It’s official; Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow, which means we are in for 6 more weeks of winter. This can be the hardest time of year for active families. The lack of Vitamin D and inconsistent weather make for some very antsy and grouchy children…not to mention their parents! I started a list a month ago of some great places in Columbus for a young toddler to explore during this time of the year, Columbus Winter Outings, With a Toddler, Pt. 1. Below, I have continued the list with some additional ways toddlers can play, explore, and learn while out and about in Columbus.
Pee Wee Play Gym/Toddler Time: The Westerville Community Center offers open gym for young children, ages three-years & under. It’s called “Pee Wee Play Gym” and costs $3 per child/per visit. The gym is set up with a wide variety of large play equipment and smaller toys for developing fine motor skills. Pee Wee Play Gym is offered on Mondays, Jan 9 – Mar 20 and Toddler Time is offered on Fridays, January 13 – Mar 24. The open gym is located at the Westerville Community Center (350 N. Cleveland Avenue).
Battelle Darby Creek Nature Center: We are so thankful for the Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks, even in the winter months! The Battelle Darby Creek Nature Center is a beautiful facility located in the Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park near Galloway and completely free to the public. The Nature Center offers a “living stream” with toads and fish that can be explored from above, below, and beside. In addition, the nature center has interactive exhibits and a variety of animal pelts for children to explore. Outside, there is a heard of bison that roam freely within two enclosed pastures. If you are lucky, they will be in the pasture near the parking lot when you arrive! Finding your way there can be a bit tricky, so be sure to follow the signs off of Darby Creek Drive in Galloway.
Explore a New Library: Did you know there are 30+ library branches in Central Ohio? Not only do the libraries offer wonderful structured programming (story times/crafts), but a new library branch can be a destination in itself. We have spent many mornings exploring the newly renovated Main Library downtown on Grant Ave and the new library on Parsons Avenue. We have a blast checking out these new library spaces, finding new books, and playing with the interactive toys and exhibits. Best of all, these wonderful resources are free to the public!
Music & Movement: The Grandview Heights Public Library offers the only “drop-in” music class in central Ohio, that I’ve been able to find. (If you know of another drop-in music class, please share in the comments) This class is offered on Mondays, January 2 – February 27 (no class on February 20), from 11 a.m. to 1130 a.m., for children ages 2 to 5. No registration is require and it is free to the public.
Franklin Park Conservatory: The Conservatory offers a balmy oasis when the winter weather is getting you down. You can take your coat off and explore three biomes (Himalayan Mountain/Rainforest/Desert), the Pacific Island Water Garden, the Showhouse, and the Palmhouse, to see the more than 400 species of plants on display. We enjoy taking the time to wander and often find something new each time we visit. If you are looking for something a little more structured, the conservatory also offers great family programming. Personally, I think the membership is worth the investment!