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Explore the Scioto Mile with Your Kids on the Smart Circuit

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Explore the Scioto Mile with your family by riding Smart Circuit, Ohio’s first self-driving shuttle! You can be a part of the start of a new era of mobility innovation in Central Ohio!

Thank you to Smart Columbus for sponsoring this post!

smart columbus experience center building

Spend a Day on the Scioto Mile with your Family By Riding the Smart Circuit:

Columbus is home to Ohio’s first self driving shuttle! Sound scary? I’ll admit I was a little bit nervous – especially just a few weeks after having been in a car accident – to take my 4 year old on a self-driving vehicle! But when I found out that all of the vehicles are manned by an attendant who can step in at any time, my fear subsided!

Turns out the majority of vehicle accidents are caused by user error! The hope is that one day, self driving vehicles, though they may sound scary to us now, will actually reduce accidents and save lives.

What is the Smart Circuit?

Columbus is home base to a project called Smart Circuit, a self-driving shuttle. It’s the first of its kind in Ohio and it’s short route is 1.5 miles, has 4 stops, and takes about 15 minutes to complete. The shuttle is free to ride and operates from 6:00 AM to 10:00 PM every day.

riding the smart circuit columbus, ohio

campfire seating inside the smart circuit

Funded through October, the project has two major goals. One is to provide data and information to engineers, researchers and policymakers from Smart Columbus, DriveOhio and The Ohio State University as they decide how self-driving technology can be further used around Ohio. The second goal is to offer us, the general public, a hands-on experience with self-driving technology. Think of this as an educational project- for all of us!

How does the Smart Circuit work?

I’m not going to pretend to understand the technology that makes the Smart Circuit shuttle work. But I had lots of questions like  “how does it know where it’s going?” “How does it know when to stop?” and “How does it know when everyone has boarded the vehicle?” 

The shuttle uses sensors and intelligent software with a 360 degree view to help the vehicle know where it is, what direction to go and when to stop. If someone or something runs into the street, the shuttle can tell and knows to stop. And don’t worry, the attendant tells the shuttle when to pull away from each stop. It’s not going to start going before you’re safely in the vehicle! 

Is the Smart Circuit Safe for Kids?

You might also be wondering, as I did, about safety for children.

attendant in the smart circuit, columbus, ohio

The first thing that might set your mind at ease is that there is a vehicle attendant in each shuttle who can take control at any time. While I was riding, we encountered a truck parked in a space where the Smart Circuit was supposed to make a full u-turn but there wasn’t enough room. The attendant stepped in and made the turn. 

Secondly, the vehicle goes at a max speed of 25 miles per hour. There are 4 seats in the back that are in a “campfire” configuration.

mom and son riding the smart circuit

You will need to follow the same vehicle safety guidelines that you follow in your own car. Children under 4 are required to have a car seat on the Smart Circuit.  I would recommend doing this with children who need a booster seat or no seat at all for ease of transport!

Where can I get on the Smart Circuit?

smart circuit stop

The Smart Circuit has 4 stops: COSI, National Veterans Memorial and Museum, Bicentennial Park and Smart Columbus Experience Center. There is a sign at each stop letting you know where to wait for the shuttle. There are three shuttles on the route and your wait time in between shuttles is around 10 minutes. View the route here.

What is there to do on the Scioto Mile?

So now that we’ve got all of the technical questions out of the way, I’m hoping you’ve come to see the Smart Circuit Shuttle in the same way I did: as an experience. The Smart Circuit exists to help us learn about self-driving technology and to experience it ourselves. We are the first city in Ohio to have access to this kind of experience and it will certainly be a part of our children’s lives in the future!

Why not take this opportunity to be “a part of the start” and be one of the first people in our state to have this experience? I’m proposing you make a day of it!

boy running on the scioto mile

8 Family Friendly Things to do Around the Scioto Mile:

Here are 8 family-friendly things to do around the Scioto Mile that enable you to take your kids on the Smart Circuit as part of your transportation! Pick a few of these stops that make sense for your family and give it a try!

1. COSI

cosi

I recommend starting at COSI for your trip on the Smart Circuit! There is an underground parking garage where you can park and if you visit COSI you can have your parking validated. Parking is $5 for COSI members and $6 for the general public if you get your ticket stamped at the COSI box office. Otherwise parking is $6 for the first 3 hours and $2 for each additional hour up to $15. 

COSI (Center Of Science and Industry) offers fun and educational experiences for all ages! From the little kidspace for toddlers to all of the amazing regular science exhibits, rotating exhibits and the American Museum of Natural History Dinosaur Gallery there is truly something for everyone! 

