Sometimes the best way to experience a city, no matter how familiar you are with the area, is to be lead by the hand of a child. Specifically your doesn’t-slow-down-for-anything nephew. I spent 4 years exploring Columbus while attending The Ohio State University (ahem……go bucks.), attending concerts, trying new restaurants and touring the city with my roommates. Since graduation, I’ve tried to visit as often as I can and rarely do I turn down the opportunity to spend time in my favorite city. So when Em had this grand plan to pack up her two year old son and head up to Columbus for a weekend full of toddler inspired fun, my bags were practically already packed.
Both family and budget friendly Columbus OH is a great place for a little getaway, no matter your age. We had such a great time as guests of the Columbus Zoo and Jurassic Quest, we thought we’d share our faves from our little weekend trip with all of you.
Where we started:
First on our list was the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. Okay okay …. first on our list was actually coffee and donuts. Anyway, moving on … We are frequent visitors (and members) of the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens. It is one of our favorite attractions in the Cincinnati area and has such a wonderful reputation … so why visit the Columbus Zoo? Because, not all zoo’s are alike, especially the Columbus Zoo! New animals, exhibits, rides and attractions make every zoo a completely different experience. The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is the home of Jack Hannah, and the new NatGeo show, Secrets of the Zoo and is known for its manatee rehabilitation and gorilla surrogacy programs.
What we loved most:
- Stroller/wheelchair accessibility – The Zoo is nearly completely flat (a welcome difference if you’re used to schlepping a wagon or stroller through the hills at the Cincinnati Zoo) Automatic doors were also everywhere. Being 8.5 months pregnant, Em decided to rent a motorized scooter so she would be able to keep up with us and found all the automatic doors to be incredibly convenient.
- Dinosaur Island – If there’s one thing my nephew loves more than a trip to the Zoo, it’s dinosaurs. He’s obsessed. So naturally we couldn’t pass up Dinosaur Island exhibit and boat ride
- Heart of Africa – Seeing zebra, giraffe, antelope and other African animals all playing and grazing together was unlike any other Africa exhibit we’d ever seen. A definite must see! Also, I highly suggest embracing your inner child and jump in line to ride a camel – because I sure did.
Upcoming Events at The Columbus Zoo:
- Classic car show (October 7th)
- Boo at the Zoo (Last 2 weekends in October) – pumpkin-palooza carved pumpkin display, pumpkin smashes for animals and treat stations for the little ones!
- Wild Lights (November 15 – January 6) The Columbus Zoo is lit up with more than 3 million lights and several animated light shows.
Suggestions and Tips:
- After purchasing tickets for a few of the rides, we came to the realization it would have been more cost effective to purchase a wristband than to buy individual tickets for the attractions.
- For our next visit we will likely bring some healthy snacks along. (Check the cooler/bag policy before packing!) We had a hard time finding healthy options for lunch, but on a 90 degree day we opted for a double scoop ice cream cone from the little ice cream shop just inside the gates.
Where we Stayed:
Homewood Suites Columbus/OSU
This was the perfect place for us to stay after a long day at the zoo. Huge rooms and a full kitchen were perfect for a take out dinner from Hudson 29 next door (because an un-napped two year old in a restaurant may as well be a time bomb.)
A clean, well kept pool provided a relaxing after dinner activity and I took advantage of the spacious fitness center … while pregnant Emily took advantage of having a whole bed to herself and total control of the thermostat.