Sawmill Wetlands Educational Area is an Oasis off Sawmill Road

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The Sawmill Wetlands Educational Area is a small nature oasis in the middle of the busy Sawmill Road shopping area!

boardwalk path in the Sawmill Wetlands Columbus Ohio

I have a running list of things to see and places to go, but sometimes I just zoom in and out on Google Maps and look for something interesting – green spaces, parks, hidden gems, etc.! And this is one of those times. I ran across a random green area in the middle of the big box shopping area that is Sawmill Road.

boy walking the path in the Sawmill Wetlands Education Area

After some zooming in and Google searching I discovered that the Sawmill Wetlands were once endangered and were saved after a 7 year fight against development. The wetlands reopened to the public after that time period in 2018.

mourning dove feeding at a bird feeder

The park is open from dawn to dusk and covers 17.5 acres. It is made up, mostly, of a boardwalk trail. There are 20 bird feeders and houses along the paths as well as benches for sitting and enjoying the sounds and sights of nature. “The Hill” area has been planted with trees to extend the forest and in May 2020 the east side of the hill had been seeded to become a pollinator prairie.

Monarch Waystation at Sawmill Wetlands Educational Area, Columbus, Ohio

We visited in the fall, just past peak leaf color and definitely past the time to see the pollinator gardens that surround the parking lot! We will definitely need to plan a trip back in the spring or summer to see the Sawmill Wetlands in full bloom!

boardwalk trail at Sawmill Wetlands

My kids were excited to see a bunny hop along the path as soon as we got there. Though we didn’t see any, online I saw people post pictures of deer they have seen in the park!  The wetlands weren’t very “wet” due to our dry summer, I’m guessing. It will be interesting to come back in the spring to see how things change!

bird feeder at Sawmill Wetlands

From the Birding in Ohio website I learned that the Sawmill Wetlands has “a breeding population of smallmouth salamanders and a type of insect (a midge) that has not been recorded anywhere else in Ohio.”

boardwalk trail and bird feeder at Sawmill Wetlands

The entrance and decent sized parking lot is on Sawmill Place Blvd.  When you park in the lot and face the Wetlands, we took the entrance to the left. It will lead immediately to the boardwalk. The entrance on the right begins as a grass trail. 

boy walking the boardwalk trail at Sawmill Wetlands

If you’re looking for a nature break in the middle of shopping or want a smaller, more manageable hike for young kids, definitely check out the Sawmill Wetlands Educational area!

two boys walking on the boardwalk trail at Sawmill Wetlands Educational Area in Columbus, Ohio

 

Know Before You Go:

Address: 2638-2674 Sawmill Place Blvd Columbus, OH 43235 
Parking: parking lot on the premises 
Hours: Dawn to Dusk

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9 Things to Do with Your Kids This Fall in Columbus

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Fall is such a fun time in Central Ohio! Here are 9 things you can only do during the Fall in Columbus and Central Ohio!

What Are Some of the Best Things to do with Kids During the Fall in Columbus?

There are so many things that can only be done during the fall season and we love to take advantage of as many as we can! From pumpkin farms, to marching bands to model trains, here are 9 things we enjoy doing as a family during the fall!

1. Attend a Skull Session at St. John Arena

My kids love instruments and any kind of band, so we were excited, though a little nervous, about taking them to a Skull Session at OSU! It’s a great way to get caught up in the football spirit, even if you don’t have tickets to the game!

A Skull Session is basically a pep rally where the marching band plays, the players come out and the coach gives a little speech . . . it’s very high energy and really a lot of fun!

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I’d recommend either parking on West Campus (parking is $20!) and taking a shuttle or parking in a neighborhood along the Olentangy bike path and walking up the path to St. John Arena.

The Skull session happens 2 hours and 20 minutes before each game and lasts an hour. When it’s over, you can mull around amongst the tailgaters, pick up some free samples (1/4 of a Sugardale hot dog, anyone?) and enjoy the energy of game day.

We were nervous because we weren’t sure what would happen to our strollers when we got there! We were able to take our strollers (yes, we had two) into the arena, but we left them outside the gymnasium, along the outer wall. It was a risk, but no one decided to walk off with a stroller on game day. Phew! I don’t know where else you could put your stroller, as the seating in the gymnasium is very tight. It worked out for us and we were really glad we did it!

You can see the schedule of OSU games here! Friends recommended arriving 20-25 minutes early to get good seats, and I will pass that advice on to you. We got there around 9:20 AM for the 9:40 AM Skull Session and were able to get good seats facing the band.

2. Visit a Pumpkin Patch

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There are so many pumpkin patch options, it’s kind of amazing! Every weekend in October is filled with Fall Festivals – honestly, I had no idea before I started this blog how many there are! Make sure to visit my post, Central Ohio Pumpkin Patches and Fall Festivals for a complete list!

