Family-Friendly and Budget-Friendly Fun at Marcus Theatres

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While we wait for those sunny springtime days, Marcus Theatres has affordable options for indoor family fun during these cold winter months!

A big thanks to Marcus Theatres for sponsoring this post!

Family-Friendly and Budget-Friendly Fun at Marcus Theatres

As we power through the final weeks of winter, it can feel as though spring sunshine may never come. While we wait for those sunny springtime days, Marcus Theatres has affordable options for indoor family fun. The local Marcus Crosswoods Cinema in Columbus and Marcus Pickerington Cinema in Pickerington both feature cozy DreamLounger recliners, premium large format screens and family-friendly dining options, Take Five Lounge and Zaffiro’s Express.  

Kids Dream Film Series:

Marcus Theatres is bringing back your favorite family-friendly flicks for just $3 at the Kids Dream Family Film Series presented by American Family Insurance from February 21 to April 5. Hungry? No worries— popcorn and fountain drinks are $2.75 each.

You can save even more by visiting an American Family Insurance agency owner or the Kids Dream website to receive two FREE tickets courtesy of American Family Insurance. Visit to get yours.

If you are a Magical Movie Rewards member, you can save even more by purchasing a Kids Dream Passport. This is a great deal if your little ones enjoy the movie-going experience. The passport allows you to see 5 different Kids Dream movies for $10 and gets you 20% off concession purchases during the film series. If you aren’t a member yet, it’s free to sign-up! To become a member, sign-up online or at your local box office. 

Here is the full line-up for the Kids Dream Series:

Free Family Parties:

The Crosswoods Cinema hosts FREE family parties to celebrate the release of new family-friendly films. Enjoy complimentary snacks, crafts, and activities before (or after) the movie and stay for the featured film. Movie tickets for each film are sold separately. More details and showtimes will be available soon at

Mark your calendars for these upcoming parties:

  • March 7: Onward Free Family Party from 10:00 AM-12:00 PM
  • April 18: Trolls World Tour Free Family Party from 10:00 AM-12:00 PM
  • May 23: Spongebob The Movie Free Family Party from 10:00 AM-12:00 PM

Value Days at All Locations:

Going to the movies with the whole family doesn’t have to break the bank. Both Crosswoods Cinema and Pickerington Cinema offer value days that allow you to see the latest releases (we can’t wait for Mulan and Peter Rabbit 2!) on a discount. 

  • $5 Movie Tuesday*: All movie tickets are only $5. Showtimes sell-out quickly, so we recommend purchasing them online in advance. If you’re a Magical Movie Rewards member you’ll receive a complimentary-sized popcorn plus members-only food and beverage specials, like $2 hot dogs, $8 cheese pizza, and $5 pretzel bites. 
  • Student Thursday*: Every Thursday, students and faculty can enjoy a movie for $6, plus receive a complimentary-sized popcorn. Get your tickets online in advance and show your student or faculty ID when you arrive to receive this great deal!

*Ticket prices are subject to tax where applicable. An additional charge applies for 3D, SuperScreenDLX and UltraScreenDLX showings. 

Keep the winter blues away and head on over to your local Marcus Theatre for affordable family fun!


*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!*

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

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Affordable Places to Have a Kid’s Birthday Party in Columbus

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Parents are always looking for affordable places to have birthday parties for their kids! These rental spaces are available for parties in Columbus and they won’t break the bank!

In the age of Pinterest, having a child’s birthday party can be a stressful event for parents! Some parents love to hand make party favors and fancy food and others would prefer that someone else does all the work! If you’re looking for a space to hold a child’s birthday party in Columbus, this list of ideas is meant to offer some ideas for low-cost party ideas.

On this list is a wide range of options from a simple room for rent to play areas with catered menus. This is not an exhaustive list of birthday party options in Columbus, but a list of ideas that fall on the less expensive end of the scale!

Affordable Birthday Party Ideas for Kids in Columbus, Ohio:

The Naz

Location: 4770 Hoover Rd., Grove City, OH 43123
Phone: 614-875-2551

birthday party space at The Naz

The Naz Play Place Room has a capacity of 35 people. The room is available for rent for birthday parties during the week and on weekends. You can access the play area for your party, but it will also be open to the public. 

