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Exploring Ohio with Kids: Bellevue

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This post has kind of been a long time coming! We did this late last summer and it seemed too late to post it, so I’m sharing it with you now as an idea for a fun road trip this summer! Bellevue, Ohio is a small Lake Erie town about 2 hours from downtown Columbus. We spent a week at Sandusky Bay and this is how we spent one of our days. It could be done in a one day road trip or you could spend the night somewhere near Sandusky and also visit the African Wildlife Safari Park!

Here are 3 activities that will fill your day in Bellevue, Ohio!

1. Jungle Junction

110 Cherry Blvd. Bellevue, OH 44811
Phone: 419-484-5532

Jungle Junction claims to be the largest indoor play structure in Ohio. I cannot verify this, but I will take their word for it! 🙂 This play area is designed for kids ages 12 and under and you must wear socks. I forgot socks and I was able to purchase a pair at the counter.

Around the periphery of the main play area is a toddler play area with animals to climb and slide on.

My kids had spent a lot of time in the toddler area until they gained the courage to enter the Tree Top Play area!

Inside the Tree Top Play area there are lots of climbing structures, slides, tunnels, etc. There are also air cannons that shoot plastic balls all around the area. (If your kids are sensitive to this kind of thing, they do have a Sensory Day on the first and third Wednesday of each month from 12:00 PM – 4:00 PM where the air cannons cannot be used.) My oldest is sensitive to noise and it took him a while to get used to the noise and have the courage to go inside!

Admission is for the day, so you can come and go with a stamp on your hand. There is no charge for parents/caregivers and the price for children (as of May, 2017) is as follows:

  • Children 1 and under: $2
  • Ages 2-12: $6
  • Twilight Special – $4 (After 5:00 PM, Monday-Thursday)

2. Bone Boy’s BBQ

109 W. Main St., Bellevue, OH 44811
Phone: 419-483-7447

We’ve only eaten at one restaurant in Bellevue, but I can highly recommend this one if you like BBQ and it is kid friendly! I loved to see the meat being grilled right out back of the restaurant!

A big bonus here is that kids under 5 eat free!

Yum!

3. Mad River & NKP Railroad Museum

253 Southwest St., Bellevue, Ohio 44811
Phone: 419-483-2222

Wow. I took a lot of pictures here! There is SO MUCH to see! If you have kids that love trains, they will be in heaven at this museum! The museum is open every day from 12:00 PM – 4:00 PM, Memorial Day through Labor Day, and on weekends during May, September and October.

You buy your tickets in the gift shop – and then try to tear the kids away from the play area so you can see the actual museum! 😉

This museum is very hands on! It has an indoor and an outdoor area. You can walk through train cars, climb into the cabs and see historical artifacts.

The outdoor portion of the museum is across the street and there are many trains to climb into. Many of the trains have displays for viewing inside.

Admission (as of May, 2017) is as follows:

  • $10.00 Adults
  • $9.00 Senior (60+)
  • $5.00 Children (5-12)
  • Under 5 FREE

We played at Jungle Junction in the morning, had lunch and then headed over to the Railroad Museum for the afternoon. With kids under 5 (at the time), we didn’t even have to spend that much money! It was a full day, and as you can imagine, the boys looked like this on the way back to where we were staying:

We love to spend time around Lake Erie! Do you have a favorite place to visit there?

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ICYMI: Columbus Zoo: Little Explorers Base Camp


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A Day on the Farm: 5 Things to do at Stratford Ecological Center

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A friend and I took our kids to Stratford Ecological Center one afternoon in early June. It was a bright sunny day which made for a beautiful 30 minute drive to Delaware County. I took my oldest son, who, on the drive, became obsessed with the idea of being in the woods  (though he kept calling it “the wood,” as in, “are we in the wood now mommy?”) I think what he really meant was “wow, look at all these trees!” And when we turned into the driveway for the center it looked like this:

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And then yes, I could definitively say we were in “the woods”.  😉 We drove back through the property and arrived at the visitor’s center. Though the property managed by the Stratford Ecological Center is 236 acres, we spent about two hours just wandering through the small, educational farm. When visiting, you’re free to roam about the property at your own pace. Here are 5 things you can do!

