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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12 Columbus Parks to Try This Summer

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These 12 Columbus Parks and Playgrounds will keep your kids from being bored this summer in Columbus!

Change up your playground routine by picking one of these fun parks and playgrounds around the Columbus area! Most of these playgrounds have areas for various ages and stages. We have enjoyed exploring all of these playgrounds! Feel free to share any of your favorites in the comments below!

12 Columbus Parks to Try this Summer:

1. Friendship Park, Gahanna

  • 150 Oklahoma Ave., Gahanna, OH 43230

This park has a play area for younger kids and older kids, and the Gahanna Story Trail, where a story is on display for reading as you follow a path through the woods. Restrooms are available on site.

Playground at Friendship Park in Gahanna, Ohio

Friendship Park, Gahanna

Playground area at Friendship Park outside Columbus, Ohio

Friendship Park, Gahanna

2. Carriage Place Park, Columbus

  • 4900 Sawmill Rd., Columbus, OH 43235

This park is part of the Carriage Place Community Recreation Center and has a play area for older kids and younger kids. There is also a path around the park for walking, jogging, etc. Restrooms are available inside the Rec Center.

Playground at Carriage Park in Columbus, Ohio

Carriage Place Park, Columbus

 

playground area at Carriage Place Park in Columbus

Carriage Place Park, Columbus

3. Fancyburg Park, Upper Arlington

  • 3375 Kioka Avenue, Upper Arlington, OH 43221

This park has play areas for all ages, including toddlers. There is a shelter house with restrooms close to the playground. This park is also shady, which is nice! This is the site of several festivals in Upper Arlington throughout the year!

Fancyburg Park in Upper Arlington Ohio

Fancyburg Park, Upper Arlington

 

Kids playing on playground equipment at Fancyburg Park in Upper Arlington, Ohio

Fancyburg Park, Upper Arlington

4. Planet Westerville Playground, Westerville

  • 362 Huber Village Blvd., Westerville, OH 43081

This playground is part of the larger Huber Village Park and has a lot of opportunity for climbing and sliding for all ages! This park is fenced in, which is really nice. There is a restroom nearby and a shelter with picnic tables.

playground area at Planet Westerville Park

Planet Westerville Playground

toddler play structure at Planet Westerville Park, columbus Ohio

Planet Westerville Playground

5. Whetstone Park, Clintonville

  • 3923 N. High St., Columbus, OH 43214

The park pictured here is not the park next to the Whetstone Community Recreation Center, though there is a playground there as well! This play area is further into the park, past the Park of Roses. There is a super high slide here for your daredevils and a metal fire engine for climbing on. 

Fire Truck Play Structure at Whetstone Park, Columbus, Ohio

Whetstone Park, Columbus

There are port-a-potties near the park, but to get to an indoor restroom you’ll need to go back to the Rec Center or Library which is close by, but not within walking distance. There are picnic tables here and a pond nearby.

play structure at Whetstone Park in Columbus, Ohio

Whetstone Park, Columbus

6. Wyman Woods, Grandview Heights

  • 1016 Grandview Ave., Grandview Heights, OH 43212

This park just opened a few years ago and offers a lot of space for rock climbing! This park isn’t the best for toddlers (it’s recommended for ages 5-12), but there are some toddler swings and a small tunnel slide. 

Wyman Woods Park in Columbus, Ohio

Wyman Woods Park, Grandview

Seasonal restrooms are available at the shelter house and there are sand volleyball courts on site. Several picnic tables are also available. Another bonus here: free Wifi!

slide and swings at Wyman Woods Park in Grandview Heights, Ohio

Wyman Woods Park, Grandview

7. Scioto Audubon Metro Park, Columbus

  • 400 W. Whittier St., Columbus, OH 43215

This playground is part of the Scioto Audubon Metro Park. There is a play area for older and younger kids and a mister for really hot days! There are several picnic tables with umbrellas overhead. The closest restrooms are at the nature center, which is a bit of a walk from the playground. 

playground area at Scioto Audubon Metro Park

Scioto Audubon Metro Park, Columbus

There is a rock climbing wall and an obstacle course nearby, not to mention the gorgeous views of downtown from the park!

