What Should We Do This Weekend? February 17-20, 2017 President’s Day Edition

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1. Open Play at Thompson Recreation Center

When: Friday, February 17, 2017
Time: 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Location: 1189 Dennison Ave, Columbus, OH 43201

The gym is open for this free play time for kids 6 and under! There are balls, basketball hoops, scooters, toys, jump ropes and more!

2. Story time at Tree of Life Play Cafe

When: Friday, February 17, 2017
Time: 10:15 AM and 11:00 AM
Location: 3708 Fishinger Blvd., Hilliard, OH 43026
Phone: 614-363-4041

Local author Christy Sturtz will share her book Just Try It, Georgie! about a giraffe who tries new food. There will also be a craft time! There are two story times available.

3. Superhero Breakfast at  COSI

When: Saturday, February 18, 2017
Time: 9:00 AM
Location: 333 W. Broad St., Columbus, OH 43215
Phone: 614-228-2674

The Superhero Breakfast includes a breakfast buffet, meet and greet with Black Widow, Iron Man and Spiderman, a take home activity, entertainment and a photo! See the link for info on tickets.

4. STEMfest at The Works: Ohio Center for History, Art & Technology

When: Saturday & Sunday, February 18 & 19, 2017
Time: 9:30 AM – 4:00 PM
Location: 55 S 1st St., Newark, OH 43055
Phone: 740-349-9277

Admission is FREE to The Works this weekend during the 2-day STEMfest! Watch students compete in STEM-based challenges designed by local industries and businesses!

5. Chase from Paw Patrol Meet and Greet at Skate Zone 71

When: Saturday, February 18, 2017
Time: 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Location: 4900 Evanswood Dr., Columbus, OH 43229

Chase from Paw Patrol will be visiting Skate Zone 71! There will be a special Paw Patrol Meal Deal: $3.50 for 1 Slice of Cheese Pizza & Drink! See link for all details on pricing.

6. Maple Syrup Tours at Stratford Ecological Center

When: Saturday, February 18, 2017
Time: 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM
Location: 3083 Liberty Rd., Delaware, OH 43015
Phone: 740-363-2548

Hour-long tours are available to discover how maple syrup is collected and processed while enjoying the beautiful forest at Stratford Ecological Center! You must register in advance.

7. Mighty Mighty Construction Site Story Time at Barnes and Noble

When: Saturday February 18, 2017
Time:  11:00 AM
Location: your local Barnes and Noble

Sherri Duskey Rinker, the author of Good Night, Good Night Construction Site has a new book with a focus on working together! Hear the book read and take part in coloring and other activities!

8. Black History Storytime at Bexley Public Library

When: Saturday, February 18, 2017
Time: 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM
Location: 2411 E. Main St., Bexley, OH 43209
Phone: 614-231-2878

Each Saturday in February, the library is offering a Black History Storytime featuring the opportunity to celebrate and learn about famous black Americans!

9. Lego Club at Westland Area Library

When: Saturday, February 18, 2017
Time: 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM
Location: 4740 W. Broad St., Columbus, OH 43228
Phone: 614-878-1301

Kids can work in teams or on their own to complete a LEGO challenge!

10. Sunday Story Time at Gramercy Books

When: Sunday, February 19, 2017
Time: 12:00 PM
Location: 2424 East Main St., Bexley , OH 43209
Phone: 614-867-5515

This story time for kids happens on the 1st and 3rd Sundays of the month at this new local bookstore.

President’s Day Activities:


11. President’s Day Art Morning at Picassos

When: Monday, February 20, 2017
Time: 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Location: 1974 North Mallway Dr., Upper Arlington, OH, 43221
Phone: 614-354-1930

Kids 6 and up can take part in a patriotic art project! Supplies and snack are included! Registration is available online.

12. President’s Day Free Day at Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

When: Monday, February 20, 2017
Time: 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Location: 4850 Powell Rd., Powell, OH 43065
Phone: 614-645-3400

Admission is free all day at the Columbus Zoo! Parking is $10/car.

13. Special Hours at COSI

When: Monday, February 20, 2017
Time: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Location: 333 W. Broad St, Columbus, OH 43215
Phone: 614-228-2674

COSI (normally closed on Mondays) will be open from 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM! Their new exhibit Mindbender Mansion and Amazing Mazes will be on display!

14. Jazz Adventures at Franklin Park Conservatory

When: Monday, February 20, 2017
Time: 11:00 AM & 2:00 PM
Location: 1777 E. Broad St., Columbus, OH 43203
Phone: 614-715-8000

Jazz Arts Group will be onsite to explore the history of jazz. There will be live music and audience participation!

