10 Family Friendly Things to do at Olentangy Indian Caverns

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Olentangy Indian Caverns provides a fun day out for families! With cave tours, mini golf, a petting zoo, gem mining, a large maze and more, kids will have fun and learn something, too!

Thanks to Olentangy Indian Caverns for hosting us!

You might only think of caverns and caves when planning a visit to Olentangy Indian Caverns in Delaware, Ohio, but descending into caves is not the only thing there is to do at this family friendly destination!

Gift shop at Olentangy Indian Caverns

If you have never been to Olentangy Indian Caverns, I think you will be surprised at all there is to do. The great part about it is that it’s not a package deal – your family can pick any one of these things to do on the property to customize your day according to your time and budget!

You’ll see throughout this blog post that I have used pictures from multiple visits (wow, kids grow fast!) Here are 10 things you can do at Olentangy Indian Caverns:

1. Cavern Tour

kids going down the steps into the caverns

Obviously, the first thing you’re going to think of is the Cavern tour. The caverns are naturally made tunnels and caves that were, at one time, used by Native Americans for hiding, meetings, shelter, etc. You can do a self-guided tour of the caverns or join in on a group tour with a live guide.

kids walking through the Olentangy Indian Caverns

Our guide was great, giving us the history, telling us stories and answering all of our questions! Cavern tours are $9.95 for those 13 years old and up and $6.95 for children age 3-12. Ages 2 and under are free.

a tour guide talking at Olentangy Indian Caverns

a kid pointing to a fossil in the caves

Finding a fossil!

There are a lot of steps to go up and down and the caverns are often wet. We had to hop over and through a couple of puddles on our journey. I was glad I had chosen to wear closed toed shoes for that reason. So keep your family’s footwear in mind when planning for the trip as things may be wet and/or slippery.

two boys going down the steps into Olentangy Indian Caverns

The youngest child on our tour was just under two and she had a great time, but if you have a non-walker I would recommend an on-body baby carrier of some sort. You can’t take a stroller in and I couldn’t imagine carrying an infant car seat, but many of you might be stronger than me . . . 😉

2. Richard F. Leitch Museum at Olentangy Indian Caverns

a man and boy inside the museum at Olentangy Indian Caverns

The entrance to the caverns is housed in a small museum where you can read about the history of the caverns and some of the famous and infamous things that happened there, and see the bones of an ox that fell down to its untimely death around 1818 (or 1821, depending on the story!). There are also arrowheads and lots of other artifacts related to the caverns.

bones inside the museum

3. Treasure Hunt Maze

The Treasure Hunt Maze at Olentangy Indian Caverns

When you purchase admission to the Treasure Hunt Maze you will receive 3 tokens. Explore the maze to find 3 treasure stops! You can use the tokens to get your three treasures and then work to find your way out!

boy inside the Treasure Hunt Maze

I can promise it is way harder than it looks! Admission is $5/person. 

two boys finding the treasure inside the Treasure Hunt Maze at Olentangy Indian Caverns in Delaware, Ohio

4. Mini Golf

Mini Golf course at Olentangy Indian Caverns in Ohio

The option of mini-golf is available on the property. There are 18 holes and the cost is just $3/person.

5. Gem Mining

Two boys gem mining at Olentangy Indian Caverns

After our cavern tour, we did some gem mining! This was another first for our boys and I was honestly surprised how much they loved this! (Though when I think about it, the act of digging through dirt, stones and water to find treasure sounds exactly like their idea of a good time! 😉 ) 

a boy mining for gems at Olentangy Indian Caverns

A bag of sand/stones/gems is provided and you use a strainer of sorts and a small stream of water to sift through the sand to find gemstones! There is a range of bag sizes available and prices range from $5.99 – $9.99/bag.

kids mining for gems at Olentangy Indian Caverns

6. Petting Zoo

outside the petting zoo at Olentangy Indian Caverns

There is a rather large petting zoo area on the property at Olentangy Indian Caverns! There are goats, cows, sheep and even deer who will happily eat out of your hand! If your kids are skittish (like mine) there is a fenced in area where the kids can stand inside and feed the animals from behind the fence.

a boy feeding a goat at the petting zoo at Olentangy Indian Caverns

After some shrieks, we started out here and then eventually ventured into the large open area. My kids were scared of the cows but loved the smaller goats. 

This could definitely be unique a stand-alone activity! The cost for a wristband to enter the petting zoo is $4 and a small bag of food can be purchased for $1, a large bag for $3.

 a man feeding a goat and a cow at Olentangy Indian Caverns in Delaware Ohio

 

a father and son feeding a goat at the petting zoo at Olentangy Indian Caverns

young boy looking at a goat at Olentangy Indian Caverns petting zoo.

