The Ohio Bird Sanctuary is a Hidden Gem in Mansfield, Ohio

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See bald eagles, feed the birds and take a hike at this awesome bird sanctuary in Mansfield, Ohio! This place is a hidden gem that provides education and a unique experience for kids!

Ohio Bird Sanctuary Sign

I found out about the Ohio Bird Sanctuary thanks to an ad on Facebook! After seeing it a few times, I finally clicked and was happy to find out it was located just outside of Mansfield and would make a great outdoor meeting place for us and my parents who live in Wayne County!

We really didn’t know what to expect beyond the pictures on their website, but I think it’s safe to say we were all pleasantly surprised by what we discovered when we arrived!

First I want to say, if you are coming from Columbus, the drive involves a lot of rural, back roads. It took us about 1 hour and 15 minutes but it will be a quicker trip for those of you in the northern suburbs of Columbus!

two boys hiking on the trail at Ohio Bird Sanctuary

We spent about 2.5 hours here, though you could easily spend more or less time, depending on your schedule. Everything about the visit is self paced. There are picnic tables outside if you want to pack a lunch. You can extend your visit by taking longer hikes or spending more time on the playground.

There really is a lot to do here and I think it is well worth the trip from Columbus!

Take a look at all there is to do at the Ohio Bird Sanctuary:

Ohio Bird Sanctuary Visitor Center

The Visitor Center at Ohio Bird Sanctuary, Mansfield, Ohio

Upon arriving you will first want to check in at the Visitor Center. There are public restrooms here, a gift shop and the entrance to  the bird display area. Entrance to this area is $3 for adults (16 years and over) $1 for children (kids under 2 years are free), and $1 for military and individuals from assisted care centers (no charge for caregivers). 

Gift Shop inside the Visitor Center

You will need to go through the Visitor Center to access the live bird display area. If you end up leaving the gated area to see other parts of the property, you must come back through the Visitors Center to reenter. You can reenter as many times as you need to during your visit.

The Bird Display Area

Bird Display Area at Ohio Bird Sanctuary

The live bird displays include over 30 different species of birds that have been injured in some way and are no longer able to live on their own in the wild. The Ohio Bird Sanctuary will also take in birds that you might find that are hurt or injured!

people viewing the birds in the Bird Viewing Area

You are free to walk the paths for as long as you desire! There are bald eagles, falcons, owls, crows, and more! Fun fact: it takes a bald eagle 5 years to develop its signature white head!

boy looking at bald eagles at the bird sanctuary in Mansfield, Ohio

a red-tailed hawk housed at the bird sanctuary

Songbird Aviary

people feeding birds in the songbird aviary at Ohio Bird Sanctuary

Included in your admission to the Ohio Bird Sanctuary is the Songbird Aviary. You can purchase small containers of food in the Visitor Center for $.25 so you can feed the birds in the aviary! After our first trip through, we came back to buy bird food and feeding them turned out to be a highlight of our trip!

boy feeding a mourning dove in the songbird aviary

Inside the Songbird Aviary, birds are free to fly around or roam around on the ground. Keep an eye out as you walk! If you stay still for long enough, they will come up to your cup of food to eat!

Butterfly Garden

Inside the Bird Display Area are butterfly gardens so keep an eye out for butterflies!

boy looking through binoculars at the butterfly garden within the bird sanctuary

Naturescape Play Area

the sign for the Naturescape Play Area at the Ohio Bird Sanctuary

Once outside the bird display area, follow the path to the Naturescape Play Area! It’s a super fun natural play area with a bird theme (of course)! There is a fun (albeit slow) caterpillar slide, a sand area, a vine for swinging, animal tracks and tic tac toe, just to name a few activities! 

boy on two wires at the Naturescape Play Area

boy measuring his wingspan

the Naturescape Play Area at Ohio Bird Sanctuary

Barred Owl Trail

The Barred Owl Trail at Ohio Bird Sanctuary

The Barred Owl Trail is the closest hiking trail to the bird displays. There are several other trails available and they are all under 1 mile long. We took the Barred Owl Trail to the bird blind, which was a little anti-climactic, but still a nice hike! Check this link for a map of the property and the different trails available.

two boys looking through the bird blind at the Ohio Bird Sanctuary

The Barred Owl Trail is a narrow dirt trail with a couple of shoots off in different directions so I recommend checking your map often! In actuality all of the distances between the points of interest are pretty short.

Picnic Areas

There are two picnic areas within the sanctuary. One is close to the Naturescape Play Area and would make a fun picnic spot! The other picnic area is right by the parking lot at the Visitor Center.

The entrance fee to the Ohio Bird Sanctuary is quite reasonable, but if you need a free activity, you could hike on the trails and play at the playground at no cost and you would still be able to view one of the eagles from the outside!

boys walking on the path through the Ohio Bird Sanctuary

We had a great time visiting the Ohio Bird Sanctuary and I think it is well worth the drive from Central Ohio! The 90 acre property is beautiful and you can tell it is well cared for! A visit here would make a great field trip this year!

If you’re looking for more things to do in Mansfield, Ohio, check out: Day Trip: Downtown Mansfield and Little Buckeye Children’s Museum.

