The BIG Cbus Kids Summer List

I am bringing together activities I loved as a Columbus child, combined with events we have never tried and hope that it is useful to you as you plan for a fun-filled summer with your kids!

Art with Anna, Gahanna
We have not been here yet, but it looks so unique and peaceful. I would love try it for some mommy-daughter reward time.

Berry picking at Hann Farms or Jacquemin Farms, Obetz and Plain City

We've been to and loved both for strawberry picking. This is a fun activity even for my one year old.

Book to Film Movie series, Gateway Film Center

Family-friendly movies are played every weekend this summer and are FREE with your Columbus Library cards. Some of our favorite books like Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Fantastic Mr. Fox, and Paddington will be shown. What an awesome idea!

I took Larkyn here when she was 13-15 months old. Their mommy and me class was a nice break from the 100 degree weather and was a safe place for her to bounce off the walls.

Columbus Zoo, Powell
Yes, we are regulars, but new this year: so many new babies! We have also never seen the stingrays, cheetah run, or on the Asia Quest boat ride.

If it is time to move your activities inside for a night, try a performance of the Box Show, Beauty and the Beast, Seussical Jr. or Grease!

Columbus Clippers games, Arena District
When I think of Clippers games, I remember good old Cooper Stadium and loving Cracker Jacks. I am thankful to have a gorgeous new ball field and can't wait to take my kids for their first Dime-a-Dog night. 

My students (age 5/6) always enjoy this field trip, but I'd rather take my family on a Free Sunday just in case it is not their cup of tea. The Wonder Room in the basement is awesome and geared toward kids.

Make sure to sign your kids up for the Summer Reading program at any branch. It is always fun to be rewarded and it is hard for kids to stay motivated readers over the summer. Did you know children typically fall 3 reading levels over those 3 months off?  Keep up your nightly story time:)  The events calendar is jam-packed with fun workshops and story times at all branches.

Commons for Kids, Downtown
We went two summers ago and I would definitely go again. There is story time by CML, snacks (and Jenis!), a few kid-friendly vendors, the carousel, and neat building toys on the lawn. Get there early to park in the garage to the south.

COSI Big Machines and Farm Days, Downtown
COSI is always fun, but these two exhibits only last a few days and are NOT to be missed!  If your little one loves "diggers", be ready with your camera.

Concerts on the Green, Old Worthington
Every Sunday at 7 pm, join families on the Worthington Green for free concerts. Make sure to walk to Graeters or Dairy Queen too.

Cover to Cover Bookstore, Clintonville

Anyone seen You've got mail?  This is how the neighborhood bookstore has always felt to me. Get lost in a quality selection of books and ask for suggestions!  Sally can point you in the exact direction for any child's interests. Join them for story time on Tuesdays and Saturdays.

I think this sounds like a great mix of activities: close encounters with wild animals, get some ice cream at Jeni's, and do some shopping. Done.

Both of my kids loved the Blooms and Butterflies last fall, and I am anxious to get some more great pictures this summer. Check the calendar for fun activities to go along with the Big Bugs exhibit.

Farmers MarketsWorthingtonClintonvilleDublin
Of course we are partial to our neighborhood market in Worthington, but we also love the Clintonville one and the Dublin market has a convenient set-up outside of Oakland Nursery on 161.

Fishing in Dublin 

The city of Dublin stocks their 60+ ponds with bluegill, catfish, and bass and encourage family fishing. Some of their spots even have brand new fishing docks.

I grew up going down into these falls when they were 100% unsafe and unknown. Thank goodness the city has made them accessible and safe for everyone to go see. They are beautiful!

Harbor Yoga Kids workshops (first Sunday of every month from 2-3 pm)

My friends at Harbor have told me about this class for Larkyn, but it is during her nap time and NO ONE wants to interrupt that. But, please try it out for us! The instructors are totally kid-friendly and you'll want to take a class yourself.

Highbanks Metropark, Lewis Center
Highbanks has it all! Be sure to check their calendar for fun events like campfire singalongs, fishing programs, hikes into the creek and close to the river. Bring a picnic to enjoy at the Big Meadows picnic area.

This is the only pool we really go to because Larkyn is so comfortable with the zero-entry pool. Inside of going in on a ladder, the kids just wade in like it is a beach. Toddler swim time is fabulous, when you can rest assured that your little ones won't get bulldozed by the older kids. Bonus: There is tons of shade!

Another childhood favorite that is much safer these days. There is quite the drop-off, so this one might make you nervous if your kids are smaller or tend to stray. With older kids, get yourselves to the bottom and you are rewarded with a beautiful waterfall. Bring Jason's Deli for a little picnic at the shelter. You can park at the Dublin library and follow signage behind the library to the falls.

