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4 Magical Places to See Santa in Columbus

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Where are the best places in Columbus to see Santa? Thanks to Tam Luu, now we know! In this guest post, she’s sharing 4 of her favorite places to take her kids to see Santa in Columbus – and they are magical!

Christmas has quickly become my favorite holiday now that I have kids. It’s such a magical time of year and it’s so fun to see the joy and excitement it brings to them. Growing up, we really didn’t celebrate Christmas, or any holiday for that matter, so I think I may be over compensating now that I have my own kids. Haha! 

Boy in front of Christmas tree in Columbus, Ohio

It has become an annual tradition for me and my family to take the kids to see as many Santas as possible! Well, at least for my son Zayn, who LOVES the big guy. Last year was Zoë’s first time meeting him and she was NOT a fan… picture lots of crying and flailing!

Here are my top 4 favorite Santa’s in Columbus:


1. Snowflake Castle

Everal Barn and Homestead
60 N. Cleveland Avenue
Westerville, Ohio 43082

Dates: Dec 2 – 8, 2019

Snowflake Castle sells out so quickly! Residents of Westerville get first dibs on tickets before they open up to non-residents the next day. It is the cutest event!

Tickets are only $10/child and include a toy, activity, and a printed photo with Santa & Mrs. Claus. You can also take your own pics with your phone or camera!

The event is held at the Everal Barn and Homestead in Westerville, Ohio. The walk up to the barn is always festive and decorated in holiday decor. Upon entering, there is a small shop with lots of craft/handmade goods and a train display for kids to watch while parents check in at the desk.

Tickets are sold for specific time slots, so it’s never too crowded and the lines are never too long! (Suggestion: do not bring a stroller unless you really need it… the areas are kind of small and there’s not a lot of extra room for strollers)

Kids at the Snowflake Castle in Westerville, Ohio

Once checked in, it’s a short two flights up stairs to Santa’s workshop (not sure if they call it that, but that’s what it reminds me of). There is a stage with a snow globe backdrop set up for taking your own photos, a place to hang your coats, and Christmas trees all around. They also blow fake snow every few minutes to make the room even more magical!

Once you’re done taking everything in, and snapping some of your own photos, you can get into the queue to pick your wooden toy to make with Santa’s helper. There’s a lot of options, but my kids have chosen different parts of a train each year!

woman helping a chid build her castle at Snowflake Castle in Westerville, Ohio

It is so cute to watch (and record) your kids helping to build their toy! After it’s built, you can opt to let them paint their creations or just move on to the next building where Santa awaits. They provide aprons for those worried about getting their clothes dirty and then have helpers to properly label and bag them up wet.

child building a toy at the Snowflake Castle in Westerville, Ohio

You then need to put your coats back on for a short stroll over to Santa. There is a Christmas decorated shed on the way with a big sleigh you can sit in to take pictures and a spot with bales of hay and reindeer wooden cutouts to grab some cute group photos (or attempt to lol)!

Kids outside the Snowflake Castle in Westerville, Ohio

family in a sleigh at Snowflake Castle in Westerville, Ohio

Santa is located in a cute little house. There usually is a small line inside while people visit with Santa. In the middle of the line is a table filled with puzzles, coloring pages and crayons to keep kids occupied.

kids doing crafts at the Snowflake Castle in Westerville, Ohio
 
Once it’s your turn to meet Santa, you enter the room and he is sitting on a big throne bench with Mrs. Claus. Kids can spend a few minutes talking with them and photographers are there to capture the moment. You’re allowed to take your own pics as well. After exiting that room, there is a person who will present you with your printed photo.
 
kids with Santa and Mrs. Claus at the Snowflake Castle in Westerville, Ohio
This event has become a tradition for us and we will be returning year after year. It is recommended for children 10 and under.

2. Lazarus Santa’s Workshop

Lazarus Building
50 W. Town Street
Columbus, Ohio 43215

Date: Dec 7, 2019 12-6pm

mom and chid visiting Santa in Columbus, Ohio

This is probably my favorite Santa set up in Columbus and it is FREE!!! Santa awaits in a covered outdoor area that is so beautifully decorated! There is no photographer but there are helpers who will take your photos with your phone.
 
