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

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This list of free things to do in Columbus, Ohio will keep you and the kids busy and cabin-fever free this Winter!

Winter is tough with kids. I’m sure some of you die hards will disagree, but for me it takes so much more effort to get out of the house: coats, gloves, hats, taking off coats for carseats, defrosting the car. And the list goes on. But I’ve put together a list of free kid-friendly things to do around Columbus that will make all the effort worth it! Good luck! 🙂

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

boys watching planes take off at Ohio State University Airport

1. Watch planes take off at Ohio State University Airport

kid getting buckeye candy at Anthony Thomas Candy Factory in Columbus, OH

2. Tour Anthony Thomas Chocolate Factory. Tours take place on Tuesdays and Thursdays in the winter. (I consider this free because at the end you get to use your admission price ($2 for adults and $1 for kids) towards a purchase of candy in the gift shop! 😉 ).

3. Play at The Naz indoor play area in Grove City. This one’s open until 8:00 PM or 9:00 PM on weekdays!

4. See the Living Stream at Battelle Darby Metro Park.

5. Look for the bison at Battelle Darby Metro Park. (A brisk .5 mile walk from the Nature Center!)

6. Attend a story time at Grange Insurance Audubon Center. Story times are typically Thursday and Saturday mornings at 10:00 AM. Afterwards play in the free indoor play area!

7. Check out a free “culture pass” to Franklin Park Conseratory, Wexner Center for the Arts and Ohio History Center at a participating Columbus Metropolitan Library branch for free access. Participating libraries include Driving Park, Martin Luther King, Shepard, Karl Road, Linden, Northern Lights, Northside and Whetstone. Call 614-645-2275 to check for availability.

The Wonder Room at Columbus Museum of Art

8. Go to Columbus Museum of Art on a Sunday. Admission is free on Sundays from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

9. Visit Franklin Park Conservatory on Community Days (the first Sunday of each month). Residents of Franklin County and the City of Columbus get in free with valid ID during regular operating hours (10:00 AM – 5:00 PM).

cookie and cup of coffee at Sassafras Bakery

10. Get a free cup of coffee or glass of milk when you buy a cookie at Sassafras Bakery during Milk and Cookie Happy Hour.

11. Play in the kids area at Coffee Connections in Hilliard. (After you buy a cup of coffee, of course!)

Story Garden in Worthington Library

12. Visit the totally cute Story Garden at Northwest Library in Worthington.

13. Play in Småland, the awesome indoor childcare area for free for one hour at IKEA. IKEA Family Members (rewards card holders) get an extra half hour (and free coffee)! Kids must be between the ages of 4 and 10 and potty trained!

14. Watch for birds at the Blacklick Woods Metro Park Nature Center.

play area at Westerville Christian Church15. Play at Central Park at Westerville Christian Church. Check the link for hours because they are very specific!

16. Attend KidX at Polaris Fashion Place! This monthly event features free activities for kids!

17. Participate in the Winter Reading Challenge at Columbus Library. Kids get a pencil and bookmark just for signing up!

18. Look for fairies on the Dublin Irish Fairy Door Trail.

19. Play free arcade games at Old North Arcade (with the purchase of a drink or food)! Old North Arcade is kid-friendly until 8:00 PM. (You might want to cover their eyes to avoid seeing some of the writing inside the bathroom stalls – don’t say I didn’t warn you.) 

pizzuti collection free sundays columbus ohio

20. Look at art at Pizzuti Collection on Sundays – Pizzuti Collection is now part of Columbus Museum of Art, meaning admission is also free here on Sundays as well! The details have changed a bit, but you can get an idea of what to expect from our visit a few years ago.

21. Attend one of these story times. The Cheryl’s Cookies story time includes a free mini cookie!

22. Read 5 books and get a free kid’s meal at Rusty Bucket. (Check the link for a whole list of Kids Eat Free options!)

23. Go on a Winter Hike with Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks. Hot drinks and food provided afterwards!

dinosaur bones at Orton Hall

24. Visit the dinosaur at Orton Hall. Click the link for a list of things to do with your kids on the campus of The Ohio State University!

25. Visit the fish (and other interesting sea creatures) at Aquarium Adventure in Hilliard! There’s even a hands-on pool!

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

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*Please be aware,  information is gathered from multiple community sources.  Times, dates and locations are subject to change. Please call ahead or check links to confirm activities.  Enjoy what you do today!*

ICYMI: Story Times for Kids in Columbus, Ohio


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Fun for the Whole Family at EnterTRAINment Junction

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EnterTRAINment Junction in West Chester, Ohio makes an awesome day trip or weekend get away for Columbus families!

This post is written in partnership with Visit Butler County!