Rock Climbing structure at Scioto Audubon Metro Park, Columbus, Ohio

Scioto Audubon Metro Park, Columbus

8. Rocky Fork Metro Park, Westerville

  • 7180 Walnut St, Westerville, OH 43081

This metro park opened in 2015 and the playground here is simple, but unique. It’s mainly a slide and a wooden bridge, but it was fun for my kids to run around on. There is also a rope climbing area.

slide at Rocky Fork Metro Park playground near columbus, Ohio

Rocky Fork Metro Park, Westerville

If you visit this park, make sure to check out the large shelter area nearby where there are big wooden chairs for sitting and watching for wildlife! Restrooms are right by the playground.

boy running on playground area at Rocky Fork Metro Park

Rocky Fork Metro Park, Westerville

9. Henceroth Park, Grove City

  • 2075 Mallow Lane, Grove City, OH 43123

This park is a great park for younger kids, though there is a play structure for older kids as well. There is a train, boat, and jeep for climbing and driving. There’s also a butterfly garden and a wooded path for walking. 

train play structure at Henceroth Park in Grove City, Ohio

Henceroth Park, Grove City

No restrooms on site. (Someone please visit this one just to make it worth all the times I had to stop auto correct from making this Henceforth Park!) 😉

playground area at Henceroth Park, Grove City, Ohio

Henceroth Park, Grove City

10. Wickliffe Playground (Castle Park), Upper Arlington

  • 2405 Wickliffe Rd, Upper Arlington, Ohio 43221

Here’s a unique park to check out this summer! This park is the playground for Wickliffe Progressive School and is only available during non-school hours. 

Playground at Wycliffe Elementary, Upper Arlington, Ohio

Wickliffe Playground (Castle Park), Upper Arlington

This park made up of a large, wooden structure also known as the Castle Park, and my kids love running around in here! There are also swings and, on the other side of the school, another play area set up like a little town. Restrooms are not available.

Castle Park in Upper Arlington, Ohio

Wickliffe Playground (Castle Park), Upper Arlington

play structure at the Castle Park in Upper Arlington, Ohio

Wickliffe Playground (Castle Park), Upper Arlington

11. Blendon Woods Metro Park, Westerville

  • 4265 E. Dublin-Granville Road Westerville, OH 43081

This playground at Blendon Woods Metro Park is on the west side of the park near the Natural Play Area. My kids loved the tunnels to climb through. While you’re at the park, be sure to check out the Nature Center, too! 

Playground at Blendon Woods Metro Park, Ohio

Blendon Woods Metro Park, Westerville

There are restrooms at several locations in the Metro Park. You can also read about more things to do in the park in Exploring Blendon Woods Metro Park!

boy at playground at Blendon Woods Metro Park, Columbus, Ohio

Blendon Woods Metro Park, Westerville

12. Westgate Park, Columbus

  • 455 S. Westgate Ave. Columbus, OH 43204

This fun playground is part of the Westgate Community Recreation Center. There are two playgrounds here, a pond, two murals and a small shelter with picnic tables. Restrooms are available in the Rec Center. 

playground at Westgate Park, Columbus Ohio

Westgate Park, Columbus

This is also the location for the large letters A, B, C that were moved to the park from Westland Mall.

