Fun Family Activities in Cleveland, Ohio

Nostalgia kicked into full gear as I took my kids to places I used to visit as a child living in Cleveland, Ohio. Check out my list of family outings, recommended restaurants and shopping areas by clicking Cleveland Fun.pptx. You will also find spots to stop along the way from your trip from Columbus to Cleveland.  Here’s an example of the first of three pages.
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Cleveland Zoo

A not to miss spot is The Rainforest because it is unique. Make sure to check out the tree house staircase to get to the second floor. My kids thought it was super cool to climb!

 

Cleveland Zoo

 

Memphis Kiddie Park

Memphis Kiddie Park is a great spot for little ones. So often kids are denied entry onto rides because they are too short. Not here!!! It is the opposite. Kids must be less than 50 inches to ride majority of the rides.

Height check

This park truly caters to the younger crowd. There are about 10 carnival type rides to keep your kids entertained.

Memphis Kiddie Park

Each ride requires one ticket. You can buy individual tickets or a book of tickets for a better price. I bought the book of 25 ride tickets and coupons for $31. Can you believe that Memphis Kiddie Park has the oldest standing steel roller coaster in North America? Pretty cool!

Lake Farm Park

Want to experience farm life? If so, visit Lake Farm Park in Kirtland to see a working farm. During our outing my kids got to pet a 6-day-old baby calf, 3-week-old piglets, 3-month-old kids (goats) and other animals such as sheep and horses. They were thrilled to milk a cow and ride a pony. There were interactive displays, indoor play areas, playground and greenhouse.

Lake Farm Park

Close to Lake Farm Park is Penitentiary Glen Reservation which is another Lake Metropark. Stop here for a free experience. The Kevin P. Clinton Wildlife Center houses 25 different animals (mainly birds). This is a rehabilitation center with the hope to release these animals back into the wild.

On the same property is a nature center. Here you can sit outside and observe wildlife in a tranquil environment. Learning opportunities inside include a touchscreen computer where you can read facts about different Ohio animals, bees that come in and out of a tube to make a beehive, stuffed animal area for pretend play and many signs to read.

Great Lakes Science Center

What a great way to spend a rainy day! The Beyond Rubik’s Cube Exhibit was super neat. It is a temporary exhibit and will only be on display until September 7, 2015. So get there soon if you want to experience the fun!

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There were numerous interactive exhibits to keep kids of all ages and adults entertained. The Polymer Funhouse is geared towards kids under 7. My kids spent a long time in the ball pit and filling up the scooper.

Since I am a COSI member my visit was free and I only had to pay for parking. Big thumbs up for that!

Pizza

Cruise the main street in Little Italy for some authentic Italian food. A popular stop is Mama Santa’s for pizza and Corbo’s Bakery for some mouth-watering desserts. There is a playground on the street too if your kids need to burn off some energy.

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My personal favorite pizza in Cleveland is Geraci’s. The pepperoni is one of a kind and so delicious!

Beaches

Cleveland sits right on Lake Erie so why not stop at one of the beaches on the Great Lakes? As a kid we used to visit Huntington Beach. Digging in the sand, taking in the views, walking the beach and checking out the nice homes as you cruise down the road are great way to spend a warm summer day or evening. If you are brave enough to get in the cold water make sure you check the water quality to ensure that it is safe.

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Malley’s Chocolates

I have fond memories of visiting Malley’s ice cream shop and sitting on the moving carousel that slowly spins in a circle. Seriously, how cool is it to rotate around to your original location? The charm of Malley’s is what you expect when you think of an ice cream shop. The hot fudge sundaes are to die for good! Just typing this I wish I had some of the warm, yummy goodness right now to eat. I visit the North Olmstead shop but there are 3 other ice cream shop locations and several locations that serve candy only.

Malley's

Cleveland may be nick named “mistake by the lake” but I think there is so much to explore. Do you have a favorite spot?

