Watching Planes – another in-car activity!

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A few weeks ago both of my boys (and myself) were sick with colds. I’ve mentioned before that I can only stay in the house for about 1.5 days without going berserk so after about 3 or 4 “sick days” (meaning I let both of my kids, including my 17 month old, watch a lot of TV!) I needed to get out. Now don’t worry, I do not believe in or support infecting other kids with our diseases (or common viruses) so I was ISO an option that would get us out of the house but not necessarily out of the car!

A friend of mine had once given me some tips on the best places to watch airplanes take off at Port Columbus International Airport. (I felt like I had to call it by its proper name for the first mention, but will be, from here on out, called “the airport”). So, I packed us all into the car and took a trip to the airport. I was somewhat of a novice at this – I didn’t do much research, just a quick text to my friend in which she recommended “the hotel across from the McDonald’s” for watching planes. I ended up driving around a bit when I should have just stayed put, as she told me, but let me pass on what I learned.

If you’ve been to the airport, you probably know the McDonald’s I am talking about. If you eat McDonald’s food, an added bonus would be to go through the drive through for a snack to eat while you watch. (Or you could just pack one. And I am all about packing snacks. And drinks. Jaden freaks out if I forget to bring him water for some reason and he begs me, “next time will you remember to pack me a wateeeeeerrrrr?!”) But I digress.

The hotel across from McDonald’s is the Hilton Garden Inn – 4250 International Gateway, Columbus, OH 43219. If you park in the back (or what I would consider the back), you face the runway for take offs. And just stay there. Don’t get impatient like me and drive around looking for greener pastures. This is the place to be, trust me. (Though if you do drive around you may get to drive underneath a plane on a runway – which is pretty cool, but I don’t even know how to tell you to time that, so….).

IMG_3085If you really want to be prepared – and I do recommend this – check out for arrival and departure times. This will give you a good sense of when the most planes will be coming and going. If you’ve ever sat on a runway, you know that planes don’t just take off every 5 seconds, so if you have kids with short attention spans, this might not be the thing for you to do. But as I’ve mentioned, if you’re desperate and stir crazy, sometimes you just need to be out of the house with your kids safely contained in the back seat.

The day we went, it was not exactly warm so we pretty much stayed in the car. However, if you are not self conscious about who is seeing you do what, you could get out and have a little picnic on the grass next to the parking lot. Or if your kids are in, say, rear facing car seats, and can’t actually see anything you and anyone else in your car is watching, consider this: Pizzuro Park.* We did go here and I did let my kids out of the car. There were no other kids around so I am fairly confident we did not infect anyone with the cold virus. We stayed for approximately 10 minutes before everyone got cold and we got back in the car. BUT if it were warmer and you have kids who aren’t entertained by just sitting in the car waiting for a plane to take off, you could bring them here and let them play. If they like planes, they will be excited by the planes that fly over the park to come in to land. I am definitely doing this again when it’s warm and we have a picnic. There’s also the most elaborate dog run I’ve ever seen – I’ve never owned a dog, so be aware that my experience is limited – but if you have a dog, it could be entertained as well!

I’m editing this post to add that we also have had good luck watching from Columbus Recreations and Parks’ Airport Golf Course. From there we could see planes take off, but it was a really great spot for planes that were coming in for landing!



I actually let them out of their seats . . . 😉

This post prompted me to make a list of things you can do in the car with your kids. Check it out here.

*One note about Pizzuro Park. The address is Gahanna. If you do not specify this in Google maps, it’s possible that you may end up in Whitehall. Ahem.


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  1. […] in the area!  I think it will be a hit with the kids!  And if your kids like airplanes, check out this post for another airplane activity we did this past […]

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