Off the Beaten Path: 15 Unique Things to do in Columbus Ohio

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If you feel like you’ve seen all there is to see, check out this list of unique things to do off the beaten path in Columbus, Ohio!

The most popular things to do in Columbus get a lot of press! In fact my Top 10 Things to do with Kids in Columbus Ohio is the most popular post on my blog, so if you haven’t been ON the beaten path in Columbus, that’s the first thing to check.

But if you’ve been there, done that, it’s time to venture off the beaten path!

boy going down steps to waterfall at Hayden Falls

Steps to Hayden Run Falls

What makes something “off the beaten path”? For this list there are two criteria:

1. It’s not downtown
2. It’s not on the “main drag” of a neighborhood or suburb

We’ll start of with some ideas for family-friendly fun and end with some unique eats and treats!

15 Unique Things to do in Columbus Off the Beaten Path:

1. Level 1 Bar and Arcade

  • 130 Hutchinson Ave. Columbus, OH 43235
arcade games at Level One Bar and Arcade

Level One Bar and Arcade

Level 1 Bar and Arcade is a throw back to the 80’s! It’s tons of fun because as long as you purchase a drink, you can play all of the video games for free! (There may be an additional (small) cost for skee ball and pinball games.)

On Saturdays and Sundays kids (or anyone under 21) are allowed in to play from 12:00 PM – 6:00 PM AND they offer party packages for kids and adults! “Mocktails” are available for kids or anyone not drinking alcohol!

2. KSM Sports and Fitness Facility 

  • 10336 Sawmill Rd., Powell, Ohio 43065
indoor area at KSM sports and fitness facility

KSM Sports and Fitness Facility

Sometimes you just need a really big place for kids to run around! Enter KSM Sports and Fitness Facility. KSM offers a Little Tykes Open Play Time on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10:00 AM. They also offer other public events like Nerf Nights, Yoga, personal trainers, team training and more!

3. Aquarium Adventure

  • 3649 Fishinger Blvd. Hilliard, OH 43026 
boy at Aquarium Adventure in Hilliard Ohio

Aquarium Adventure

Don’t want to make the trip to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium? Scale it back a little bit and visit Aquarium Adventure – an aquarium superstore in Hilliard! Kids will love exploring each aquarium to see what they can find. There are often large sea creatures on display like sting rays! It’s also fun to explore the large Koi pond in the front of the store!

4. Rollhouse Entertainment

  • 500 Georgesville Rd., Columbus, OH 43228
boy bowling at Rollhouse in Columbus, Ohio

Rollhouse Entertainment

Rollhouse, just off of Georgesville Rd, is home to bowing, laser tag, arcade games and a full food menu! Lots of fun for kids and families, Rollhouse is also a participant in the Kids Bowl Free program that happens each summer! Sign up to get free bowling every day for kids!

5. Blacklick Woods Metro Park Nature Center 

  • 6975 East Livingston Ave., Reynoldsburg, OH 43068 
Blacklick Metro Park Nature Center

Nature Center at Blacklick Woods Metro Park

Blacklick Woods Metro Park is home to a gem of a Nature Center! The Nature Center has a lot of educational items on display and a great play area for the kids! There are live animals to see and large windows for bird watching. This is a great place to spend the morning with kids!

6. Anthony Thomas Candy Factory

  • 1777 Arlingate Lane, Columbus, OH 43228 
boy getting candy at Anthony Thomas Candy Factory in Columbus, Ohio

Anthony Thomas Candy Factory

You can tour the Anthony Thomas Candy Factory in about an hour, getting a glimpse of the candy making process from a “cat-walk” above the production lines.  Tours take place on Tuesdays and Thursdays in the winter and Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays in June, July and August.

You end the tour in the gift shop and you get to use your admission price ($2 for adults and $1 for kids) towards a purchase of candy in the gift shop!

