3 Places I Love to Take My Kids in Columbus: Jamie Charity

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Each month I will be featuring a local parent who will tell us about three places they love to take their kids in Columbus!

Thanks to Jamie for sharing 3 of her favorites with us this month!

3 Places I Love to Take My Kids in Columbus: Jamie Charity:

1. Woodside Green Nature Park

We’re lucky to have this amazing park a short walk down the bike path from us. There’s really something for everyone with two separate playground areas, a fishing pond, shelter pavilion, basketball courts, and a baseball field.

The nature park was built last summer by a local Girl Scout troop using natural materials. Under the shade of large, mature trees you’ll find things like climbing ropes and swings, a balance structure, tunnels to explore, and mini houses that my girls love to play in.

My 4 year old calls this “the muddy park” and it often lives up to its name! It’s great for outdoor exploration and sensory experiences, just make sure you bring some bug spray and wear clothes you don’t mind getting dirty!

2. The Wilds

Okay so this one isn’t exactly in Columbus, but we recently made this a day trip and it was such a unique experience! The Wilds is a wildlife preserve that is home to endangered species from all around the world living in open range habitats. We took the open air safari, which was half price with a zoo membership and both my 1 year old and 4 year old were free admission.

The bus was a bumpy, educational 2.5 hour ride with two brief stops. Babywearing for the win–my 1 year old even enjoyed a blissful afternoon nap without missing a beat. We saw giraffes, camels, zebras, rhinos, and even an ostrich that walked up and pecked on the side of our bus!

There’s also a café to grab lunch, gift shop, zip lining tours, and children’s nature center to keep little hands busy while you wait on your tour to begin. I recommend buying tickets online 24 hours in advance and booking a morning tour to view the animals when they’re most active.

3. Creekside Gahanna

Creekside has been a favorite place for my family since we moved to Gahanna. Apart from the kid friendly patios like Nostalgia Brewery and Local Cantina, there’s Namaste In Love yoga studio which offers really fantastic kids yoga classes. There are also walking paths through the woods, paddle boats to rent, ducks to feed, and fountains to play in.

We can easily spend an entire day there. Creekside hosts family friendly events and live music during most weekends throughout the summer.

Hello! I’m Jamie Charity, MSEd, LPCC-S, owner of Bloom Counseling and Wellness. I’m a small business owner, wife, and mom to two silly, strong willed girls that love new adventures. I’m a therapist specializing in women and children ages 3-13 struggling with anxiety, depression, trauma, life transitions and relationship issues. I’m passionate about helping families achieve their wellness goals. You can find me on Psychology Today:



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Exploring The Ohio State University Campus with Your Kids

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Looking for things to do at The Ohio State University with your kids? These family friendly ideas will give you a fun way to explore the OSU campus and get a small taste of what it means to be a Buckeye!

A few months ago, Erin Strouse invited me to meet her and her son at Orton Hall at OSU to see the Cryolophosaurus skeleton that was discovered by an OSU professor and installed in September, 2018!

kids at Orton Geological Museum, Ohio State University Campus

We had a fun time exploring the museum and learning about the Orton Geological Museum! I asked Erin to share more about the museum and the other things she enjoys doing with her kids on the campus of The Ohio State University! Thanks to Erin for sharing this this fun post with us!

Fun Things to do with Kids on The Ohio State University Campus:

1. New Dino Display at Orton Geological Museum (Orton Hall)

kid standing in front of Orton Geological Museum, Ohio State University Campus

No bones about it – the Orton Geological Museum has become our favorite stomping ground at Ohio State. For my dino-lovin’ kids, the highlight of this fun and free peek into the prehistoric is a 24-foot-long Cryolophosaurus skeleton. The replica has greeted visitors with toothy grin since its September 2018 installation, just off The Oval, in the heart of campus.

Your littles will love the adventure of climbing up the front steps of the iconic Orton Hall, hauling open the massive doors and coming face-to-face with “Ohio’s dinosaur.” (No dinos were known to ever roam our state, but this creature was named for the OSU prof who found it in Antarctica, making for one cool connection to the carnivore!)

Transport the theropod into the 21st century with the free Orton Hall app; augmented reality pops the dino off its platform and reveals more about its significant and serendipitous discovery. In the museum (open M-F, 9-5), your kids will ooh and ahh over the giant sloth skeleton, T. rex skull, sparkling minerals, meteorites, mastodon teeth and more!