Columbus Bluejackets Playground at Westgate Park in Columbus, Ohio

Westgate Park, Columbus

If that’s not enough for you, I’ve also got more parks listed in these posts: 6 Columbus Area Parks for Toddlers and Coffee + Park: 3 Parks Within Walking Distance of a Coffee Shop. Happy park hopping! 🙂

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Playdate in Uptown Westerville

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Confession: other than dropping off our taxes to the accountant, I haven’t spent any time in Uptown Westerville!  So who better to show me the ropes than a friend who grew up there? A playdate was in the plans so she suggested meeting for donuts before heading to Alum Creek Park North.  No one’s going to argue with that plan! We met up at Schneider’s Bakery to pick out our goodies before heading to the park.  This was my first time at Schneider’s Bakery, but from what I hear it is a Westerville institution.  The bakery opens at 1:30 AM.  Yes, in the morning.  I had to ask twice just to be sure!  This works well near a college campus and across the street from a bar . . . but keep this in mind if you get some middle of the night pregnancy cravings!  IMG_4007

IMG_3997There are a lot of goodies to choose from here including donuts, pastries, cookies and fresh bread and rolls.  Your kids will enjoy the I Spy Cake in the display case – a cake covered in lots of fun items with a list of things to look for.  We also got to sample a Celebration Donut, which is basically a humongous donut (10 inches in diameter, to be exact!) that you can order for special occasions!IMG_4003

Kids . . . they’re so funny.  They just haven’t learned yet that all that glitters isn’t gold.  They always choose sugar cookies with brightly colored sprinkles or bright blue ice cream with a name like Superman.  And then they spend the rest of the time asking me and their dad for bites of what we ordered – you know, the better tasting things like chocolate and normal colored foods.  Anyway . . . my kids both wanted a smiley face cookie, but then spent the morning asking for bites of my amazing glazed donut.  When will they learn?  And when will Mama get to eat her own food?  If you know the answer, do tell!  😉

The donut WAS one of the best I have ever had.  Really.

Don’t you, though?

Once we had our sweets, us mamas had to head down the street to Java Central for our daily dose of caffeine.  Don’t plan to eat your donut here (the signs are very clear about that), but pick up some coffee before you head to the park. (You probably already know this is a theme of mine.)  Java Central is a cute coffee shop with a lot of regulars, a lot of coffee choices, and a variety of food and snacks for sale.  (I didn’t try the Nitro, but I am definitely curious.)IMG_4021

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IMG_4014This day in particular was beautiful, not too hot, not too cold and it would have been totally possible to walk to the park, but I was on a time crunch, so we got back in our cars and drove to Alum Creek Park North.  The parking for the park is along Alum Park Dr.  The first time I came here, a few years ago, I took a few wrong turns around Otterbein, unsure where to enter.  There are spots lining the edge of the park and a small lot at the bottom of the hill.

This is a fun park with a lot of different areas to play in (I also featured it here.)  There’s a play train for the younger kids, an older kids play area, a climbing wall, a play-web structure, a sand pit and an Neos 360. There are also swings for all ages. The boys spent the majority of their time on the train and then in the sand pit.IMG_4047

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IMG_4031Something super serious is being discussed at this meeting of the minds – like, “is my smiley face cookie as good as your donut?”IMG_4066

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Caffeinated mamas are happy mamas!

I’ve seriously been thinking about that donut ever since our visit so I’m thinking a return visit to Uptown Westerville is in order! Anywhere else I need to visit while I’m there?

Know Before You Go:

Schneider’s Bakery
Location: 6 S. State St., Westerville, OH 43081
Phone: 614-882-6611
Hours:
Monday: 6:00 AM – 3:00 PM
Tuesday -Thursday: 1:30 AM – 6:00 PM
Friday: Apr-Oct: 1:30 AM – 9:00 PM; Nov-Mar: 1:30 AM – 6:00 PM
Saturday: 1:00 AM – 3:00 PM
Sunday CLOSED
Cash or Check only!

Java Central
Location: 20B South State St., Westerville, Ohio 43081
Phone: 614-839-0698
Hours:
Monday-Thursday: 7:00 AM-9:00 PM
Friday: 7:00 AM-10:00 PM
Saturday: 8:00 AM-10:00 PM
Sunday: 8:00 AM – 6:00 PM

Alum Creek Park North
Location: 221 W. Main St., Westerville, OH 43081

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ICYMI: 6 Columbus Area Parks for Toddlers


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