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6 Ways to Enjoy Columbus Commons this Summer

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My family has enjoyed many events at the Columbus Commons over the past few years! Many of the events have become traditions, especially the Downtown Live Concerts and Commons for Kids! My son still routinely asks when they are having the Harvest Festival because he remembers “making bread” there a few years ago!

Get out your calendars because this summer is packed full of free fun at Columbus Commons. In fact, the Commons has developed a 2017 Summer Checklist to make sure you don’t miss a thing! This year, I am a Columbus Commons Ambassador, so you will definitely see us checking off many of the items on this list!

Download the CHECKLIST here!

Here are 6 ways you can enjoy Columbus Commons with your kids this summer:

1. Food Truck Food Court

Now through October 26 (with the exception of September 14) from 11:00 AM – 2:00 PM, head down to the Commons for a fun lunch date! There will be 8 regular trucks and 2 rotating trucks each week!

2. Commons for Kids

Beginning June 2 through August 18 (with the exception of June 30) from 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM, the Commons hosts a fun Friday morning for kids! The carousel and bounce-houses are FREE during this time and there are other activities like arts and crafts, ball play, Imagination Playground, Art Box and a life-sized chess board! There are different visitors each week and we have seen Ronald McDonald, Columbus Zoo, Daniel Tiger from Visit Pittsburgh, and others!

Other visitors this year include The Great Randini Magic Show, Aha! Children’s Museum, Franklin Park Conservatory and more! If the temperature is 80 degrees or higher there will also be a water slide!

3. Downtown Live Concert Series

For the past few summers we have hit at least a few of these FREE concerts on Thursday nights! We like to pack a picnic dinner and then get ice cream at Jeni’s while we enjoy live music in the background! My kids love watching live bands and this is a relaxed and family-friendly way to do it!

Downtown Live Concerts happen on Thursdays in July from 5:30 PM – 10:30 PM. There are food trucks and an artisan market as well! The bands this year are as follows:

  • July 6: Mojo Flo / Nick D & the Believers
  • July13: Popgun / Forest & the Evergreens
  • July 20: Conspiracy / Reaganomics
  • July 27: Floorwalkers / Spikedrivers

There are other FREE concerts happening at Columbus Commons throughout the summer! See the list here.

4. Free Movie Nights

There are 2 more Free Movie Nights throughout the summer! You can bring your own picnic or purchase food at the park. Each Movie Night has a different time and set of events going on that day. You can see all the details here.

The dates and movies are as follows:

  • July 21: The LEGO Batman Moive
  • September 2: The Jungle Book

5. Family Fundays

Family Fundays are FREE events on select Saturdays with activities for families! There are two more this summer! There will be free carousel rides, arts and crafts, a planting station with Lowe’s and more! A $5 wristband will get your child unlimited access to activities like laster tag, inflatables, face painting and Putt-Putt.

If your child has a sensory sensitivity, you can come one hour early for a low-key atmosphere, thanks to Autism Speaks.

Upcoming Family Fundays this summer include:

  • September 2
  • September 30: Harvest Fair

In addition to the regular activities, the Harvest Fair also includes a pumpkin patch, pumpkin painting, and carving!

6. Open Play

You don’t have to wait for a special event to play at Columbus Commons! Activities like Art Box (a cabinet full of free art supplies), Bocce Ball, the NEOS electronic playground, and the carousel ($1/ride) are open throughout the week! Open Play hours begin May 31 and end on October 2 and are Wednesday through Sunday from 12:00 PM – 5:00 PM, weather permitting.

The carousel is open through October 2 and the hours are as follows:

  • Monday – Friday: 11:00 AM – 8:00 PM
  • Saturday: 12:00 PM – 8:00 PM
  • Sunday: 12:00 PM – 5:00 PM

In addition to Open Play, there are two permanent cafes at the Commons, Jeni’s and Tortilla.

For convenient parking, use the Main Garage at 55 E. Rich St. Parking is usually $5 for special events, but this may vary. That garage is directly across the street from Columbus Commons and takes the stress out of parking. Or you can be me and circle around the one way streets, trying to find a meter in the area. (I recommend arriving very early if you plan to do this!) 😉  There is also an underground parking garage. You can see all the parking info here.

Which Columbus Commons event is your family’s favorite?

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ICYMI: IKEA Columbus Sneak Peek!


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What Should We Do This Weekend? March 10-12, 2017

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1. St. Patrick’s Day Craft at Tree of Life Play Cafe

When: Friday, March 10, 2017
Time: 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM
Location: 3708 Fishinger Blvd, Hilliard, OH 43026
Phone: 614-363-4041

Come in for a St. Patrick’s Day themed craft and snack!