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We recently visited Jaquemin Farms on a Monday! This one is great, in my opinion, because it is open during the week and for only $2 kids ages 3-10 can play in the corn box and run through the straw maze! Kids 2 and under are free! During the weekends, they have bouncy houses and the price is a bit higher. So if you have preschoolers at home during the week, this is a great way to spend an inexpensive morning at a pumpkin patch! Other weekday options include Circle S Farms, evenings at Lehner’s Pumpkin Farm.

If you want the BIG pumpkin farm experience complete with kettle corn, a zip line, a huge pumpkin trampoline, mazes, corn bins, pedal carts and more, make sure to check out 15 Things to Do at Leeds Farm!

Another place we love to go is Smith’s Farm Market! The picture below is a few years old, but they always have a large selection of pumpkins and picturesque settings for fun pictures with pumpkins!

smith-farm-market

3. Go Apple Picking

I’ve shared about our visit to Orchard and Company, and Branstool Orchards, and here’s a list of more apple picking ideas from Columbus Moms Blog! It’s getting late in the season, but there are still apples to be picked at many farms and a lot of them have farm festival weekends as well! If you’re looking for some options during the week (as opposed to the weekend), a few farms are open on select Fridays: Lynd Fruit Farm, and Cherry Hawk Farm, to name a few.

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4. Attend Boo at the Zoo at Columbus Zoo

boo-at-the-zoo

Boo at the Zoo happens for THREE weekends in October this year! The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium has added an additional weekend for 2019! The weekends in October are the 11-13th, 18th – 20th, and the 25th – 27th. Dress your kids (or yourself!) in costume and visit a lot of vendors in different areas of the zoo who want to fill your kid’s basket with candy! It’s also totally acceptable to take your baby in a cute pumpkin costume in a stroller and accept candy on his or her behalf! 😉

5. Take a Road Trip

I shared 6 Ohio Road Trips to Take This Fall here, one of them being the Fall Festival at The Farm at Walnut Creek. Even if you can’t make it for the festival, a drive to Amish Country will be beautiful when the leaves (finally!) start to change!

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More fun road trip ideas include:

Fall is my favorite time of year for a road trip!

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6. Visit a Metro Park

Once the leaves start to change, there are some great options for leaf viewing in our local Metro Parks! A great one is Battelle Darby! There are walking paths through the woods and also bison viewing! While you’re there, check out the living stream in the Nature Center!

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Inniswood Metro Park is also beautiful in the fall. Seriously, check out this picture I took during the fall (below)! It felt like a fairy tale! It was amazing!

7. Visit a City Park

Don’t underestimate your local city park for fall beauty. Here is a list of all the Columbus City ParksFranklin Park is particularly beautiful in the fall! Keep an eye out for the Harvest Parties at Columbus Rec Centers. You don’t have to go far to celebrate! 🙂

columbus parks

8. See Model Railroads at COSI

Mark your calendars for Model Railroad Days at COSI: November 20-24, 2019. My kids LOVE this special couple of days when several model railroad clubs take over a few galleries at COSI. There are a lot of model trains to see and also trains to play with! It only comes once a year, but it’s one of those things my oldest son always asks about!

model railroad days at COSI

9. Visit the Huntington Holiday Train at Main Library

This is something I consider a Christmas tradition for our family, but it does arrive before Thanksgiving, so technically, it’s a fall activity, right? 😉  In mid November, the train will be installed at the New Main Library! It’s really beautiful, and if you have train lovers, like I do, it’s something you have to see!

Huntington Train

What else would you add to the list of “can’t miss” fall activities in Columbus?

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ICYMI: Fun for the Whole Family at EnterTRAINment Junction

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9 things to do with your kids this fall in Columbus, Ohio


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9 Central Ohio Metro Park Playgrounds

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We love exploring the playgrounds in the Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks System! Combining a nature experience, be it a hike or looking for creatures in the woods, with time on a playground makes a perfect outing for my kids!

The Metro Parks offer so many free opportunities to learn about and explore nature even though we live in an urban area. I am constantly surprised every time I visit one of our Metro Parks. I always seem to say, “I can’t believe this is here!” You hike down a path and come into some kind of clearing or lake that just takes you by surprise and there is no sign of the city to be seen!

Despite all those opportunities to get up close with nature, sometimes it also just helps to have a playground as part of the experience! 🙂 Not all of the Metro Parks have playgrounds and some of them have more than one! Here are 9 Metro Parks that have fun playgrounds for kids!

9 Playgrounds within the Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks:

1. Scioto Grove Metro Park 

  • 5172 Jackson Pike, Grove City, OH 43123

Scioto Grove Metro Park Playground Slide

Scioto Grove Metro Park Playground rope climbing

Scioto Grove is the newest Metro Park in our area. This playground is really unique – it’s made nearly entirely out of rope!  This is NOT a toddler friendly playground, though, so use caution! This playground is in the Arrowhead Picnic Area. Parking and restrooms are close by.