 

inside the petting zoo at Olentangy Indian Caverns

There is also separate area for feeding and petting deer!

kid petting a deer inside the deer petting area at Olentangy Indian Caverns

boys looking for rabbits at Olentangy Indian Caverns

There are also rabbits and chickens on the farm. They are not for petting, but still fun to spot! 

7. Playground

wooden playground area with yellow slides

The playground at Olentangy Indian Caverns is a destination in itself, especially if you ask my boys! This is the one activity they wanted to come back to again and again! I had to peel them away from the playground to do the other activities!

wooden playground structures at Olentangy Indian Caverns

The play structure is quite large and includes a couple of climbing walls, tube slides, and a really great wooden train structure!

Olentangy Indian Caverns playground with train structure

8. Picnic Area

On the grounds there is a pavilion with picnic tables and covered areas. You can bring your own food here for a picnic lunch or reserve the shelter for a group event!

pavilion for picnics at Olentangy Indian Caverns

There are also many picnic tables scattered around the property for a rest or a snack!

picnic tables on the property

9. Gift Shop at Olentangy Indian Caverns

outside view of the gift shop at Olentangy Indian Caverns

Pick up souvenirs (and all your activity tickets) at the Gift Shop! There was a surprisingly large amount of merchandise from toys and t-shirts to souvenirs and jewelry!

inside view of the gift shop at Olentangy Indian Caverns

10. Have a Birthday Party or Group Event at Olentangy Indian Caverns

You can also have a birthday party or other group event here! The shelters are available for rental and for groups of 25 or more you can receive a discount on the price of the activities. See info here!

Know Before You Go:

  • 1779 Home Rd. Delaware, OH 43015, 740-548-7917
  • The Caverns are open from April 1st – October 31st, every day from 9:30 AM – 5:00 PM.
  • Guided tours are only available June through August. You may do a self-guided tour during the other times.

Looking for more to do when you’re in Delaware, Ohio? Check out: Exploring Delaware with Your Kids!

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Ohio Caves and Caverns at Olentangy Indian Caverns in Delaware, Ohio


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4 Nature-Themed Story Times Around Columbus

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These four nature-themed story times around Columbus combine stories with great educational, hands on experiences!

I’ve mentioned probably more than a few times that my kids are really into bugs right now. So, when I saw that Ohio Wildlife Center had a story time about insects, we were there! It prompted the idea to put together a list of story times with a nature theme.

The bonus is that these story times also come with so much more than just a story! Maybe there’s a craft, animals to meet or a woods to explore – whatever the case may be, these story times make a for a great way learn AND have an up-close, hands-on experience with nature!

1. Ohio Wildlife Center

Times: Second Wednesday of the month
Location: 6131 Cook Rd. Powell, OH 43065
Phone: 614-734-9453
Cost: $5 for anyone over 5, including adults.

Ohio Wildlife Center hosts a Wild Story Time on the first Wednesday of each month. Check the calendar here. We went in July and the theme was Insects. As I said, my boys are REALLY into bugs right now so they were completely enthralled! There were a couple of stories with an insect theme and then a visit from a resident opossum!

After the story time, we all got to take a tour of the grounds, check out the animals that live there, and then do an insect-themed craft!

When the program part was over, we were allowed to explore the grounds on our own so we borrowed some binoculars and went on a hike through the woods and looped back around to visit the animals again! Ohio Wildlife Center cares for wild animals that have been hurt or abandoned and then releases them as they are able. Some of the animals housed on the grounds included raccoons, coyotes, owls, turkeys and more.

The Ohio Wildlife Center is not open to the public on a daily basis so in order to visit, you need to attend a story time or one of their “Open to the Public” events which takes place on the second Sunday of each month.

2. Grange Insurance Audubon Center

Times: Thursdays and Saturdays at 10:00 AM
Location: 505 W. Whittier St. Columbus, OH 43215
Phone: 614-545-5475
Cost: Free

Twice a week the Pre-K Storytime is held at the Grange Insurance Audubon Center in partnership with Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks. See the calendar of events here (search for Scioto Audubon program). The story time takes place in the beautiful library at the Audubon Center with a stunning view of downtown Columbus.

Afterwards you can visit the aquatic animals and play in the indoor play area. Outside the Audubon Center is a sandbox, playground and rock climbing wall. See 9 Things to do with Your Kids at Scioto Audubon.