2. Fun Friday at Columbus Metropolitan Library, Karl Road Branch

When: Friday March 10, 2017
Time: 3:30 PM – 6:00 PM
Location: 5590 Karl Rd., Columbus, OH 43229
Phone: 614-645-2275

This program helps school-aged kids find their S.P.A.R.K.!

3. Square Dance at Stratford Ecological Center

When: Friday, March 10, 2017
Time: 7:00 PM – 10:00 PM
Location: 3083 Liberty Rd, Delaware, OH 43015
Phone: 740-363-2548

The whole family can participate in traditional square dances, novelty and folk dances! Recommended for school aged children. $5/person.

4. Spring Fling at Oakland Nursery

When: Saturday, March 11 – Sunday, March 19, 2017
Time: 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Location: 1156 Oakland Park Ave., Columbus, OH 43224
Phone: 614-268-3511

This week long Spring Fling includes workshops, sales and family-friendly events! There will be a Kid’s Carnival on March 11th and March 18th from 11:00 AM – 4:00 PM.  On Saturday, March 11, from 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM, you can see The Bug Man!

5. Spring Scavenger Hunt at Homestead Metro Park

When: Saturday, March 11, 2017
Time: 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Location: 4675 Cosgray Rd., Hilliard, OH 43026
Phone: 614-508-8111

Families can pick up a scavenger hunt at the nature center, look for signs of animals getting ready for spring and turn it in for a small prize! Appropriate for ages 3-10.

6. Tales @ 10 at Westerville Public Library

When: Saturday, March 11, 2017
Time: 10:00 AM – 10:30 AM
Location: 126 S. State St., Westerville, OH 43081
Phone: 614-882-7277

This family-oriented story time is geared toward ages 2-6. There will be stories, songs, play and more!

7. Liberty Tree Artisan Market at Liberty Tree Elementary School

When: Saturday, March 11, 2017
Time: 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM
Location: 6877 Sawmill Pkwy., Powell, OH 43065

There will be over 40 vendors at this annual market! There will be a free make and take craft station and photo booth for kids! Admission is a donation of your choice which benefits the Liberty Tree Elementary School PTO.

8. Commit To Be Fit Expo at Ohio Expo Center

When: Saturday & Sunday, March 11 & 12, 2017
Time: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Location: 717 E 17th Ave., Columbus, OH 43211

This free expo presented by 10TV is focused on helping families live healthier lives! Activities include a giant rock wall, vendors, events like Kids Yoga and a Baby Race and the opportunity to learn how to make healthy snacks for kids! See the entire list of events by clicking on the link.

9. Blooms and Butterflies Opening Day at Franklin Park Conservatory

When: Saturday, March 11, 2017
Time: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM, Daily
Location: 1777 E. Broad St. Columbus, OH 43203
Phone: 614-715-8000

Saturday is opening day for Blooms and Butterflies! Watch butterflies be released in the Pacific Island Water Garden! From 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM, children can decorate a butterfly house to take home. $4 per butterfly house.

10. Kids Club at Michaels Stores

When: Saturday, March 11, 2017
Time: 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Location: your local Michaels Store

For $2, kids ages 3 and up can make their own Fairy House!

11. Odd Squad Live at Ohio Theatre

When: Saturday, March 11, 2017
Time: 2:00 PM
Location: 39 E State St, Columbus, OH 43215
Phone: CAPA office: 614-469-0939

This interactive performance will include new music, action and the opportunity to put STEM skills to the test!

12. Celebrate Lego Batman at Barnes and Noble

When: Saturday, March 11, 2017
Time: 4:00 PM
Location: your local Barnes and Noble

Kids can make their very own LEGO Batman Speedwagon and collect limited edition trading cards! This event is while supplies last!

13. Family Night at Paper Moon Art Studio

When: Saturday, March 11, 2017
Time: 5:00 PM – 8:00 PM
Location: 4145 N High St., Columbus, OH 43214
Phone: 614-332-9149

The second Saturday of each month, Paper Moon Art Studio stays open late for Family Night! This Saturday’s theme is Mardi Gras Fun! Call ahead to reserve your spot as space may be limited. $25/family.

14. Troll Roll at Skate Zone 71

When: Sunday, March 12, 2017
Time: 12:00 PM – 3:00 PM & 4:00 PM – 7:00 PM
Location: 4900 Evanswood Dr., Columbus, OH 43229
Phone: 614-846-5626

Skate and take pictures with the Trolls! There will be games and prizes!

