Short North for Kids

The Short North, just north of downtown Columbus, is the most vibrant part of our city. It has been exciting to watch it transform over the last decade, and I love taking the kids there. You have to be a bit adventurous and be ready for hiccups along your journey, but if you can relax and enjoy the scenery, you'll be fine.

As always with my guides, this is nowhere near all-inclusive. I love to hear suggestions on where we can try next, but until then, consider them a working document because we cannot possibly fit it all in!

Where to Play

Goodale Park

Goodale, of course!  This is Columbus' oldest city park, and one of our family favorites. There is parking around the perimeter and if you carefully drive into the park from the entrance on Park street, there is a parking lot close to the playground. You may get lucky and find a spot, or you may have to be patient and drive around a bit.

The fountain is beautiful, and the ducks and geese are fun for the kids to watch and feed (but not bread, apparently that is making them sick). There are awesome photo opportunities everywhere, and I try to let the kids wander and explore (it is easy to get a great photo when they are watching something cool, like the elephant fountain).

There are two playgrounds close to each other and many porta potties. I would recommend using the restroom somewhere else before you get to Goodale, because the building with the restrooms is locked unless it is rented for private events (and then that is awkward!)

Columbus Children's Theater
We have not seen a show here yet, since my kids are not the greatest at sitting and listening. But I have heard wonderful things about their shows and how they involve the children. The shows are shorter than traditional plays, usually based on a children's book or something familiar to them, or other times introducing them to culturally diverse topics. They have tours available, and your children can even take classes at CCT.

For now, we just checked out the Snoopy brochure outside the theater on our way to the North Market. We need to get ourselves inside soon!

Where to Eat

This the center of the Columbus food scene, so there are way too many to list. If you have a stroller, be aware that it is probably going to be too bulky to bring in most places, there may be steps going into the restaurants, and that many establishments may be a little pricier than you want to spend on the kids.  But here are some great options:

The North Market
See our full guide here to help you choose anything your heart desires!  There is an awesome patio  downstairs and fun upstairs seating that overlooks the entire market.

My more adventurous-eating friend was offering them some nice Indian spinach. Apparently, the kids are good with their Best of the Wurst hot dogs. 

For a twist on fast-casual, make a healthy and filling bowl of Mediterranean food at Brassica, and either pack it for the park a few blocks away or hope for an empty booth to enjoy it inside.

Laughlin's Bakery
After lunch (or for a sweet breakfast!), stop by Laughlin's to choose a European pastry (pan au chocolat, muffins, madeleines, etc) to go.

photo courtesy of Laughlin's bakery. My baked goods did not last long enough for a photo.

Whit's Frozen Custard
To cool off after all your walking, sit down for some amazing frozen custard. This is a place where my kids will finish their ice cream and say "this is so good!" or "mmmm" the whole time. We are partial to the Dirty Worm sundaes...

The Pearl
This is actually my favorite restaurant in Columbus, and luckily they have a kids' menu too!  And for $6, can you beat it? The atmosphere is loud enough that noisy kiddos won't make a difference, and the servers are relaxed and friendly. Something you absolutely cannot skip? The jalapeƱo spoon bread.

With so many unique food options, you might be worried that the whole Short North scene might be too "different" for your kids. A familiar grilled cheese or some chicken fingers from the Kids Menu might do the trick so you can get back out and finish your tour of High Street.

The Guild House
This is a beautiful restaurant, great for having a fancy meal together or maybe taking grandma out for Mothers Day. They are very accommodating, and the food is delicious. This would not be casual dining, but a nice treat. And I totally recommend the fresh orange juice and pecan roll! You can see more from our own visit to the Guild House here.

Shopping and browsing

I know in my family, this is not the preferred activity of anyone except for me. So let's keep it simple. And moms, you'll just have to come back by yourself to really enjoy it:)

Rocket Fizz Soda Shop and Candy Shop
Yep, like a kid in a candy shop. It is like wandering into Willy Wonka's factory, with colorful bottles of soda lining the walls, barrels of taffy, enormous lollipops, and every sort of old fashioned American and imported candy you've never seen. I suggest making this the last stop on your trip, and I REALLY suggest the Oreo Milka bar.

Public Street Art
There are murals all over the Short North, and the kids love finding them! Take note of the artist and look them up online later for good follow-up conversations.

Cub Shrub
What a colorful and beautifully-curated children's store! You are sure to find a little something (for very young children) in here, whether it is a quality toy or gift, or a cool little romper. If you like browsing and shopping at Tigertree, a few blocks north, you'll love Cub Shrub.

How to get around

Parking can be a bit tricky, so come with a plan and a backup plan. Best case scenario is that you can park at Goodale Park (actually on Goodale at the meters that face 670). From here, you are close to the playground and can walk up Lincoln Street or Buttles to High Street. Or, you can walk up to Park Street and to the North Market. Additionally, you can park at the North Market lot and have your ticket validated. 

Another option is to park somewhere along the Cbus COTA route and ride the Cbus! We did it a few weeks ago, and it was so convenient (and FREE). Just pay attention to the stops and sit near the driver so you can ask questions. It could be a good option if you get to one end of High Street and the troops are getting whiny!

Photo credit: Larkyn on our COTA Cbus tour of the Short North

I hope you enjoy this fun and fast-paced part of Columbus!  We are always looking for reasons to go back, so let me know if you have more ideas.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great stuff. Thanks

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