The Perfect Spots for CBus Toddlers

For my first child, this post could have included anywhere. She never ran from me, squealing with glee as she ran toward a street or a pond. My son, however?  No fear. This summer, I have struggled to find great places to take him and actually enjoy ourselves. Eryn of 614 Mom and I are in the same boat and have shared many rolled eyes and sighs as our boys tear through strawberry fields and toward electric fences (note: NOT toddler friendly but it was turned off).

Of course, OF COURSE we all supervise our kids, but let's be honest, some of the best places in Columbus are not designed for toddlers. It is no fun to constantly be worried about their safety when you take them out of the stroller, because not all toddlers will sit at story time!

If we felt this way, we thought some of you might feel the same. Thus, the toddler-friendly Columbus list was created.

To be on this list, we considered:
  • Either a fence or walls around it OR
  • It is very far away from streets/parking
  • No water to just casually fall into
  • Little-people entertainment or perfectly-sized play equipment 

Outdoor

Little ones love to gather at the clean and engaging sandbox here. There is plenty of shade and a fun little train that is fun for them. The main play structure is too big for toddlers, but perfect for big siblings while toddlers try the other options. 



Schiller Park, German Village
We love parking on one of the perimeter streets and running to the playground, which is gated with one opening. There are shaded swings and 3 nice play structures. And if they are up for the walk (or you brought the stroller), you can walk to the duck pond on the southwest corner (or to Jeni's?)



Fancyburg Park, UA
One of our first and favorite playgrounds, Fancyburg has two play areas. One is an adaptive playground, so it has small steps and ramps, perfect for toddlers. 

Shaker Square Park, Worthington
Worthington moms love this park for it's seclusion and privacy. The entire park is bordered by homes and a split rail fence with one opening. Bonus--TONS of shade!

Monterey Park, Dublin
Once you park, Monterey is across a small bridge and safely away from parking lots. There are a few play structures and baby/toddler swings, and if they lose interest, it is fun to roll down the grassy hills.


This playground, right on First Avenue across from the cutest strip of restaurants, is toddler perfection. They have the spongy surface instead of mulch, as well as many smaller structures rather than 1-2 large. There is a gate around the whole park, keeping them away from the street. 




Jeffrey ParkBexley
When I see the word "tot lot", I know we are in good hands. Fenced, no mulch to throw or eat, and smaller equipment, all surrounded by the beautiful Jeffrey Mansion grounds.

Huber Village Park, Westerville
There are 2 areas of this fenced-in playground; one just for 2-5 year olds. This is an easy drive, located just off of 270.

Shale Hollow, Delaware
No fences here! But we find that when toddlers and preschoolers are allowed to walk around in mud and shallow creek beds, they don't need one. The nature keeps their attention, and the shorter gravel  trails are a perfect walk together. 



I absolutely love the zero entry toddler pool!  This is one pool where water-shy kids can take their time getting in, they could choose the fountains instead, or they can even try the small slide. There is a toddler swim time each morning as well. 

Ballantrae Splash pad (The Bunny Park)
Most splash pads are created equal, but what sets this one apart for me in regards to toddlers is that it is far from streets/parking, it is spread out to avoid getting run over by big kids, and there are small fountains that will entice the little ones to give it a try. 


Indoor


This is arguably one of the best spots in Columbus for toddlers. Kidspace is safely monitored by COSI staff, who make sure that you leave with the same number of kids you came in with, so no accidental runners. The space is filled with many opportunities for imaginative play.  Toddler size kitchen, barn, ambulance, doctors office, and many more but you get the idea. It also has a water play area, an art area, and a small room with a light table and magna tiles. See what I mean?  It wins the award for best toddler space in Columbus.   

My little guy loves to run around no matter where we are - even when we are trying to eat dessert. Graeter's on Bethel is the perfect spot for us, there is a huge indoor playground for him to run around in when he gets bored eating his ice cream, and then I get to finish his ice cream.  Pro Tip: Bring socks - they can’t play without them. 

This is the perfect place for the little ones who love to run, tumble, and explore by being active.  They offer FREE intro classes, and for the kiddos 3 and under, the classes are parent/me classes (the perfect time to play and explore with your child).



Play Space, Shops at Worthington 
Usually, mall play areas freak me out - the germs, the crowd, all of it. The play area at the Shops at Worthington is the exception, it’s always clean, rarely crowded, and a fun small jungle gym for them to play on.  My favorite part is being able to see them from wherever I am, with two kids and one being under 3, I find it very important to be able to see both kiddos at all times. 

The Columbus Museum of Art is a family favorite and my little guy’s favorite room is the Wonder Room.  The room is dark and mysterious with lots of opportunities for learning through creativity and hands on activities.  You can get into the museum for free on Sundays.  


A huge warehouse filled with swingsets and trampolines is any toddler’s dream.  The young ones will love the swings and the bright colors and the older toddlers will enjoy climbing and going down the slide.  Pro Tip: Don’t go on a school holiday - it’s a little too busy for the toddler age group.  Also, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 9-11 is Charitable Play, $2 per family for up to 3 kids. 


Goldfish Swim School, Dublin/Westerville
Heated indoor pool, tons of pool toys safe for all ages, and lifeguards to make sure everyone is safe.  There are two locations, Dublin and Westerville, and they each have a daily family swim time. In Westerville M-Th 12:30-1:30 and in Dublin 12:00-1:00. On Fridays they have open swim from 6:30-8 at both locations.  $5 per person, max of $15


Play Cafes - Designed with toddlers in mind, Columbus play cafes like FireflyTreehiveLittle SkippersLittle Green House ZenKidsPiccadilly keep children safe under your supervision or the paid supervision of a staff member (Treehive). New, novel toys are everywhere to explore, often small play structures help them practice their playground skills, and all between four walls to keep everyone in one place. Little Green house is set up like a little town, with a Fire Station, Grandview Street Market, Animal Clinic, and so many other fun ways for role play. Firefly has a bounce house, and Zen Kids has an entire art room-- need I say more? 


Thanks, Eryn, for helping me create this list and giving us the indoor spots you love. Hope the list helps, and let us know if we missed a place that you love taking your wild toddler. 

2 comments:

Keith and Julie said...

Great List! Thanks for including our favorite, Pierce Field, which is a two minute walk. Some day I'll make the 45 minute drive to Shale Hollow.

Melissa @Made by Melissa Lee said...

Wow! What a great list! Emily is finally old enough to get out and explore Columbus, but so often I find a lot of places for kids are soooo not toddler friendly. I can't wait to try some of these :) Thanks to you and Eryn for putting this list together!

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