Like most parents with an active child, I’ve had to keep up with my son and keep him busy. It can be hard, especially when you live somewhere with all the seasons — winter is not easy to do things, in my opinion. In Ohio, we don’t know what the weather is truly like until the day of because the low 60’s can be warm or cold, give or take.
Growing up in Columbus, I feel like there was a lack of places to go outside of the zoo or the ice skating rink which was a good 20+ minutes away. Most of the places that we had were movie theaters and that’s not really fun until you’re older. Plus, there aren’t a ton of kid movies coming out these days. I feel like there was a lack of things to do when I was younger, but Columbus has really pulled it together and brought some fun places for kids to enjoy.
Nonetheless, having a child during the slow or gray seasons means that you have to improvise. At least, in my case. We’re not the type of people that can stay in the house every weekend because my son gets unruly and needs to let the energy out. Do I wish I had a gym in my basement? Of course but until then, we have to make do with doing activities around the city. It helps that most activities are energy-driven or learning activities.
And, I highly recommend all that I have listed below because each location provided a great time and great atmosphere for the 2-5 age demographic.
Most people don’t know this, but LegoLand in Columbus has a legit mini amusement park/play place in it. I think people assume it’s just a store full of legos. It’s not. There’s a whole section full of rides, a giant play area, movie theater, lego stations, and a cafe. It’s literally one of my favorite places to take my son. Plus, it’s at Easton Town Center so we can always shop after if we’re up to it.
Anyways, I love LegoLand only because my son has a great time when we go. There is seating for parents to watch as their children explore the area. It’s around $30-$40 a person — it might seem hefty but if it’s a once a month thing, I think there’s a way to fit it in the budget. They have annual passes, as well, if you decide to continuously go. You can spend hours at LegoLand and you get your money’s worth. The only con is no cell service but as soon as you go back upstairs, you’re good. My son loves this place and it makes me happy to see him happy. Highly recommend and they do birthday parties!
Give us all the trampoline parks! GetAir is one of our favorite places to go — mainly because of their allotted times for younger children and having this gigantic trampoline area for kids to run around in. We did my son’s birthday party here and it was amazing. Obviously, it’s going to be a bit pricey but food and drinks are included.
GetAir is a definite nap assistant. I will say that my son thinks he is on top of the world when we go and he crashes in the car after we’re all done. We truly enjoy ourselves when we go and they have snacks to you can refuel. I highly recommend the toddler times and younger kid times because some kids can be a bit ruly and why shouldn’t they be? Their schedule is great for knowing the best times to stop by, as well.
Columbus Zoo & Aquarium
Now if you’re reading this and you know my son and I offline, then you know he loves animals. He’s obsessed. I love his enthusiasm for all creatures and learning random facts about them. He’s awesome, if you couldn’t tell. The Columbus Zoo is one of our favorite places to go on the weekends and when they do their holiday fun (Boo at the Zoo, Christmas Lights). We love the exhibits and how each area is grouped by the continent that each animal inhabits.
One thing I will call out is that the zoo is big. Make sure that you pack the snacks, stroller, and your walking shoes. It’s a lot, but it’s a good workout mixed in with family time. My favorite part is probably Africa because you get to feed the giraffes and see the hyenas run out for food. My son loved feeding the giraffes and I suggest bringing cash so you can participate in it and not have to worry about finding an atm. Go to the zoo — it’s fun and study less busy times because it does get very busy once school is out.
You can’t go wrong with COSI. Not going to lie, I’ve lived in Columbus for 20+ years and had never been to COSI until we took my son last fall. I was truly amazed and I’m sure if I had tagged along when my family went when I was 13 years old, I could have compared the differences from then and now. Anyways, COSI is a great place to take your children. There is truly something for everyone at COSI. My son loves the top floor which is all play-based. There is so much, I haven’t even seen all of COSI.
Thankfully, my mom bought a membership so we will be going to COSI a lot more. I’m excited to visit the different exhibits and see something other than the dinosaurs the next time that I go. It’s a great experience for kids. There are activities for them to participate in so it encourages their interest in what is going on. From space and the plants to dinosaurs and the ocean, the exhibits capture and share so much knowledge.
I’ve been to two UrbanAirs and I have to give the Cleveland UrbanAir their props. The Columbus location moved into an old building on the East side and it’s nice. I’m hoping a version similar to Crocker Park’s location comes to Easton, though. UrbanAir is perfect for children of all ages. I feel like when we went, the children were on the older side. It’s very congested compared to some places because there is so much to do. The activities vary and it’s dark so it’s like running around during laser tag to keep up with your kid.
My child loves anything fun so we do have fun here. There are trampolines and a giant play place that he doesn’t get tired. He’s absolutely obsessed with jumping and climbing things so we get a lot done when we go here. One thing to consider is UrbanAir is like birthday party city so it’s always packed. We’ve been for a birthday party and regular play and it’s always busy.
As a mom with a child on the younger side, I definitely felt that I had no knowledge of places to take him before venturing out on my own.
I had to share our experiences because I know I’m not the only parent that gets tired of park-hopping throughout the weekends. Not that I don’t like a good park or two. The parks are some of our go-tos especially as they redo the parks and build new ones. But, I love to do things inside that are age-appropriate.
Some other places that I can suggest that we’ve done is look into your local parks & recreation for winter sports. We’re about to sign up for basketball or swim lessons, something that will keep up busy for 8-10 weeks until the warm weather is back.
My son is very active and always moving so these activities are the perfect catalyst to keeping him busy. He loves when we have our adventures and little dates. And for me, it’s honestly refreshing to run into other parents and make new friends with the potential for a play date. I love seeing my kid happy and taking him places. But don’t get me wrong, I love being a homebody, too. We just make sure there’s some balance.
We love to have fun and explore — these locations are perfect for your younger children. Plus, you can say that you cut out an hour or two of screentime if you’re into that kind of thing 😉