fryer park, grove city

6 Columbus Area Parks for Toddlers

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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6 Parks for Toddlers in Columbus, Ohio







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5 on Friday: Unique Ice Cream Spots

July is National Ice Cream month! I love ice cream!! 🙂 Columbus has so many amazing ice cream spots and Ohio is home to many nationally renowned brands as well! Don’t worry, Jeni’s and Graeters are still some of my favorites, but in this post I thought I’d focus on some unique ice cream spots around Columbus to encourage you to get out and try something new!

1. Diamonds Ice Cream

5461 Bethel Sawmill Ctr., Columbus, Ohio, OH 43235, 614-718-2980

Diamonds is a Mexican ice cream shop I’d been eyeing for a year or two before finally trying! There is a large selection of paletas (mexican popsicles), lots of hand dipped ice cream flavors, milk shakes, natural juice, aguas frescas, candy and more! I had the cookie dough paleta which was awesome and the boys had blue, bubble gum ice cream. Because blue, I guess. 😉 My friend, Melissa, shared about a regular trip she makes with her daughter out of Diamonds Ice Cream and a trip to Hayden Falls: Read it here. (There is also a Hilliard location!)

2. Mardi Gras

1947 Hard Rd., Columbus, OH, 614-766-2020

Mardi Gras is a must try for unique and international flavors of ice cream! You can sample anything you want before you choose! I tried an International Sampler and picked Green Tea, Sweet Rose and Pista Kulfi, all of which I enjoyed but I think I liked the Pista Kulfi (a pistachio flavor) the best! I asked to sample the Fire and Ice and couldn’t even finish the small sample because it was truly like fire on my tongue! There are plenty of other “regular” flavors to try as well, but I included the menu of their International Flavors so you can see what unique choices there are!

3. Dulce Vida Ice Cream Factory

4201 West Broad St., Columbus, OH, 43228, 614-429-3289

Sometimes you don’t know what to expect when you see something nestled into a strip mall and then you walk in the door and say, “Whoa!” That’s what happened to us at Dulce Vida West! This relatively new, brightly colored Mexican Ice Cream shop is full of options! We all tried a paleta, but we’ll be back to explore other options, I’m sure! Other menu items include hand dipped ice cream, aguas frescas, banana split, chicharrones, nachos and lots more! They also JUST opened a location off of Cleveland Ave. just south of 270 in June!

4. Cookie Dough Creamery

7227 N. High St., Worthington, OH, 614-547-0660

You know when you see a picture of some kind of food on social media and it sticks with you, haunting you until you try it? (Oh wait, is that just me? Don’t lie. I know I’m not the only one! 😉 ) Well, that was me with the ice cream cookie dough bars that Cookie Dough Creamery posted on their Facebook page! When we finally made it to the shop, I was momentarily tempted by the idea that I should first try out the main thing: the sundae bar. But then I would continue to be haunted by that chocolate covered ice cream bar, so I went with my gut and I was NOT disappointed!

So here’s what you do: you pick one of three sizes of bowls (they also have cones) and fill it with as much cookie dough as you want. Options included chocolate chip, sugar cookie and cookies and cream, to name a few. Then you can choose from several flavors of soft serve ice cream and dole whip, and then choose toppings and syrup. There were candy and cereal toppings to choose from. Here’s the best part (well, close to the best – the best was probably the cookie dough!) 🙂 price is per cup, not by weight! So you can cram as much as you can in the size bowl you choose! I helped the boys and didn’t fill them anywhere near as full as I could of (I did want them to take naps afterward! 😉 ) You can see it got two thumbs up!

5. Hilltop Dairy Twist

2860 Sullivant Ave., Columbus, OH 43204, 614-279-8466

For a long time after moving to Columbus I was in search of a good, old fashioned ice cream stand like the kind I grew up with! Usually a combination of food like creamed chicken sandwiches, burgers, flurries and soft serve, you know the type. I couldn’t find anything like it in Columbus! A few years after moving here, I was meeting with a client on the west side of town and I would drive by the Hilltop Dairy Twist whose sign boasted 40 flavors of soft serve. It looked exactly like the kind of ice cream stand I had been searching for! You can get almost any flavor you can imagine swirled into soft serve ice cream, plus a plethora of other dairy stand food and treats! Plus, Hilltop Dairy Twist has the unique position of being next to Camp Chase Confederate Cemetery so you can experience some Civil War history as part of your trip! Cash only!

What’s your favorite ice cream spot in Columbus?


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Two MORE Fun Libraries for Columbus Kids

As I promised a few weeks ago, when I shared Two Fun Libraries for Columbus Kids, I’m sharing two MORE fun local libraries with you this week! If you’re tired of the same old, same old, these are some great options for a new outing with the kids!

1. Westerville Public Library

126 S. State St., Westerville, OH 43081, 614-882-7277

I love the trees in the Children’s Place!

The little kid’s area has a school bus . . .

a kitchen, puzzles . . .

a police car . . .

and a great view of the new Northstar! A visit to the library and a double chocolate cookie from Northstar sounds like a fun outing we need to put on the calendar! 😉

The Westerville Library has Drop-In Preschool Storytime, Rhyme Time, Yoga Tales and more! See the whole list of events for kids and families here!

2. Worthington Libraries, Northwest Library

2280 Hard Rd., Columbus, OH 43235, 614-807-2626

Northwest Library offers a unique area for kids called Story Garden! Around the children’s area, well known children’s stories are depicted in 3D!

It’s worth a trip to this library just to view this amazing artwork! Their website lists all of the stories depicted, including the author and a brief description of each story! Looking at the website, I see so many I missed on our visit!

Inside an area called Three Bears Cottage, there is a space for play for young children with lots of toys and seating!

Northwest Library currently has some kind of programming for children every weekday and at least one night a week! See the full calendar here.

What’s your favorite local library?


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ICYMI: 5 on Friday: Columbus Donuts

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