15. Salamander Hike at Glacier Ridge Metro Park

When: Sunday, March 12, 2017
Time: 2:00 PM
Location: 9801 Hyland Croy Rd., Plain City, OH 43064
Phone: 614-971-5211

Families can take a hike to discover salamanders and other amphibians at a vernal pool where they lay their eggs. See the link for recommendations on what to wear and what to expect!


Thanks to Goldfish Swim School for sponsoring this post!

Goldfish Swim School offers perpetual, year-round swim lessons for kids ages 4 months to 12 years old. Our pools are warm and inviting (90 degrees) and our class sizes are small (4:1) so kids receive the personalized attention from our Ellis-trained swim instructors. Our curriculum focuses on water safety so we teach kids at all levels how to be safe in and around water. Goldfish Swim School has two Central Ohio locations, in Dublin and Westerville, and for more information, visit http://westerville.goldfishswimschool.com and http://dublin.goldfishswimschool.com.

Want to sponsor What Should We Do This Weekend? click here!

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ICYMI: 2 Great Metro Park Nature Centers for Columbus Kids

*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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10 Life Hacks for Columbus Parents

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Parent life is hard, amirite?! Here are 10 ways to save money, make life a little easier and enjoy Columbus!

1. Columbus Member Advantage Program

Through the Columbus Member Advantage program, you can show your membership card from one of the participating partners to buy one admission and get the second one free – up to two free admissions per visit. Columbus Member Advantage partners include:

  • Columbus Zoo and Aquarium
  • COSI
  • Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
  • Ohio History Center & Ohio Village
  • Wexner Center for the Arts

2. Free Child Care at Eagle’s Nest

Grocery shopping is the new Friday night date, have you noticed? In addition to great in-store dinner options and wine tastings, you can take advantage of the Eagle’s Nest Child Care at four Giant Eagle Market District locations around Columbus. This is a free child care service for kids ages 3-9 for up to 2 hours. (And yes, you have to remain in the store! 😉 )

3. Half Price Pizza from Papa John’s

When the Columbus Blue Jackets score two goals (win or lose) Papa John’s locations in Central Ohio offer 50% off large pizzas with the code JACKETS50 the very next day! With the awesome season the Blue Jackets are having, that means a lot of cheap pizza! Everybody wins! See their schedule here.

4. Free Magazine Downloads

Children’s (and adult’s) digital magazines are available from Columbus Metropolitan Library and can be checked out on your device and kept FOREVER! See the link here for the titles that are available! You can also check out adult coloring books!

5. Free Rides on the CBUS

If you’d like to take your kids to the Short North, Downtown or German Village but aren’t sure about how far they can walk, take the CBUS! The CBUS is a FREE circulating bus with a route that circles from the Short North, through Downtown to German Village and the Brewery District and back again. Riding the bus is fun in itself for a lot of kids! Click here for the route map.

6. Mom’s Valet at Chic-fil-A

If the thought of taking the kids into a restaurant by yourself, waiting in line to order and carrying your food to your seat seems like an impossible feat, head through the Drive Thru at Chic-fil-A at Sawmill, place your order and tell them you’re coming inside. They’ll have your order ready and at a table for you by the time you park and get inside!

7. Mini-Me Weekends at Level 1 Arcade

Level 1 Arcade welcomes kids every Saturday and Sunday from 12:00 PM – 6:00 PM. All ages are welcome to play arcade games and skeeball for free with the purchase of a beverage (kids’ beverages available)! Children must be accompanied by an adult.

8. Franklin County Days at Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

On Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, Franklin County residents receive half price admission to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. You need to show a valid ID or utility bill to prove your residency and receive the discount. See the details here.

9. Charitable Play at Recreations Outlet

If we still have a few more weeks of Winter ahead of us, you may want to take your energetic preschoolers to Recreation’s Outlet to get out all that excess energy! Regular price for indoor play is normally $6 or $8 per child for up to two hours, depending on the day. If you take advantage of Charitable Play hours (Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 9:00 AM – 11:00 AM) not only can your kids can play for a donation of only $2/child, but also 50% of the proceeds on those days are donated to charity!

10. Dolly Parton Imagination Library

Kids 5 and under in certain zip codes in Franklin County are eligible to receive one free book a month through the Dolly Parton Imagination Library program. Easterseals of Central and Southeast Ohio are partnering to administer the program here in Central Ohio. You can get an application at local libraries or check your eligibility and enroll online. Check the link for all the details!

**What are you favorite Columbus Life Hacks? I’d love to hear them! Click here to tell me your favorites!**

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ICYMI: Indoor Fun Around Columbus: 6 Things to do Before Spring

*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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