3 Places I Love to Take My Kids in Columbus: Amy Scalia

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Each month I feature a local parent who shares about three places they love to take their kids in Columbus!

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

3 Places I Love to Take My Kids in Columbus: Amy Scalia:

1. Blue Monkey Party & Events

We live in Pickerington and don’t like to travel too far from home with our three kids, so this place is perfect. It’s a huge facility full of bounce house fun. There are smaller ones that are great for toddlers, and bigger ones with basketball hoops, etc for older kids.
They have toddler-specific times where there are only littles there, which makes it nice for them to get in the “big kid” bounce houses. And then Open Play nights where all ages can come.  
We also had our daughter’s birthday party there, too, and they made it a breeze. Food, drinks, desserts, the bounce house to yourself, personalized soundtrack (my daughter is obsessed with Frozen so they had that blaring the entire time and she was in
heaven), photobooth for the kids personalized with their favorite characters, and a party space are all included.

2. Combustion Brewery

This place has become a second home. They actually gave our son the cutest “Future Brewer” onesie because he had been in four times in his first month of life, which apparently was a record. 😂 We just love coming here with the kids because they have a fun area where the kids can play, a good handful of kids are always there for ours to play with, and everyone always seems to enjoy having kids around which you don’t often feel when you’re out.
They have their regular food menu (kids love their Mac), they’re attached to a pizza place next door so you can bring in food from there, and they have different (always delicious) food trucks visiting too. On the weekends they have live music and the kids love dancing the night away to it, fascinated with the musicians!

My husband and I love sitting back, enjoying a drink together (out in public like real people do! Haha!), as we watch the kids have a ton of fun! It’s the best!

3. Princess Party Productions

My two older kids are girls and oh my do they love their princesses! So I first found Princess Party Productions to have princesses come to one of my girls’ birthday parties (you can also hire their super heroes and other characters your boy might be into FYI) 
They did an amazing job – their dresses/wigs/acting were incredible, and all their characters are classically trained vocal performers, so their singing was out of this world. Then I saw that they do events a few times a year (they post them to their FB page, so be on the lookout), like Tea with Elsa and Anna at La Chatelaine, which of course my Frozen-obsessed daughter had to go to.
We’ve also been to one of their Princess Day events where all the princesses come together for a big performance and you can do a meet-and-greet with all their characters. So, this is a great group to follow for fun events to attend!

Amy Scalia, a Cincinnati native, launched Cincy Chic in 2007 and then Cbus Chic in 2013. She’s a mom of three (two girls and boy, all under 4!) living in Pickerington with her husband (Pete Scalia, of 10TV This Morning), who loves her wild little family, food, wine, coffee and long runs!

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things for toddlers to do in Columbus, Ohio

ICYMI: 6 Best Outings to Keep Toddlers Busy in Columbus, Ohio

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Exploring The Ohio State University Campus with Your Kids

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Looking for things to do at The Ohio State University with your kids? These family friendly ideas will give you a fun way to explore the OSU campus and get a small taste of what it means to be a Buckeye!

A few months ago, Erin Strouse invited me to meet her and her son at Orton Hall at OSU to see the Cryolophosaurus skeleton that was discovered by an OSU professor and installed in September, 2018!

kids at Orton Geological Museum, Ohio State University Campus

We had a fun time exploring the museum and learning about the Orton Geological Museum! I asked Erin to share more about the museum and the other things she enjoys doing with her kids on the campus of The Ohio State University! Thanks to Erin for sharing this this fun post with us!

Fun Things to do with Kids on The Ohio State University Campus:

1. New Dino Display at Orton Geological Museum (Orton Hall)

kid standing in front of Orton Geological Museum, Ohio State University Campus

No bones about it – the Orton Geological Museum has become our favorite stomping ground at Ohio State. For my dino-lovin’ kids, the highlight of this fun and free peek into the prehistoric is a 24-foot-long Cryolophosaurus skeleton. The replica has greeted visitors with toothy grin since its September 2018 installation, just off The Oval, in the heart of campus.

Your littles will love the adventure of climbing up the front steps of the iconic Orton Hall, hauling open the massive doors and coming face-to-face with “Ohio’s dinosaur.” (No dinos were known to ever roam our state, but this creature was named for the OSU prof who found it in Antarctica, making for one cool connection to the carnivore!)

