Family Day trips from Columbus (Winter edition)

It won’t be long before we all start to tire of the same old indoor experiences close to home. We teamed up with Christa of My Ohio Adventure to get out of the rut for the day. If you feel like packing some snacks and bundling everyone up for a drive, we’ve got you covered for the best day trips from Columbus. Most of these include indoor experiences, but some will require some snowsuits and boots and a sense of adventure!

1. Hocking Hills (Logan)
  • Most kid-friendly trails: Ash Cave (pictured below), Old Man’s Cave, Conkle’s Hollow lower rim. Of course, you know your kids best and if you can’t trust them close to edges or they won’t hold your hand, stick to Ash Cave or wear them in a carrier. Ash and Conkle's are the best, as they are paved or flat in most areas. The pavement turns to sand, which then turns into steps and a trail if you want to go that far.

2. Loudonville

Both Mohican and Malabar have a lot to offer, and could easily be day trips on their own. That said, you can also shorten your stay at both and easily see each of these State Parks in one day trip.
    • Hike the ¾ mile (one-way) Pleasant Hill Trail for a relatively easy and flat hike along the river.
    • The park’s highlights are extremely accessible by car. The park map lists different stops on their driving tour, including the Clearfork Gorge overlook, the Covered Bridge, Discovery Forest, and the Memorial Shrine.  
    • Where to eat: The park has plenty of picnic areas, so pack your lunch and enjoy it under the trees.

    • Malabar Farm is just about 15-20 minutes from Mohican, so an easy add on to a day trip. Here you can go for a short hike, tour the grounds on a wagon ride, pet and feed the animals in the barn, tour Louis Bromfield’s home, hunt for geocaches, eat in the restaurant...and if all that isn’t enough, drive up to overlook on Mount Jeez, located across from the park, to get views over the farm and surrounding areas.
    • In December they’ll be hosting Candlelight Tours of the house, with fresh baked cookies and hot cider.
    • Things are very quiet (meaning closed) here on Mondays, so if you’re looking to do the various tours, plan on coming a different day.

3. Yellow Springs
  • Youngs: The farm is very much alive and running in the Winter, and here is a run-down of their winter schedule, courtesy of Mr. Dan Young himself…
    • The Golden Jersey Inn is open daily except for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
    • The Dairy Store is open everyday except Christmas Day.
    • The Farm animal Visiting Area is open daily from about 10 AM to at least 6pm, most days later to maybe 9pm.  You can see the cows being milked daily from approximately 4:30 PM to 5:30 PM.
    • The Christmas Tree Farm (a choose and cut operation) is open daily from 9am to 6pm starting the day after Thanksgiving to a week before Christmas.  This is a very popular family tradition activity - sort of like the pick your own pumpkins - it’s fun to go out in the field and find that perfect Christmas tree to take home and decorate.
    • Jan 15-18, we celebrate our 147 years of our farm.  We have lots of specials; one dip cones are $1.47, kid’s meals are $1.47, Cheeseburgers are $1.47, even games of miniature golf are $1.47 (every once in awhile, the weather works out for this!).  We also have a souvenir quart milk bottle that goes with a special sundae we do for this birthday party.
    • Jan 25-Jan 31 - is our annual “Doo Your Moo” event - where you can go into the Dairy Store and buy a one dip cone, give us your best moo, with feeling!, and you can earn an extra dip of ice cream.  At The Golden Jersey Inn, you give us a good Moo at the end of your meal, and you can earn a one dip sundae.
    • Feb 26-29 - is the End of Winter Hot Fudge Sundae Sale - we offer great prices on hot fudge sundaes for the weekend - and it’s one day longer this year since it’s a leap year.  We do any sundae really, for this, but I put emphasis on the hot fudge as it is the #1 seller for toppings (and it’s my favorite, too!)
    • During Nov to mid-Dec the miniature golf course and the heated and covered driving range is open Fri, Sat and Sun from 11am to 5pm, then closes until the beginning of March.

    • At Christmas, 3.5 twinkling lights illuminate the mill and surrounding areas. Cross the historic covered bridge to see the mill and gorge in all their glory. The display starts the day after Thanksgiving and runs through December 31st. Here you will also find a Miniature Village, Santa Museum, and a Toy Collection - perfect for the kids. Admission is $10, but free for kids 6 and under.

Dayton holds enough activities for an entire post of its own, so we decided to stick with just one of its most famous and well-known indoor attractions. Dads and little airplane and space enthusiasts will have lots to explore, and best of is FREE!
  • Monthly Family Days revolve around a theme and allow for interactive and educational experiences like satellite-building and making robot hands.
  • The museum is in the process of a major expansion, so check carefully to make sure everything you want to see is available,

5. Mansfield
At about an hour north of Columbus off 71, Mansfield is reasonably close and convenient, and with lots to do there, a great place to check out this winter!
  • Ohio Bird Sanctuary: The Ohio Bird Sanctuary is over 90 acres of hiking trails, live bird of prey displays, and a walk-through songbird aviary. Purchase a cup of feed worms in the Visitor Center so the kids can hand feed the birds!
  • Kingwood Center Garden: A 47 acre former estate garden. After Thanksgiving they will reopen for their Christmas at Kingwood event, when they will host a wide range of acitivites from light displays to live music.
  • Richland Carrousel Park: The Richland Carrousel is the first hand-carved wooden carrousel to be built in the U.S. since the 1930s. It’s indoor, making it an ideal year-round place to visit. Mom and dad can relax in the rocking chairs while the kids ride, while enjoying the sounds of the Stinson Band Organ, made in Bellefontaine.  
  • Coney Island Inn: World famous Coneys, hand dipped ice cream, and homemade pies!