At The Naz, you are able to bring in your own food, though no peanut products are allowed, or you can purchase one of their party packages that includes pizza or hot dogs. There are additional menu items you can add on to your party. 

Rentals are for 1.5 hour time slots and you are allowed in 15 min before and 15 min after for set up and tear down. Weekday parties are allowed on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday and it is $35 to rent the room on these days. Saturday parties are $75.

The add on packages range from $25-$50 depending on the food you choose and include plates, napkins and cups. 

Graeter’s Scoops and Chutes Playground

Location: 2136 Bethel Road Columbus, OH 43220
Phone: 614-442-7622 

birthday party space at Graeter's on Bethel Road

The Bethel Rd. location of Graeter’s has a free indoor play area. Adjacent to the play area are some party rooms that can be rented. Rental of the party room without the package option is $75. Party packages come with a host and each child can make their own ice cream sundae. Packages are $14/child and there is an 8 child minimum.

Central Park Playland

Location: 471 E. College Ave., Westerville, OH 43081
Phone: 614-682-6472

birthday party space at Central Park Play Place in Westerville, Ohio

The indoor play area is available for rent on Fridays and Saturdays for 2.5 hours (this includes set up and clean up time). You can bring your own food and drinks into the space. There will be a staff person on hand for your event, but that person does not assist with party activities.

The space holds up to 24 children. There is a small refrigerator available. The cost for renting the space is $75.

The Annex at Coffee Connections of Hilliard

Location: 4004 Main St., Hilliard, Ohio 43026
Phone: 614-664-3993

Fill out Rental Inquiry Form

birthday party space at Coffee Connections in Hilliard, Ohio

The Annex can be rented for a 2 hour time slot (12:00 PM – 2:00 PM or 3:00 PM – 5:00 PM) for $150. You also get an additional 30 minutes to set up and 30 minutes to tear down for a total of 3 hours. There is a $25 non-refundable deposit that is required to secure your rental time. 

The space holds up to 60 people and seating includes couches, bar stools and chairs. Folding tables are also available. Renters can bring in outside food and drinks. Upstairs there is a play space for children that is great for young kids.

Coffee is available for purchase for your event and there are also additional ad-on services available such as face painting, a popcorn machine and a snow cone ice shaver. 

Easterseals Central and Southeast Ohio

Location: 3830 Trueman Court, Hilliard, OH 43026
Phone: 614-228-5523

Birthday Party space at Easterseals Columbus Ohio

The indoor play area at Easterseals of Central and Southeast Ohio is available for birthday parties. Party time slots are 3 hours and require a $100 non-refundable deposit at the time of booking plus $250. 

The room allows for a maximum of 15 children per party and renters can bring in their own food. There is a play area plus a separate room for eating and opening gifts. The space includes folding tables and chairs for your use.

The Design Refinery

Location: 11 N. Westmoor Ave., Columbus, OH 43204
Phone: 614-407-5019

Fill Out Rental Form

rental space in Columbus, Ohio

This event space is available for rent for parties and events of all kinds. The space holds up to 40 seated and 50 standing room only. You may bring your own food and beverages, a mini fridge and microwave are available. Chairs and tables are provided. Cost is $40/hour.

Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks

Phone: 614-508-8111 

Lodges and shelters at the various Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks can be reserved for full day and half day time slots. Prices range from $100 – $250 depending on the location and time. Prices are more for non-Franklin County residents. 

Reservations can be made online unless your party is less than 14 days away. At that point you may call to make a reservation. Click here for a price list by park.

W.W. Williams Shelter at Wyman Woods

Location: 1515 Goodale Blvd, Grandview Heights, OH 43212
Phone: 614-488-3111 

rental space for parties at Wyman Woods, Columbus, Ohio

W.W. Williams Shelter at Wyman Woods is adjacent to an outdoor playground. The shelter is available April 1 – October 31. Sunday – Thursday rentals are significantly cheaper than weekend rentals ($120 for residents, $240 for non residents). Friday and Saturday rentals are $240 for residents and $400 for non residents.

