Summer is around the corner! What fun things do you have planned?
If you need a little assistance with your summer fun list, here are ten indoor and ten outdoor activities offered in Central Ohio to help keep kids busy. My oh my! Compiling this list was hard because there are so many fun things to do! Some of the activities are free and available any day of the week. I only chose a few things that require calling ahead or adding a specific date to your calendar. I linked off to my posts or a website for each entry for more information.
Splash Parks are a fun way for smaller children to cool down this summer. Generally for babies up to around ten years old (at least that is the most popular age range I’ve seen there). Suggestions: lots of sunscreen, blanket to sit on, lunch or snacks and plenty of water to drink, sun hat, dry clothes to change wet children, and towels. You’ll have a bit of a walk to the splash areas from parking, so make sure you can carry everything in one trip.
PBJ & Jazz at Topiary Park is one of my very favorite things to do. We love live music, and to be able to sit outside for an intimate concert is the best! Great for all ages of children. Suggestions: bring blankets or camping chairs, pack a lunch, plenty of sunscreen and water, be prepared to dance. Check their site for dates.
Innis Woods Garden is so beautiful, especially during the spring and summer months when everything is in bloom. This is a great park to learn about plants indigenous to Ohio, take hikes that are doable for little legs, hunt for frogs or giant woodpeckers, play in the water, or kids can pretend they are fairies while playing in the Innis Woods gorgeous tree house. Also, sign up for free programs hosted by their naturalists. Last year we learned about composting through playing games and doing crafts. Suggestions: take lunch, could be a hike to a bathroom depending on where you are, bring sunscreen and water.
Columbus Commons has so much going on during the summer for kids, families, and even stuff just for grown ups such as yoga on the lawn. Be sure to check out their calendar of the events. Suggestions: bring cash for food/water, sunscreen, blanket or chairs to sit on, parking garages and meters are close by.
The Shazzbots are a seriously fun local kids’ rock-n-roll band. They are playing lots of places this summer, be sure to check their calendar! Bring some cash in case you want to buy a CD. Suggestions: bring chair, blanket, water and snacks. Be prepared to shake your booty!
Geocaching is a great family activity. It is basically scavenger hunting with a GPS or geocaching app on your phone. This can be done anytime and caches are hidden all over Central Ohio. Next time you are at a park, look one up and give it a shot. Suggestions: look a cache up anytime, but doing a harder one takes a little research, wear sturdy shoes, bring water (some of the hunts could take a while depending on your navigation skills).
Slate Run Historical Farm is fabulous for families. Take the kids back in time to a working farm reminiscent of the 1800s. Families can tour the farm, see the animals, learn some history – what’s not to love. Slate Run offers workshops for families, be sure to check their calendar and sign up. Suggestions: bring lunch, potty break before heading in (there are no potties on site), talk to your children about safety because there is large old farm machinery and lots of animals.
Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is a perfect day of fun for all ages. Suggestions: bring your own stroller or wagon, pack your own lunch (friends and I agree, the food at the Zoo is not so good), buy a membership (2.5 visits pays for the entire year, then you can go as much as you want and it includes parking), bring the big 3, especially for babies: sunscreen, sunhat, extra water.
Ohio Village at Ohio Historical Society is a low cost way to go back in time, no DeLorean needed. The Ohio Village is a replica of an 1800s town in Ohio. It offers a toy shop where kids can play with toys, a dress shop where children can dress up in 1800s fashion, and there are generally actors on site that share information on what it was like to live back then. If you get hot or it starts to rain, head inside for more historical fun in the museum. Suggestions: bring your own lunch, sunscreen, a stroller is fine, and I’d call ahead to see if you can pay at the Ohio Village entrance or have to go to the main desk (which is to the left of the museum and you enter at the ground level).
Santa Maria downtown is a replica of the actual ship Christopher Columbus sailed to the Americas so many years ago. They do tours throughout the summer, which are kid-friendly. Suggestions: metered parking (bring change), stairs can be steep on board so be ready to help your child, pack a picnic to eat in front of the ship, check the dates for Pirate Weekends – arrgh!
Most have an admission price
COSI is always a great choice on a rainy or sunny day. There is so much to do! Suggestions: get a membership (it pays for itself in about 2.5 visits), ask about the dryers if your children get soaked in the water area, pack lunch or with a membership you get a discount on food, bring your stroller or wrap to carry baby – it can be a long day (they have a nursing station in kidspace, fyi), check their calendar to see which exhibits are in town.
Columbus Museum of Art has a terrific kids’ area that gets their creative juices flowing. The museum offers free admission on Sundays and offers family days at various times, so check their calendar. Suggestions: look for savings on admission if you are going during the week, pack your lunch, bring change for meters in case the lot is full, talk to your children about looking with their eyes not their hands.
Franklin Park Conservatory is beautiful any time of the year. They release butterflies each day until September, be sure to check out times before you go. Suggestions: there’s lots to explore inside and outside, pack your lunch and eat outside or enjoy their cafe, a membership is a good idea.
Libraries are a great choice any day, any time. We love the Columbus Metropolitan Library downtown because their kids’ area is enormous and has lots to do. Be sure to check library schedules because they offer lots of fun classes for kids during the summer. If you go downtown, when you park be sure to keep your ticket. You need to pay for parking before you leave at the machines near the elevators. Suggestions: read to your children every day, check out sites such as: A Mighty Girl or Children’s Book-A-Day Almanac, or A Year of Reading for book suggestions.
Supergames offers open play during the summer and it is huge! They have a room full of giant bounce houses. Suggestions: look at the schedule for open play times for your child’s age range, bring water, children have to wear socks.
Worthington Community Center indoor pool is awesome. The pool is beach grade so littles can just splash around if they want, they have a big and little slide, lazy river, and lap pool. Suggestions: call to ask for open pool times, you’ll need to leave your license for a locker, bring towels and a change of clothes.
Indoor play cafes: Firefly Play Cafe in Beechwold, Picadilly in Bexley, Lattes and Lollipops in Powell, Little Greenhouse in Grandview. Suggested for ages 5 and under, but I think 5 is pushing it. Many offer lunch items and kids’ snacks, admission is typically around $8 – $10 per child. Check out their websites for location and pay-to-play cost.
Recreations Outlet is an indoor playground complete with a number of Rainbow Play Systems, trampolines, toys, and basketball area. This is also a great place to have a birthday party! Admission prices vary throughout the week, so be sure to check. Suggestions: bring cash to pay to play, kids should keep socks on, bring water and snacks for after play time. This is a great place to have play dates.
Bowling is always a great indoor activity with the kids. We’ve been to AMF Sawmill Lanes and Ten Pin Alley. Suggestions: look for coupons to help with cost, sign up for AMF’s summer bowling club, bring socks, ask for a ramp to help very littles bowl (or wait endless minutes while the ball goes halfway down the lane and stops), call ahead to be sure they are not hosting leagues.
Magic Mountain has a huge netted play area for kids. The play area is enclosed so kids can’t get out, which makes keeping an eye on them much easier. Suggestions: meet up with a friend or bring a book, kids should wear socks, accept the fact the kids will want to play arcade games. They also have outdoor fun such as putt-putt and go-carts.