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15 Activities Kids Can Do for Free at the Ohio State Fair

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A trip to the Ohio State Fair can be budget friendly AND fun when you mix in these 15 free activities for kids!

Thanks to Ohio State Fair for partnering with us on this post!

A trip to the Ohio State Fair can end up costing a whole family a lot of money, but it doesn’t have to! In the past few years that we have attended the Ohio State Fair, these are some activities my kids have really enjoyed that don’t cost anything beyond admission!

Save money with these free, kid-friendly activities within the grounds of the Ohio State Fair!

Don’t miss the list of special deals happening each day at the Ohio State Fair that I have listed at the end of this post!

1. Scavenger Hunt

Pick up a scavenger hunt form at the Agriculture is Cool tent and answer 10 questions throughout your journey through the fair. The answers are posted on signs in various locations that have the headline “Did you know?” If you answer them all, you can turn in your form for free ice cream! This is free for kids AND adults!

Ag is Cool Passport and Scavenger Hunt

If you want to do the scavenger hunt, make sure to enter through Gate 1 (Cardinal Gate or North Entrance) so you can hit up the Agriculture is Cool tent to pick up your scavenger hunt form and ice cream coupons first!

2. Dig and Dump in the Corn Bin

Boys playing in corn bin at Ohio State Fair

Inside the Agriculture is Cool tent, young kids will love dumping and scooping corn kernels. Every parent I’ve seen has had to drag their kids away from this display! 😉

3. Animal Shows

Kids who are into animals might enjoy watching other kids show their animals and win awards! Each day the Ohio State Fair prints a schedule for the day and you can pick it up at the entrance OR view or download the schedule of any given day online by clicking here.

4. Budweiser Clydesdales

Budweiser Clydesdales at Ohio State Fair

The whole family can walk through a tent to see the Budweiser Clydesdale horses up close, watch them get bathed and groomed and view their fancy saddles!

5. Live Entertainment

There are all sorts of free shows going on throughout each day on the Main Street and Gazebo Stages! Free live music from salsa to bluegrass to classic rock (schedule here) and other shows featuring jugglers, magic and illusions, ax throwing, a cappella singers, and more can also be seen (schedule here)!

6. Milk a Cow

Milk a Cow at Ohio State Fair

Kids can get up close and personal with a cow and learn how to milk it! Milk the cow from noon to 4:00 PM in the OVMA Veterinary Education Center. There will also be babies on display in that area. We saw newborn calves!

7. See the Butter Cow

Butter Cow at Ohio State Fair

This is a can’t miss Ohio State Fair exhibit! This year’s theme celebrates 35 years of A Christmas Story, the famous movie filmed in Cleveland in 1983!

8. Petting Zoo

Petting zoo at Ohio State Fair

Entrance to the Petting Zoo is free so kids can pet animals to their heart’s delight! At the door they sell small cups of carrots for $2 and large cups for $5. You can bypass these and buy dry feed out of machines for $.25 a handful.

9. Model Trains

Model Train at Ohio State Fair

The Cardinal Building is full of all kinds of fun arts and craft projects from doll houses to miniature displays and crafts made out of Brillo pads! Also in the building are several Model Train displays and a Thomas display kids can operate themselves!

10. Natural Resources Park

Natural Resources Park at Ohio State Fair

This fun area is maintained by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources – inside there is a butterfly house, watercraft simulator, fishing for kids, kayaking, archery and other educational displays and activities! This is a great area for kids and all of these activities are free!

11. Smokey Bear

Smokey Bear at Ohio State Fair

Kids will be amazed when a 14 foot Smokey Bear calls them by name! When walking through the Natural Resources Park, a worker will try to find out your kids’ names on the sly and pass them on so Smokey can personally remind your child never to play with matches!

12. Play in the Sand Box

Sand Box at Natural Resources Park at Ohio State Fair

My kids LOVE this sand box in the Natural Resources Park! It’s for kids age 5 and under and they ask you to limit your time in there to 15 minutes but as long as it’s not super busy, no one is clocking in and out!

13. Pig Races

Pig races take place several times a day in the Meijer Kiddieland area and are free to watch!

14. The Nerveless Nocks All American Stunt & Thrill Show

Watch daredevils as the perform crazy stunts like riding motorcycles around each other in a huge hamster wheel! 3 show times each day!

15. Mini Golf

Mini Golf at Ohio State Fair

Mini Golf gets an honorable mention here for costing less than a bottle of water! Inside the Beef building, kids can do a round of mini golf for $2.

Know Before You Go:

  • Regular admission at the gate is:
    $10 – Adults 13-59
    $8 – Seniors 60+
    $8 – Children 5-12
    Free – Children under 5
    $6 – Advance sale admission tickets
  • Parking is $5
  • Admission gates are open from 9:00 AM – 10:00 PM (9:00 AM – 7:00 PM on August 5th.)
  • Rides will run from 10:00 AM – 11:00 PM and until midnight on Fridays and Saturday.