Costumed characters at the Lazarus Building in Columbus, Ohio
 
Santa even gives the kids a free toy. Behind the Santa is a beautiful tree, and there are stations for face painting, balloon animals, and crafts. Costumed characters also roam up and down the line to entertain the children.

Child crying on Santa's Lap at the Lazarus Building in Columbus, Ohio

Child on Santa's lap at the Lazarus Building in Columbus, Ohio

Once you head inside, there are festively decorated spots to take photos and then a room full of craft stations! Last year there was even a stand giving away free cookies and orange juice!

Family at The Lazarus Building in Columbus, Ohio
 
Participants can also head over to Columbus Commons afterwards to see their 400,000+ LED light display starting at 5pm and enjoy free carousel rides, hot chocolate and holiday music!

3. Cabela’s Santa’s Wonderland

Takes place at your local Cabela’s

Dates: Nov 16 – Dec 24, 2019

child visiting santa at Cabela's in Columbus, Ohio

Check the online schedule for daily times and activities! Free 4×6 photo with Bass Pass. The Santa set up is always great and my kids love seeing the aquarium and animals on “The Mountain.”
 
Check the website to see specific activities for your location but I noticed they added a ton of new things this year! Kids can also write a letter and mail it to Santa! We usually go on a weekday so it’s not too busy.
 
Child coloring a picture at Cabela's in Columbus, Ohio

4. Easton Town Center Santa

160 New Bond Street
Columbus, Ohio 43219
Level 2, Easton Station Building

Dates: Nov 22 – Dec 24, 2019

Kids on Santa's lap at Easton Town Center in Columbus, Ohio

Easton does a great job with their Santa set up! I always try to take my kids early, on a weekday to avoid lines… and also to get a little extra face time with Santa! Don’t hesitate! Get your visit in early!

child on Santa's lap at Easton Town Center in Columbus, Ohio

Easton makes it easy with online reservations (not required). The first 5×7 photo is only $5 and you are allowed to take photos with your own phone or camera!

man and child standing by a Nutcracker at Easton Town Center, Columbus, Ohio
 
mother and child standing in Christmas scene at Easton Town Center in Columbus, Ohio

I would love to hear where YOUR favorite Columbus Santas are!

family Christmas photo in Columbus, Ohio

Hi! I’m Tam. I’m a mama of two toddlers, my son Zayn (3yrs old) and my daughter Zoë (1.5yrs old). I’m engaged to, and work with, Carl Z., toy entrepreneur and owner of Nowstalgic Toys, Inc., who’s also famous for being the first non-celebrity to be drawn into an episode of The Simpsons. Ever heard of Squirmles aka “Worm on a string?” That’s one of our products! Now that we have kids, I’m always on the search for fun things to do and you can catch our adventures on my Instagram page @Tamstargram. Additional profiles are @ZaynZealer @Zoe_Zealer and @CarlZealer,

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Plan a Tropical Getaway with Your Kids at Castaway Bay in Sandusky Ohio

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No matter what the weather outside, it’s 82 degrees and tropical at Castaway Bay, a super fun indoor water park in Sandusky, Ohio!

Thanks to Castaway Bay for sponsoring this post!

Ohio Winters seem to drag on even when the calendar says it’s officially “Spring”. The end of March is when this dragging on gets particularly hard! Luckily we had scheduled an overnight trip to Castaway Bay in Sandusky to help cure us of our winter blues!

Castaway Bay view from room

I have two cautious kids who are not exactly the water slide type. I was hoping there would be something at Castaway Bay that they would enjoy and we as parents could enjoy as well! They might not have attempted the Tropical Twister, but, as you can see, they did at least warm up to the slide in the Toddler Tide Pool! 🙂 

kids on waterslide at Castaway Bay

As it turned out, when our trip rolled around, my husband was too sick to go so my mom accompanied us on this trip. This turned out to be a total bonus because my kids are way better behaved for Grandma than they are for me! 

