OSU Airport and Barnstormer Diner

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Watching planes take off and land at the Ohio State University Airport is a fun (and free) activity for kids in Columbus! While you’re there, plan to have breakfast or lunch at Jack and Benny’s Barnstormer Diner next door!

Fun for Families at Ohio State University Airport and Jack and Benny’s Barnstormer Diner:

The Ohio State University Airport was one of our favorite places to visit! The observation deck was a great place to watch planes take off and land! The Airport recently went under a major renovation and the tower was closed for several months in 2018.

We recently revisited the OSU Airport to see what was new! I’ve updated this post with details about the newly remodeled observation deck so you know what to expect when you visit with your kids!

BEFORE:

Ohio State University Airport

AFTER:

Ohio State University Airport

The remodel is stunning! The observation tower is now an entire floor in the building and it’s beautiful! 

BEFORE:

observation deck at OSU airport

AFTER:

NetJets Observation Deck at OSU Airport

Here are a few highlights:

Snap a pic with Brutus!

boy standing next to Brutus Buckeye at OSU Airport

Shop for unique airplane related gifts!

gifts at OSU airport

Pick up a free coloring book!

free coloring book at OSU airport

Watch for planes, of course:

boys watching for planes at OSU airport

 

boys watching for planes at OSU airport

planes at Ohio state university airport

Identify planes using the pictures posted along the windows!

observation deck at OSU airport

Hang out in the lobby and enjoy some free popcorn!

lobby at OSU airport

lobby at OSU airport

free popcorn at OSU airport

Visit the timeline of the Ohio State University Airport to learn some fun facts about the history of the airport:

info wall at OSU airport

A few fun facts: the Columbus Zoo has used the airport when transporting manatees and panda bears and Barbara Bush landed at the airport in Air Force Two while President George H.W. Bush was in office.

Jack and Benny’s Barnstormer Diner

We love the breakfast at Jack and Benny’s Barnstormer Diner, the diner at the OSU Airport.  This is a really fun outing for kids AND adults!  The diner is adjacent to the terminal of the Ohio State University Airport and is filled with airport and airplane memorabilia.  The walls are covered with pictures and awards.

Jack and Benny's Barnstormer Diner

A door in the diner opens to a garage full of small planes:

planes at OSU airport

All kinds of breakfast (and lunch) options are available and reasonably priced.  Our meals were excellent!  The kids meals came with drinks and they gave us adults coffees to go!  Needless to say we were all happy!

Jack and Benny's Barnstormer Diner

What kid could resist pancakes cut out like airplanes?!  That was a fun surprise:

pancakes at Jack and Benny's Barnstormer Diner

boy eating pancakes at Jack and Benny's Barnstormer Diner

Mmmmmmmmm.

Know Before You Go:

Jack and Benny’s Barnstormer Diner
2160 W. Case Rd, Columbus, OH 43235
Hours:
Monday-Friday 7:00 AM – 3:00 PM
Saturday-Sunday 8:00 AM – 3:00 PM
614-292-5699

Ohio State University Airport
2160 W. Case Road, Columbus, OH 43235
Observation Tower Hours: 7:00 AM – 11:00 PM
1-800-777-5488

Tips:

  • The best times to see planes landing and taking off are Monday and Friday mornings when the weather is clear!
  • There are no restrooms in the restaurant, they are on the first floor of the the airport terminal.
  • There is ample parking right in front of the restaurant and terminal.

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

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boys watching for planes at OSU Airport


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Exploring Blendon Woods Metro Park

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Blendon Woods Metro Park in Westerville, Ohio has a fun Nature Center, trails for hiking, a Natural Play Area and great birdwatching opportunities!

This summer I am on a quest to explore as many Metro Parks as we can. One crazy morning we did two! We started out at the playground at Rocky Fork and then headed to Blendon Woods.

One thing about the Metro Parks here in Columbus is that they open up a totally different world. So many times we end up somewhere and find myself saying, “wow, I didn’t know this was here!” And even though you’re less than 20 miles from downtown Columbus, you can walk through the woods and all of a sudden stumble upon something that makes you feel like you’re somewhere far away. That’s how I felt at Blendon Woods!