7. Ohio State University Airport

  • 2160 West Case Rd. Columbus, OH 43235 
observation deck at OSU Airport

Observation Deck at The Ohio State University Airport

The Ohio State University Airport offers a unique activity for anyone who loves to watch planes take off and land. The observation tower has been fully remodeled and allows a great view of the runway. The best days to visit are Fridays and Mondays when the weather is good.

Anyone can visit the airport to watch and you might want to plan for breakfast or lunch at Jack and Benny’s Barnstormer Diner adjacent to the observation tower!

8. Hayden Falls Park

  • 4326 Hayden Run Rd., Dublin, OH 43017 
waterfall at Hayden Run Falls

Hayden Run Falls

One might not think of Columbus, Ohio as a place that has many (or any) water falls, which is what makes Haden Falls such a hidden gem! This park is definitely off the beaten path and involves a short hike down wooded steps and walk ways. Once you come upon the falls you will be pleasantly surprised by what you find!

9. Clay Street Ceramics

  • 13 N. Westmoor Ave., Columbus, Ohio 43204
boy painting pottery at Clay Street Ceramics in West Columbus

Clay Street Ceramics

Clay Street Ceramics is a fun, family-owned paint your own pottery spot on the west side of Columbus! There are tons of pottery items available to paint and your finished product can be picked up within a week.

Clay Street holds special events, pop up shops and activities for kids on days off of school. Inside Clay Street Ceramics, there is also a small artisan market where you can find goods for sale by local artists!

10. Cambridge Tea House

  • 1885 W. 5th Ave. Columbus, Ohio 43212
inside Cambridge Tea House

Cambridge Tea House

Cambridge Tea House is the sweetest little spot on the edge of Grandview and Marble Cliff. This is a sit-down restaurant that offers full tea service including options for kids! You can take advantage of a full tea service or order from the menu for breakfast and lunch options, scones, and other baked goods!

11. Dulce Vida Ice Cream Factory

  • 4201 W. Broad St., Columbus, OH 43228
inside Dulce Vida Ice Cream Factory

Dulce Vida Ice Cream Factory – West

Dulce Vida Ice Cream Factory delights all of the senses with it’s brightly colored decor AND brightly colored ice cream and treats! This Mexican ice cream shop offers handmade ice cream (made in the store!), paletas (mexican popsicles), and other eats and treats. Though there are two more locations, the West Broad location is my favorite hidden gem in Columbus!

12. King Gyros Greek Restaurant

  • 400 S Hamilton Rd., Columbus, OH 43213 
piece of cheesecake at King Gyros in Whitehall

King Gyros

If you don’t have the time or budget for a trip to Greece, you can hop over to Whitehall for the next best thing! The murals painted in the restaurant (and the amazing patio) might make you feel like you’ve actually gone to Greece, but the food will keep you coming back!

The trio of dips is a can’t miss menu item and for a Greek surprise, try the meatballs! (And whatever you do, don’t skip dessert!) This restaurant off the beaten path is worth a trip!

13. Belle’s Bread

  • 1168 Kenny Centre Mall, Columbus, OH 43220 
ice cream cone at Belle's Bread

Belle’s Bread

Belle’s Bread on Henderson Rd. is a hidden gem featuring one of my favorite treats in the city: green tea ice cream! While you are there you can browse the beautiful selection of desserts and baked goods, but don’t leave without trying the green tea ice cream – I recommend it as a twist with vanilla!

14. Two Dollar Radio Headquarters

  • 1124 Parsons Ave., Columbus, OH 43206 
cup of coffee at two dollar radio headquarters in columbus, Ohio

Two Dollar Radio HQ

Two Dollar Radio is home to an independent book store, coffee shop and vegan cafe. There are special events, book readings, live music, open mic nights and more! The atmosphere is inspiring and fun! There is even a kid’s corner with games, books and toys!

This hidden gem on the south side of Columbus is a great place to get your caffeine fix and your creative wheels turning!