Know Before You Go:

Ohio Bird Sanctuary

3774 Orweiler Rd, Mansfield, OH 44903
Phone: 419-884-4295 
Visit the website

Hours: Tuesday – Saturday: 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM, Sunday: 12:00 PM – 4:00 PM
Special Summer Extended Hours: Tuesday & Thursday open 10:00 AM- 7:00 PM

  • Home school programs are available throughout the school year. 
  • Masks are required in the Visitor Center but not required when outdoors and able to social distance.

physical distancing sign at Ohio Bird Sanctuary

Exploring Columbus with Your Kids

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Ohio Bird Sanctuary


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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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Day Trip: Downtown Mansfield

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With a carousel and children’s museum, downtown Mansfield, Ohio makes for a fun day trip from Columbus!

A few weeks ago, I shared in depth about our trip to Little Buckeye Children’s Museum.  This week I’m going to give you the details on how we spent the whole day in downtown Mansfield, also known as the Carrousel District. If you’re looking for a fun road trip this summer, I think this outing is worth the drive – which is only about an hour from downtown Columbus.

4 Things to do with Kids in Downtown Mansfield, Ohio:

1. Coney Island Diner

Address: 98 N Main St, Mansfield, OH 44902
Phone: 419-526-2669

Hours:
Monday – Friday: 6:30 AM – 7:00 PM
Saturday: 6:30 AM – 4:00 PM

We started out with lunch at Coney Island Diner. a fun, colorful diner that traces its roots back to 1919!

coney island diner, mansfield ohio

coney island diner in Mansfield Ohio

There’s lots to look at on the walls and a very reasonably priced kids menu (the kids meals were served in fun dinosaur plates!). We made it for an early lunch and beat the rush (it got really busy around noon). If you wanted to make it earlier, they have a decent sized breakfast menu as well. You can view the whole menu here. The kids had fun sitting at the counter (of course they all fought over who got to sit by Grandma)!

kids at Coney Island Diner

2. Little Buckeye Children’s Museum

Address: 44 West Fourth St., Mansfield, OH, 44902
Phone: 419-522-2332

Summer Hours:
Monday – Friday: 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Saturday: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Sunday: 1:00 PM – 6:00 PM

After lunch, we walked over to the Little Buckeye Children’s Museum, which is where we spent the bulk of our day. The museum is 2 floors full of opportunities for imaginative play for your kids. Designed for ages 12 and under, the museum was a hit with my kids and my nephews!

kids looking at car at Little Buckeye Museum

water table at Little Buckeye Children's Museum in Mansfield

child playing with train track at Little Buckeye Children's Museum

digging for dinosaurs at Little Buckeye Museum in Mansfield Ohio

Much of the museum is set up like a town with areas to play like an auto repair shop, grocery store, hair salon, school house, and more. There is also an area for water play, vehicles to ride on, a baby area and space for birthday parties. You can read in depth about our visit to the museum here.

3. Relax it’s Just Coffee

Address: 105 North Main St., Mansfield, OH 44902
Phone: 419-522-1521

Hours:
Monday – Friday: 7:00 AM – 9:00 PM
Saturday: 9:00 AM –5:00 PM
Sunday: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM

After 3 hours at the museum, a few of us adults had to make a stop at Relax it’s Just Coffee for our afternoon pick me up! There was a good looking selection of baked goods (one of my weaknesses) and a definite artsy vibe.

Relax It's Just Coffee in downtown Mansfield, Ohio

inside Relax it's Just Coffee in Mansfield

father and son in downtown Mansfield Ohio

If we were kid-free I would have loved to spend more time here – you know, actually sit down at a table and leisurely drink my coffee, but we all know that is not how coffee is consumed once you become a parent.

4. Richland Carrousel Park

Address: 75 N. Main Street, Mansfield, OH 44902
Phone: 419-522-4223

Summer Hours (through Labor Day):
Saturday 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Sunday 11:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Monday – Thursday 10 AM – 5 PM
Labor Day through Memorial Day:  Monday – Sunday 11:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Richland Carrousel Park, Mansfield Ohio

Coffee in hand, we headed down the street to the carrousel. This carrousel was built in 1991 and has 52 figures to ride on, including a couple of chariots to sit in if your kids are too little or afraid to ride by themselves. There are also several rocking chairs to sit in around the carrousel for those who just want to observe. 

Tickets to ride the carrousel are purchased inside the gift shop where there are also concessions available. Ages 2 and under are free and all others are $1 per ride or 6 rides for $5. I don’t think you can go to the Carrousel District without stopping for a ride on the carrousel. It just wouldn’t be right, would it?

carousel in mansfield ohio

kids on the carrousel in mansfield ohio

Some of us ended up back at Coney Island Diner for hand dipped ice cream. (That would be those of us who didn’t partake in the caffeine break a few minutes earlier – if only I had known! (Ice cream is my first weakness).)

Here’s what I love about this day trip to downtown Mansfield – you can park in one spot and walk to all of these places. I really hate dislike getting my kids in and out of the car a million times during an outing.

There is a public parking lot at the corner of Main St. and Fourth St. You can park there for 3 hours. That might not be long enough to do all of these things, so if you’re lucky enough to have another adult with you, send them to move the car. 😉 There is also metered parking on the street and street parking is free on the weekends!

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