Spring Break is often the time to get away, to rest and to unwind. Many people use it as a chance to vacation but this year I saw it as the perfect chance for a staycation!
When you’re on a budget, a fancy vacation may not be in the cards, but what I have found is that staying home and exploring your own city can be just as fun! Adventuring through Columbus will never get old!
Hardly a week goes by without us enjoying some fresh donuts. DK Diner in Grandview is one of our favorite spots for fresh donuts. I would argue that they have the best donuts in Columbus. Yep, I said it. They even offer a breakfast sandwich served on a donut!
Helpful Hints: DK diner is no secret in Columbus, so if you want your pick of the best donuts, make sure to go early, especially on the weekend. It get’s crowded so don’t let a little wait scare you away. Help yourself to a cup of coffee (self-serve) while you wait; just make sure to tell them to add it to your tab when you check out. If you don’t want to wait, you can also purchase donuts to go!
Highbanks Metropark is practically in our backyard. Quinn loves the multiple playgrounds, picnic areas and nature center. I love that I get to utilize one of more than 10 trails, whether for walking or running, while she has fun and enjoys nature as well! It’s a win win!
Helpful hints: Make sure to check which trails allow dogs. There are unpaved trails perfect for hiking, while the park also boasts many paved paths that we love to walk or run on.
The nature center not only offers clean bathrooms but also a bird watching library, a kids play area and much more. It is interactive and provides a perfect break from the blustery winter winds or the blazing heat (depending on the time of year).
Growing up, one of my favorite outings with my Mom was to the Franklin Park Conservatory. Their butterfly exhibit has been around as long as I can remember and holds a special place in my heart. My mom and I have been dying to take Quinn for a girls outing, so Spring Break seemed like the perfect excuse to start new traditions.
There is so much to see and do at the conservatory, but it was a no-brainer for us to begin with the butterfly exhibit.
The conservatory is way more kid friendly than I ever would have thought. They have a life-size Light Bright, a play farmer’s market, train display and more. They are also finishing construction on a new outdoor kids park, scheduled to open Summer 2018.
Helpful hints: If you have a Columbus Zoo membership, you get BOGO (buy one get one FREE) admission!
Blooms and Butterflies does cost an additional $2/ person (or $1/ person with your zoo BOGO deal) and is only open from March 10- September 16 due to the short lifespan of a typical butterfly.
If you love cooking, make sure to check out the cooking classes that are offered through the conservatory’s event space, The Wells Barn. They are diverse and tend to be cheeper than similar cooking classes that you might find around the city (definitely cheaper than the classes we have taken at Sur La Table).
My sister volunteers on COSI’s young professional board and has truly instilled in me a love for COSI. The fact that we have this amazing resource and powerhouse of science research and learning right here in Columbus is a blessing that is not lost on me. There are events and attractions for “kids” of all ages.
We have debated getting a membership for quite some time. To be honest though, I was afraid that Quinn was too young. I didn’t think I could justify spending the money when there would likely not be a whole lot for Quinn to take advantage of.
Boy was I wrong. There are SO many activities for toddlers and kids of all ages! They even offer sensory friendly days which cater to individuals with disabilities.
Nearly every exhibit had something that drew Quinn in and engaged all of her senses. The little kid space was just the icing on the cake! We went with friends who have two girls themselves. The three girls had an absolute blast making messes and exploring. I loved watching their inquisitive little minds take it all in like sponges!
Helpful hints: In addition to kids under the age of 2 getting in for FREE, thanks to COSI’s fabulous new President, teachers now get FREE admission as well! Parking is $5 regardless of whether you have a membership or not but they just added a new underground garage in addition to the surface level lots, which is nice!
Also, make sure to take advantage of COSI After Dark, a 21+ event that is a great excuse for adults to eat, drink and explore COSI after hours!
Though Newport, Kentucky isn’t quite staying in Columbus, it’s less than a 2 hour drive, straight down Interstate 71. It’s a quick and easy drive that makes for a perfect day trip. Perched right on the river, the Newport Aquarium is an attraction for kids and adults alike. Fish, stingrays, sharks, alligators and penguins are just a few of the many species that you’ll see as you explore. You’ll find more than enough to keep you busy between the endless sea creatures, the large playground, a delicious and affordable food court and many hands-on experiences for kids.
Helpful hints: Buy tickets ahead of time to avoid lines. Nothing I read before we went implied that this was necessary. We showed up on Good Friday and were told there was a minimum of a three hour wait. We had done the math ahead of time and had entertained the idea of getting an annual pass because it paid for itself in less than two visits. My quick thinking husband asked if we bought an annual pass if we would still have to wait. The answer was no. We jumped to a special line and were inside within 10 minutes. BONUS – with a Columbus Zoo membership, we got an additional 10% off of our annual pass!
This is by no means an exhaustive list! There are so many other places around Columbus that we love to explore. I hope that these places inspire your Columbus adventures!