2. Dorrian Green

dorrian green park outside cosi

Don’t have time for a full on visit to COSI? Check out the park and playground area just outside of COSI. There are several play structures and small fountains during the summer! Outside of COSI there are also a couple of dinosaur displays that can be seen without entering COSI.

3. Smart Columbus Experience Center

inside the smart columbus experience center

The Smart Columbus Experience Center is open for you to stop in and learn about the future of transportation! There are touch screens with games that can be played (also look for these around the Short North!) and vehicles to explore. If you are interested in purchasing an electric vehicle you can also come to The Smart Columbus Experience Center to test drive vehicles in a no-pressure situation! 

Smart Columbus Experience Center

4. Bicentennial Park

bicentennial park in Columbus Ohio with holiday lights

Bicentennial Park is a great hang out space for families! During the summer, kids can play in the fountains and during the holiday season, the park is decked out with lights! Taking the Smart Circuit around its route is a great way to see the holiday lights all throughout the Scioto Mile! 

5. Veterans Memorial and Museum

We have yet to visit the newly opened Veterans Memorial and Museum, but this would be a great stop for older kids and adult family members. I’ve got it on good report that you should allow a couple of hours to visit the museum (and maybe NOT tack it on to a visit to COSI!) 😉 

6. Cultural Arts Center

Cultural Arts Center in Columbus, Ohio

Stop by the Cultural Arts Center to visit one of the art galleries. Admission is free. Adults can take classes here or join in one of the Conversations and Coffee talks!

7. The Promenade

promenade on the scioto mile

The Scioto Mile encompasses 175 acres of parkland and includes bikeways, walking paths and 9 parks! The Promenade on the Scioto Mile is a walkway along the river that offers stunning views of downtown and swings and benches for relaxing.

swing on the Scioto Mile promenade

8. Columbus Commons 

Columbus Commons at night

Just a short walk from Bicentennial Park, Columbus Commons is another great spot to view holiday lights or to play in the summer! Columbus Commons is home to many free events during the spring through fall and is a large green space to let your kids run out all that energy no matter what time of year!


After visiting the Smart Columbus Experience Center and taking a ride on the shuttle, my interest is piqued! I’m curious to see how transportation will change in my kids’ life time. 

What about you? Will you take your kids on the Smart Circuit this year?

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scioto mile promenade

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Top 10 Things to do with Kids in Columbus, Ohio

ICYMI: Top 10 Things to do with Kids in Columbus, Ohio


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72 Things to Do Thanksgiving Week in Columbus

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Looking for things to do in Columbus around Thanksgiving? If you have family in town and/or a few days off of work and are looking for something to do, check out this list of 72 events and things to do around Thanksgiving in Columbus!

72 Things to do Thanksgiving Week in Columbus:

If there’s a chance you’ll need to walk off an extra piece of pie (or two) or get bickering family members out of the house….tuck this list away! And have a happy week of thankfulness! (As always, please double check the link for exact details, dates and times!) There will not be an additional What Should We Do This Weekend? post this week. This is the list! 🙂

holiday train and Wildlights at Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

Any Time:

1. Conservatory Aglow is happening at Franklin Park Conservatory! While you’re there, check out the Gingerbread Competition.

2. Wildlights is in full swing all weekend at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium!

3. Visit LEGOLAND Columbus Discovery Center at Easton Town Center. LEGOLAND is open 365 days a year. Thanksgiving Hours are 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM and the last admission is at 3:00 PM.

4. Get your kid’s photo with Santa at Easton Town Center

5. Christmas at the Castle, a Kingdom of Lights! at Landoll’s Mohican Castle features over 100,000 lights, a Christmas tree, holiday music and visits from Santa! This is a free event! This event happens every night starting Friday!

6. Drive through Butch Bando’s Fantasy of Lights any night through January 1st!

7. Visit the PNC Festival of Lights at Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden

8. Drop a letter in Santa’s Mailbox in Pickerington beginning Wednesday.

9. Check out the Thanksgiving Weekend special at Ten Pin Alley. It includes $3 laser tag missions, a family fun pack special, and more. They are open on Thanksgiving and have specials running the rest of the week!

10. For many people this is the week to get their Christmas Tree! You can Choose & Cut Christmas Trees at Young’s Jersey Dairy or pick another farm or tree lot from this list of Christmas Tree Farms in Columbus and Beyond!

11. Friday through Sunday you can take a Holiday Carriage Ride at Easton Town Center!

12. Sign up for a Family Gingerbread House Decorating class at Young Chefs Academy of Gahanna.

13, Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is playing this Friday, Saturday and Sunday only at Ohio Theatre!