Transport the theropod into the 21st century with the free Orton Hall app; augmented reality pops the dino off its platform and reveals more about its significant and serendipitous discovery. In the museum (open M-F, 9-5), your kids will ooh and ahh over the giant sloth skeleton, T. rex skull, sparkling minerals, meteorites, mastodon teeth and more!

You can touch a dinosaur footprint and examine the pompadour-like crest on another Cryolophosaurus skull to see why its been dubbed ELVISaurus!

kids posing in front of dinosaur at Orton Hall, Ohio State University Campus

My boys also love the glow-in-the-dark rock booth and visiting the friendly curators; just ring the bell at the gift shop and they’ll be happy to show your kids around and give them a museum coloring book. (Ask about reserving space for a birthday party; my four-year-old had a dino-mite time!)

Gift shop items fit all budgets and benefit the museum or you can just donate directly by the visitor’s log. My kids always like to sign it on our way out. Don’t let the museum’s small size fool you; it boasts more than 10,000 fossils! Still, my kids are ready to run after a half hour, so we usually hit up the bathrooms hidden just outside the museum doors and snap a #CryolophoSELFIE in the lobby to share @o_h_di_no #OHDINO #OrtonMuseum

mother and kids at Orton Hall, Ohio State University Campus

Take the stairs or elevator around the corner to the lower level where an automatic door helps a mama with a stroller. This exits onto Hagerty Dr., behind Orton Hall, so keep your kids close. I can usually find a cheap metered parking spot here, but spaces are limited. (The Ohio Union garage isn’t that far of a walk and costs under $7/hour.)

You just can’t beat one of Ohio State’s best hidden gems for a short ‘n sweet lil’ expedition that’s accessible, affordable and awesome … or should I say, jaw-some!? Either way, we say, “O-H … DI-NO!”

2. Renovated Mirror Lake and South Oval

Kids doing "O-H' at The Oval on Ohio State University Campus

Your kiddos are just steps away from a rompin’ good time at OSU’s South Oval and Mirror Lake if you can snag a metered parking space behind Orton Hall. For just a few bucks, your little Buckeyes can burn off some energy in this shady greenspace before or after visiting the museum (see above). My boys love to run, climb trees, even roar about with friends in dino costumes, urging passersby to see the real deal next door.

kid playing in fountain at Mirror Lake, Ohio State University Campus

Pack a picnic lunch, listen to the Orton bell tower chime and check out its gargoyles before your lil’ dinos stomp down to the “swamp” nearby. Actually, the historic Mirror Lake is now a beautifully-renovated wetland; it re-opened in August 2018. Little feet can’t resist a small, ground-level fountain; my sons’ shoes were swamped last visit so bring an extra pair and have fun exploring!  

3. Thompson Library

My kids haven’t met a library they don’t like, but OSU’s Thompson Library on The Oval was a real treat. By the front door, students rub the head on a bust of President Thompson for good luck on exams, so my kids followed suit and recited their ABCs over the nearby alphabet floor engraving.

kid looking out the window at Thompson Library, Ohio State University Campus

Next, we took the elevators to the 11th floor and tried our best to contain squeals of excitement – the views of landmarks like Ohio Stadium and Orton Hall (see above) are amazing!

4. Garden of Constants

If tummies are grumbling, try the library café or nearby “Oxley’s by the Numbers,” next to a fun-for-climbing outdoor numeral “Garden of Constants” (2055 Millikin Rd.) your young counters will love!

kid sitting at the Garden of Constants at Ohio State University Campus

If only pizza will do, park at Tommy’s at Lane and Neil; my kids like to split a slice there and play some Pac-Man. Pack some quarters and score a #momwin!

5. Olentangy River and Lane Avenue Gardens

Sometimes after lunch, we walk down to the Brutus and Woody Hayes statutes on Lane, or even across the restored Olentangy River to touch the floating sphere fountain and other features of the Lane Avenue Gardens (Survivors’ Park, Chadwick Arboretum).

6. OSU’s Museum of Biological Diversity

We’ve trekked quite a bit across the university in recent years, including west campus; each spring, OSU’s Museum of Biological Diversity (1315 Kinnear Rd.) hosts a one-day, hands-on open house that’s not to be missed! It’s free and your kids will be wowed when they get to go behind-the-scenes to interact with world-class collections of insects, animals, shells … and fossils from – where else?! – the Orton Geological Museum! This event is taking place on March 23, 2019!