15. Dragon Donuts

  • 2806 London Groveport Rd., Grove City, OH 43123 
donut at Dragon Donuts in Grove City

Dragon Donuts – Grove City

If you like your donuts warm and gooey – visit Dragon Donuts where the donuts are made to order and you can watch the whole process take place right before your eyes!

Choose from a list of over 20 signature donuts like S’more Please or Fruity Tutti or choose from one of the classic glazed, sugar or dipped donuts. Or if you’re feeling brave you can make up your own combination!


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15 Unique Things to do in Columbus, Ohio Off the Beaten Path

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5 Tasty Kid-Friendly Restaurants at Easton Town Center

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If you’re spending a day shopping at Easton Town Center take the kids to refuel at one of these 5 family-friendly restaurant options!

A BIG thank you to Easton Town Center for sponsoring this post!

We love spending time at Easton! With the addition of LEGOLAND Discovery Center Columbus, we’re finding ourselves there more and more often! There are plenty of summer events happening at Easton and it is a destination for back to school shopping! With movies, shopping and plenty of activities available, it’s easy to spend an entire day there! When you’re with the kids and need to find a bite to eat, try out one of these 5 kid-friendly restaurants at Easton Town Center!

kids eating at Cafe Zupa at Easton Town Center in Columbus, Ohio

5 Family-Friendly Restaurants at Easton Town Center:

1. MELT Bar and Grilled

  • Located in Easton Gateway – 4206 Worth Ave., Columbus, Ohio 43219
  • Casual, sit down restaurant, patio seating available 

grilled cheese meal at Melt Bar and Grilled at Easton Town Center

MELT is a super fun restaurant to eat at while shopping at Easton! The decor itself is enough to keep kids occupied at least until the drinks arrive! Decorated with light up Halloween and Christmas decor, plus murals all over the walls and neon lights, the restaurant is colorful and entertaining! Not to mention the restaurant is filled with TVs – often playing classics. When we were there, they were showing the movie Jurassic Park, which entertained my 4 year old dinosaur lover!

kid at Melt Bar and Grilled at Easton Town Center

The menu at MELT is huge! The star here is CHEESE! Choose one of their grilled cheese sandwiches (and calling it a “grilled cheese” is certainly an understatement!) or one of the macaroni and cheese dishes to let it shine! MELT is also known for their large selection of craft beers.kid-friendly meal at Melt Bar and Grilled at Easton Town Center, Columbus, Ohio
What’s great here is that the kid’s menu is so affordable! The kids’ meals are $4 and include drink! And they are not skimpy portions! The options included grilled cheese (of course!), baked mac and cheese, a burger, PB&J, chicken fingers and french bread pizza. Kids get their choice of a side (fries, chips, salad or banana) and a small drink.

While $4 with a drink is pretty much a bargain in the kid’s meal department these days, if you’re lucky enough to be eating on a Tuesday, kids’ meals are $2! My kid said the chicken fingers were “delicious” and they were big fans of the fries! The back of the kid’s menu doubles as a coloring page which kept us busy until the food arrived.

indoor decor at MELT Bar and Grilled At Easton Town Center

In the warm months, MELT Bar and Grilled also offers a great patio! 

Kid Friendly Points: Fun decor, TV’s, affordable kid’s menu, easy parking, great patio.

2. Koko Tea Salon & Bakery

  • Located next to the model train – 3951 Easton Square Place East, Columbus, OH 43219
  • Bakery for to-go sweets, coffee and teas

cake pops at Koko Tea Salon and Bakery

If you’re in need of a sweet pick me up or a tea or coffee, stop in at Koko Tea Salon and Bakery! We visited on my youngest son’s birthday and he appropriately picked out the Birthday Cake cupcake! The bakery case tempted us with truffles and other flavors of cupcakes, sugar cookies, brownies and cake pops! KoKo Tea Salon’s macarons have been voted best in Columbus for 5 years in a row!