If anyone in your family loves trains, EnterTRAINment Junction should be on your list of road trips this summer! What a fun place to explore!

EnterTRAINment Junction

model train

First of all, the model railroad display is amazing – in fact it is the world’s largest train display! The trains run on 2 miles of track and takes a journey through the history of railroads. Beginning in the 1860’s, the display takes viewers through the Civil War, into the Middle Period in the 1940’s and 50’s and into the Modern Period including subways!

kids looking at a model train

model train at EnterTRAINment Junction

model train at EnterTRAINment Junction

The display is so lifelike, it’s almost like you could step right into the city and walk the streets and wait for the subway.

Model Train

Model Train

kids watching a model train

This isn’t just for little kids. My kids loved this display, of course, but my husband loved it too! It’s a display that I believe has something for all ages!

model train display at EnterTRAINment Junction

model train at EnterTRAINment Junction

Upstairs, there is a separate model depicting Cincinnati’s Coney Island Amusement Park in it’s glory days (1965)! This is a 1000 foot, handmade replica that includes a roller coaster, ferris wheel, haunted house, arcade games and more! There are also interactive portions of the exhibits! You can press buttons on the exhibit that make the rides move, buildings light up and more!

Coney Island display at EnterTRAINment Junction

Coney Island display at EnterTRAINment Junction

You can’t miss Imagination Junction, a play area for kids! There is a large climbing structure, small model train displays, a train to ride on and an area for toddlers to play, too! Socks are required to play here and are available for purchase if you forget!

Indoor play area at EnterTRAINment Junction

Indoor play area at EnterTRAINment Junction

Indoor play area at EnterTRAINment Junction

Toddler play area at EnterTRAINment Junction.

Indoor play area at EnterTRAINment Junction

There are also two outdoor rides that are available Memorial Day through Labor Day. We didn’t get to experience these but friends have told me this was the best part!

Also inside EnterTRAINment Junction is the A-Maze-N Funhouse which resembles a circus midway. (Admission to this exhibit is separate.) There are various exhibits to enter and experience! Some of the exhibits were a little too stimulating for my kids, but they liked running through the mirror maze!

hall of mirrors at EnterTRAINment Junction

A-Maze-N Fun House at EnterTRAINment Junction

Last, but not least (certainly for my kids), were the amazing toy and gift shops! Honestly, I had to drag my kids out of the toy store to go see the exhibits! haha! There is a huge LEGO section, so I don’t think I need to explain myself! 😉

toy store at EnterTRAINment Junction

Toy store at EnterTRAINment Junction

We try to pick out a new Christmas ornament every year when we go on vacation. Our 2018 ornament will be from EnterTRAINment Junction! 🙂 Get your souvenirs in the gift shop and almost any toy you can imagine in the toy store!

There is also a cafe on site and the space is available for birthday parties!

lobby at EnterTRAINment Junction  Cafe at EnterTRAINment Junction

This attraction is well worth the drive! We’ve had this one on our list for a long time and I’m so glad we finally did it! We spent about 2 hours here and the kids probably could have played longer in the play area if I had let them! But either way, that means you still have time for the Butler County Donut Trail!

If you’re looking for somewhere to eat before or after visiting EnterTRAINment Junction, check out Bagger Dave’s, which is close by! They have lots of Kids Meals to choose from and the restaurant is very family-friendly!

hamburger at Bagger Dave's

 

Know Before You Go:

7379 Squire Ct, West Chester, OH 45069
513-898-8000
Monday – Saturday: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Sunday: 12:00 PM – 6:00 PM

  • EnterTRAINment Junction is running a special April 2nd through May 25th, 2018 where if you buy one Do-It-All ticket you will get a return visit for free! Get it All tickets are currently $14.95
  • In addition to your admission ticket ($13.95 for adults, $9.95 for kids 3-12), the outdoor rides are $3 and the Funhouse is $9.95. Check the website for group rates, senior pricing and other upgrades! Kids 2 and under are free.

EnterTRAINment Junction

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ICYMI: 7 Ways to Give Back in Columbus by Doing Things You Already Do

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6 Free or Cheap Indoor Places for Kids to Run Wild in Columbus

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These 6 indoor play areas offer free or inexpensive options for getting out all that pent up energy when it’s cold or rainy!

6 Free or Cheap Indoor Playgrounds in Columbus

There are lots of places to play inside in Columbus – for that we are extremely thankful come winter! So many of them are free (see a list of over 20 here!) and we also have our fair share of fun play cafes (see a complete list here!) but this list is about places where kids can really run and play – places for LARGE muscle movement and getting out all the pent up energy that threatens to explode after being stuck inside in sub zero temperatures!

