Aquarium Adventure

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Yesterday we took a trip to Aquarium Adventure.  You know, I used to feel kind of weird for taking Jaden here until I saw that Aquarium Adventure posted an ad in Columbus Parent telling parents to bring their kids here to look at fish!  Permission granted!

Please note: Since the writing of this post, Aquarium Adventure has moved to a new location at 3649 Fishinger Blvd., Hilliard, Ohio 43026

I stumbled upon Aquarium Adventure a few years ago out of curiosity.  I’m sure, as parents, we’ve all spent more than our fair share of time in the shopping plaza anchored by Babies ‘R Us off Sawmill Road.  

As your bump turns into a baby, you probably, like me, travelled down the plaza to Carter’s and then, eventually, to Michael’s to entertain the thought that, one day, you might once again have time to do something crafty (hence the bag of unused crochet needles and yarn in my closet – I had a 6 month old, WHAT WAS I THINKING?).  

Then, when the euphoria wore off, you realized the kid’s craft section is fun entertainment for your preschooler.  Eventually you end up at the other end of the strip:  Aquarium Adventure.

This place is pretty awesome.  As you can see from these pictures, it’s pretty large, has a ton of different fish, and even caters to visiting children.  (I’m just going to interrupt here to say that since I am not an underwater expert, I am going to refer to most of the living creatures we saw here as “fish”, though I do realize that might not be the correct term!)  What is especially entertaining is the large tanks they have with bigger fish . . . and this time, a stingray!


There used to be a creepy looking fish in the large tank that Jaden was afraid of.  It has since been replaced by a stingray – with caution tape advising you to stay behind the line while viewing!  My kids circled this tank, coming back and forth to it many times.  They also loved the turtles – the real ones and the Teenage Mutant Ninja variety!



We got to see one of the workers feed the piranhas – she invited my kids to watch, which I thought was pretty nice.  There is also a “Touch Me Tidepool” complete with towels for wiping wet hands.  

Jaden was cautious when I read off the list of things you could touch and he heard the word “crabs”.  There was no way he was putting his hand in that pool!  Though to be honest, I didn’t see any crabs!  Mayson probably would have dove in head first, so I didn’t call too much attention to this opportunity.




As with most of my daily outings, I combined a legitimate errand on my part with something fun for my kids to do. They could have stayed at Aquarium Adventure all morning! We were probably there for at least 30 minutes as it was, but I was on a mission to Whole Foods to pick up a few groceries, which leads me to part two of the morning.

Whole Foods itself can be a fun experience for kids, but I find that my kids, like the food, have an expiration date in grocery stores. Grocery shopping is a race against the clock for me, and it can quickly decompensate into a seriously stressful experience. Whole Foods often helps stretch the time by offering samples of food and the promise of time in the play area if they can hold it together long enough for me to compare labels on the nitrate-free bacon.

On this trip, I’ll admit, I also picked up two chocolate chip muffins to sweeten the trip.


After checking out, we made our way to the play area so I could sit and stare into space (every parent’s dream) and the kids could play while we ate our muffins.  The play area at the Whole Foods on Sawmill is nice in that it is pretty closed off, is close to the bathroom and has a lot of nice seating in the area.  

In my opinion, it is not the cleanest and that is a drawback.  Maybe this is a stereotype, but my expectations are a little higher for Whole Foods.  But I let them play anyway, and they had a lot of fun.


Overall, this was a good morning for us.  It was a happy combination of fun things for the kids and mom accomplishing a goal.  This outing took about 2.5 hours for us, including drive time.  At 18 months old, Mayson loved seeing the fish and was tall enough to see into enough fish tanks to make it worth it.  

You could easily combine this trip with lunch at Whole Foods, and if it was warm, you could potentially walk between the two locations (because I am all about reducing the amount of times you have to get kids in and out of the car!).  Has anyone else checked it out?


Know before you go:

Location: 3632 W Dublin Granville Rd, Columbus, OH 43235

Cost:  Free

Parking:  Large parking lot in front of store

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Driving in Cars with Boys – 12 things you can do with your kids without leaving the car!

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Okay, I hope I’m not the only one here….but there are just some times when you really just need to be out of the house and you really need your kids to be contained. I think there’s a quote about how the only vacation a parent gets is after he buckles his kids into their car seats and shuts the door….ahhh…that silent walk around the car to the driver’s side. I think of that every day. I can’t find the quote on the internet, so it might not be real. 😉

Anyway, assuming your kids don’t scream in the car (and I had one that did that until he faced forward), there are lots of things you can do while you have them contained. They might even be entertained! If you’re here because you don’t know what to do but it’s too cold/rainy/snowy/windy for the park and you’ve been to every library in the city or because you just have an hour to kill and you’re going to lose your mind if you don’t leave the house, then I have a few ideas for you.