Inniswood Metro Gardens, Westerville 
If you are looking for a beautiful backdrop for family pictures, this is it. The kids will love walking around the gardens and water features and playing in the childrens garden. Check the calendar for Childrens Garden Day programs.

Lollipops! Concerts for kids, Powell

Get ready for a picnic, music and a visit to the splash pad when all the fun is over.  These special concerts are held June 8, July 13, August 3rd at 10:30 AM.

This is at the Lane Road location and is a blast! The staff and young volunteers plan several art stations (paint, clay, crazy bubbles, etc) and the kids have a free for all with art. Unless you get there very early, plan to park on Lane Road and walk across to the library. Save time to go see their downstairs childrens area (my childhood fave!)

Popcorn pops , Downtown
I have never been, but it looks fun! from the site: "Children will enjoy free popcorn and free pre-concert activities including face painting, art projects, playing with musical instruments, and the Columbus Commons Family Fun Zone with inflatables and open play activities."

Marcy's Clayground, Powell

Feeling artsy and need some air conditioning?  Paint your own pottery gifts or take a class together. Time to make that Pinterest project you've had pinned for 3 years and give it on Fathers Day!

Millstone Creek Park, Westerville

When asked "Where is your favorite place in Westerville to take your kids?" this was the winner. Just take a look at the photos-- it is huge! We hope to give it a try this summer. 

Ohio Railway Museum, Worthington
This was a hit with my 4 year old. Not so much for the one year old, so we will leave him with Nana next time. Stop by on Sunday afternoons to go back in time on real electric trains right into Colonial Hills. Your little train enthusiast will love it!

For kids who don't love swimming (mine), this looks awesome. I walked past it to go to a recent dinner and noticed lots of shade structures, which is a must for me. And a stop to Pink Moon cupcakes afterwards is of course acceptable.

Play Cafes
There comes a time around mid-July when it is time to take a break from the heat. Stop in one of our favorite play cafes for some fun and snacks.
FireflyLattes and LollipopsLittle SkippersLittle Green House 

Recreations Outlet, Powell

More indoor fun!  Try out all the playground equipment and even have birthday parties here.


Schiller Park,  German Village
This may be my favorite park in the city. There is so much to see! The fountain, ducks in the pond, going over the bridge, seeing the statues, and ending up on the huge playground. Check out Brown Bag deli for your picnic lunch and of course, Jeni's for your dessert. Both are a short walk north of the park.

Although parking can be an adventure in itself, it is fun to walk down to see the Santa Maria and then all the way back south to play in the fountains or have a bite to eat at Milestone 229 (their mac and cheese amaaaazing). Take a look at the fun kid events scheduled every Wednesday.

Scioto Audubon, Brewery District
This may be #1 on my list of places to try this summer. I find it incredible that they transformed the city's eyesore into a gorgeous sanctuary. It looks like there are several preschool age activities planned for the summer.  They have story time almost every day at 10:00 (check the schedule).

Slate Run Historical Farm, Canal Winchester
Another childhood and field trip favorite of Columbus kids, this farm recreates history and puts you to work (if you want!) For your girls who are into American Girl dolls from this era, they could see history come to life in the farmhouse, field, barn, and then play on the playground.

We take 120 students here every fall and the children (and parents!) are amazed at how well the staff works with children in introducing them to nature. There are lots of summer programs, but you may explore the farm (responsibly) on your own. Hike the trails, go to the barn, check out the pond, and see farm animals. Keep in mind that it is a working farm, so we never know what animals may/may not be there.

Sundays at Scioto, Dublin
The old Leatherlips statue is still there, but this park has had so many improvements over the years that it is hard to recognize! Enjoy kid-friendly concerts on Sunday nights, but also go see the fishing dock and playground.

Topiary Park, Old Deaf School Downtown
Did you know this existed?  I did not until we took a field trip there. Amazing. Before you go, study of on George Seurat and introduce your kids to Sunday afternoon, which is the basis of the topiary garden. Awesome for picnicking, but no restaurants nearby, so pack your favorites. This is a great combo trip with the art museum or the downtown library!

Whetstone Park of Roses, Clintonville

You think it is pretty when the magnolias are in bloom....wait till you see the thousands of roses! Bring your camera to catch some pretty pictures of the blooms and your little ones running around. Reward them for being patient with your camera by taking them down the hill to the playground. Northstar Cafe, Jeni's and Jersey Mikes are nearby. Also, check out their summer concerts.

Upper Arlington playgrounds

Oh how we miss FancyburgReed Road and the Wickliffe Elementary playground were also neighborhood favorites for little ones. UA has so many awesome playgrounds geared toward young children and perfect for picnics

4th Fridays Uptown Westerville

I remember these festivals from college, and I loved going into the the local stores (Schneiders Bakery!) to find treasures. Now, they are sponsored by St. Anns and have a different theme each month.

