Cincinnati Family Magazine

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January 31, 2023

Photos by: Tina Pratt; "Marvel: Universe of Super Heroes" exhibit

Experience Columbus this Summer

Ohio's beautiful capital is a great destination for family fun.

As transplants to Ohio, we know little about the state other than the area within the 25-mile radius around our house. We also knew very little about the capital city other than it is Columbus. When school dismissed this year, we spent our first few days of summer vacation exploring the City of Columbus! Wow! It was a fantastic kick off to summer!

We had no idea how much fun Columbus was. I spent three days there with my elementary-aged kids, but I look forward to returning to Columbus with my husband in the future. During our three days, we learned that Columbus is a great getaway location for families with kids as well as a perfect location for an anniversary weekend.

The highlights of our trip include:

Renaissance Columbus Downtown

My kids loved staying in a downtown hotel and being able to view the city from our room. The valets were fantastic and quickly had our car ready to go within 5 minutes of us being ready to head out and explore. We all slept well which was much needed after our fun-filled days to prep us for the following day. One morning, we ate breakfast at the hotel restaurant Latitude 41. My son said they had, “The best bacon ever!”

Katzinger’s

All our friends who are familiar with Columbus told us that we had to visit Katzinger’s deli in German Village. My son was excited for his giant sandwich, and he ate the entire thing. Also, my very picky daughter doesn’t like most foods, but she devoured her sandwich and called it, “The best turkey sandwich!” And this mama’s salad was a home run!

The Book Loft

After lunch, we strolled through German Village and headed to the Book Loft. On our walk, there we passed delicious aromas coming from Pistacia Vera as I shared that The Book Loft had 32 rooms of books! My oldest said he thought we would get lost, and my daughter replied that she couldn’t think of a better place to get lost. If we did get lost, we would be surrounded by books! Both of my kids love to read and we literally did get lost amongst the books. Needless to say, they were in heaven! (They can’t wait to go back again soon!)

Kittie’s Cakes

After looking through 32 rooms of books, we headed back toward our car with arms full of books. We stopped at Kittie’s Cakes to refuel before heading to the next stop on our list. At Kittie’s, the kids picked huge cookies with sprinkles and I made sure to take a mom tax; the cookies were delish! (Mom’s – if you aren’t taxing your kids’ sweet treats, I highly recommend this practice!)

Franklin Park Conservatory & Botanical Gardens

We loved the beautiful Chihuly art displayed throughout the park. My kids were obsessed with the animals made from living plants. While I was looking more closely at all the different plants used to make the animals, my kids took off to play in the outdoor Scott’s Miracle-Gro adventure area for kids. This gave me the opportunity to take a nice quiet stroll throughout the gardens. The biggest takeaway my kids had after leaving? I need to up my gardening game at home!

 

Budd Dairy Food Hall

As I already mentioned, I have one kid that is a picky eater. Anytime we decide we want to eat out, it is a 3 to 1 vote on where we will eat. She never wants to go where the rest of us have chosen which can be very difficult. Insert Budd Dairy Food Hall! It has something for everyone as there are multiple places to choose from to eat. You can take your food from one of the many chef incubator spaces and all sit at the same table, too! We all had an excellent dinner followed up by a very filling dessert. With full tummies, we explored the historic milk bottling plant in Italian Village before heading back to our hotel.

Roosevelt Coffeehouse

Another thing we learned is that Columbus has a Coffee Trail! There are 26 different coffeehouses on the trail, including Roosevelt Coffeehouse. If you visit four locations you can earn a T-shirt and if you stop by all the locations, you earn an insulated mug! My friend and I have been talking about doing a chai tasting and the Columbus Coffee Trail sounds like the perfect place to do it. I can vouch for Roosevelt’s Chai – it was spiced just right! My kids (who are not quite old enough for caffeine yet) enjoyed their hot chocolate and specialty pop tarts.

Easton Town Center

I could easily spend two days at Easton Town Center. Legoland, Lush, Peloton, It’Sugar, oh my – there is so much to see and do! We started our time at Easton with a trip to Legoland. My kids have always loved Legos, but with sports season in full swing, they haven’t spent much time playing with them. The trip to Legoland re-fueled their love of Legos, and I anticipate some master builders hard at work this summer. Our next stop was for candy, of course! What kid doesn’t like candy?! After both kids started their sugar rush, we ventured around Easton shopping for all the things. I was ecstatic to learn they have a Peloton store. I have never been properly fitted for my bike as we got ours during COVID-19 quarantine, so I was excited to get the info on where my bike should be. We also visited, “The world’s biggest Lush” according to my daughter. Lush is one of her favorite stores, so much so that her 9th birthday party will be at the store. We, of course, can’t pass a bookstore without stopping, so we ventured over to Barnes and Noble (also the “biggest” in the world according to my kids). We unfortunately didn’t make it to Trader Joe’s, so I have a perfect reason to head back to Columbus soon. Next time I think I want to drop my kids off with my husband at Legoland and spend some “mom time” shopping alone.

