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6 Columbus Area Parks for Toddlers

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These 6 Columbus area parks are great for toddlers!

Maybe it’s just me, but sometimes taking young kids to the park can be a frightening experience.  You look away for 5 seconds and all of a sudden your toddler is standing at the top of a climbing wall looking over a 10 foot drop off to the pavement below.  I like to take my toddlers to parks where they can roam freely without a lot of worry that their lack of impulse control (or balance) is going to send us on a trip to the ER.  But that’s just me.

I suppose I should make a disclaimer that most (all?) of the younger kids’ areas in the parks I’ve been to have signs saying the equipment is designed for ages 2-5.  I don’t know anyone who has waited until their kid was 2 to take them to a park, so that being said, I have chosen 6 parks with particularly toddler-friendly play areas:

1. Funk-ee-Town, Harrison Park, Harrison West

995 Harrison Park Pl., Columbus, OH 43201
No Restrooms Available

Harrison Park

Harrison Park

GREAT toddler area here!  No crazy heights, the small slide is enclosed at the top, and lots of opportunities for imaginative play – on the ground!  My kids love the snack shack and the house with the blue roof has drums and a xylophone to play on inside, as well as a steering wheel. While you’re in the area, check out some of these kid-friendly options in the Short North!

2.  Jeffrey Mansion and Park, Bexley

165 N. Parkview Ave, Bexley, OH 43209
Seasonal Restrooms Available

Jeffrey Mansion Park, Bexley

Jefferey Mansion Park, Bexley, Ohio

The toddler area here is fenced in, making it a perfect little play area just for the younger crowd!  There is tunnel to crawl through, a dinosaur slide and a play house.  As a bonus, the grounds here are beautiful and if you follow the path into the woods behind the park, you will encounter a boardwalk along Alum Creek! If you’re in Bexley, add a stop at Kittie’s or Gramercy Books to complete the morning!

3.  Schiller Park, German Village

1069 Jaeger St., Columbus, OH 43206
Restrooms Available

Train at Schiller Park, German Village

Slide at Schiller Park, German Village

This side of the playground at Schiller park is very toddler friendly.  Kids love these trains, and the play area behind it, seen in the picture, is specifically made for the toddler set.  It’s completely closed in, there’s a ramp and the slides are so slow my 4 year old got stuck.  😉 There are several baby/toddler swings here as well. Nearby, check out Winans for great coffee and chocolate!

4. Pingree Park, Worthington

374 Pingree Dr., Worthington, OH 43085
No Restrooms Available

Pingree Park, Worthington, OH

Pingree Park, Worthington, Ohio

Pingree Park, Worthington, Ohio

My kids had a lot of fun at this park!  There’s a toddler play set, infant/toddler swings and a small path around the park that does not cross a road or parking lot.  There are a couple of picnic tables and benches here that are convenient for snacking or eating a packed lunch.

Both of my kids, including my toddler, actually really had fun on the tunnel slide, though it specifically says for ages 5 and up.  They specifically enjoyed yelling “Paw Patrol!” from the top and then pretending to slide down into their respective vehicles.  So yes, I did basically yell out jobs for them for at least 20 minutes: “Marshall, I need you and your firetruck to go rescue a kitty from a tree . . .” and so on . . . It was fun. (Sarcasm font.)

5.  Discovery Frontier, Fryer Park, Grove City

3899 Orders Rd., Grove City, OH 43123
Restrooms Available

space themed park in Grove City, Ohio

Fryer Park, Grove City, Ohio

This park is toddler friendly because it is more about space than height.  And yes, I mean that literally and figuratively.  This space-themed park has a lot of area to run, hills to climb and also sand to play in.  My kids love running through the tunnel and up the hill that is the moon. While you’re in Grove City, check out their awesome library!

There are several toddler-sized structures to play on.  It’s hard to say exactly what space-themed things they are supposed to be, but none of them are very high off the ground, and that’s what matters.  At this park, there is also a pond with a path to walk. There are several toddler swings here and they are under umbrella cover for shade – another bonus!