15. President’s Day at Ohio History Center

When: Monday, February 20, 2017
Time: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Location: 800 E. 17th Ave., Columbus OH 43211
Phone: 614-297-2300

Ohio History Center will be open on Monday with special presidential crafts, activities and speakers!

16. $5/Hour Child Play Day at Brick of Dreams

When: Monday, February 20, 2017
Time: 12:30 PM – 6:00 PM
Location: 6190 Shamrock Ct, Ste C., Dublin, OH 43016
Phone: 614-766-0000

Brick of Dreams will offer open play for $5/hour/kid! Regular price is $7/hour/kid.

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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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You Need these 7 Columbus Memberships to Survive Winter!

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A few years ago, facing my first winter as a SAHM with two kids, the panic started to set in around September. I bought a membership to everything I could think of (because some of these are really good deals!) and planned to have somewhere to go for every day of the week during the winter. Yes, I panicked, but it was worth it!

The cost of membership to most of these places more than pays for itself in usually 2 visits. After that your visits are “free” So every day it feels like you are getting to do something really fun for “free”. All year, special events are “free”. (Though I don’t necessarily suggest you buy all of these memberships in one month or you’ll find yourself spending a good chunk of change all in one month every year at renewal time. cough cough. (who would do that?) 😉 ). We do put $20/month into an envelope for our “memberships” – it doesn’t quite cover the costs to what I’ve listed here – but let’s just say it helps when renewal time comes around!

I can tell you this, I’m headed into my second winter with two kids and I have renewed every one of these memberships! 😉

1. Columbus Museum of Art

If you have children that are 5 and under, you should absolutely have a Friend membership to CMA. Cost is $60 for the year. This membership is for one person, but kids 5 and under are free! Plus you get admission for one additional adult per visit. (Regular adult admission is $14). If your kids are over 5, then the Household Membership is only $15 more. (Regular admission for children over 5 is $5/visit.)

The Museum has the Wonder Room, which is a great area for kids to create. It’s not exactly a toddler play area, so that is the one downside to taking kids that are 5 and under, but as they get closer to 5, they will get more and more out of the Wonder Room. Once a year, the museum has Think Outside the Brick, an LEGO display and exhibit! We usually see this at least twice, so we are getting our money’s worth right there! The museum offers Family Adventure Tours, Open Studio for all ages to drop in and your membership is also good for special exhibits.


2. Ohio History Center

Membership to Ohio History Center is about as affordable as you can get! This is another case where children 5 and under are free, so if your kids are young, you only need an Individual Membership which is $35. The Individual Membership also allows you to bring one unnamed adult per visit. Regular admission to OHC is $10/person, $5 for children over 5. You can also get $5 off your membership if you have AAA or are an active education (among others)! The family membership, if your children are over 5, is just $55.

Ohio History Center has a lot to offer kids. There are several educational play areas. Click this link above for my previous post about Ohio History Center and all there is for kids to do there! If you have a membership, it includes admission to Storybook Village, which is a fun day each summer when your children’s favorite story book characters come to life at Ohio Village. It also includes admission to Ohio Village Muffins vintage base ball games. (yes, it is base ball (2 words!)) as well as admission to 50 other sites and museums around the state!

In my mind, there are very few cons to this membership! If I had to think of one, it is that they are not open on Mondays and Tuesdays. This has tripped me up a few times! Whoops!


3. COSI

If you only have very young children or are new to Columbus, you might not know that COSI has a huge play space for kids age 6 and under! little kidspace is a great place for you to take babies, toddlers and preschoolers during the winter. (Major con this winter only is that the parking lot is under construction so you will have a bit of a cold walk to get inside! I’ve heard there is a shuttle running to and from the parking lot, but I haven’t been since it got really cold!)

The COSI membership is a bit pricier than the others I’ve mentioned so far (basic family is $119), but honestly, you can’t beat the price when it comes to an indoor play area for toddlers and preschoolers. (Obviously, COSI has a lot to offer older kids as well, but for now I am thinking of those of us who are passing winter days with kids who are not old enough to be in school yet!)

Regular admission ranges from $15 – $20/person, so a family could potentially spend the cost of a membership in one visit! Plus, your admission to COSI gets you discounts on parking, movie tickets, admission to special Members Only events and special events like Farm Days, Big Machines, Model Train Weekend and more!