What other OSU must-see’s do you know of that we’ve missed? Please share! If I leave it up to the kids, they’ll just keep asking to ride the escalators up to the second floor children’s area at The Ohio State Bookstore (the Barnes & Noble at 11th and High). Ha! Maybe this year we’ll finally check out the new Script Ohio monument … Buckeye Donuts … another sporting event … the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library … the planetarium … or the Wex! What does your family like to do on campus?

Erin Strouse and family at Orton Hall, Ohio State University Campus

Erin (Tate) Strouse is a former NBC4 reporter and media relations coordinator for the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. Now a stay-at-home “dino mom” to Garrett-saurus (6) and Nate-ceratops (4), she became an accidental fundraiser and ambassador for the Orton Geological Museum’s Cryolophosaurus crowdfunding campaign in early 2017. A quick first visit to the museum evolved into a kid-fueled “Dough for Dino” bake sale (and much more) to teach her preschoolers the rewarding fun of community service.

Erin’s family likes to serve in other ways, too, through their church, and play in all sorts of new places across Columbus. She’s always recruiting more “Friends of the Museum,” so jump on the dinosaur train at www.facebook.com/doughfordino and Twitter @o_h_di_no #OHDINO and @erin_strouse #DoughforDinoROCKS (where she hopes to soon release her lil’ rockers’ latest endeavor) … stay tuned for another wild ride!


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Exploring the Ohio State University With Kids

ICYMI: 25 Free Things to do with Kids this Winter in Columbus, Ohio

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3 Places I Love to Take My Kids in Columbus: Aaron Sheldon

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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 Aaron for sharing 3 of his favorites with us this month!


I guess it’s a no brainer that one of a wandering astronaut’s favorite places in Columbus is COSI. We have had a membership since Astronaut Harrison was two, and we still visit frequently. We have always enjoyed COSI for its permanent exhibits and fantastic kid’s play area. We love going there even more now that the planetarium shows and access to the American Museum of Natural History Dinosaur Gallery are included in the cost of the annual family pass.

Another thing to love? Discount programs for veterans and families who participate in WIC, Ohio Directions or Ohio Medicaid through their Family Access membership ($49 per family!).

2. Cover to Cover Books

Having an amazing children’s bookstore like Cover To Cover was great when it was in Clintonville. When owner Melia Wolf moved it to the Mallway in Upper Arlington (5 minutes from my house) it became downright dangerous to my wallet. Melia and her staff are fantastic. They have introduced Astronaut Harrison to several new book series that he adores and they are always up for a game of chess.

They also offer frequent story times and visits from notable children’s book authors. If you have the chance you have to attend their Firefighter story time with the UA Fire Department. After story time (and fire safety tips) everyone goes across the street to the UA Fire Station for a chance to see the firefighting gear and trucks.

3. Legoland Discovery Center Columbus

Our new favorite place in Columbus is Legoland Discovery Center Columbus (LDC) at Easton Town Center. LDC has so many great activities with something of interest for kids of all ages (including us parents). Astronaut Harrison’s favorites are the 4D Cinema, LEGO Racers test tracks, the rides, and the multi-level playland.

My favorites are the Creative Workshops that offers a different build session every month, the MINILAND version of Columbus (and parts of Cleveland and Cincinnati), and the coffee shop (which serves Starbucks). The first Thursday of every month they have Adult Fan of LEGO Night with a host of activities and giveaways – no kids allowed. November was Casino night and I won big!

Astronaut Harrison and I have been there many times, and we’ve put together a few tips on how to get the most out of your visit (including how to save big on admission) on our blog at: Astronaut Harrison Explores the New LEGOLAND Discovery Center at Easton.

Astronaut Harrison is a 1st grader who loves to explore his everyday world. His Dad, Aaron Sheldon, when not documenting adventures for their Instagram account @smallstepsaregiantleaps, is a Social Media consultant for area non-profits and a real estate photographer.

As a special for What Should We Do Today Columbus readers, you can pick up a copy of their book “Small Steps Are Giant Leaps” for 50% off the cover price at: https://mpex.com/small-steps-are-giant-leaps.html

Use code Leaps50 at checkout to get the discount!


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Top 10 Things to do with Kids in Columbus, Ohio

Top 10 Things to do with Kids in Columbus, Ohio

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