Here are some of the fun things to explore at Blendon Woods:

1. The Nature Center

Nature Center at Blendon Woods Metro Park

Nature Center

We started this visit out at the Nature Center! Right away, we headed straight for the back where there is a wildlife viewing room. Luckily for us, there was a wild turkey right outside the window and a squirrel doing acrobatics from the feeder! There are binoculars available for long distance viewing.

turkey in the woods outside the Nature Center

two boys birdwatching at the Nature Center

Birdwatching at the Nature Center

There are a lot of mounted animals on display inside the center.

mounted animals inside the Nature Center

Mounted Animals Inside the Nature Center

books and mounted birds inside the Nature Center

inside the Nature at Blendon Woods

There is a separate room where there were some activities for kids, nature books (for adults and children), more mounted animals and also live animals like fish, turtles and a snake!

fish inside a fish tank

mounted fox and other animals

Inside the Nature Center

More mounted animals inside the Nature Center

a bowl of crayons for kids to color

boy making leaf prints

Activities Inside the Nature Center

Here you could make crayon rubbings of different kinds of leaves. There were other nature activities for children and cards with animal paw prints on them to match up with the various mounted animals in the room.

crafts for kids inside the Nature Center

Puzzles and Crafts Inside the Nature Center

Probably the biggest hit with my kids were the “please touch” containers. Even in the Metro Parks, I’ve found the there can be a lot of “don’t touch” and “don’t walk here” situations, so the fact that my kids could freely explore interesting objects like feathers and antlers and turtle shells was a lot of fun for them!

boy playing with items found in Nature

The Please Touch Boxes

boy playing with items found in Nature

I pretty much had to tear them away from the “please touch” buckets and out the door, down the path toward the waterfowl refuge.

2. The Walden Waterfowl Refuge

sign to the Walden Waterfowl Refuge

Read More: 5 Cool Outdoor Activities for Kids in the Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks

two boys walking down a path at Blendon Woods Metro Park

When you get to the fork in the road, choose one of these paths . . . we ended up doing both!

sign with directions within the park

This is a must do! Here is a great example of walking down a wooded path, not knowing what to expect, and then all of a sudden being amazed at what you find. I guess I’m about to ruin that experience for you by showing you pictures 😉 but in case you’re like me and you get to this:

boy on the path to the bird watching area

. . . and you think maybe this is just some storage area or ranger station closed off to the general public, and are tempted to turn around, like I was, I’m telling you to keep going inside! And see this:

waterfowl area for birdwatching

Inside each of the two shelters, there are viewing windows, a telescope and some open-air slots for viewing wildlife and birds. It was peaceful and I could have stood there staring for quite some time. But my kids weren’t quite as patient.

viewing area with binoculars inside the birdwatching area

heron sitting on a bird feeder

Maybe someone can tell me what kind of bird that is in the picture above? 🙂

birds and squirrels feeding at bird feeder

After we walked back down the path and to our car, we drove to one of the playgrounds. There are a couple of them and this one is on the west side by the Natural Play Area. My kids loved the wire tunnels to crawl through.

3. Playground

playground area at Blendon Woods

boys inside playground equipment

Within walking distance of the playground is the Natural Play Area where kids can freely roam in the creek and woods, and be free to play. 

4. Natural Play Area

The Natural Play Area at Blendon Woods is one of the more “developed” Natural Play areas in all of the Metro Parks. There are lots of things for kids to do including rope climbing, a swing, and more!

Lots of kids playing in the Natural Play Area at Blendon Woods

As you follow the path, you will come across lots of natural elements where kids can get creative. 

boy playing in a stick fort at the Natural Play Area

Natural Play Area

boy on a wooden bridge

two boys on a wooden bridge across the creek

The Zip Line is one of the most popular elements! My kids aren’t quite brave enough for this ride yet but they’re getting there! Kids must be 5 years old to ride.

Zugaro Zip Line at Blendon Woods Natural Play Area

Zip Line within the Natural Play Area

Another popular element within the Natural Play Area is the creek! Bring your own buckets and shovels (and an extra change of clothes!) for scooping and exploring!

boy playing in the creek at Blendon Woods

Creeking!

Blendon Woods Metro Park has a lot of free programs available to the community. Throughout the week there are preschool programs, yoga classes for adults and activities for grade schoolers. I have had varying experiences with the programs for kids at the Metro Parks, some are welcoming of younger siblings tagging along and others are not, so I would recommend giving them a call if you have any questions about attending.

Check out this map of all of the Metro Parks! I encourage you to take advantage of all our great Metro Park system has to offer!

Know Before You Go:

Blendon Woods Metro Park
Address: 4265 E. Dublin-Granville Road Westerville, OH 43081
Hours: 6:30 AM to 10:00 PM, April through September, 6:30 AM to 8:00 PM, October through March
Phone: 614-620-1861
Nature Center Phone: 614-895-6221

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ICYMI: 12 Columbus Parks to Try This Summer

Need even more ideas: Over 100 Fun Things to do in Columbus, Ohio

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Exploring Blendon Woods Metro Park with Kids


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What Should We Do This Weekend? May 27-29, 2016

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The temperatures are in the 80’s, some schools are out, it’s Memorial Day Weekend and Columbus events are in full-swing!  It’s the unofficial start of SUMMER! (Just for saying that, it will probably snow next week (thanks, Ohio!) but I’ll take my chances!)