4. Franklin Park Conservatory

The Conservatory is a great place to go in the winter! Even though plants and flowers might make you think of summer, I actually prefer going there in the Winter! Perhaps that is because we went there on a really hot day last summer, not thinking what it might feel like to walk through a greenhouse when it was already 100 degrees outside! Eek! A basic family membership is $90. (Regular admission is $14/adult and $7/child. Children 2 and under are free.) If it will be mainly one parent who just wants to get out of the house with a baby 2 and under, you could easily make use of the Individual Membership for $45!

The Conservatory can be slightly nerve wracking with toddlers if you’re managing more than one kid by yourself, but for the most part it is pretty kid friendly. (Speaking as someone whose child knocked over a glass vase filled with water there recently . . . ) One really great part about the membership is that it includes the special events going on at the Conservatory.

There is something for families most weekends and there is a Little Adventurers program for kids ages 3-5 on Thursdays! There is usually (depending on the exhibits going on at the time) a little children’s play area on the first floor, a model train and ongoing children’s activities. Not to mention, when it gets warm, the grounds are beautiful!


5. Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

How is this one going to help you survive winter, you ask? Because you are going to get to take advantage of those unseasonably warm days that randomly pop up – I actually “strongly dislike” going to the zoo during the summer: too hot! (gosh I’m hard to please!) For me, the best times of the year to go to the zoo are spring and fall.

Membership gets you into Boo at the Zoo in October and Wildlights at the holidays. It’s also good for other special zoo events, preschool classes, and free parking! Maybe this one won’t help you survive the cold, dreary days but it’s still a must have, IMHO. 😉 If you’re really brave, there are quite a few indoor areas at the Zoo, once you get to the grounds from the parking lot!


6. Columbus Recreation and Parks Department

Ahh….I don’t take enough advantage of the Recreation and Parks program in Columbus, but we have done baby swimming lessons at Columbus Aquatic Center and a couple of Mommy and Me preschool art classes. The cost of a Leisure Card to use the facilities is $1 (and it’s good for 3 years!).

During the winter, Open Swim at the Columbus Aquatic Center is $1/person. It is REALLY hard to beat that cost! The classes and programs vary by location but they include art classes, gymnastics, yoga, pottery, soccer, basketball and more! Plus classes for adults! Check out the online schedule of programs here.


7. Your Local Library

Yes, I am technically counting this as a membership! 😉 And it is free! I think most parents figure out pretty fast that the library is the place to go for free indoor entertainment for kids! All of the libraries in the area have some form of story hour, baby lap time, regular activities and the like!

Your membership, in the form of a library card, also allows you to check out books and magazines to make sure your kids have something new to read on a regular basis! Many of the Columbus Metropolitan Library locations have Ready for Kindergarten areas where young children can play and explore. I’m all for getting out and trying new libraries (this is mainly to keep me entertained!) 🙂 Here and here are four that are fun libraries for reading AND playing!


If you have these memberships and you use them wisely, there is always an affordable and fun indoor option if you need to get out of the house! (And if you don’t want to spend a dime, there’s always my list of 20 FREE Indoor Play Areas in Columbus!) Let me know in the comments if there are any other memberships that help you survive winter in Columbus!

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ICYMI: Indoor Programs for Toddlers and Preschoolers in Columbus: Winter 2017


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MEGA Train List for Central Ohio and Beyond

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My kids love trains! I have been to *almost* every place on this list! When Jaden was 3, he could have gone to Barnes and Noble every single day to play with Thomas. This list isn’t so much for your kids as it is for you! Of course your kids will love these places, but this list is to keep YOU from going insane from doing the same thing every day! 😉 A good number of these things are special events that are only available for a short time! So check the list and mark your calendars because many of those are coming up this month! You, too, can be a really useful engine! 😉

1. Paul Busse Model Garden Railway at Franklin Park Conservatory, downtown Columbus

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The train in the picture below is up nearly year round, but the one above makes a special appearance during the holidays! Check the link for info on Merry and Bright!

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2. Grandview Library, Grandview Heights

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One great library with a train table!

3. Huntington Holiday Train at Columbus Metropolitan Library, downtown Columbus

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The Huntington Holiday Train arrives in mid-November and the Main Library hosts an Open House on November 30th, which will include hot chocolate and cookies, crafts and the lighting of Topiary Park! For even more trains, keep an eye on the Hilliard and Gahanna branches which will offer Polar Express programs this year!

4. Ohio Railway Museum, Worthington

The museum has been working on repairing the tracks so no train rides are available as of today, but they hope to be up and running for the holidays!

5. The Train Station, Clintonville

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Model trains are for sale here and they also have a small play area for kids!