Wave Pool at Castaway Bay

5 Things to Enjoy at Castaway Bay:

1. The Hotel

inside hotel at Castaway Bay

The real draw for this whole water park experience is that it’s all inclusive! With the hotel, restaurants and other activities provided, you never need to leave the property!

lobby of hotel at Castaway Bay

The hotel is decorated in a fun way with a tropical theme. Everything was clean and our hotel room was clean and comfortable! It was nice to be able to come back and shower and change in the privacy of our own room. (Though showers and changing rooms are provided within the water park.)

beds in hotel room at Castaway Bay

The rooms also include a microwave and refrigerator, adding the convenience of coming back to the room for snacks or to eat leftovers! Most of the rooms also offer a balcony or private deck.

I was a little bit nervous that the hotel would be loud at night but I ended up getting a surprisingly good night’s sleep!

2. Water Park

My mom and I basically let the kids dictate our time in the water park and they spent most of it running from the wave pool to the toddler pool! When the waves took a break we would head for the toddler pool, and when Jaden heard the buzzer announcing the waves were about to start back up, we would head back over to the wave pool!

I was happy to see my kids get more comfortable in the water! Castaway Bay offers life jackets for whoever wants to use them and my kids wore them the whole time. 

Within the Caribbean themed water park are several different areas for kids, teens and adults to play in! Check this list of attractions for the various height, weight and life jacket requirements. Towels are provided for you within the park.

Castaway Bay Wave Pool

Wave Pool at Castaway Bay

Kids under 48 inches and under must wear a life vest in the Castaway Bay Wave Pool and kids 42 inches and under must be accompanied by a “supervising companion” – which means someone who is 14 years old or over.

Toddler’s Tide Pool

Toddler Tide Pool at Castaway Bay

This area is 18 inches deep and perfect for the little ones! There are two slide areas, fountains and a gradual entry. Kids must be under 52 inches to play here.

Toddler Tide Pool at Castaway Bay

Cargo Crossings

Cargo Crossings at Castaway Bay

Take the challenge at Cargo Crossings – can you get across the water without falling?

Tropical Tube Slides

These are enclosed body tube slides! Kids must be 46 inches tall to ride the Tropical Tube Slides.

Rendezvous Run

Castaway Bay

Rendezvous Run is a water coaster featuring a boat that two people can ride in. You must be able to walk up the steps of the tower to ride.

Lookout Lagoon Family Funhouse

Lookout Lagoon at Castaway Bay

The Lookout Lagoon is a play area for all ages. Water is no deeper than six inches and the play structure includes sprayers, net crawls, rope bridges and more! There is a huge pail that spills when it gets full for a humongous splash! The area also has 4 body slides with height requirements ranging from 36 inches to 40 inches.

The Grotto

MY favorite area was The Grotto – the hot tub area that opens up to the outside! The weather outside was in the 40’s so the breeze from outside was the perfect accompaniment to the hot water! The water is 3 feet deep so my kids were also able to be in the area comfortably.

3. Restaurants 

One great thing about staying at Castaway Bay is that there are several restaurant options to choose from so that you never have to leave the hotel!

Quaker Steak & Lube

Quaker Steak & Lube at Castaway Bay

We had dinner at Quaker Steak & Lube the evening we arrived. The menu is huge so there is definitely something for everyone and there is a decent kids’ menu as well. It was our first visit to a Quaker Steak & Lube and My kids were big fans of the car and vehicle oriented decor!

Mango Mikes

For breakfast, Mango Mikes offers an all you can eat buffet. The price was $12.95 for adults and $6.95 for kids. It’s a great option for families but since my kids eat like birds, we opted to save a little money and get a smaller breakfast at Ebb & Eddy’s Sweets & Eats. You can purchase packages that include the breakfast buffet – definitely something to look into!

Ebb & Eddy’s Sweets & Eats 

Ebb & Eddy's at Castaway Bay

Ebb & Eddy’s serves smaller options for breakfast like yogurt, bagels, fresh fruit, donuts, baked goods and Starbucks coffee drinks. Toft’s Ice Cream is also served here as well! Ebb & Eddy’s is also open into the evening for your snacking convenience! 

