I LOVE that there are plenty of cheap/free things to do right here in Central Ohio for kids of all ages.  Here are a few of my favorite picks … just in time for summer vacation:  

  • Family Nights at the Columbus Zoo. (4-8 p.m. Wednesdays from June 24-August 20) See the awesome animal exhibits (the North America region is always an exciting place to wander at sundown), take part in family activities at the Water’s Edge events park and more!  
  • Dive In Movies at Zoombezi Bay.  Surprise the kids with a night at the movies—viewed from atop a floating raft in the Wild Tides Wave Pool! They’ll be talking about this experience for years to come.  
  • Feed their need for speed with a visit to SportsOhio for a spin on one of the 30 Go Karts, with designs inspired by Nascar cars. Drivers must be 40” tall and driven by someone age 18+ ($5 for five minutes)—but the Rookie Track caters to ages 4-10 ($2 for three minutes). 
  • The Abbey Theater (tucked inside the Dublin Community Recreation Center), offers great children’s programming year-round. Summer family-friendly shows include “Pushcart Players” (June 25), “That 70s Cindy—Abbey Players” (July 6-10) and Madcap Puppet Theatre (Aug. 20).  Show prices range from Free--to-$7/per person.
  • Ballantrae Park Splash Pad. You’ve heard us talk about this no-cost, wet wonderland before. Put the kids in their suits, pack a picnic then let ‘em play, climb the hill near the Dancing Hares sculptures and have fun! Free!
  • Go Ahead & Play with your Food! Central Ohio is rich in factory tours (most of which are free or cheap). Discover the secret of the French Pot method of ice cream making during the self-guided tour at Graeter’s Bethel Road location (free). Watch the movie “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”—then go see the real step-by-step process of making fine chocolates during the Anthony Thomas Chocolate Factory Tour (also free). Or check out The American Whistle Factory--so your kids can see for themselves how they get the little ball inside the whistle. ($4/per person, includes whistle.)