Residents can begin making reservations on the first business day of January for the coming year. Non-Residents can begin making reservations on the first business day of February.

Worthington Community Center

Phone: 614-436-2743 

The Kid’s Corner at Worthington Community Center is available for rent for $20/hour for residents and $50/hour for non-residents. The Community Room can accommodate up to 80 people and is available for $25/hour for residents and $45/hour for non residents. Other rooms are available thorough the system, click the link for more info!

Use of the leisure pool is also available in conjunction with parties (though not for private use). There is an adjacent room called the Fishbowl that is available for rent. Parties are for 2 hours and include 20 swimming guests and are $140 for residents and $180 for non-residents.  

The Westerville Parks and Recreation Department

Phone: 614-901-6515 

The Westerville Parks and Recreation Department has several options for rental spaces. Many of the shelters are rentable for a refundable $25 deposit. The Little Sprouts Wait Room can be rented for $105 for 2 hours. Residents receive a discounted rate. Indoor and outdoor pool parties are also an option. Visit the website for a lot of options!

Columbus Recreation and Parks

Phone: 614-645-3337

Shelter houses are available for rent by calling the number above . Rooms can be rented by contacting each Community Center location individually. See a list of Community Centers here.


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Affordable places to have a birthday party in Columbus, Ohio

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15 Activities Kids Can Do for Free at the Ohio State Fair

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A trip to the Ohio State Fair can be budget friendly AND fun when you mix in these 15 free activities for kids!

Thanks to Ohio State Fair for partnering with us on this post!

A trip to the Ohio State Fair can end up costing a whole family a lot of money, but it doesn’t have to! In the past few years that we have attended the Ohio State Fair, these are some activities my kids have really enjoyed that don’t cost anything beyond admission!

Save money with these free, kid-friendly activities within the grounds of the Ohio State Fair!

Don’t miss the list of special deals happening each day at the Ohio State Fair that I have listed at the end of this post!

1. Scavenger Hunt

Pick up a scavenger hunt form at the Agriculture is Cool tent and answer 10 questions throughout your journey through the fair. The answers are posted on signs in various locations that have the headline “Did you know?” If you answer them all, you can turn in your form for free ice cream! This is free for kids AND adults!

Ag is Cool Passport and Scavenger Hunt

If you want to do the scavenger hunt, make sure to enter through Gate 1 (Cardinal Gate or North Entrance) so you can hit up the Agriculture is Cool tent to pick up your scavenger hunt form and ice cream coupons first!

2. Dig and Dump in the Corn Bin

Boys playing in corn bin at Ohio State Fair

Inside the Agriculture is Cool tent, young kids will love dumping and scooping corn kernels. Every parent I’ve seen has had to drag their kids away from this display! 😉

3. Animal Shows

Kids who are into animals might enjoy watching other kids show their animals and win awards! Each day the Ohio State Fair prints a schedule for the day and you can pick it up at the entrance OR view or download the schedule of any given day online by clicking here.

4. Budweiser Clydesdales

Budweiser Clydesdales at Ohio State Fair

The whole family can walk through a tent to see the Budweiser Clydesdale horses up close, watch them get bathed and groomed and view their fancy saddles!

5. Live Entertainment

There are all sorts of free shows going on throughout each day on the Main Street and Gazebo Stages! Free live music from salsa to bluegrass to classic rock (schedule here) and other shows featuring jugglers, magic and illusions, ax throwing, a cappella singers, and more can also be seen (schedule here)!

6. Milk a Cow

Milk a Cow at Ohio State Fair

Kids can get up close and personal with a cow and learn how to milk it! Milk the cow from noon to 4:00 PM in the OVMA Veterinary Education Center. There will also be babies on display in that area. We saw newborn calves!

7. See the Butter Cow

Butter Cow at Ohio State Fair

This is a can’t miss Ohio State Fair exhibit! This year’s theme celebrates 35 years of A Christmas Story, the famous movie filmed in Cleveland in 1983!