koko tea salon at easton town center

What’s really impressive about KoKo Tea Salon is the long list of drink options! The kona coffee is grown by a relative of the owner of the bakery and delivered straight from Hawaii! All of the coffee drinks are 100% Kona Hawaii Coffee! Beyond just a cup of coffee, Lattes, Mochas and Frappés are available.

bubble tea at koko tea salon and bakery at easton town center

If you’re a tea drinker, you can choose from Bubble Tea, Iced Tea, Tea Frappés, Tea Lattes and loose leaf teas in a variety of fun flavors like cotton candy, Lavender, Taro, Coconut and more! Add in some popping pearls to your bubble tea for extra fun!

KoKo Tea Salon & Bakery is right next to the model train and the fountains! It’s the perfect spot to pick up a treat and then play! (There is no indoor seating so look for the seating around the train and fountain area!)

Kid Friendly Points: Sugar. Seriously, though, if your kid has a sweet tooth, this place will be a dream.

3. BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse

  • Located in Easton Gateway – 4020 Stelzer Rd., Columbus, OH 43219
  • Casual, sit-down restaurant 

Let’s just start by saying the menu at BJ’s is huge! There is truly something for everyone on this menu! This is a great spot for a sit down, yet casual meal. The restaurant is large with just enough noise to drown out the sound of kids being kids. The kids menu has a lot of options featuring pasta, pizza, grilled chicken, tacos, burgers, broiled shrimp and more. On the back of the menu are quite a few fun activities and games to keep the kids occupied while they wait.

father and son at BJ's Restaurant at Easton Town Center

Our waiter brought the kids out some fresh rolls and a fruit bowl with our appetizer. That was a thoughtful touch and my kids loved the rolls!

Boy eating at BJ's Restaurant at Easton Town Center

BJ’s is a safe bet if you’re looking for a menu that offers something for everyone! And don’t miss their famous Pizookies – a freshly baked cookie in a pizza tin served with a scoop of ice cream on top! Yum!

Kid Friendly Points: TVs for entertainment, a great kids menu with activities on the back and Pizookies!

4. Northstar Cafe

  • 4015 Townsfair Way,
Columbus, OH 43219, next to Barnes and Noble
  • Order at the counter and seat yourself, patio seating available

The Short North location of Northstar Cafe is where my husband and I filled our the application for our first apartment when we moved to Columbus! We have always loved Northstar and we continued the tradition of eating there each time we found out we were pregnant!


The Easton location is one of my favorites because it is so bright and happy and it has a great patio! We have taken our kids there numerous times over the years and know that it is a favorite of many Columbus families!

kid looking at magazine at Northstar Cafe, Easton Town Center

When you enter the restaurant you will pick up a menu and then wait in line to order at the counter before seating yourself. There is a kids menu but you will have to ask for it. (Or check out the kids menu online before you go.)

I think about Northstar Cafe in two capacities: Brunch and Everything Else. Brunch is served until 11:00 AM on weekdays and 3:00 PM on the weekends and is my favorite menu.  The ricotta pancakes are to die for and they are my kids’ favorite. If it’s brunch, they’re gonna order the pancakes.

kid eating pizza at Northstar Cafe Easton Town Center

Now let’s talk about Everything Else. The sweet basil burrito is one of my favorites (friend brought it to me in the hospital after Jaden was born) and that’s what I usually get if it’s not Brunch. On our last trip, my kids ordered the grilled cheese and a pepperoni pizza. If your kids can easily agree on pizza, one pizza is plenty enough to feed 2 young kids. We aren’t that lucky so we took home a lot of pizza!

Kid Friendly Points: great patio, magazines are available for passing time while waiting for your food and the cookies are super yummy!