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6. Moody Street Trains, Clintonville

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Model trains are for sale here and there is a train table for playing. On Saturday, December 3, 2016, they will host the 2nd Annual National Lionel Train Day which will feature prizes, face painting and a visit from Santa!

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7. Model Railroad Days at COSI, downtown Columbus

Model Railroad Days are November 16-20, 2016 this year and large model train sets are available for viewing and there are also trains to play with! During the weekend you can watch the movie Rocky Mountain Express in the theater. At Christmastime, The Polar Express is shown as well! (p.s. there is also a train to play with in the little kidspace at COSI!)

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8. Barnes and Noble, various locations

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Barnes and Noble offers the hope that your children will play with trains while you quietly sip coffee and read a magazine.

9. Hilliard Branch, Columbus Metropolitan Library, Hilliard

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The Hilliard Branch is a fun library for kids and has a Chuggington train table.

10. Von Maur, Polaris Fashion Place

In the children’s section of the store, there is a train that runs along the wall and a train table for playing!

11. Easton Express Railway, Easton Town Center

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This outdoor train track is always decorated for whatever season it happens to be and is a big hit with the kids!

12. BrickUniverse, Columbus Convention Center

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There are lots of working LEGO trains at this once-a-year LEGO Expo!

13. Delaware County Model Railroaders’ Open Houses, Delaware

Model railroads are set up on these special open-house dates!

14. Great Train Show at Ohio Expo Center

This expo is coming January 14-15, 2017 and includes model railroads, train dealers, hands-on exhibits and more!

15. Inniswood Metro Gardens, Westerville

We stumbled upon this train track behind the offices at Inniswood. I couldn’t find any info on if/when it is used, but if you know, please leave a comment below!

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16. Holiday Train Display at Ohio History Center

This special train is on exhibit during the holiday season! It will be on display November 28, 2016 – January 4, 2017.

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There are other trains on the grounds of the Ohio History Center year round, including one inside the building that can be sat in, and the one seen below that sits outside.

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17. Schiller Park in German Village

This is a great park with a train that can be played on!

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18. Alum Creek Park North, Westerville

This park is affectionately known as “the train park” – and aptly so!

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19. Henceroth Park, Grove City

This park offers lots of vehicles to play on including a jeep, boat and this wooden train!

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20. North America Train Ride at Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

For $1 per person, you can ride a train around the North American exhibit at the zoo!

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21. Christmas Time Open House at Central Ohio Model Railroad Club

For 4 weekends in December, the club puts on an open house featuring giant model railroad layouts, an interactive Thomas the Tank Engine display and more! Admission is free!

22. Open Garden Tour by the members of Columbus Garden Railway Society

On the second Sunday in September, members of the Columbus Garden Railway Society open their houses (gardens!) for a tour of their own Garden Railroads!

BEYOND COLUMBUS . . .

23. Little Buckeye Children’s Museum, Mansfield

One of the larger exhibits at the Little Buckeye Museum is the model train display and nearby train tables for playing!

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24. Mad River & NKP Railroad Museum, Bellevue

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There are tons of trains on display here, may of which you can climb aboard! This museum has indoor and outdoor components and the gift shop has a train table for playing!

25. Northwest Ohio Railroad Preservation, Inc., Findlay

This organization offers train rides and holiday events (including the North Pole Express), a museum, gift shop and model train displays!

26. The Buckeye Express Diner, Bellville

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Eat dinner in an OSU-themed train car! There is a train playground outside too!

27. Dennison Railroad Depot Museum, Dennison

This museum has a railroad car just for kids, model trains and a scavenger hunt just for kids!

 28. Lodi Station Outlets, Lodi

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This outlet mall is built with a train theme! You can purchase tickets to take a train ride around the property!

29. EnterTAINment Junction, West Chester

This venue offers displays, a museum, seasonal rides and a funhouse!

30. Day Out with Thomas, various locations

These special days only happen a few times a year at Ohio locations and include a 25-minute train ride, kids activities, live music and more!

31. Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad, Northeast Ohio

The trains here run mainly on the weekends and there are several events scheduled throughout the year, including a Christmas Tree Adventure!

32. Hocking Valley Scenic Railway, Nelsonville

This railway offers special trips throughout the year including a Santa Train on December 18, 2016. Tickets are limited.

33. LM & M Railroad, Lebanon, Lebanon

This historic railroad offers special events including the Day out with Thomas and North Pole Express!

34. Train-O-Rama, Marblehead

One of Ohio’s largest multi-gauge model railroad displays open to the public! Trains are for sale in the gift shop as well!

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ICYMI: 5 Moms of Nationwide Share their Favorite Places to take their Kids in Columbus


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