1. Visit the animals in the barn

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The day we visited, there was a farm camp for kids going on. These camps are week-long day camps for kids ages 3-12. We got in on a goat-milking session with some of the kids.  (haha – no pun intended. 😉 )

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In the barn, there were also goats, sheep, a llama and a few barn cats that the kids went crazy trying to pet. Outside the barn, there were cows in the pasture, chickens and baby chicks, a rooster, a rabbit, and a mama with her baby goats.

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(I swear, the wearing of the tractor shirt was a total coincidence, I’m not THAT coordinated!)

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This is the famous unfriendly rooster. (That’s what the sign says, I’m not just being mean.) It’s famous at our house because whenever we talk about the farm, this is pretty much always what Jaden brings up. These are the things that leave impressions on kids!

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2. Walk out to the pond

Make sure you take a walk out to the pond. We got directions from the friendly staff inside the visitor’s center. It’s a short walk, though this path looks like it could go on forever!

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We saw birds and tadpoles and we could hear frogs croaking around the pond.

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It was beautiful and peaceful.

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As a bonus, there are lots of farm machines/equipment to see on the way down the path!

3. Pick your own fruits and vegetables

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Since we visited in early June, the only crops available for picking were various kinds of lettuce. But throughout the growing season, you can pick and purchase your own organic fruits and vegetables grown here in the garden. Inside the center you can also purchase eggs, meat, honey and seasonal maple syrup. Anything that is not purchased is donated to People In Need, a Delaware food bank.

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4. Dig in dirt

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I’ll be honest, of all the things on the farm, this was probably the most fun for Jaden. He loves to dig in the dirt and there is a small shed full of shovels, rakes and hoes and a huge pile of dirt with a sign that says, “dig here,” which is pretty much every little boy’s dream!

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5. Attend a story time or family program

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We weren’t at the farm during any special programing so I can’t tell you personally about this, but the center does offer a story time on the second Tuesday of each month, March through November ($5/family). On the second Saturday of the month, your family can participate in chores around the farm from 9:00 AM – 11:00 AM ($12/family). There are other special events scheduled this fall as well, so check out the event calendar here.

This is an outing is one you can totally do at your own (or your kids’) pace. The farm, garden, pasture and pond are all fairly close to each other so it’s doable even for small children (though not stroller friendly). Let me know what your kids enjoy doing on the farm!

Know Before You Go:

Stratford Ecological Center
Address: 3083 Liberty Rd., Delaware, OH 43015
Phone: 740-363-2548

Hours:
Monday – Friday: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Saturday: 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM

Visitors are encouraged to give a $3 donation per person or $6 per family.

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ICYMI: Your #newmain Library: Sneak Peek


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Little Buckeye Children’s Museum

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We were recently invited to visit the Little Buckeye Children’s Museum in Mansfield. My brother and his family happened to be visiting my parents in Wooster from out of state, so we turned our trip into a family outing, complete with Grandma and Grandpa!  The Little Buckeye Children’s Museum is 2 floors of imaginative play for young children.  We spent about 3 hours here and we still had to drag our kids away!  The museum is geared toward children up to 12 years of age and has been in downtown Mansfield since April, 2011.  The museum is about an hour drive from downtown Columbus.  I don’t think you’ll regret the drive, the museum is tons of fun for kids!  The 5 kids in our group ranged from age 1 to age 8 (all boys!) and they were all entertained 100% of the time!

It just so happens that this Friday night (May 6, 2016), Little Buckeye Children’s Museum is celebrating their 5th anniversary during Mansfield’s First Friday Shop Hop!  During this Birthday Party there will be crafts, games, cupcakes, prizes and more!  Find out more information here.  Sounds like a fun time!

When you walk through the door, you enter into a bright and cheerful front lobby.  There is a seating area and table top games for kids.  Food and snacks are limited to this area, and it would be great for a snack break or a packed lunch.  The museum has snacks like Goldfish crackers, trail mix, and Oreos for sale as well as water, juice boxes and a Keurig machine for coffee and cappuccinos.

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I will walk you through the two floors of the museum.  There is so much to do here and I took WAY too many pictures! 😉 Hopefully all the pictures will help you see how much fun there is to be had!  My 4 year old ran around saying, “This place is awesome!” so that should give you an idea of the level of fun we’re talking about!