14. Clifton Mill Lights opens the day after Thanksgiving! Gates open at 5:00 every night and the display runs through New Year’s Eve!

15. See the amazing lanterns, watch cultural performances, shop and eat Chinese and traditional fair food at Dragon Lights Columbus at Ohio Expo Center from November 23-January 6, 2019. Nightly from 5:30 PM – 10:00 PM.

16. Ohio History Center is open from 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM on Friday, Saturday and Sunday with special activities with a Space theme including building your own model parachute, special visitors, rockets and more!

17. Think Outside the Brick is now on display at Columbus Museum of Art! This LEGO set up shouldn’t be missed and would make a great weekend outing! Don’t forget the museum is free on Sundays!

18. Drive through the Fairfield County Festival of Lights. This light display goes on Thanksgiving through Christmas!

19. Winterfest opens at Kings Island on November 23 and operates select nights through December 31. . It includes ice skating, holiday characters, millions of lights, holiday shows, carolers, and the park will included 10 winter wonderlands to visit.


A big Thank You to Miss Em’s for sponsoring this post!

Miss Em’s is a local online boutique featuring great jewelry, scarves, teacher gifts, and accessories. All of their items are at a very reasonable price, and with this 40% off coupon prices will start at just $5! Between 11/21/18 and 11/26/18 What Should We Do Today? readers can get 40% off their entire order on MissEms.com by using the coupon code: TurkeyDay


Monday, November 19, 2018:

20. Story Time in the Park is happening at Deer Haven Park.

21. Participate in a Thanksgiving Art Project and Stuff the Turkey Game! at Olde Gahanna Sanctuary

Franklin Park Conservatory and Columbus Museum of Art

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

22. Have a Mommy & Me breakfast at Sunny Street Café (Polaris) it’s a Thanksgiving Gathering!

23. Have a Pajama Dance Party! at Bexley Public Library

Wednesday, November 21, 2018:

24. Sign your kids up for the Educational Day Camp at Horse-N-Round Fun. This camp takes place on Wednesday and Friday for ages 6 and up and will go over horse care and riding. Lunch will be provided. Register in advance for this one! There’s also a preschool version.

25. No school on Wednesday? Send your kids ages 5-12 to the School’s Out Program at Sunbury Urban Farm. The theme is Give Thanks. Register in advance.

26. Another option for the kids is the Day Before Thanksgiving Camp at Picassos where lots of Thanksgiving Crafts will be made! Register in advance.

27. Take the kids to SuperGames Winter Open Play! at 10:00 AM and 1:00 PM. Arrive early because the play space is first come, first served! Cost is $10 per child.

28. Do a Sweet Turkeys Craft at Franklin Park Conservatory This class involves a cookie craft and does require preregistration and admission to the Conservatory. Cost is $4/cookie.

29. If the adults need a little time to unwind before the big day, head over to the Thanksgiving Eve Beer Tasting at House Wine in Worthington!

30. Visit the 400 West Rich and Chromedge Studios for Welcome Wednesdays! from 5:00 PM – 8:00 PM to get a sneak peek at the work of their resident artists! There will be live demos, tours an more!

31. See everyone’s favorite puddle jumper in Peppa Pig Live! at Palace Theatre.

Ten Pin Alley and Trees at Franklin Park Conservatory

Thursday, November 22, 2018:

Lots of opportunities for exercise on Thanksgiving Day! Try out one of these:

35. Take a trip to Cleveland for Thanksgiving at the Zoo at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo.

36. Skate your heart out at the 99 Cents Thanksgiving Skate at Skate Zone 71

37. Have the Easiest Thanksgiving Meal ever at Bob Evans.

Friday, November 23, 2018:

Black Friday offers lots of shopping options such as:

  • 38. Ohio Made Market: Black Friday Edition at Grove City Brewing Company – the Black Friday Market features local makers with gift items for everyone on your list! Free parking and admission.
  • 39. Zassy’s Black Friday Shopping Event! – check out the newly renovated Zassy’s Tap Room and shop from over 30 vendors. There will be raffles, food and drink, and more! (No children after 8:00 PM.)
  • 40. The Holiday Market at Canal Market District takes place on Friday and will local vendors, food trucks, holiday treats, and more. Afterwards stick around for the lighting of the Licking County Courthouse!
  • 41. Black Friday at Ivory Barn – shop from Ohio vendors for holiday decor, gifts and more! This market goes on Friday, Saturday and Sunday!
  • Related: Tried and True Gift Ideas for Young Boys

42. At the Black Friday Open Gym at Gym Skills kids can get their energy out at this open gym time that includes lots of opportunities for jumping, swinging, balancing and more!