Big Daddy’s Snack Shack

Big Daddy's Snack Shack at Castaway Bay

Big Daddy’s Snack Shack is accessible from INSIDE the water park serving pizza, ice cream, adult beverages and other snacks. You are allowed to have food purchased inside Castaway Bay in the water park area!

4. Crabbie’s Quarter Deck Arcade

arcade at Castaway Bay

The Crabbie’s Quarter Deck Arcade is a fairly large arcade! Play cards are available at the machine just inside the door and can be reloaded at a discount. There are also packages available. 

Arcade at Castaway Bay

5. Family Activities

Snoopy at Castaway Bay

In the evenings, kids can gather at Club Castaway on the third floor for a 30 minute Peanuts movie, a story time and visits from Peanut’s characters. During select hours, Club Castaway also offers crafts and activities that kids can do if you need a break from the water park! There are some crafts that are an additional cost and some free coloring activities. There are also toys available to play with!

Know Before You Go:

Visit the Website

Address: 2001 Cleveland Rd., Sandusky, OH 44870
Reservations: 419-627-2106
Information: 419-627-2500

  • Make sure to check out the Special Offers page for package deals that include meals and other entertainment!
  • Day passes are also available for $29/ticket. Check the website for group ticket rats and discounts for Cedar Fair Platinum Passholders.

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8 Awesome Indoor Play Areas in Ohio

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These indoor play areas around Ohio will give you lots of options for things to do with kids when traveling around the great state of Ohio!

8 Awesome Indoor Play Areas in Ohio

When traveling around Ohio with our kids, we have often found ourselves needing to find indoor play areas for the kids to burn off some energy! Whether we have time to kill in our itinerary or we’ve needed to find a kid-friendly, halfway point to meet a friend, these spots have come in handy over the last few years! Any of these play areas would also make for a fun road trip if you’re looking to do something new around Ohio!

INDOOR PLAY AREAS IN NORTHERN OHIO

1. Jungle Junction, Bellevue, OH

110 Cherry Blvd., Bellevue, OH 44811

jungle junction in Bellevue, Ohio

Jungle Junction is the largest indoor play structure in Ohio! The play area is designed for kids ages 12 and under and includes a separate area on the side just for toddlers.

Inside the Tree Top Play area there are climbing structures, slides and tunnels. There are also air cannons that shoot plastic balls all around the area. Kids must wear socks when playing inside and socks are available for purchase if you forget!

Admission is for the day, so you can come and go with a stamp on your hand. There is no charge for parents/caregivers or children under age 1 (as of May, 2017).

If you’re looking for more things to do while you’re in the area, check out: Exploring Ohio with Kids: Bellevue. There’s a great train museum in town, too!

Jungle Junction in Bellevue Ohio

2. Jump N SHOUT, Smithville, OH

877 W. Main St., Smithville, OH 44677

Jump N Shout in Smithville Ohio

This play area in Wayne County, Ohio offers something for all ages! On the first floor, the space is dedicated to the younger kids and includes a train table, puzzles, blocks, ride on cars balls, bouncy houses and more!

On the second floor, the space is geared toward older kids with larger bouncy houses, basketball arcade, inflatable darts, air hockey, foosball, a LEGO table and more! My kids’ grandparents live in Wayne County so they have been here several times and love this place! But I have to admit I’m also addicted to the basketball arcade here. 😉

A limited selection of snacks and drinks are available for sale, too and there is a small seating area where you can eat them.

Jump N Shout in Smithville, Ohio

3. Kidsplay Indoor Fun, Avon Lake, OH

32864 Pin Oak Pkwy., Avon Lake, OH 44012

Kidsplay in Avon Ohio

This indoor play area is specifically for kids ages 6 and  under and it features  kid-sized roller coasters, a ball pit, rock climbing wall, blocks, a train table and lots of opportunities for imaginative play!