6. Alum Creek Park North, Westerville

221 W. Main St., Westerville, OH 43081
Restrooms Available

Train Park, Westerville Ohio

Alum Creek Park North

Most of this park is geared toward older kids, but there are two things in particular make this park toddler-friendly and worth a visit.  One is the train, which is mainly at ground level with a tunnel to crawl through, benches to sit on inside and a small slide.  The second thing is the large sand pit.  I said it was toddler friendly, I didn’t promise your kids would stay clean.  😉 This park was one stop during our Playdate in Uptown Westerville – make sure to read to find out where we got donuts before hand! 😉

I have personally tried all of these parks with a toddler and lived to see another day!  I hope you and your little ones enjoy exploring a new park!  If you’re planning to pick up coffee on the way to the park, I featured two of these parks in my post Coffee+Park: 3 Parks Within Walking Distance of a Coffee Shop!

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ICYMI: 6 Free or Cheap Indoor Places for Kids to Run Wild in Columbus

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10 of Our Favorite Columbus Christmas Traditions

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Every year I feel slightly overwhelmed by all of the Holiday events I really don’t want to miss. A few years ago, I sat down and wrote them out on a calendar. And THAT is pretty much where the idea for this blog began! 😉  Now we’ve come full circle and, though there are probably hundreds of holiday events going on around town, today I am sharing 10 things my family loves doing at Christmastime in Columbus!

1. Village Lights

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Hands down, this is my favorite Columbus tradition of the entire year. Wow, did I really just say that? I did. I look forward to this probably more than anything else. I honestly don’t know how much my kids like it, but there are teddy bears and free cookies and hot chocolate, so I haven’t heard any complaints! The streets of German Village are lit with luminaries and restaurants, shops, and even a few private homes along the route are open late with special deals, free goodies and live music! Designated parking areas and shuttles are available.

When: December 3, 2017, 5:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Where: throughout German Village

2. Wildlights

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You have to see Wildlights! The light shows are spectacular and the zoo becomes an (even more) magical place for about 6 weeks leading up to New Year’s Day! The first time we ever attempted to go to Wildlights, there was so much traffic that by the time we got there it was too late for my 1 yr old and we just drove right on by the entrance and back on home! Weekends are very busy, so if you can, I suggest trying a week day evening and arriving before 5:00 PM! If you’re a member, you can also avoid the crowds by catching the Member Preview on November 16th.

When: November 17, 2017 – January 1, 2018 (Wildlights begins at 5:00 PM)
Where: 4850 Powell Rd, Powell, OH 43065

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3. Gardens Aglow (Formerly Merry and Bright)

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Gardens Aglow offers special holiday decorations, performances and evening hours at Franklin Park Conservatory. Throughout the season live music and special events are scheduled and the Conservatory is decorated beautifully (that goes without saying)! There are lights throughout inside and outside and it’s breathtaking! From December 1-31 (except for the 24th and 25th) they are open until 9:00 PM. There will be special family-friendly activities happening all through the season!

When: November 11, 2017 – January 3, 2018: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM, December: 10:00 AM – 9:00 PM
Where: 1777 E. Broad St., Columbus, OH 43203

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4. Bicentenial Park

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Throughout the holiday season, the Scioto Mile is awash in light – Christmas lights, that is! What was previously The Grand Illumination will be replaced by WinterFest this year! Taking place on Saturday, December 2, 2017, it will include live performers such as Angela Perley & The Howlin’ Moons, food trucks like Paddy Wagon and Pitabilities, as well as the opportunity to purchase soup from Milestone 229 in a handmade bowl as part of the Empty Bowls initiative. The park will be full of lights beginning November 17th!

When: November 17, 2017 through Early January 2018
Where: 233 S. Civic Center Dr., Columbus, OH 43215

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5. Columbus Commons and the Lazarus Windows

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When you’re at Bicentennial Park, make plans to walk a few blocks to Columbus Commons where the park will be filled with holiday displays and lights! Just across the street (at the corner of High and Town) in the old Lazarus building, the windows will be filled with scenes from the 12 Days of Christmas!

