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10 Kid Friendly Spring and Summer Activities

Ah, I fondly remember that glorious first day of summer vacation. My mother would boot me out the door in the morning with very specific instructions.

– Don’t let me catch you swimming in the Ohio River.

– No playing around the sand quarry.

– No climbing into the rafters of the old trolly barn.

– If you go into the woods, don’t fall off a high wall or down an abandoned coal mine shaft.

– Don’t tease the raccoons.

– If you’re playing on the railroad tracks, get off when you hear a train coming.

– Be home by dinner.

Granted, things have changed a bit since the sixties. And, I doubt we even have abandoned coal mine shafts in Delaware County. But we do have raccoons, so be careful out there.

You’ll be wanting to do things with the kiddos this summer, and Delaware County provides a lot of fun places to play and swim that are much cleaner and safer than the Ohio River. Let’s look at a few, mixing in the outdoor and the indoor activities.

Olentangy Caverns – This is one of Delaware County’s oldest and most enduring attractions. The cave was believed to have been used by the Wyandot tribe. Along with the cave tour, there are a variety of activities available, including a petting zoo, miniature golf, gem mining and the Bigfoot Walking Trail. No, you are not guaranteed to see Bigfoot. However, most summertime sightings of the legendary creature occur before noon, as he prefers the comfort of the cave to the afternoon heat. You can also book a birthday party at Olentangy Caverns, which is located at 1779 Home Road in Delaware. For more information, visit www.olentangycaverns.com.

Splash Pad at Veterans Park – Fun and free. The splash pad is located at 1121 S. Houk Rd. in Delaware. It’s open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Memorial Day through Labor Day. Bring your own chairs. Parents can relax while the kids complain about getting water in their eyes or because their older brother is not touching them, he’s not touching them, he’s not touching them.

Columbus Zoo and Aquarium – Yes, the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is actually located in Delaware County. Why? Because Delaware County rocks, which everybody knows, and the zoo founders wanted to be part of our total awesomeness. The zoo is famous for Jack Hanna, Colo, the first gorilla to be born in captivity, and Rainbow, the first and only unicorn born outside of the Kingdom of Calabria. The zoo is located at 4850 W. Powell Rd. in Powell. Check www.columbuszoo.org for hours and admission prices.

Zoombezi Bay – This is the waterpark located next to the zoo. Zoombezi, get it? If you want to get our sinuses cleaned out by firehose-type pressure coming down one of the water slides, this is the place for you. There are plenty of slides for the bold, and more tame attractions for . . . Well, since the management of Destination Delaware has banned me from using the term, “girly man” in this blog, let’s just go with . . . No, I can’t say that, either. Okay, say the faint of heart. Yes, plenty of activities for the faint of heart. Zoombezi is located at 4850 Powell Rd. – yes, same address as the zoo. For more information, visit www.zoombezibay.com.

Momi Land Polaris Indoor Playground – Located at 704 Radio Dr. in Lewis Center, Momi Land has the best indoor playground in Ohio. It says so right on the website, and if you read it on the Internet, it must be true. This is an amazing place for the eight-and-under crowd. It has an indoor playground with ball pits, trampolines, kitchen and vanity playrooms, multiple slides and a party venue. Momi Land has various options for participation, including paying by the visit, or monthly or annual memberships. Momi Land is open daily. For more information, visit: www.momiland.com.

Dave & Buster’s – Okay, let’s be real. This place is for grown-ups – dudes looking for an excuse to act like a kid. This is paradise for adults with video-game addictions. Hey, sweetheart, why don’t we take the kids to Dave & Buster’s and let them play some games. Ha! You’re not fooling the wife for a minute. She’s on to you. Fortunately, they have a great menu and bar, so Mom can have an extra glass or two of Chablis while you pretend not to be interested in Wicked Tuna or Top Gun: Maverick. Dave & Busters is located at 1554 Polaris Parkway.

Star Lanes – If you’re a serious bowler, this probably isn’t the place for you. It’s like bowling in a disco. But if you’re looking for a great place to take the kids to get out of the oppressive humidity or the torrential rain, both of which you’re likely to have within five minutes during a Central Ohio summer afternoon, this is the place. Fun bowling with side rails for the little ones, lots of funky lights and arcade games. You’ll have a member of the wait staff to bring you pizza, wings and beverages for adults who have been cooped up with the kids too long.

Here’s the bad news, kids. Mom and Dad are going to force you to continue educating yourself during the summer vacation. That’s right, deal with it. Quit whining or we’re not taking you to Zoombezi Bay. That’s better. Now, pay attention, because there’ll be a test.

The Nature Center at Highbanks Metro Park – The Nature Center is located at 9466 Columbus Pike in Lewis Center and is open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. The center has a variety of nature and cultural displays. There are also nine different hiking paths at the park where you can view nature up close.

Gallant Farm – Located at 2550 Buttermilk Hill Road in Delaware, Gallant Farm is part of the Preservation Parks system. It is a representation of a Depression-era farm. There are barnyard demonstrations by costumed interpreters. There is no charge for admission. Some programs have a nominal fee. For more information, visit: Gallant Farm – Preservation Parks of Delaware County

Stratford Ecological Center – This is an educational farm and nature preserve located at 3083 Liberty Rd. in Delaware. Stratford has four miles of hiking trails, livestock, gardens and greenhouses, along with the state nature preserve, which features a creek, pond, prairie and swamp. Stratford also offers summer camps for kids. There is still availability for this summer’s teen camp. The facility is dedicated to helping people understand the relationship between all living things and the environment.

PS: There’s no unicorn at the zoo. Please don’t call and ask.

By: Robin Yocum

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