You can touch a dinosaur footprint and examine the pompadour-like crest on another Cryolophosaurus skull to see why its been dubbed ELVISaurus!

kids posing in front of dinosaur at Orton Hall, Ohio State University Campus

My boys also love the glow-in-the-dark rock booth and visiting the friendly curators; just ring the bell at the gift shop and they’ll be happy to show your kids around and give them a museum coloring book. (Ask about reserving space for a birthday party; my four-year-old had a dino-mite time!)

Gift shop items fit all budgets and benefit the museum or you can just donate directly by the visitor’s log. My kids always like to sign it on our way out. Don’t let the museum’s small size fool you; it boasts more than 10,000 fossils! Still, my kids are ready to run after a half hour, so we usually hit up the bathrooms hidden just outside the museum doors and snap a #CryolophoSELFIE in the lobby to share @o_h_di_no #OHDINO #OrtonMuseum

mother and kids at Orton Hall, Ohio State University Campus

Take the stairs or elevator around the corner to the lower level where an automatic door helps a mama with a stroller. This exits onto Hagerty Dr., behind Orton Hall, so keep your kids close. I can usually find a cheap metered parking spot here, but spaces are limited. (The Ohio Union garage isn’t that far of a walk and costs under $7/hour.)

You just can’t beat one of Ohio State’s best hidden gems for a short ‘n sweet lil’ expedition that’s accessible, affordable and awesome … or should I say, jaw-some!? Either way, we say, “O-H … DI-NO!”

2. Renovated Mirror Lake and South Oval

Kids doing "O-H' at The Oval on Ohio State University Campus

Your kiddos are just steps away from a rompin’ good time at OSU’s South Oval and Mirror Lake if you can snag a metered parking space behind Orton Hall. For just a few bucks, your little Buckeyes can burn off some energy in this shady greenspace before or after visiting the museum (see above). My boys love to run, climb trees, even roar about with friends in dino costumes, urging passersby to see the real deal next door.

kid playing in fountain at Mirror Lake, Ohio State University Campus

Pack a picnic lunch, listen to the Orton bell tower chime and check out its gargoyles before your lil’ dinos stomp down to the “swamp” nearby. Actually, the historic Mirror Lake is now a beautifully-renovated wetland; it re-opened in August 2018. Little feet can’t resist a small, ground-level fountain; my sons’ shoes were swamped last visit so bring an extra pair and have fun exploring!  

3. Thompson Library

My kids haven’t met a library they don’t like, but OSU’s Thompson Library on The Oval was a real treat. By the front door, students rub the head on a bust of President Thompson for good luck on exams, so my kids followed suit and recited their ABCs over the nearby alphabet floor engraving.

kid looking out the window at Thompson Library, Ohio State University Campus

Next, we took the elevators to the 11th floor and tried our best to contain squeals of excitement – the views of landmarks like Ohio Stadium and Orton Hall (see above) are amazing!

4. Garden of Constants

If tummies are grumbling, try the library café or nearby “Oxley’s by the Numbers,” next to a fun-for-climbing outdoor numeral “Garden of Constants” (2055 Millikin Rd.) your young counters will love!

kid sitting at the Garden of Constants at Ohio State University Campus

If only pizza will do, park at Tommy’s at Lane and Neil; my kids like to split a slice there and play some Pac-Man. Pack some quarters and score a #momwin!

5. Olentangy River and Lane Avenue Gardens

Sometimes after lunch, we walk down to the Brutus and Woody Hayes statutes on Lane, or even across the restored Olentangy River to touch the floating sphere fountain and other features of the Lane Avenue Gardens (Survivors’ Park, Chadwick Arboretum).

6. OSU’s Museum of Biological Diversity

We’ve trekked quite a bit across the university in recent years, including west campus; each spring, OSU’s Museum of Biological Diversity (1315 Kinnear Rd.) hosts a one-day, hands-on open house that’s not to be missed! It’s free and your kids will be wowed when they get to go behind-the-scenes to interact with world-class collections of insects, animals, shells … and fossils from – where else?! – the Orton Geological Museum! This event is taking place on March 23, 2019!