6. Canal Winchester/Lithopolis
Close enough to not be a hassle, but feels a million miles from the city (in a good way!) when you’re there.
  • Slate Run Living Historical Farm: Slate Run gives visitors a first-hand experience of what life would have been like on an 1880s farm in Ohio. You can walk through the barns and farmhouse, get up close to various farm animals, and see costumed staff working on their “chores” around the grounds. The farm offer various programs where families can help feed the animals, learn more about different activities that would have taken place on the farm, and more. See their website for upcoming events!
  • Das Kaffeehaus: Coffee for the adults, sweet German pastries for the kids (okay for the adults too!).
  • Fantasy Cupcake: Delicous cupcakes. That’s all you need to know! Actually you should know that they offer gluten free cake pops and sugar cookies daily, and gluten free cupcakes on Saturdays.  

7. Delaware
Delaware sits just far enough to our North that it could be considered a day trip, and an opportunity to discover a place you never knew was so close.
  • The Arts Castle is the Delaware County Cultural Arts Center, where they offer classes, a gift shop and a gallery of local work. Classes range from dance to ceramics, bereavement support, and everything in between for age 1 and up.
  • Perkins Observatory has public programs during the daytime and at night (advance ticket purchase is reccomended) that would be a great way to end your day in Delaware. Star-gazing, observatory tours, and even rocket-launching sounds like something a little different that older children might love!
  • Delaware Preservation Parks consists of ten parks and trails, and the farm at Gallant Farm Preserve. Many public programs are held at the farm and at the other parks, giving families an opportunity to experience farm life, see monthly model railroad exhibits, and explore the parks on their own. Shale Hollow (pictured below) is an easy hike for little ones.

8. Springfield
Springfield is located near Dayton, so you can easily add these stops to a Dayton trip, if you’re up for it! That said, Springfield has a lot to offer, so worth spending a day. Here are a few options of places to check out.
  • Hartman Rock Garden was created by Ben Hartman when he found himself unemployed during the depression. Using stones, broken pottery and mirrors, he transformed his garden into another world, full of stone houses, cathedrals, castles, and more. After his death, his wife maintained his work and added flowers throughout. The garden is still maintained today, and is free to visit (though donations are encouraged to support) 365 days a year. A great place for kids to roam and let their imaginations run wild.
  • Heritage Center Museum is located in a former city market and hall, built in 1890, that has been transformed into a museum. The museum honors the history of the Heartland and the Historic national Railroad. Free to visit, it’s worth checking out!
  • Mobil Dog’s Cafe sounds like the perfect place to grab a bite after your adventures. They serve up burgers and hotdogs in a diner setting.

9. West Liberty
  • The Ohio Caverns are a great spot to adventure in the winter because the caves stay a reasonable 54 degrees year round. With the crazy cold winters we’ve had the last few years, 54 degrees sounds amazing! The tour through the caverns is on a concrete path, making it easier and safer for kids than it otherwise might be.
  • Plank’s Pizza Aside from the standard pizza choices, they offer a dessert pizza with buckeyes. Wow.

10. Zanesville/Newark
Straight out 70, you’ll find some indoor fun at these two places and make it back home in time for dinner.
  • The Works Science Museum- An official affiliate of the Smithsonian, The Works (Ohio Center for History, Art and Technology) spans an entire city block. Young children will love the Interactive Science Lab, where they can explore a variety of fun experiments with sound, environment, inventing, and several more. There is a Tyke Lab for ages 6 and under to interact with Pretend play items and amenities that are just their size.  Besides the Science Labs, there are history exhibits that take kids back in time, an art gallery, a glass studio, wood and print shop, and a science theater.
  • Goumas Confections- This candy shop has been serving Newark since 1911, and has everything from classic chocolates and caramel apples to gummies and chocolate dipped wine bottles.

And a very special bonus this holiday season...
11. Sugar Creek:
  • The Farm at Walnut Creek- They will be open by appointment only for horse drawn sleigh rides through the countryside. Experience The Farm at Walnut Creek during the winter months in a two Percheron horse open sleigh! Whether it is a quiet romantic moonlit ride, or a family, church or corporate outing, the sleigh ride will be a “winter wonderland” experience in Amish Country.  As you arrive, we will greet you in our parking lot with the sleigh piled high with blankets to keep you warm. We will sleigh past the horse barn then on to the rolling hills of our 120 acres.  Your breath will be taken away by the peacefulness and serenity of the area. Many of the animals; such as, llamas, American bison, yak, deer, elk etc... will come to the sleigh allowing you to feed  them.  As the ride continues, you will visit giraffes, zebras, Brahmas, watusi and cockatoos who are spending the winter in a heated barn. When your ride is complete you will have the opportunity to stop in the main house for hot cocoa, coffee, or tea. Photo below courtesy of the farm.
  • The availability of sleigh rides depends on snow and temperature conditions.
  • While in Sugar Creek, you can make a stop to see the world’s largest cuckoo clock and grab lunch at one of the many Amish restaurants and bakeries. 

We hope you have a few new ideas for those days when you are ready to get out of town and try something new. Enjoy!

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