The first, and I hope, obvious, one is 1.  coffee. I never, and I mean NEVER, used the Starbucks drive through until I had kids. No, scratch that, until I had two kids. I loved going into Starbucks. Maybe you’ll say I was just taken in by their marketing ploys, but I fully bought into the experience. Jazz music, hipster looking people on laptops, baristas who acted like they wanted to be my best friend. Why would I not want to go inside? With just Jaden I could still take him in, breathe in the aroma of freshly ground espresso beans, hear music that made me feel more cultured, order my coffee and safely carry it out with one hand still free to hold his hand. Enter Mayson and I discovered why Starbucks had a drive thru. It must be for parents, right?

Now if you stop for coffee first, I must add one caveat. This puts a time frame on your bladder. You must estimate how much time you have left to remain in the car before you will be forced to leave your sanctuary to relieve yourself. And it is in your best interest to be home by that point in time or it will mean bringing your children with you to a location you may have little control over. I’m just sayin.

Before I had kids I took for granted how easy it was to get in and out of the car. After I had Mayson, I realized how easy it was to get one kid in and out of the car. If you have more kids than me, I stand amazed. When I (rarely) go somewhere by myself, I marvel at the simplicity of opening the door, getting out, closing it and then walking into my desired destination. And if there is more than one destination, it is no problem. I just go. do. be. With kids, I choose plazas where I can walk between my destinations because there are only so many times I am willing to get them in and out of the car. I really digress. If you’ve stuck with me this far, I give you my idea list of things to do in the car:

2.  Deposit money at the ATM. My bank has been trying to convince me to do this and I will give them this – after the private tutorial – they were right. It is easy. I know I am putting a teller out of a job, but drive-thrus were made for parents, right?

Depositing money is my first choice. Second would be 3.  withdrawing money. This is obviously preferable for reasons I don’t think I need to explain.

4.  Return library books to a drive thru drop off. This has the added benefit of decluttering your house without having to bring home new books to replace them.

5.  Mail something. If you want to make a fun trip out of it, take your kids to the main post office on Twin Rivers Drive. It’s big.

6.  Donuts. One morning we were skipping church because the kids had been sick, but we got in the car and drove through Tim Hortons to get a 10 pack of Tim Bits. Cabin fever does these things to me.

7.  Grocery pick up. I hear that you can do this at Giant Eagle Market Districts. I can’t speak to it myself, but it sounds amazing. But not quite as amazing as grocery shopping by yourself. That is the next level of heaven, is it not?

8.  Pick up dinner. Many restaurants have drive thrus – and not just fast food. Panera is one, House of Pho on Lane Ave, and probably a million other places I can’t think of or don’t know about. If you call House of Pho to place an order they tell you it will be ready in 5 minutes. I can’t even get there from my house in 5 minutes, so give them a call on the way! (You can thank me later for that tip.)

9.  Chic Fil A. Okay, Eric and I used this one SO many times when we had a napping baby. For some reason, if both of our kids fell asleep in the car we would instantly have to go to Chic Fil A for ice cream. Our kids don’t transition well from the car to bed for naps so once they’re asleep, you must carpe diem. For us, that means ice cream.

These options are pretty utilitarian. They serve a purpose. But I’ve thought of a few more in case you really need to entertain your kids but want them contained. (I mention that a lot, don’t I?)

10.  Christmas Lights.  Ok, clearly this is time sensitive, but very entertaining!

11.  The Landfill south of Columbus.  Jaden loves this one, I’m half embarrassed to admit. But once I explained that’s where all Mayson’s poopy diapers went, he was enthralled. There are usually garbage trucks driving up the big hill which is great for boys.

12.  Construction sites.  This is Ohio so this should not be difficult. Jaden has been entertained more than once by watching a building get torn down. Mayson was distracted from his 18 mo shots by the digger outside the doctor’s office window. Take advantage of these things when you can. Ohioans love to hate construction – especially the road variety – but pointing out construction vehicles on the road is a great tactic to redirect a whining child (which I have used many a time). You can also sit in parking lots and watch construction/demolition and the like. So I hear. Ahem.

What kind of car entertainment have you employed?


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