There is also a “coffee area” where adult can sit with a full view of the play area. Snacks are not allowed in the play area but there is a separate room used for parties where you can eat food that you bring in or you can purchase snacks and drinks on site.

Kidsplay in Avon, Ohio


INDOOR PLAY AREAS IN CENTRAL OHIO

4.The Naz Playplace, Grove City, OH

4770 Hoover Rd., Grove City, OH 43123

The Naz in Grove City Ohio

This is a large indoor playground in Grove City and the best part is, it’s free! There is a large climbing area and also a small sectioned off area for babies and toddlers! You must remove your shoes to play and wear socks. Socks can be purchased for $1 if you forget.

There is a story time with crafts one morning a week (check the link for details)! You can also register online before your first visit to save time. Outside of the play area, there is a cafe where you can purchase food or eat your own packed lunch. There is lots of seating!

Looking for more indoor play areas in Columbus? Check out: Over 20 Free Indoor Play Areas in Columbus

The Naz in Grove City Ohio

5. Scoops and Chutes Playground, Columbus, OH

2555 Bethel Rd., Columbus, OH 43220

Scoops and Chutes Play Place in Columbus, Ohio

This play area is located inside one of Ohio’s most famous ice cream shops: Graeters! The indoor play area includes a climbing gym, a teeter toter, slides, basketball hoops and balls! You must remove your shoes to play and wear socks. Socks are available for purchase here if you forget.

The store was once a factory location, and although there’s not a whole lot to see here anymore in terms of production, there are a lot of pictures and descriptions on the walls about the history of Graeters. There is also a party room for rent here where kids can have birthday parties.

Need more ideas for Columbus? Check out: 6 Free or Cheap Indoor Places for Kids to Run Wild in Columbus

Scoops and Chutes Play Place in Columbus, Ohio

6. Fun in the Jungle, Sunbury, OH

345 McGill St., Sunbury, OH 43074

Fun in the Jungle in Sunbury Ohio

Inside Fun in the Jungle there is a large indoor play area that includes a soft play zone for toddlers. For older kids, there is  mini bowling, virtual reality games and arcade games. There is also a cafe here where you can get food and drinks. Check the link for toddler time hours and prices if you have younger kids!

Interested in play cafes in Central Ohio? Check out: The Complete List of Columbus Play Cafes

Fun in the Jungle in Sunbury, Ohio


INDOOR PLAY AREAS IN SOUTHERN OHIO

7. Pogo Play, Blue Ash, OH

10870 Kenwood Rd., Blue Ash, OH 45242

Pogo Play in Blue Ash, Ohio

This is a huge indoor play area just north of Cincinnati that includes several different play areas! There is a large climbing gym, a space with LEGOS, a space with blocks, a separate area with a play kitchen and a space for life sized building blocks.

Each area is sectioned off by theme by short divider walls and there is a completely separate room just for toddlers!

There is a coffee shop cafe here with a seating area and there is also a really large seating area for parents.

Pogo Play in Blue Ash, Ohio

8. EnterTRAINment Junction, West Chester, OH

7379 Squire Ct., West Chester, OH 45069

EnterTRAINment Junction in West Chester, Ohio

Inside EnterTRAINment Junction is Imagination Junction, a play area for kids! There is a large climbing structure, a train to play on, an electric train to ride and two small model train displays. There is also a play structure with a slide and a separate area just for toddlers.

Socks are required to play here and are available for purchase if you forget! This play area is included with admission to EnterTRAINment Junction, which is home to the largest train display in the world! EnterTRAINment Junction is a destination in itself! Read all about it here: Fun for the Whole Family at EnterTRAINment Junction!

Make sure to check out 6 Super Fun Things to do with Kids in Butler County, Ohio while you’re there (including the Butler County Donut Trail)!

EnterTRAINment Junction in West Chester, Ohio


Feel free to list any other great indoor play areas that you and your family enjoy around Ohio to share ideas with other readers!

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20 Free Indoor Play Areas in Columbus

ICYMI: Over 20 Free Indoor Play Areas in Columbus

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8 Awesome Indoor Play Areas in Ohio


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