First off, this weekend kicks off the summer season at Columbus Commons, a great, multi-purpose green space in the middle of downtown.  All summer there will be concerts, festivals and my first event on the list, Commons for Kids!

1. Commons for Kids at Columbus Commons

When: Friday, May 27, 2016
Time: 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM
Location: 160 S. High St., Columbus, OH 43215

Free carousel rides, bouncy houses and open play are available every Friday, but each week has different special activities.  This week Lowe’s will be on hand to help your child plant a plant to take home and Mr. Puppet will give a performance!

2. Family Fun Day at Columbus Commons

When: Saturday, May 28, 2016
Time: 4:00 PM – 8:00 PM
Location: 160 S. High St., Columbus, OH 43215

Saturday at Columbus Commons you can join in lots of fun activities like face painting, inflatables, crafts, Lego play, maker space, photo booth and more!  Some (but not all) activities require a $5 wristband purchase. The event opens at a 3:00 PM for children with sensory sensitivities. There will be food trucks on location and visits from special characters!  Stick around for:

3. Free Movie Night at the Commons

When: Saturday, May 28, 2016
Time: 8:00 PM
Location: 160 S. High St., Columbus, OH 43215

The busy weekend at the Commons concludes with an outdoor showing of The Good Dinosaur, rated PG.

4. Story Trail Opening Day at Friendship Park

When: Friday, May 27, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM
Location: 138 Oklahoma Ave., Gahanna, OH 43230

Celebrate the opening of the new Story Trail at Friendship Park, a collaboration between Gahanna Parks & Recreation, Columbus Metropolitan Library and Art Garden Studios. Attend the ribbon cutting ceremony, enjoy a live music performance by Casey Redmond and participate in games and other fun activities!

5. Utica Sertoma Ice Cream Festival

When: Saturday, Sunday and Monday, May 28-30, 2016
Time: Saturday and Sunday: 9:00 AM – 7:00 PM, Monday: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Location: 11339 Mt Vernon Rd., Utica, OH 43080

If you’re up for a short road trip this weekend, the Utica Ice Cream Festival offers tons of fun for kids (not to mention ice cream)! Kid friendly events include arts and crafts, magic shows, kiddie tractor pull, visits from the Columbus Zoo, water balloon toss and a whole lot more! Admission is $5 per car.

6. Asian Festival at Franklin Park

When: Saturday & Sunday, May 28 & 29, 2016
Time: Saturday: 10:00 AM – 8:00 PM, Sunday: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Location: 1755 E Broad St, Columbus OH

This celebration of Asian culture includes performances, food, a marketplace, and more. Specifically for kids, there will be a children’s area with games, crafts, dress up and the opportunity to learn calligraphy and make a handprint dragon!

7. Opening Day at Ohio Village

When: Saturday, May 28, 2016
Time: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Location: Ohio History Center, 800 E. 17th Ave., Columbus Ohio, 43211
Phone: 614-297-2300 or 800-686-6124

Ohio Village opens for the season and steps into the 1890s!  Opening day offers a look at the changes the village has undergone and a chance to meet new residents of the village, try croquet, make ice cream, listen to live music and more! Check the link for the schedule of activities.

8. For Kids – Wildlife at Homestead Park

When: Saturday, May 28, 2016
Time: 1:00 PM
Location: The Barn, 4675 Cosgray Rd., Hilliard, OH 43026
Phone: 614-971-5211

Homestead Metro Park offers kids ages 3-10 the opportunity to meet live animals and learn more about Ohio’s wildlife!

9. Bob Evans Family Days at the Columbus Clippers

When: Sunday, May 29, 2016
Time: 1:05 PM
Location: Huntington Park, 330 Huntington Park Lane, Columbus, Ohio 43215
Phone: (614) 462-5250
Ticket Line: (614) 462-2757

Family Day Admission is $15 for two adults and up to four youth ages 18 and under! Admission includes access to left-field bleachers, lawn seating and standing room only. After the game, kids can run the bases in the Commit to be Fit Fun Run!

10. Farmer’s Markets

Check out this link from Columbus Moms Blog where every Farmer’s Market in the Columbus area is listed by day!  Many take place on the weekend and would make for a fun outing this weekend as the season gets underway!

11. Memorial Day Parades and Other Events

Here is a link to Memorial Day events in the Columbus area, most happening on Monday, as we remember those we’ve lost in active military service.

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ICYMI: Playdate in Uptown Westerville

*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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