What other OSU must-see’s do you know of that we’ve missed? Please share! If I leave it up to the kids, they’ll just keep asking to ride the escalators up to the second floor children’s area at The Ohio State Bookstore (the Barnes & Noble at 11th and High). Ha! Maybe this year we’ll finally check out the new Script Ohio monument … Buckeye Donuts … another sporting event … the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library … the planetarium … or the Wex! What does your family like to do on campus?

Erin Strouse and family at Orton Hall, Ohio State University Campus

Erin (Tate) Strouse is a former NBC4 reporter and media relations coordinator for the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. Now a stay-at-home “dino mom” to Garrett-saurus (6) and Nate-ceratops (4), she became an accidental fundraiser and ambassador for the Orton Geological Museum’s Cryolophosaurus crowdfunding campaign in early 2017. A quick first visit to the museum evolved into a kid-fueled “Dough for Dino” bake sale (and much more) to teach her preschoolers the rewarding fun of community service.

Erin’s family likes to serve in other ways, too, through their church, and play in all sorts of new places across Columbus. She’s always recruiting more “Friends of the Museum,” so jump on the dinosaur train at and Twitter @o_h_di_no #OHDINO and @erin_strouse #DoughforDinoROCKS (where she hopes to soon release her lil’ rockers’ latest endeavor) … stay tuned for another wild ride!


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Exploring the Ohio State University With Kids

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

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3 Places I Love to Take My Kids in Columbus: Erin Wanke

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Each month I will be featuring a local parent who will tell us about three places they love to take their kids in Columbus!

Thanks to Erin for sharing 3 of her favorites with us this month!

1. Pigeon Roost Farm

We love all the fun farms in central Ohio that open their doors to families during one of the best times of the year in the Midwest! One of our favorites, Pigeon Roost is a family farm in Hebron Ohio that features a “Great Pumpkin Fun Center” each fall (Sept 15 – Oct 31). We started going when our oldest was 3 and have been back almost every year since.

When you enter, you’ll see their huge pumpkin patch and concession stands, and the ticket booth for your passes to the family fun area. They’ve got plenty to keep you entertained on a beautiful weekend day: slides, a corn maze, an enchanted forest with obstacle course, a tire play arena, straw barn, pumpkin express train, and lots more. It’s probably best for ages 7ish and younger, but they do have something for everyone – after all, who doesn’t love an adult size corn maze and kettle corn?! (I may or may not have officially gotten lost in that maze once or twice. #truth.)

2. Columbus Children’s Theater

For a kid-friendly cultural experience, The Columbus Children’s Theater has a continual line-up of family focused performances, including sensory friendly offerings. We’ve seen Mr. Scrooge there twice, once as a family and once with friends, and even got to meet some of the actors afterwards (as you can see in the picture of my daughter and friends!).

The small space makes for an intimate venue, and their performances are geared towards a range of ages depending on the specific show. Some upcoming shows include Dracula, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, Pete the Cat, and Peter Pan. They also offer acting classes which our kids haven’t done but I can see my middle daughter loving that. Bonus: The theater is located conveniently close to North Market, which makes it easy to stop by before or after for lunch, dinner, or a snack (our favorites are Little Eater and Destination Donuts!)

3. Acre

The Upper Arlington/Grandview location of Acre is a favorite lunch stop, both for convenience and for their healthy kid’s menu offerings. They have smoothies, kid sized versions of their bowls, veggie quesadillas, and grilled chicken skewers with dipping sauce and broccoli. As for me, I love their black bean hummus and their Thai bowl with tofu.

If you haven’t tried the Impossible Burger, a meatless burger that’s somewhat new on the market, Acre features two different varieties of it on their menu (a classic cheeseburger or a vegan umami burger with mushrooms, miso mayo, and house kimchee).

Erin Wanke spent 8 years working in clinical research before leaving to become certified as a Health Coach through the Institute of Integrative Nutrition. She now runs a health coaching business, authors a vegetarian food and wellness blog (Feed Me Greens) and provides recipe development and food photography services.

She is receiving her Vegan Nutrition Certification from the Vegetarian Health Institute and specializes in helping others move towards plant-based eating. Erin lives in Columbus, OH with her husband and three young children/sous chefs/mess makers. You can find more information on her website at, or follow her on Instagram (@feed_me_greens)!


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ICYMI: Central Ohio Pumpkin Patches and Fall Festivals

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