43. Head to Newark for Holiday Homecoming 2017 at The Works: Ohio Center for History, Art & Technology on Friday to learn about the heritage of the community! Design your own holiday card, build an ornament and more!

44. Drop your kids off at the Board Game Youth Camp at Creative Art Bar Hilliard and they can play games and do crafts including creating their own checker board set! Ages 7 and up. RSVP required.

45. Take a trip to Urbana for the Holiday Horse Parade, a lighted horse parade! Santa will arrive, there will be street carolers, a tree lighting ceremony and more!

46. Take the kids to SuperGames Winter Open Play! at 6:00 PM. Arrive early because the play space is first come, first served! Cost is $10 per child.

47. Drop the kids off at Creative Art Bar Hilliard for an evening of crafting, pizza and other activities while you go shopping or have a date night! RSVP required.

48. Glass Axis is hosting a School’s Out Open House from 11:00 AM – 4:00 PM where there will be glass art projects for kids of all ages! There will be free glassblowing demos and 3 art projects for kids to choose from based on age!

49. You can drop your kids off at Young Chefs Academy Gahanna for Kids Night Out! There will be hands on cooking workshops and Chef Wars!

Christmas Trees and Franklin Park Conservatory Train

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Small Business Saturday is a great way to shop local this year! Several special events are going on including:

60. Anyone ages 7 and up can take a Fall Bird Walk at Shale Hollow Park to watch for birds. Binoculars will be available.

61. At the Holiday Open House at Hoover Gardens & Gift Center on Saturday and Sunday, you can pick out your Christmas tree while you enjoy refreshments, a visit from The Grinch, hot cider and a festive atmosphere!

62. Play classic board games at Gallant Farm Park!

63. Game Days at HOMAGE Easton Town Center and HOMAGE Short North includes free donuts from Buckeye Donuts, coffee and special deals on Saturday mornings for each Buckeye game this season!

64. Work off that extra piece of pumpkin pie at Squats & Tots Saturday Classes! at piccadilly

65. Take your preschoolers to a Storytime at Grange Insurance Audubon Center.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

66. The Holiday Open House at Hoover Gardens & Gift Center includes hot apple cider, cookies and the Grinch! You can pick out a Christmas tree here, too!

67. Olde Worthington Holiday Open House is on Sunday from 12:00 PM – 5:00 PM and it includes an iceless ice skating rink, horse drawn carriage rides, live music and a visit from Santa! The evening ends with the tree lighting ceremony on the Village Green!

68. Head to Pizzuti Collection Family Day from 12:00 AM – 5:00 PM for free admission, art inspired activity books, crafts and family tours!

69. Have a fun experience with the whole family at Family Fun Day – Get $3 Off on Sunday Bookings at The Escape Room USA in Columbus!

70. For a $25 donation to Stop the Suffering you can have your picture taken with Santa at HTH Farm Market! Families and pets are welcome. There will also be a Bake Sale for $10 for a box of baked goods!

71. There’s another chance for Pet Pics with Santa at Polaris Fashion Place today from 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM on the lower level.

72. The Kids Christmas Party at Clay Street Ceramics will include painting ornaments, decorating cookies and working on Christmas crafts. There will be a special visit from Santa between 1:00 PM and 3:00 PM. $15/child.


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*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!*

Christmas in Columbus

ICYMI: 10 of our Favorite Columbus Christmas Traditions

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72 Things to do Thanksgiving Weekend in Columbus, Ohio

 


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9 Things to Do with Your Kids This Fall in Columbus

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Fall is such a fun time in Central Ohio! Here are 9 things you can only do during the Fall in Columbus and Central Ohio!

What Are Some of the Best Things to do with Kids During the Fall in Columbus?

There are so many things that can only be done during the fall season and we love to take advantage of as many as we can! From pumpkin farms, to marching bands to model trains, here are 9 things we enjoy doing as a family during the fall!

1. Attend a Skull Session at St. John Arena

My kids love instruments and any kind of band, so we were excited, though a little nervous, about taking them to a Skull Session at OSU! It’s a great way to get caught up in the football spirit, even if you don’t have tickets to the game!

A Skull Session is basically a pep rally where the marching band plays, the players come out and the coach gives a little speech . . . it’s very high energy and really a lot of fun!

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I’d recommend either parking on West Campus (parking is $20!) and taking a shuttle or parking in a neighborhood along the Olentangy bike path and walking up the path to St. John Arena.

The Skull session happens 2 hours and 20 minutes before each game and lasts an hour. When it’s over, you can mull around amongst the tailgaters, pick up some free samples (1/4 of a Sugardale hot dog, anyone?) and enjoy the energy of game day.