Other tips for saving money at the Ohio State Fair:

-Pack your own lunch or snacks

-Bring your own water bottle (no glass allowed). (Trust me on this one. I brought my water bottle but at the last minute I decided not to take it in because I didn’t feel like carrying it. I ended up buying two drinks just for me throughout the day!)

– Buy drinks from the vending machines. Most drinks at concession stands are $3 but cold drinks are also sold in vending machines around the grounds for $2.

– General admission tickets can be purchased online for $6 each or a four pack for $5 for each ticket through August 5th.

-Buy your tickets in person at Kroger or AAA for $6 each.

-As part of the Fourth Grade Agriculture is Cool Program, If you have an exiting 4th grader, that child and an adult can get in free any one day with a valid report card or valid homeschool form at the entrance.

– Print off this amazing sheet of coupons to use for food and other vendors!

Ohio State Fair Food Highway

Take advantage of one of these special days happening next week! See the entire list here.

Monday July 30th – NBC4 Family Discount Day – until 6 PM adults will be admitted for the kids’ admission price of $8 and kids 12 and under will be admitted free. Also, with the purchase of one wristband, a second rider can ride free until 6:00 PM with a hand stamp.

Tuesday, July 31 – Seniors ages 60 and up get in for $4

Thursday, August 2 – AAA members can show a current membership card to receive $4 admission vouchers for each member in your party.

Friday, August 3 – Patrons 18 and over can bring a non-winning Ohio Lottery ticket to receive one $4 admission voucher.

Saturday, August 4 – One Ohio soybean farmer or Ohio Soybean Association member will be given free Fair admission, with each member in their party receiving $4 admission with voucher from Ohio Soybean News magazine.

Sunday, August 5 – Bring any empty Pepsi container to the gate for a $3 admission voucher for every member of your party before 3:00 PM.

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Ohio State Fair, Columbus, Ohio


Kids Eat Free in Columbus and Central Ohio

ICYMI: Kids Eat Free or Cheap in Columbus and Central Ohio

 


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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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Save Money on LEGO® Sets with BrickSmarts

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If you’ve followed my Instagram account for more than 2 seconds, you probably already know that my oldest son lives and breathes LEGO® bricks! I can vividly remember the time I walked through the LEGO store when he was just a toddler and thought to myself, “These sets are so cool! I can’t wait until he’s into LEGO!” And then I looked at the price tag and said, “just kidding!” Well, that day is here, and now he’s the one drooling over the amazing sets at the LEGO store!

Since the first moment my son locked eyes with those multi-colored bricks, I have been on the prowl for used LEGO sets! Whether it be at consignment sales, second hand stores or directly from friends and relatives, I have made it my mission to save as much money as I can because let’s be honest, they’re not cheap! When I was offered the opportunity to partner with BrickSmarts, it was a no-brainer! In full disclosure, I received a free LEGO set from BrickSmarts in exchange for this blog post, but the story of my experience and any opinions are my own! While we’re talking disclaimers, here’s another one: LEGO® is a trademark of the LEGO Group of companies which does not sponsor, authorize or endorse this site. Okay, now on to the details!

(Make sure to read to the end for a special discount for my readers!!)

Mandy Gandhi is a mom, just like us, who has boys with a LEGO brick obsession! When her sons stopped playing with certain sets, she would resell them online and use the money to buy new sets! Like mine, her sons didn’t care if the LEGO sets they were playing with were used or not! Mandy turned this practice into an awesome online business called BrickSmarts. By taking used LEGO sets, finding missing pieces and manuals, cleaning them and packaging them up in reusable pouches, she can provide you with a “like-new” LEGO set at a fraction of the cost! You can read her story here!

Honestly, I don’t know how she does it! My son’s manuals look like they went through the washer, dryer and then a paper shredder. The manuals we received looked brand new! The bricks were completely clean and looked brand new as well! I’ve had to clean some used LEGO blocks in my lifetime, and this was not the case with BrickSmarts! BrickSmarts LEGO sets are cleaned without any harsh chemicals. The best part is the price! Most of the sets on BrickSmarts are sold for 40% off the retail price and some are at an even greater discount! There is even a page for sets that are selling for under $10!

The set I chose for my son was #76005 Daily Bugle Showdown featuring Spider Man! The pieces were in excellent condition and there wasn’t a single piece missing from the set!

The set came packaged in a resealable plastic bag. The only one issue I had in this entire process is that the bag had a tear in it. No pieces fell out in the process, but I’m guessing that one of the LEGO bricks tore a hole in it during transport. Mandy let me know that they are looking into a different option for bags. This wasn’t a big deal to me because I knew we were ultimately not going to store the LEGO bricks in the bag (sounds nice, but it’s just not going to happen at my house (yet!)).

My son loves this set and has taken it apart and put it back together more times than I can count!

I will be checking BrickSmarts first before every birthday and holiday!

Thanks to BrickSmarts for offering my readers a special discount! On top of the already reduced prices, through the end of February, BrickSmarts is offering my readers a 10% discount on their online purchases! By using the code BLOG10, you will receive an extra 10% off at check out! You can shop the current inventory here! Please share this opportunity with your friends whose kids are into LEGO bricks!

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ICYMI: 5 on Friday: Columbus Bakeries


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