5. Café Zupas

  • Located near LL Bean – 4226 Easton Loop W, Columbus, OH 43219
  • Fast casual, order at the counter, patio seating available

salad at Cafe Zupas at Easton Town Center, Columbus, Ohio

I may have a new favorite fast-casual restaurant at Easton! On our first trip to Café Zupas I was really impressed! There were a lot of simple and healthy choices and the kids meals were just as enticing! You can expect a wide variety of soups, quinoa bowls, salads and sandwiches with a Try 2 Combo option!

drink infusions at Cafe Zupas at Easton Town Center, Columbus, Ohio

One of the highlights was a drink bar with 4 kinds of house-made “Drink Infusions” – uniquely flavored juices, teas and lemonade. The drinks are made with raw, unfiltered clover honey and are not super sweet. If they’re not sweet enough, they offer simple, flavored syrups to sweeten your drink. (Regular soft drinks are also available!)

chocolate covered strawberry at Cafe Zupas, Easton Town Center

My boys chose chicken strips and a side of fruit. The kids meals are around $5 and include a drink! Each meal (kids included) came with a chocolate covered strawberry! That was a nice surprise!

boy eating at Cafe Zupas, Easton Town Center, Columbus, Ohio

Choose Café Zupas if you’re looking for a reasonably priced and quick dining experience. The atmosphere is bright and upbeat and all of the menu items are made fresh daily in the restaurant.

Kid Friendly Points: the kids meals are $4.99 and include a drink and a chocolate covered strawberry, laid back environment and healthier drink options.


Related: Kids Eat Free or Cheap in Columbus and Central Ohio


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Dino-Mite Kids Week Returns to all Central-Ohio locations of Sunny Street Café

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From July 15 – July 19, 2019 Sunny Street Café will be offering a free Dino Pancake with the purchase of an adult entree for children 12 years and younger.

Thanks to Sunny Street Café for sponsoring this post!

Dino-Mite Kids Week is July 15-19, 2019 at all Columbus Locations of Sunny Street Café

All Central-Ohio locations of Sunny Street Café will be celebrating dinosaurs with Dino-Mite Kids Week! Each location will offer a variety of games and activities with a dinosaur theme as well as a free kids’ pancake shaped like a dinosaur with each purchase of an adult entree! (Additional Dino Pancakes are $1.)

Along with the dino-shaped pancakes there will be special fun toppings! Last year, my boys got Oreos in their pancakes!

Some locations may also be offering Raptor Punch! There will be games, dino-themed prizes and fun dinosaur decorations and photo ops!

Last year we attended Dino-Mite Kids Week at the Upper Arlington location and enjoyed a prize wheel, a T-Rex Brain Game, dinosaur stories and coloring sheets and other dino-themed games and puzzles!

I love a good breakfast and Sunny Street Café offers classic breakfast options and kids meals that are affordable (AND include a drink)! 

All 8 Central Ohio locations of Sunny Street Café will be participating in Dino-Mite Kids Week! Here are the locations along with their phone numbers! If you have any questions about what will be offered at a specific location, I suggest calling ahead to confirm!

  • Arena District, 277 W. Nationwide Blvd., Columbus, OH, 43215, (614) 222-3008
  • Upper Arlington, 4733 Reed Rd., Columbus, OH, 43220, (614) 732-4479
  • Grove City, 2788 London Groveport Rd., Grove City, OH, 43123, (614) 539-0899
  • Dublin, Avery Road, 7042 Hospital Dr., Dublin, OH, 43017, (614) 389-3640
  • Dublin, Sawmill Road, 7573 Sawmill Rd., Dublin, OH, 43016, (614) 932-7008
  • Polaris, 8461 Sancus Blvd, Columbus, OH, 43240, (614) 987-7451
  • Blacklick, 6607 East Broad St, Columbus, OH, 43213, (614) 694-2214
  • Westerville, 644 N. State St., Westerville, OH, 43082, (614) 899-6113

If you have dinosaur lovers in the family, this week will be such a fun and special way to treat them! 


Related: Kids Eat Free or Cheap in Columbus and Central Ohio

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