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Franklin Park Conservatory’s Children’s Garden is Unlike Anything Else in Columbus

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The Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation Children’s Garden at Franklin Park Conservatory will be one of the top family-friendly attractions in Columbus!

Today Mayson and I got a sneak peek of the new Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation Children’s Garden at Franklin Park Conservatory! There is nothing else like this in the city! I walked away from the tour in awe!

The Children’s Garden is going to be a full-fledged attraction in itself, but it comes at no additional cost to visitors of the Franklin Park Conservatory! Access to the Children’s Garden is included with admission or membership and can only be entered through the Conservatory. On Community Days, the first Sunday of each month, residents of Franklin County and the City of Columbus can enter the Conservatory for free with your valid ID from 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM!

A special thanks to Franklin Park Conservatory and CEO, Bruce Harkey for giving us this special tour!

Here are some of the many highlights:

A kids only entrance made of willows!

The Sunshine Celebration Arch, featuring stained glass rainbows!

The Rainbow Welcome Terrace is where you  can orient yourself and peruse the map to decide where to go first!

Larger than life topiaries throughout the park!

Misting Boulders – kids can run around in the mist, which will also create rainbows in the air!

The Flower Kaleidoscope!

Take the road less travelled!

Explore the Sensory Garden full of instruments to play!

Give or watch a puppet show!

This playhouse is made of bamboo and straw bales  wrapped in mud and clay and is the largest natural children’s playhouse in the world!

The Sunrise Lawn for rolling and running and the Boulder Scramble for rock climbing!

The Fairy Garden.

The Whispering Wall – whisper at one end and your partner can hear on the other end of this curved bench!

The Reading Garden – grab a book and enjoy this peaceful area!

The Word Garden – make your own inspirational sentences!

In an area called, My Ohio Woods, This Sandstone Bluff is modeled after Hocking Hills! Water will cascade down the bluff and will fill this creek area for children to explore! (yes, they will get wet!)

The Wetland Explore includes a boardwalk and Floating Path. In this rain garden area, water will rise and fall with the rain. The area also includes a Pollywog Pool where kids can watch for tadpoles!

The Green Man!

This Floating Frame will be a spot for floating art! Drop in floating objects to create a moving piece of artwork within a stone frame!

A gardening and cooking area!

A Nature Play Zone that includes a Stump Jump, Sand Box and Web Climb!

An amazing Canopy Walk that gives you a bird’s eye view of the entire garden!

The Hammock Lounge, which is 12 feet off the ground, may look scary, but it can literally hold 7 elephants!

A Cork Tree Rope Walk – swaying bridges that allow you to walk through the heights.

Cardinal Corner – a life sized bird’s nest!

The Children’s Garden also has a Learning Pavilion where events will be held. In this building there are also family restrooms and hand washing stations.

The Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation Children’s Garden opens to the public on Saturday, May 19, 2018. There will be a brief ceremony at 9:30 AM. However, members can RSVP for a preview on May 18, by clicking here!

Know Before You Go:

Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
1777 E. Broad Street Columbus, OH 43203
Phone: 614-715-8000
Open Daily: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM

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ICYMI:  The Unofficial West Side Ice Cream Trail


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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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You Need these 7 Columbus Memberships to Survive Winter!

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A few years ago, facing my first winter as a SAHM with two kids, the panic started to set in around September. I bought a membership to everything I could think of (because some of these are really good deals!) and planned to have somewhere to go for every day of the week during the winter. Yes, I panicked, but it was worth it!

The cost of membership to most of these places more than pays for itself in usually 2 visits. After that your visits are “free” So every day it feels like you are getting to do something really fun for “free”. All year, special events are “free”. (Though I don’t necessarily suggest you buy all of these memberships in one month or you’ll find yourself spending a good chunk of change all in one month every year at renewal time. cough cough. (who would do that?) 😉 ). We do put $20/month into an envelope for our “memberships” – it doesn’t quite cover the costs to what I’ve listed here – but let’s just say it helps when renewal time comes around!

I can tell you this, I’m headed into my second winter with two kids and I have renewed every one of these memberships! 😉

1. Columbus Museum of Art

If you have children that are 5 and under, you should absolutely have a Friend membership to CMA. Cost is $60 for the year. This membership is for one person, but kids 5 and under are free! Plus you get admission for one additional adult per visit. (Regular adult admission is $14). If your kids are over 5, then the Household Membership is only $15 more. (Regular admission for children over 5 is $5/visit.)

The Museum has the Wonder Room, which is a great area for kids to create. It’s not exactly a toddler play area, so that is the one downside to taking kids that are 5 and under, but as they get closer to 5, they will get more and more out of the Wonder Room. Once a year, the museum has Think Outside the Brick, an LEGO display and exhibit! We usually see this at least twice, so we are getting our money’s worth right there! The museum offers Family Adventure Tours, Open Studio for all ages to drop in and your membership is also good for special exhibits.