We were nervous because we weren’t sure what would happen to our strollers when we got there! We were able to take our strollers (yes, we had two) into the arena, but we left them outside the gymnasium, along the outer wall. It was a risk, but no one decided to walk off with a stroller on game day. Phew! I don’t know where else you could put your stroller, as the seating in the gymnasium is very tight. It worked out for us and we were really glad we did it!

You can see the schedule of OSU games here! Friends recommended arriving 20-25 minutes early to get good seats, and I will pass that advice on to you. We got there around 9:20 AM for the 9:40 AM Skull Session and were able to get good seats facing the band.

2. Visit a Pumpkin Patch

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There are so many pumpkin patch options, it’s kind of amazing! Every weekend in October is filled with Fall Festivals – honestly, I had no idea before I started this blog how many there are! Make sure to visit my post, Central Ohio Pumpkin Patches and Fall Festivals for a complete list!

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We recently visited Jaquemin Farms on a Monday! This one is great, in my opinion, because it is open during the week and for only $2 kids ages 3-10 can play in the corn box and run through the straw maze! Kids 2 and under are free! During the weekends, they have bouncy houses and the price is a bit higher. So if you have preschoolers at home during the week, this is a great way to spend an inexpensive morning at a pumpkin patch! Other weekday options include Circle S Farms, evenings at Lehner’s Pumpkin Farm.

If you want the BIG pumpkin farm experience complete with kettle corn, a zip line, a huge pumpkin trampoline, mazes, corn bins, pedal carts and more, make sure to check out 15 Things to Do at Leeds Farm!

Another place we love to go is Smith’s Farm Market! The picture below is a few years old, but they always have a large selection of pumpkins and picturesque settings for fun pictures with pumpkins!

smith-farm-market

3. Go Apple Picking

I’ve shared about our visit to Orchard and Company, and Branstool Orchards, and here’s a list of more apple picking ideas from Columbus Moms Blog! It’s getting late in the season, but there are still apples to be picked at many farms and a lot of them have farm festival weekends as well! If you’re looking for some options during the week (as opposed to the weekend), a few farms are open on select Fridays: Lynd Fruit Farm, and Cherry Hawk Farm, to name a few.

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4. Attend Boo at the Zoo at Columbus Zoo

boo-at-the-zoo

Boo at the Zoo happens for THREE weekends in October this year! The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium has added an additional weekend for 2019! The weekends in October are the 11-13th, 18th – 20th, and the 25th – 27th. Dress your kids (or yourself!) in costume and visit a lot of vendors in different areas of the zoo who want to fill your kid’s basket with candy! It’s also totally acceptable to take your baby in a cute pumpkin costume in a stroller and accept candy on his or her behalf! 😉

5. Take a Road Trip

I shared 6 Ohio Road Trips to Take This Fall here, one of them being the Fall Festival at The Farm at Walnut Creek. Even if you can’t make it for the festival, a drive to Amish Country will be beautiful when the leaves (finally!) start to change!

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More fun road trip ideas include:

Fall is my favorite time of year for a road trip!

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6. Visit a Metro Park

Once the leaves start to change, there are some great options for leaf viewing in our local Metro Parks! A great one is Battelle Darby! There are walking paths through the woods and also bison viewing! While you’re there, check out the living stream in the Nature Center!

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Inniswood Metro Park is also beautiful in the fall. Seriously, check out this picture I took during the fall (below)! It felt like a fairy tale! It was amazing!

7. Visit a City Park

Don’t underestimate your local city park for fall beauty. Here is a list of all the Columbus City ParksFranklin Park is particularly beautiful in the fall! Keep an eye out for the Harvest Parties at Columbus Rec Centers. You don’t have to go far to celebrate! 🙂

columbus parks

8. See Model Railroads at COSI

Mark your calendars for Model Railroad Days at COSI (Dates are not yet published for 2019.) My kids LOVE this special couple of days when several model railroad clubs take over a few galleries at COSI. There are a lot of model trains to see and also trains to play with! It only comes once a year, but it’s one of those things my oldest son always asks about!

model railroad days at COSI

9. Visit the Huntington Holiday Train at Main Library

This is something I consider a Christmas tradition for our family, but it does arrive before Thanksgiving, so technically, it’s a fall activity, right? 😉  In mid November, the train will be installed at the New Main Library! It’s really beautiful, and if you have train lovers, like I do, it’s something you have to see!

Huntington Train

What else would you add to the list of “can’t miss” fall activities in Columbus?

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ICYMI: Fun for the Whole Family at EnterTRAINment Junction

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9 things to do with your kids this fall in Columbus, Ohio


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