3. Franklin Park Conservatory

Times: Thursdays at 10:30 AM
Location: 1777 E. Broad St., Columbus, OH 43203
Phone: 614-715-8000
Cost: Included with admission or membership

Franklin Park Conservatory is currently hosting a Nature Storytime on Mondays and Thursdays at 10:30 AM in the Scotts Miracle Grow Foundation Children’s Garden. This is appropriate for kids ages 3-8 and features stories that celebrate gardens, plants and nature. Of course afterwards you can enjoy the amazing Children’s Garden which is full of hands on activities!

Franklin Park Conservatory hosts several new events and programs in the garden. See the upcoming schedule of events here.

We attended the Little Adventurers Program last summer, which took place indoors. The book was The Very Lonely Firefly by Eric Carle and the craft was making a firefly with a glittery (“glowing”) body. Ok, let’s be honest, due to a rain storm and circumstances beyond my control, we were about 10 minutes late and missed the story, but you get the point! 😉 The boys had just spent the previous weekend catching fireflies at their grandparents’ house so this craft was extra appealing to them! The Little Adventurers program is free with admission or membership!

 

Afterwards, check out the Enchanted Forest, a children’s play area on the lower level and take a walk through Blooms and Butterflies (open March – September) to see butterflies up close and personal. Newly emerged butterflies are released every day at 1:00 PM and 3:00 PM.

4. Stratford Ecological Center

Times: Second Tuesday of the month from 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM
Location: 3083 Liberty Rd., Delaware, OH 43015
Phone: 740-363-2548
Cost: $5 per family

Stratford Ecological Center hosts Story Time on the Farm on the second Tuesday of each month at 10:00 AM starting in March and running through November. See the Calendar of Events. We haven’t actually been to the story time here yet, but we have been to the farm and I have heard that the story time is very popular! The story time lasts an hour and is based on what is going on at the farm during the current season! After the story time, you can explore the farm, dig in the dirt and visit the animals! See A Day on the Farm: 5 Things to do at Stratford Ecological Center.

 

Where is your favorite local story time?

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ICYMI: Summer Nights in Columbus: Something to do Every Night of the Week

Need more ideas? Check out Over 100 Fun Things to do in Columbus, Ohio

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Columbus Zoo: Little Explorers Base Camp

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Last week we were meeting a friend at the Zoo and she texted me saying, “We’re at Little Explorers by the pond.” I texted back, “What is that?” And before I got a reply, we stumbled right into this fun set up by the lake, right near the entrance! I have Little Explorers Base Camp on my Tuesday page as an idea of something to do, but we had never experienced it ourselves! There are only a few weeks left in the season, but I got a lot of questions about it on social media, so I thought I’d put together a post with the details.

Exploring pond life!

Little Explorers Base Camp is held on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10:00 AM until 12:00 PM throughout the school year. Each theme runs for two weeks and is held at a different location at the Zoo. Last week the theme was Around the Pond and all of the activities featured something related to pond life.

Fishing!

No registration is required for this activity – you just show up, play for as long as you like and move on when you’re ready. The stations were set up around the area and were really easy to navigate.

Learning about nests and birds!

Feeding worms to baby birds!

There were several staff members there who were really good with the kids, asking them questions about what colors they saw, what things felt like, etc. My kids were really engaged! If we didn’t prod them on to see the polar bears, they probably would have stayed forever!

Building a beaver dam!

You still have the opportunity to do this activity during the rest of May! The theme will be Pollinators and will take place at My House (the house you can walk through in the North American exhibit before you get to the petting zoo!) Little Explorer’s Base Camp will take place on these dates: May 16, 18, 23, and 25 from 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM.

And just in case you haven’t heard, there are baby polar bears at the Zoo! Aurora has twins and Anana has one cub. Their names were just announced over the weekend! Anana’s cub is Amelia Gray, chosen by public vote, and Aurora’s twins are Nuniq and Neva, chosen by The Zoo and The Wilds staff.

When we visited last week the twins were nursing, so of course that meant they went right down for a nap and we only saw a head pop up once or twice! These pictures are from a few weeks ago, but I wanted to include them just for the cuteness factor! The twins and the cub alternate days of being out and can be out and about as long as they desire! The schedule is not as tight as it was for baby Nora so you have a good chance of seeing them without as long of a line! 🙂

Edited 1/4/2018:

Upcoming Dates for 2018:

Rockin’ Reptiles:  March 6, 8, 13, 15 at Reptile House
Tons O’ Fun:  March 20, 22, 27, 29 at Pachyderm Building
Barnyard Bonanza: April 3, 5, 10, 12 at My Barn
Celebrate the Sea: April 17, 19, 24, 26 at Manatee Coast
Outback Adventures: May 1, 3, 8, 10 at Australia Roadhouse
Backyard Explorers: May 15, 17, 22, 24 at North American Aviary

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ICYMI: 12 Parks to Try This Summer


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