2. Ohio History Center

Membership to Ohio History Center is about as affordable as you can get! This is another case where children 5 and under are free, so if your kids are young, you only need an Individual Membership which is $35. The Individual Membership also allows you to bring one unnamed adult per visit. Regular admission to OHC is $10/person, $5 for children over 5. You can also get $5 off your membership if you have AAA or are an active education (among others)! The family membership, if your children are over 5, is just $55.

Ohio History Center has a lot to offer kids. There are several educational play areas. Click this link above for my previous post about Ohio History Center and all there is for kids to do there! If you have a membership, it includes admission to Storybook Village, which is a fun day each summer when your children’s favorite story book characters come to life at Ohio Village. It also includes admission to Ohio Village Muffins vintage base ball games. (yes, it is base ball (2 words!)) as well as admission to 50 other sites and museums around the state!

In my mind, there are very few cons to this membership! If I had to think of one, it is that they are not open on Mondays and Tuesdays. This has tripped me up a few times! Whoops!


3. COSI

If you only have very young children or are new to Columbus, you might not know that COSI has a huge play space for kids age 6 and under! little kidspace is a great place for you to take babies, toddlers and preschoolers during the winter. (Major con this winter only is that the parking lot is under construction so you will have a bit of a cold walk to get inside! I’ve heard there is a shuttle running to and from the parking lot, but I haven’t been since it got really cold!)

The COSI membership is a bit pricier than the others I’ve mentioned so far (basic family is $119), but honestly, you can’t beat the price when it comes to an indoor play area for toddlers and preschoolers. (Obviously, COSI has a lot to offer older kids as well, but for now I am thinking of those of us who are passing winter days with kids who are not old enough to be in school yet!)

Regular admission ranges from $15 – $20/person, so a family could potentially spend the cost of a membership in one visit! Plus, your admission to COSI gets you discounts on parking, movie tickets, admission to special Members Only events and special events like Farm Days, Big Machines, Model Train Weekend and more!


4. Franklin Park Conservatory

The Conservatory is a great place to go in the winter! Even though plants and flowers might make you think of summer, I actually prefer going there in the Winter! Perhaps that is because we went there on a really hot day last summer, not thinking what it might feel like to walk through a greenhouse when it was already 100 degrees outside! Eek! A basic family membership is $90. (Regular admission is $14/adult and $7/child. Children 2 and under are free.) If it will be mainly one parent who just wants to get out of the house with a baby 2 and under, you could easily make use of the Individual Membership for $45!

The Conservatory can be slightly nerve wracking with toddlers if you’re managing more than one kid by yourself, but for the most part it is pretty kid friendly. (Speaking as someone whose child knocked over a glass vase filled with water there recently . . . ) One really great part about the membership is that it includes the special events going on at the Conservatory.

There is something for families most weekends and there is a Little Adventurers program for kids ages 3-5 on Thursdays! There is usually (depending on the exhibits going on at the time) a little children’s play area on the first floor, a model train and ongoing children’s activities. Not to mention, when it gets warm, the grounds are beautiful!


5. Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

How is this one going to help you survive winter, you ask? Because you are going to get to take advantage of those unseasonably warm days that randomly pop up – I actually “strongly dislike” going to the zoo during the summer: too hot! (gosh I’m hard to please!) For me, the best times of the year to go to the zoo are spring and fall.

Membership gets you into Boo at the Zoo in October and Wildlights at the holidays. It’s also good for other special zoo events, preschool classes, and free parking! Maybe this one won’t help you survive the cold, dreary days but it’s still a must have, IMHO. 😉 If you’re really brave, there are quite a few indoor areas at the Zoo, once you get to the grounds from the parking lot!


6. Columbus Recreation and Parks Department

Ahh….I don’t take enough advantage of the Recreation and Parks program in Columbus, but we have done baby swimming lessons at Columbus Aquatic Center and a couple of Mommy and Me preschool art classes. The cost of a Leisure Card to use the facilities is $1 (and it’s good for 3 years!).

During the winter, Open Swim at the Columbus Aquatic Center is $1/person. It is REALLY hard to beat that cost! The classes and programs vary by location but they include art classes, gymnastics, yoga, pottery, soccer, basketball and more! Plus classes for adults! Check out the online schedule of programs here.


7. Your Local Library

Yes, I am technically counting this as a membership! 😉 And it is free! I think most parents figure out pretty fast that the library is the place to go for free indoor entertainment for kids! All of the libraries in the area have some form of story hour, baby lap time, regular activities and the like!

Your membership, in the form of a library card, also allows you to check out books and magazines to make sure your kids have something new to read on a regular basis! Many of the Columbus Metropolitan Library locations have Ready for Kindergarten areas where young children can play and explore. I’m all for getting out and trying new libraries (this is mainly to keep me entertained!) 🙂 Here and here are four that are fun libraries for reading AND playing!


If you have these memberships and you use them wisely, there is always an affordable and fun indoor option if you need to get out of the house! (And if you don’t want to spend a dime, there’s always my list of 20 FREE Indoor Play Areas in Columbus!) Let me know in the comments if there are any other memberships that help you survive winter in Columbus!

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ICYMI: Indoor Programs for Toddlers and Preschoolers in Columbus: Winter 2017


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