8. Petting Zoo

Petting zoo at Ohio State Fair

Entrance to the Petting Zoo is free so kids can pet animals to their heart’s delight! At the door they sell small cups of carrots for $2 and large cups for $5. You can bypass these and buy dry feed out of machines for $.25 a handful.

9. Model Trains

Model Train at Ohio State Fair

The Cardinal Building is full of all kinds of fun arts and craft projects from doll houses to miniature displays and crafts made out of Brillo pads! Also in the building are several Model Train displays and a Thomas display kids can operate themselves!

10. Natural Resources Park

Natural Resources Park at Ohio State Fair

This fun area is maintained by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources – inside there is a butterfly house, watercraft simulator, fishing for kids, kayaking, archery and other educational displays and activities! This is a great area for kids and all of these activities are free!

11. Smokey Bear

Smokey Bear at Ohio State Fair

Kids will be amazed when a 14 foot Smokey Bear calls them by name! When walking through the Natural Resources Park, a worker will try to find out your kids’ names on the sly and pass them on so Smokey can personally remind your child never to play with matches!

12. Play in the Sand Box

Sand Box at Natural Resources Park at Ohio State Fair

My kids LOVE this sand box in the Natural Resources Park! It’s for kids age 5 and under and they ask you to limit your time in there to 15 minutes but as long as it’s not super busy, no one is clocking in and out!

13. Pig Races

Pig races take place several times a day in the Meijer Kiddieland area and are free to watch!

14. The Nerveless Nocks All American Stunt & Thrill Show

Watch daredevils as the perform crazy stunts like riding motorcycles around each other in a huge hamster wheel! 3 show times each day!

15. Mini Golf

Mini Golf at Ohio State Fair

Mini Golf gets an honorable mention here for costing less than a bottle of water! Inside the Beef building, kids can do a round of mini golf for $2.

Know Before You Go:

  • Regular admission at the gate is:
    $10 – Adults 13-59
    $8 – Seniors 60+
    $8 – Children 5-12
    Free – Children under 5
    $6 – Advance sale admission tickets
  • Parking is $5
  • Admission gates are open from 9:00 AM – 10:00 PM (9:00 AM – 7:00 PM on August 5th.)
  • Rides will run from 10:00 AM – 11:00 PM and until midnight on Fridays and Saturday.

Other tips for saving money at the Ohio State Fair:

-Pack your own lunch or snacks

-Bring your own water bottle (no glass allowed). (Trust me on this one. I brought my water bottle but at the last minute I decided not to take it in because I didn’t feel like carrying it. I ended up buying two drinks just for me throughout the day!)

– Buy drinks from the vending machines. Most drinks at concession stands are $3 but cold drinks are also sold in vending machines around the grounds for $2.

– General admission tickets can be purchased online for $6 each or a four pack for $5 for each ticket through August 5th.

-Buy your tickets in person at Kroger or AAA for $6 each.

-As part of the Fourth Grade Agriculture is Cool Program, If you have an exiting 4th grader, that child and an adult can get in free any one day with a valid report card or valid homeschool form at the entrance.

– Print off this amazing sheet of coupons to use for food and other vendors!

Ohio State Fair Food Highway

Take advantage of one of these special days happening next week! See the entire list here.

Monday July 30th – NBC4 Family Discount Day – until 6 PM adults will be admitted for the kids’ admission price of $8 and kids 12 and under will be admitted free. Also, with the purchase of one wristband, a second rider can ride free until 6:00 PM with a hand stamp.

Tuesday, July 31 – Seniors ages 60 and up get in for $4

Thursday, August 2 – AAA members can show a current membership card to receive $4 admission vouchers for each member in your party.

Friday, August 3 – Patrons 18 and over can bring a non-winning Ohio Lottery ticket to receive one $4 admission voucher.

Saturday, August 4 – One Ohio soybean farmer or Ohio Soybean Association member will be given free Fair admission, with each member in their party receiving $4 admission with voucher from Ohio Soybean News magazine.

Sunday, August 5 – Bring any empty Pepsi container to the gate for a $3 admission voucher for every member of your party before 3:00 PM.


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Ohio State Fair, Columbus, Ohio

Kids Eat Free in Columbus and Central Ohio

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


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