Special Events

The Turtle Lady was actually our neighbor growing up, so I cannot wait to take the kids to see her next weekend!  Pair this with the Big Bugs exhibit and you've started your summer off with a bang! Or buzz.

Ohio Village Storybook Village 6/6
Ohio Village will team up with Columbus Libraries to bring the kids' favorite books to life. Pete the Cat, Cinderella, and many others will be there. It is the 150th anniversary of Alice in Wonderland, so there will be special emphasis on miss Alice!

Summer in the 614 6/6
Gather on the Village Green in Worthington for music, food (Natalie's pizza, Schmidt's sausage truck, a mobile cupcakery), and many, many others. I didn't know there was a Blue Jackets street hockey team, but they will be there too. The list of participants is huge!

Columbus Arts Festival, 6/12-6/14
This event is HUGE and I remember really enjoying it as an older child. Prepare for lots of walking, people watching, and buying some unique pieces of art. There are several kid-friendly activities, like a children's gallery and a Hands-On area every day from 11-6:00.

Creekside Blues and Jazz Festival 6/19-21
Gahanna's Creekside will transform into one big party, complete with rides, food tastings by some top-notch restaurants and breweries, and a Family Fun Zone. Don't forget to enter my giveaway to win 4 weekend wristbands (and kids are free!)

Westerville Safety Fest 6/26
This is one of the 4th Fridays in Uptown Westerville, bringing in emergency vehicles and providing safety activities and lessons for the kids.

Do I need to elaborate? A family favorite forEVER! Our favorite viewing spot? Watermark Drive in Grandview:)

Can I be honest? Great. I'd rather watch RWB on TV and go to the Dublin fireworks. Their show is just as a amazing, you can view it from all over the Coffman road area, and if you want to join in, there are family-friendly activities all day long at Coffman high school. And, John Fogerty is playing that night for all you CCR fans out there.

You may just want to spend the whole day at the Westerville Library that day! I am totally impressed with their calendar. On this day, there is also Super hero dance party, toddler art time, and preschool story time. Whoa.

I grew up showing my 4H horses there during the summer, so the FCF has a special place in my heart. If you aren't ready to take the kids to the Ohio State Fair, take the drive to Hillard to try the smaller version. Watch the horse shows, ride rides, and play games. Oh, and eat ALL THE FAIR FOOD.

Pirates and Pancakes Breakfast at Columbus Zoo  7/25
This summer, the zoo has been taken over by pirates!  Join them for breakfast on Saturday morning and then go see them on the boat ride through Asia Quest. 

Ohio State Fair 7/29-8-9
This is the big one. I am not brave enough to try it with the kids yet, but we will get there. Pack a million cans of sunscreen, be ready for whining, and let the fun begin! Oh, and if you are all about that bass, check out Meagan Trainor in concert.

Dublin residents are pretty proud of this event. I am not Irish (Oktoberfest for me!) but this event is a pretty big deal. There are tons of kids activities and entertainment, and if you like good music, people seem to go nuts when the Irish rock bands play. Parking is a total nightmare, so be ready to walk or have dad ready to drop everyone, park, and come meet you inside.

Movie in the Park (UA), 7/31, 8/14, 8/28
Enjoy laying out on blankets with snacks and family as you watch family favorites on the 24 foot big screen.

Hilliard Touch & Stuff a Truck, 8/8
If your kids love touch-a-truck events (with semi trucks and police cruisers too!), check this one out at Homestead Park (a GREAT playground) and bring canned food to stuff the truck.

We drove through Marysville on our way to Michigan a few summers ago and I almost jumped out of the car when I saw the balloons floating over the farm fields. Looks like there will be helicopter rides (what!), balloon rides, food, and Miss Blue herself, LeAnn Rimes.

What more is there to say?  The food truck scene is killer right now, and they will ALL be there. In one place. Along with tattoo trucks (would it be bad to get "I heart Oreo Churros" on my ankle?) and local crafters. I can't wait!

Prairie Oaks Wag Fest 8/22
If your kids love dogs, go check out the performing dogs (jumping off a dock--every dog's dream, right?), learn training tips, and bring your own dog to have fun on the trails and in the water. 

Ballet Met at the Scioto Mile 8/28
Ballet is beautiful, but not the most affordable entertainment. Take your little ballerinas to watch the free performance at the park to end your summer.

I will be adding to this list all summer long. Please let me know if you run across something you loved doing with your kids!  Enjoy...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the list! Will be marking quite a few of these down for our own!

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