

The museum has been working on repairing the tracks so no train rides are available as of today, but they hope to be up and running for the holidays!

5. The Train Station, Clintonville

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Model trains are for sale here and they also have a small play area for kids!

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6. Moody Street Trains, Clintonville

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Model trains are for sale here and there is a train table for playing. On Saturday, December 3, 2016, they will host the 2nd Annual National Lionel Train Day which will feature prizes, face painting and a visit from Santa!

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7. Model Railroad Days at COSI, downtown Columbus

Model Railroad Days are November 16-20, 2016 this year and large model train sets are available for viewing and there are also trains to play with! During the weekend you can watch the movie Rocky Mountain Express in the theater. At Christmastime, The Polar Express is shown as well! (p.s. there is also a train to play with in the little kidspace at COSI!)

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8. Barnes and Noble, various locations

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Barnes and Noble offers the hope that your children will play with trains while you quietly sip coffee and read a magazine.

9. Hilliard Branch, Columbus Metropolitan Library, Hilliard

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The Hilliard Branch is a fun library for kids and has a Chuggington train table.

10. Von Maur, Polaris Fashion Place

In the children’s section of the store, there is a train that runs along the wall and a train table for playing!

11. Easton Express Railway, Easton Town Center

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This outdoor train track is always decorated for whatever season it happens to be and is a big hit with the kids!

12. BrickUniverse, Columbus Convention Center

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There are lots of working LEGO trains at this once-a-year LEGO Expo!

13. Delaware County Model Railroaders’ Open Houses, Delaware

Model railroads are set up on these special open-house dates!

14. Great Train Show at Ohio Expo Center

This expo is coming January 14-15, 2017 and includes model railroads, train dealers, hands-on exhibits and more!

15. Inniswood Metro Gardens, Westerville

We stumbled upon this train track behind the offices at Inniswood. I couldn’t find any info on if/when it is used, but if you know, please leave a comment below!

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16. Holiday Train Display at Ohio History Center

This special train is on exhibit during the holiday season! It will be on display November 28, 2016 – January 4, 2017.

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There are other trains on the grounds of the Ohio History Center year round, including one inside the building that can be sat in, and the one seen below that sits outside.

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17. Schiller Park in German Village

This is a great park with a train that can be played on!

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18. Alum Creek Park North, Westerville

This park is affectionately known as “the train park” – and aptly so!

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19. Henceroth Park, Grove City

This park offers lots of vehicles to play on including a jeep, boat and this wooden train!

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20. North America Train Ride at Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

For $1 per person, you can ride a train around the North American exhibit at the zoo!

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21. Christmas Time Open House at Central Ohio Model Railroad Club

For 4 weekends in December, the club puts on an open house featuring giant model railroad layouts, an interactive Thomas the Tank Engine display and more! Admission is free!

22. Open Garden Tour by the members of Columbus Garden Railway Society

On the second Sunday in September, members of the Columbus Garden Railway Society open their houses (gardens!) for a tour of their own Garden Railroads!

BEYOND COLUMBUS . . .

23. Little Buckeye Children’s Museum, Mansfield

One of the larger exhibits at the Little Buckeye Museum is the model train display and nearby train tables for playing!

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24. Mad River & NKP Railroad Museum, Bellevue

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There are tons of trains on display here, may of which you can climb aboard! This museum has indoor and outdoor components and the gift shop has a train table for playing!

25. Northwest Ohio Railroad Preservation, Inc., Findlay

This organization offers train rides and holiday events (including the North Pole Express), a museum, gift shop and model train displays!

26. The Buckeye Express Diner, Bellville

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Eat dinner in an OSU-themed train car! There is a train playground outside too!

27. Dennison Railroad Depot Museum, Dennison

This museum has a railroad car just for kids, model trains and a scavenger hunt just for kids!

 28. Lodi Station Outlets, Lodi

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This outlet mall is built with a train theme! You can purchase tickets to take a train ride around the property!

29. EnterTAINment Junction, West Chester

This venue offers displays, a museum, seasonal rides and a funhouse!

30. Day Out with Thomas, various locations

These special days only happen a few times a year at Ohio locations and include a 25-minute train ride, kids activities, live music and more!

31. Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad, Northeast Ohio

The trains here run mainly on the weekends and there are several events scheduled throughout the year, including a Christmas Tree Adventure!

32. Hocking Valley Scenic Railway, Nelsonville

This railway offers special trips throughout the year including a Santa Train on December 18, 2016. Tickets are limited.

33. LM & M Railroad, Lebanon, Lebanon

This historic railroad offers special events including the Day out with Thomas and North Pole Express!

34. Train-O-Rama, Marblehead

One of Ohio’s largest multi-gauge model railroad displays open to the public! Trains are for sale in the gift shop as well!

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ICYMI: 5 Moms of Nationwide Share their Favorite Places to take their Kids in Columbus


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