The first floor begins with a baby play area,  a play house with a slide, and an area to dig for dinosaur bones.  If your kids are like mine and would rather dig through mulch than play on playground equipment, they are going to love digging through the rubber “mulch” for dinosaur bones!

1stfllittlebuckeyeCollagelittlebuckeyediggingcollageOn down the hallway, the museum is set up like a little town.  There’s a veterinarian’s office, grocery store, bank and hair salon.  My oldest particularly liked playing in the grocery store: filling up his cart, checking out and then restocking the shelves!  And I thought he wasn’t paying attention during those frightful trips to the grocery store with two young children (serenity now)!littlebuckeyestoreCollagelittlebuckeyestore2CollageOpposite the shops is a water play area.  Smocks are provided to keep your little ones from taking an extra bath for the day!

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Towards the end of the hall is a farm and garden themed area, as well as a treasure trove of costumes and musical instruments for use in your very own production on the stage at the very end of the building.  I love the idea of this stage!  The costumes and instruments are great inspiration for any kind of show your child dreams of putting on!  There are theater seats for the audience, a soundboard and keyboard at the back, and a TV where your little performers can watch themselves put on a show.  My normally reserved 4 year old really came alive on this stage.  (He gets that acting bug from my husband, NOT me, in case you were wondering.)  littlebuckeyeperformCollageThe second floor of the museum begins with a transportation theme.  There is a large model train set and a few small train tables for hands on playing.  There is also an airplane and airport related decor.  My almost-2-year-old is really into trains right now and he could have stayed here all day!  I almost feel guilty that we’ve made it nearly 5 years with two boys and we still don’t own a train table . . . littlebuckeyetransportationcollagelittlebuckeyetransportation2CollageOn down the hall on the second floor, you will find an area for studying insects, a deconstruction zone for technical building, an auto repair shop and a dentist’s chair.littlebuckeyeautoCollageContinuing our way down the hall, your kids will enjoy playing in a play house and school house.  The road painted on the floor is fun for kids to scoot around on, on one of the many vehicles provided by the museum, as they make way about town.  littlebuckeyehouseCollagelittlebuckeyestreetcollageI love how this museum is set up for play.  All around the museum are quotes about how kids learn from play.  For example, “It is a happy talent to know how to play,” by Ralph Waldo Emerson.  I am always a big fan of free play and this museum is just full of ways kids can use their imagination to act out the tasks we adults take for granted in everyday life.  One of my favorite memories was of my nephew, dressed in a pilot’s uniform, carrying his suitcase, running down this road saying, “I’m off to work!”  (Meanwhile us adults are sitting there wishing we could have the freedom to play all day like these kids!)  Ahhhh . . . I never truly understood the phrase “youth is wasted on the young” until I had kids!

At the end of the second floor is a McDonald’s-themed play area where kids can be cashiers or customers.  This area is also set up to host birthday parties at the museum.  It happened to be the day before my nephew Luke’s birthday!  (Happy Birthday, Luke!)

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More information about birthday parties can be found here.  The museum also offers special events throughout the week such as music and story times, crafts and seasonal parties. Information about these special events can best be found through their Facebook page.

I wanted to devote a lot of space to show you all that is here at Little Buckeye!  Check back in the next couple of weeks because I’ll be showing you how we spent the rest of our day in downtown Mansfield!  We had a really great day and I know that we will be coming back to do it all again!

Know Before You Go:

Little Buckeye Children’s Museum
Address: 44 West Fourth St., Mansfield, OH, 44902
Phone: 419-522-2332

Hours: Wednesday-Friday: 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Saturday: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Sunday: 1:00 PM – 6:00 PM
These are the winter hours through Memorial Day

Cost: $7 per person over the age of 2 (including adults). Membership packages are available and an Association of Children’s Museums Reciprocal Membership card (with ACM LOGO) will get you half-priced admission for up to 6 people in the family.

Parking: Parking is available in a public lot at the corner of Main St. and Fourth St.  Street parking is free on the weekends.

The museum has an ongoing campaign to replace the elevators in the building, but at this point in time they do not function and you must use the steps to get from the first floor to the second floor.  Something to keep in mind if you rely on a stroller or a wheelchair.

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This is the face of a little boy who thinks “this place is awesome!”

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ICYMI: Day Trip: The Farm at Walnut Creek

 


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