When: Late November through early January from dusk until to 11:00 PM
Where: 160 S. High St., Columbus, OH 43215

6. Huntington Holiday Train

Main Library is home to the Huntington Holiday Train and every year this amazing display is set up during the holiday season! This year, the library will begin set up of the train on November 17, 2017 and is usually up through New Years!

When: November 17, 2017 – Early January, 2017
Where: 96 S. Grant Ave. Columbus, OH 43215

7. Holiday Train at Ohio History Center

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If you happen to have kids that like trains, there is a also holiday train set up at the Ohio History Center. Granted, it’s not quite as elaborate as the Huntington Train, but since we’re members at Ohio History Center, this one is still a no-brainer for me and two boys who love trains! We don’t miss it!

When: Late November – Early January
Where: 800 E. 17th. Ave., Columbus OH 43211

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8. Think Outside the Brick

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This exhibit at the Columbus Museum of Art isn’t even holiday themed, but it arrives in November and says goodbye in March, so in my mind it’s associated with Christmas! If you have kids on Christmas break, this would be a great reason to take them to the Art Museum! The LEGO replica of Columbus is awesome and we love to visit at this time! There are usually blocks for free building in the Big Idea Gallery, too! Admission is free on Sundays and on Thursday nights you “pay what you want” from 5:00 PM – 9:00 PM! See more pictures from our visit here!

When: November 10, 2017 – March 2, 2018
Where: 480 E. Broad St., Columbus, OH 43215

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9. Easton

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We always enjoy going to Easton at Christmastime – and not just to do our Christmas shopping! There is a life-sized nativity and a humongous Christmas tree (an all-new, 50 ft tree covered in 28, 680 RGB LED’s arrives in 2017!)! There are carriage rides, live music performances and the lighting ceremony takes place on Friday, November 17, 2017 beginning at 6:00 PM and includes a parade, a fireworks show, a visit from Santa and more!

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When: beginning November 17, 2017
Where: 160 Easton Town Center, Columbus, OH 43219

10. State Auto Christmas Corner

Christmas Corner is something we love to do close to Christmas Eve! You can walk through a life-sized nativity following the Christmas story! The Tree Lighting Ceremony takes place on Tuesday, December 5, 2017 at 5:30 PM. There are choirs scheduled on Friday and Saturday evenings through December 23rd and free hot chocolate (donations accepted!) will be available on those evenings!  There are ample parking lots designated for viewing this display!

When: Tuesday, December 5, 2017 through Christmas Day when baby Jesus is placed in the manger.
Where: 518 E Broad St., Columbus, OH 43215

I hope that whatever you chose to do, you have a special season with your family!

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ICYMI: Columbus Tip Sheet: November 2017


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What Should We Do This Weekend? December 1-4, 2016 Holiday Edition!

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Hi Everyone! Each week in December I’ll be extending my weekend posts to include more holiday events going on throughout the week! There are so many fun things going on, why limit it to the weekend? 🙂

**Please also don’t forget to enter my giveaway for a family play pass to Recreations Outlet by telling me 3 Places You Love to take Your Kids in Columbus ➡️ click HERE to enter! I’m giving away 2 passes each week!**

Ongoing

12 Elves of Dublin Scavenger Hunt in Historic Dublin – pick up a 12 Elves Card at a participating location then find all 12 elves. Each time you find an elf you will get a special treat! Turn your card in to enter the Grand Prize drawing!

Wildlights at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium – see the amazing light shows, special performances and holiday festivities!

Tribute to the Nutcracker at Grove City City Hall – see the animated window display Monday through Friday from 4:00 PM – 10:00 PM and Saturday and Sunday from 12:00 PM to 10:00 PM.

Ohio Chinese Lantern Festival at Ohio Expo Center and State Fairgrounds – a 5 week celebration of Chinese culture with amazing silk lanterns, traditional performances and food!

For more ongoing ideas like the Huntington Holiday Train, Think Outside the Brick Lego Exhibit, Merry and Bright and more, click here for 10 of Our Favorite Columbus Christmas Traditions!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

5:00 PM – Hilliard Holiday Hop – carolers, hot chocolate, trolley rides, Santa, cookie decorating and the official Tree Lighting!

