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3 Places I Love to Take My Kids in Columbus: Kathleen Murray

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Each month I will be featuring a local parent who will tell us about three places they love to take their kids in Columbus!

Thanks to Kathleen for sharing 3 of her favorites with us this month!

1. Homestead Park

We LOVE being outside and because my son is very active, this park is perfect for him!  There are so many different areas so he never gets bored.  He especially loves the fun tunnels that connect the different areas!  Plus, it has plenty of shade and picnic tables, and access to the Rails to Trails bike path that we enjoy running on.


2. Hilliard’s Station Park Splash Pad

The Hilliard splash pad is a great spot to cool off on a hot summer day!  It’s right off Main Street in Old Hilliard (and bonus, right across the street from Coffee Connections!) but it’s sunken down a bit which gives it a much more private feel.  The whole space isn’t huge or overwhelming and there’s plenty of spots to sit and watch your little one play!  We always pack a picnic because it tends to be less crowded during lunch! 


3. Frank’s Park/Little Ice Cream Shoppe

Another outdoor option (can you tell we like to be outside??)!  Frank’s Park is a little playground tucked in-between neighborhoods in Hilliard!  It’s not a huge park, but has a nice pond and picnic tables, plus lots of space to play soccer!  There’s also a great path that circles the whole park.  Another huge perk is that you can walk over to the Little Ice Cream Shoppe to grab a sweet treat!


Kathleen Murray is a health and fitness blogger at Just Keep it Simple Fitness.  She is an ACE certified personal trainer and enjoys teaching others that leading a healthy life does not need to be fancy, complicated, expensive, or time consuming.  Her background in soccer and her young son motivate her to stay active every day!  Apart from blogging, she works part time as a chemical engineer and enjoys going on runs with her family.  You can follow her simple fitness tips on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.

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ICYMI:  7 Ways to Give Back in Columbus By Doing Things You Already Do

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fryer park, grove city

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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6 Parks for Toddlers in Columbus, Ohio

 

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6 Central Ohio Metro Park Playgrounds

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All of these playgrounds are part of the Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks System! I have a personal goal of visiting all of the Metro Parks. We’re not there yet, but we’ll get there! You can visit this list of all the parks to see all of the details of what each park has to offer, what hours they are open and more. This link is one I check often to see what programs are coming up for kids – there are so many!

The Metro Parks offer so many free opportunities to learn about and explore nature even though we live in an urban area. I am constantly surprised every time I visit one of our Metro Parks. I always seem to say, “I can’t believe this is here!” You hike down a path and come into some kind of clearing or lake that just takes you by surprise and there is no sign of the city to be seen!

Despite all those opportunities to get up close with nature, sometimes it also just helps to have a playground as part of the experience! 🙂 Not all of the Metro Parks have playgrounds and some of them have more than one! Here are 6 Metro Parks that have playgrounds. Put these on your playground bucket list! (You have one of those right? or is that just me? 😉 )

1. Scioto Grove

5172 Jackson Pike, Grove City, OH 43123

Scioto Grove is the newest Metro Park in our area. This playground is really unique – it’s made nearly entirely out of rope!  This is NOT a toddler friendly playground, though, so use caution! This playground is in the Arrowhead Picnic Area. Parking and restrooms are close by.

2. Scioto Audubon

400 W. Whittier Street, Columbus, OH 43215

The Scioto Audubon playground is in the Central Activities Area near the rock climbing wall and a water tower where you can climb to two observation decks. There are three play structures here and a shaded picnic area. Bathrooms are quite a distance away, in the Nature Center. Play first and then plan to head up to the Nature Center where there is an outdoor sandbox, an indoor play area and aquatic animals to visit. See 9 Things to do with Your Kids at Scioto Audubon!

3. Battelle Darby Creek

Cedar Ridge Area, 1775 Darby Creek Drive Galloway, OH 43119

Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park has a couple of playground areas. This particular playground is in the Cedar Ridge Picnic Area. Parking and restrooms are very close. This playground has two structures: one for over 5 and one for under. There are picnic tables and pavilions close by. Battelle Darby is the park with the bison! It is possible to walk from the playground to see the bison, but it is probably around a half a mile, give or take. Definitely check out the Nature Center to see the living stream exhibit!

4. Rocky Fork

7180 E. Walnut Street, Westerville, OH 43081

Rocky Fork has another unique play area. It is a mostly wooden structure with steps, a bridge and slide. There is also a balance beam and some climbing opportunities! Nearby is a wildlife viewing area and picnic pavilion. Restrooms are close by as well.

5. Blendon Woods

4265 E. Dublin Granville Rd., Westerville, OH 43081

Blendon Woods is another Metro Park with more than one play area. This particular play ground is in the Cherry Ridge Area near the Natural Play Area. My kids loved crawling through the wire tunnels here. Blendon Woods Nature Center has a great bird-viewing area and some hands on activities. See Exploring Blendon Woods Metro Park!

6. Homestead

Homestead Metro Park, 4675 Cosgray Road, Hilliard, OH

When it comes to playgrounds, I think Homestead wins the prize, hands down! It has a huge playground area! Not only is there a large play area, there is a train to climb onto, a train station replica called Bradley Station and a separate accessible playground with a train theme called Web Junktion. Train lovers rejoice! There is a Nature Center at Homestead but the hours it is open vary based on ranger availability. Inside the Nature Center there are box turtles to visit! They do occasionally offer programs there, so check the link for upcoming programs!

Do you have a favorite Metro Park playground?

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ICYMI: 5 on Friday: Unique Ice Cream Spots


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