Brassica

While we were at Easton Town Center, we stopped for lunch. As we headed into Brassica, my kids noticed all the awards they have won posted on the outside of their doors. My daughter said, “Wow, it must be good to win all of these!” Chicken shawarma, falafel, humus, lentils and pitas – all foods my husband and I crave. My son and I were so excited to get salad bowls, but my very picky eater daughter was hesitant. She ordered a kid’s plate, and, she loved it – especially the pita! She kind of is a CARBivore. My son shared his shawarma with me, and I shared my falafel with him. Turns out said picky eater also really likes falafel! Brassica definitely earned every single award posted on their door. The real question is: how do we get one in southwest Ohio?

COSI

With a rainy afternoon, we headed to COSI to check out the MARVEL: Universe of Superheroes exhibit that is on display until Labor Day. My son has watched every MARVEL movie in order with my husband and was like a pinball pinging back and forth through the exhibit teaching my daughter everything he could about each movie and character. He convinced her it was time that she embark on the MARVEL journey now that she is 8. (Which he totally convinced her it was time and we started with Captain America this weekend!)

After finishing the MARVEL exhibit, my kids studied the map on my phone and decided they wanted to go visit Poseidon. As avid readers, my kids have read a lot about mythology and Poseidon. They were excited to learn about water and its properties. Fortunately, they were already wet from the rain when we went in, so a little more water wasn’t going to “hurt.” (I do recommend a change of clothes for younger kids as they can easily get quite wet in this area.) From the MARVEL exhibit, to the Ocean, to the Big Science Park and Exploring Energy, I was amazed at how much my kids already knew, but also learned about science. We are still locating all the energy vampires in our own home! I want to head back to COSI for a COSI After Dark adult event! They look like so much fun!

Milestone 229

Drool worthy! A perfect place for dinner with the family or a special date night. My son said it was, “Very gourmet and fancy!” My daughter kept having us clink our water glasses and make toasts. Not only was the food delicious, but the views are amazing, too! Milestone 229 is along the Scioto River and Bicentennial Park. Unfortunately, we ran into the restaurant in a downpour, so we did not get to take advantage of walking along the river, through the park or enjoy the fountains.

My daughter’s favorite part of the meal was definitely the “Trunchbull” chocolate cake as she decided to name it. It was a HUGE piece of chocolate cake that she said she could imagine Bruce from Matilda having to eat. This made us all laugh including our server, Scott (who is fantastic by the way!) I have an anniversary coming up soon and will be making reservations to return!

 

 

Jeni’s Ice Cream

Mmm! We can never pass up ice cream! Jeni’s was creamy and delicious. I highly recommend the Brambleberry Crisp! We enjoyed sitting in their shop reading the conversation starters they have for parents. As a behavior specialist, I loved that they had postcards near the checkout for parents to take that included the conversation starters as well as a QR code for more. I prioritize asking my kids specific questions about their day to ensure we always keep an open line of communication. Jeni’s nailed the questions, and I hope families take advantage of the postcards!

Big Fun Columbus

After enjoying our ice cream, we strolled down to Big Fun Columbus to check out the Vintage Toy Store. The family-favorite was the giant wall of jokes and pranks!

Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

Our family loves zoos, we have been to many in the Midwest. We have been to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium years ago, probably so long ago my kids don’t even remember. After scanning the map to my phone, we were off. My son wanted to see the wolves and my daughter (aka the tiger queen) wanted to see the tigers. We enjoyed seeing all the animals and most of all trying to decide who was the alpha of the Mexican wolves, watching the cheetahs “chase animals” in their sleep, and watching the red pandas chase each other.

The highlight of the trip was our walk through Asia and specifically the home of the tigers! One was sleeping, but my daughter “spoke tiger” to it and woke it up. She was fascinated by how close the tiger came to us, its beautiful stripes and fierce walk. My daughter wanted every single picture and art display of tigers for her room. I watched as she happily used every dollar she had to donate to the tigers while we were there as well. If you haven’t been to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium to see the tigers, my daughter gives it two “paws” up and highly recommends you make the trip to see them!

Visit Columbus with Your Family!

We are so grateful to Experience Columbus for coming up with a great list of places to visit and help us learn more about the city! We had a fantastic time and can’t wait to visit again soon! So, the next time you or someone you know is looking for a destination for a weekend getaway, put Columbus, Ohio at the top of the list!

Learn more and plan your next trip to Columbus with the family at experiencecolumbus.com.

About the Author

Amanda Hayward

Amanda Hayward is editor of this publication. She is from Cincinnati, Ohio, a military wife and mom of three. If she's not writing for Cincinnati Family, you'll find her running, juggling kids, teaching group fitness classes and cooking up healthy recipes.