As my kids transition from toddler play to big kid play, I’m finding the answer to What Should We Do Today? requires a little closer assessment of their current energy level. There are lots of things we could do indoors, but some days they really need a space where they can run, jump, slide and climb!

These 6 places accomplish just that and, if you play your cards right, they don’t break the bank! 😉 All of these places are FREE or less (some way less) than $8/kid!

Free Indoor Playgrounds in Columbus:

1. Central Park at Westerville Christian Church

Central Park at Westerville Christian Church, Westerville, Ohio

471 E. College Ave., Westerville, OH 43081, 614-891-6842

This play area is open mid September through May: Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10:00 AM – 11:25 AM, Saturdays 10:00 AM – 11:30AM. It has an indoor climbing area including slides and a rock climbing area. Shoes must be removed for play!

Price: Free!

Central Park at Westerville Christian Church

Central Park at Westerville Christian Church


2. The Naz Playplace

The Naz Playplace in Grove City, Ohio

4770 Hoover Rd, Grove City, OH 43123, 614-305-2034

This indoor play area has lots of opportunity for climbing, sliding and large muscle movement! Shoes must be removed and socks worn for play. Socks can be purchased for $1. There is a story time with crafts on Tuesday mornings! You can also register online before your first visit to save time! Outside the play area there is a cafe where you can purchase food and lots of seating!

Hours are: Sun: 10:00 AM – 1:30 PM, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday: 10:00 AM – 8:00 PM, Wednesday: 10:00 AM – 8:30 PM

Price: Free!

The Naz Play place in Grove City, Ohio

The Naz Playplace in Grove City, Ohio


Cheap Indoor Playgrounds in Columbus:

3. Recreations Outlet

trampoline

484 W. Olentangy/Powell Rd., Powell, Ohio 43065, 614-792-3700

This play equipment showroom features an area for kids to play during select hours. It includes large indoor play area features play equipment like slides, swings, climbing, etc., small soccer field, basketball hoops, play houses, trampolines and more.

Price: Monday-Friday: $7/child ages 1 and up for 2 hours of play, Weekends: $10/child ages 1 and up for 2 hours of play, School Holidays: $10/child ages 1 and up for 2 hours of play. Charitable play happens on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 9:00 AM – 11:00 AM for a donation of $4/child. Donations are given to local non-profit organizations.

More Details: See $2 Tuesdays: Recreations Outlet, Columbus Zoo and Tacos!

 Recreations Outlet in Powell, Ohio Recreations Outlet in Powell, Ohio


4. Galaxy Games and Golf

Galaxy Golf and Games in Columbus, Ohio

3700 Interchange Rd., Columbus, OH 43204, 614-351-8400

The FunGym at Galaxy Games and Golf includes ball pits, climbing, slides, tunnels and more. There is also a toddler area with a play house, ball pit and ride-on toys. The whole facility also includes mini-golf, an arcade and party rooms.

Price: Ages 1-2: $2.99, Ages 3-10: $4.99

  Galaxy Golf and Games in Columbus, Ohio Galaxy Golf and Games in Columbus, Ohio


5. KidsGym Playland at Magic Mountain

Kids Gym at Magic Mountain Polaris, Ohio

Polaris: 8350 Lyra Drive, Columbus, OH 43240, East: 5890 Scarborough Blvd., Columbus, OH 43232, Polaris: 614-840-9600 East: 614-892-3335

Besides all of the outdoor activities and arcade, Magic Mountain offers an indoor KidsGym Playland. (These pictures are from the Polaris location.) The Playland is for kids 58 inches and under and includes a climbing gym with interactive elements and smaller climbing elements for toddlers.

Price: Ages 3 and up: $5 on weekdays and $6.50 on weekends Kids under age 3: $3 Toddler Thursdays: $2.50/child from 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM. Labor Day through Memorial Day you can purchase a season pass for $35/person ($15 for additional siblings). Pass offers admission 7 days a week plus special discounts on additional add ons such as $1 off a kids combo meal.

KidsGym at Magic Mountain Polaris, Ohio

Kids Gym at Magic Mountain, Polaris, Ohio


6. Fun in the Jungle

Fun in the Jungle, Sunbury, Ohio

345 McGill St., Sunbury, OH 43074, 740-913-0692

Inside Fun in the Jungle there is a large indoor play area, toddler soft play zone, mini bowling, virtual reality games, cafe with food and drinks, arcade games and room for parties. There are special needs sensory hours on the first Sunday of each month.

Price: Play place (for ages 0-10): $7/child for all day, Kids 2 and under are $2 during the week and $4 on the weekend, Additional costs for bowling, arcade  and virtual reality. Keep an eye on their social media pages for specials throughout the week!

Fun in the Jungle, Sunbury, Ohio

Fun in the Jungle, Sunbury, Ohio


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