5:30 PM – Holiday Festival and Tree Lighting at The Ohio Statehouse  – this indoor ceremony features a short program, welcomes Santa and Mrs. Claus and continues with snacks, crafts, games and live performances! Pictures with Santa are free!

6:00 PM – Illuminating Shopping in Old Worthington – luminaries will line the streets and retailers will stay open late for special shopping hours. Horse drawn carriage rides will take you around the neighborhood!

Friday, December 2, 2016

2:00 PM – Sip & Shop at piccadilly – enjoy personal shoppers, free hot cocoa and complimentary gift wrapping while searching for the perfect toy!

5:00 PM – First Friday Film Series at Ohio History Connection – watch A Christmas Story and enjoy special First Friday activities before the movie which starts at 7:00.

5:00 PM – Grand Illumination at the Scioto Mile – lots of live entertainment including BalletMet, Comedy Jugglers, OSU Urban Art Space, Santa and the official lighting of the Scioto Mile. You can also support the Empty Bowls Project and Mid-Ohio Food Bank by purchasing a hand made bowl filled with soup!

6:00 PM – Winter Festival in Upper Arlington – the city’s tree lighting ceremony also includes horse-drawn carriage rides, ice carving, carols and a visit from Santa!

6:30 PM – Mama & Me Handprint Ornament Class hosted by Mini Market – make a keepsake clay ornament of your child’s hand!

Saturday, December 3, 2016

9:00 AM – Lionel Train Day at Moody Street Trains – enjoy door prizes, face painting, a visit from Santa and operating train displays!

9:00 AM – Christmas Prelude at The Grand of Dublin – enjoy breakfast with Santa, a coloring contest, gingerbread house decorating, and ornament contest, craft fair, bake sale, hot chocolate bar, musical performances and more!

CANCELLED due to illness . . . 10:00 AM – Make a Christmas Ornament at Lowe’s Build and Grow – register online to receive an apron, goggles and a patch along with your ornament project!

10:00 AM – Cheryl’s Annual Holiday Party in Westerville – free pictures with Santa from 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM, frost a cookie with Mrs. Claus, free samples, special prices and a Secret Santa Shop!

10:00 AM – Christmas Celebration in Grove City Town Center – a full day celebration includes visits with santa, live entertainment, a parade, the Mistletoe Market and much more!

11:00 AM – Holiday Gift Making at Franklin Park Conservatory – children can make and take their own gifts! $2 per gift!

11:00 AM – Made Local Marketplace at Brookshire – Ohio made products by local vendors for your shopping enjoyment!

12:00 PM – Bexley Holiday Hop in Bexley  – Bexley merchants will offer special promotions, entertainment and samples! There will be princesses and Mr. and Mrs. Claus! Fill your snowman card to enter the drawing for prizes!

12:00 PM – Holiday Hop in the Short North Arts District – the biggest Gallery Hop of the year includes a visit with Santa, decorated windows, and lots of holiday cheer!

12:00 PM – Christmastime Open House at the Central Ohio Model Railroad Club – visit the club during these special open house days (Saturdays and Sundays throughout December) to view large model railroads and try out the interactive Thomas the Tank Engine lay out!

12:30 PM – Secret Gift Shoppe at Cruz Candy and Studio J – Spin the wheel for free candy at Cruz Candy, taste free chocolate and kids can create surprise gifts for family members at Studio J upstairs!

2:00 PM – Holidays in Powell – event includes a visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus, activities in downtown Powell, and the lighting of the city’s Christmas tree in Village Green Park!

6:00 PM – A Holiday Evening on the Farm at Gallant Farm Preserve – live Christmas music, roast chestnuts, eat cookies and make holiday decorations at this celebration of the holidays set in the 1930’s!

Sunday

11:00 AM – Made Local Vintage Marketplace at Brookshire – Ohio made market that features 60 local vintage vendors and makers!

12:00 PM – HolidayVille in Clintonville – take the Jolly Trolley throughout Clintonville to visit with santa, decorate cookies, make crafts and much more!

5:00 PM – Village Lights in German Village – stroll the streets of German Village to visit business who will stay open late to offer holiday specials and free treats. There will be live music and lots of holiday festivities throughout German Village!

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

*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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