Swingset at Scioto Grove Metro Park Playground

scioto grove metro park playground

2. Scioto Audubon Metro Park

  • 400 W. Whittier Street, Columbus, OH 43215

scioto audubon metro park playground

playground at scioto audubon metro park

The Scioto Audubon playground is in the Central Activities Area near the rock climbing wall and a water tower where you can climb to two observation decks. There are three play structures here and a shaded picnic area. Bathrooms are quite a distance away, in the Nature Center.

Play first and then plan to head up to the Nature Center where there is an outdoor sandbox, an indoor play area and aquatic animals to visit.

playground at scioto audubon metro park

rock climbing wall at scioto audubon metro park

3. Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

  • Cedar Ridge Area, 1775 Darby Creek Drive Galloway, OH 43119

playground at battelle darby creek metro park

Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park has a couple of playground areas. This particular playground is in the Cedar Ridge Picnic Area. Parking and restrooms are very close. This playground has two structures: one for over 5 and one for under. There are picnic tables and pavilions close by.

Battelle Darby Creek is the Metro Park with the bison! It is possible to walk from the playground to see the bison, but it is probably around a half a mile, give or take. Definitely check out the Nature Center to see the living stream exhibit!

Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park Play area

battelle darby creek metro park playground

4. Rocky Fork Metro Park

  • 7180 E. Walnut Street, Westerville, OH 43081

rocky fork metro park playground

rocky fork metro park playground

Rocky Fork has another unique play area. It is a mostly wooden structure with steps, a bridge and slide. There is also a balance beam and some climbing opportunities! Nearby is a wildlife viewing area and picnic pavilion. Restrooms are close by as well.

rocky fork metro park playground

rocky fork metro park playground and picnic area

5. Blendon Woods Metro Park

  • 4265 E. Dublin Granville Rd., Westerville, OH 43081

blendon woods metro park playground area

Blendon Woods is another Metro Park with more than one play area. This particular play ground is in the Cherry Ridge Area near the Natural Play Area. My kids loved crawling through the wire tunnels here. Blendon Woods Nature Center has a great bird-viewing area and some hands on activities.

blendon woods metro park play ground

6. Homestead Metro Park

  • Homestead Metro Park, 4675 Cosgray Road, Hilliard, OH

homestead metro park play ground

homestead metro park play ground area

When it comes to playgrounds, I think Homestead wins the prize, hands down! It has a huge playground area! Not only is there a large play area, there is a train to climb onto, a train station replica called Bradley Station and a separate accessible playground with a train theme called Web Junktion. Train lovers rejoice!

There is a Nature Center at Homestead but the hours it is open vary based on ranger availability. Inside the Nature Center there are box turtles to visit! They do occasionally offer programs for toddlers here as well!

homestead metro park willard ohio playground area

homestead metro park playground train area

homestead metro park all abilities playground

7. Glacier Ridge Metro Park

  • 9801 Hyland-Croy Rd, Plain City, OH 43064

This new play structure at Glacier Ridge Metro Park was built in 2018 and is perfect for the wannabe Ninja Warrior! With a mini zip-line, climbing walls and a rope hammock, this playground is incredibly unique in the Central Ohio area!

glacier ridge metro park playground

glacier ridge metro park ninja warrior course

If you’re looking for a great Metro Park to explore, I found this one to be gorgeous! There is also a shelter with picnic tables and also information about the wildlife in the surrounding area. Also, don’t miss the watch tower where you can climb to the top to watch for birds and other creatures!

glacier ridge metro park play structure

There is also a more “traditional” playground in the same general area as well as an obstacle course!

glacier ridge metro park playground

glacier ridge metro park playground

8. Walnut Woods Metro Park

  • 6723 Lithopolis Rd, Groveport, OH 43125

walnut woods metro park playground

I love the playground at Walnut Woods Metro Park for the natural feel it has. It’s a small playground, but it’s unique!

boys rope climbing at walnut woods metro park playground

Rope and rock climbing are available, swings and a merry go round! Restrooms are close by as well!

merry go round at walnut woods metro park playground

9. Slate Run Metro Park

  • 1375 St. Rte. 674 North, Canal Winchester, OH 43110 

A new playground was built in early 2019 at Buzzard’s Roost Picnic area in Slate Run Metro Park! Also within the park is the Slate Run Living Historical Farm which will take you back in time to the 1880’s! You can visit with the farmer and his wife, meet the animals in the barn!

But back to the playground! There is a fun netted structure, a tire swing, regular swings and more!

Nearby are lots of picnic tables inside and outside of a large pavilion. Public restrooms are right on site, too, so it makes a great place for a picnic and play time!

Do you have a favorite Metro Park playground?

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

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Amazing Metro Park Playgrounds in Columbus and Franklin County

ICYMI: 5 on Friday: Unique Ice Cream Spots


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