 

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Freebies at Disney World

I’ve been to Disney many times and am still learning things I never knew about the best and cheapest ways to enjoy the parks.  Thanks to Erin Davis from Magical Moments Vacations for her Disney freebie tips below.  These will be very useful in my upcoming Disney trip!
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Believe it or not, there are lots of FREE things to do at Walt Disney World!  Here are some of my very favorites!
1) “Ye Haa” Bob Jackson has been entertaining guests at the River Roost Lounge in Port Orleans Riverside for nearly 20 years!  Bob performs a VERY popular sing-a-long piano show Wednesday – Saturday nights, beginning at 8:30pm.  This is a great way to spend the evening if it’s raining or if you want to get away from crowded parks.  His shows are family friendly, and you usually see kids there until about the second intermission.  Get there a little early to grab the best seats.  Ye Haa Bob usually mingles with the audience before the show, so be sure to tell him if you’re celebrating anything, or if you have a song request!
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2) Did you know that Walt Disney World Resorts have nightly movie showings?  Disney Movies Under the Stars is a great way to wind down after a busy day in the parks.  You are not limited to watching movies at your resort.  Feel free to resort hop!  Every resort has a different movie schedule.
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3) Disney’s Ft. Wilderness Campground has  a daily Chip ‘n’ Dale’s Campfire Sign-A-Long that is free!  The Sing-A-Long generally starts around 8 pm in the summer, and is held near the Meadow Trading Post in the campfire area.  The program starts off with a Disney cast member leading a sing-along, followed by a marshmallow roast around two campfire rings.  You may bring your own marshmallows, or buy them at the Chuckwagon Snack Bar.  Chip and Dale make an appearance to visit with guests, so don’t forget your autograph books!  The sing-along lasts around 45 minutes, and is followed by a Disney movie.
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4) Animation Academy at Disney’s Hollywood Studios has a class that teaches you how
to draw a Disney character.  Classes are held every 30 minutes, and you’ll find that they are less crowded later in the day.  Frame them when you get home and you’ll have a great souvenir. (This CLOSED in July so we will stay tuned to see what Disney has coming next.)
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5) Free Drinks!  You can work up quite a thirst at Walt Disney World.  Forget about the $3 bottles of water!  Go to any of the counter service restaurants in the parks and ask for a large cup of ice water.  This also works for hot water, so you can bring instant packs of coffee with you for an afternoon coffee break.  If you’re at Epcot, don’t forget to check out Club Cool and sample drinks from around the world for free!  Located near Innovations West in Future World, this exhibit features Coca-Cola products from 8 different countries.  Kids love this, and it’s a great place to get out of the hot Florida sun and enjoy a refreshing beverage.
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 Did you know Erin can help you plan your Disney Dream Vacation and there is no fee for her service?   That’s another great freebie!  Take advantage of her expertise and allow you to have a stress free planning experience.
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Magical Moments Vacations has earned the distinction of being named an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner. This special designation is given by Disney in recognition of the agency’s ongoing focus and commitment to planning customized, magical vacations to the Disney Parks, Disney Cruise Line and other Disney destinations!

Erin Davis is a graduate of Disney’s College of Knowledge, and completes regular Disney training–including on-site visits–to ensure fluency with all the new attractions, systems and entertainment at the Disney Parks and Resorts.

Magical Moments Vacations is accredited by both IATA and CLIA and is part of the Vacation.com Travel Consortium.  

In addition to Disney destinations, Magical Moments Vacations by Erin Davis also books vacations to a wide variety of other destinations, including cruises, river cruises, all-inclusive resorts in Mexico and the Caribbean, Hawaii, Europe and more!

Erin Davis
Travel Specialist
Magical Moments Vacations
(330) 204-1748
EDavis@MMVAgent.com
 
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Patio Dining in Columbus, Ohio

If you’re like me than every time the weather is nice all I want to do is eat my meals outside. Each time I rack my brain trying to remember all of the patios in town. Inevitably I can only think of a few. I’ve said a million times, “I have to make a list of patio dining options” so without further ado here is my Columbus list…

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Screen Shot 2015-06-15 at 1.19.19 PMClick the link for the complete printable list:Patio dining.pptx

I know I missed many great patio dining spots in Columbus so I’ll be updating the list soon. Comment below if you have a favorite spot to add to the list!  🙂

 

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Little Buckeye Children’s Museum

While COSI may be a great Science Center I have long wished for a Children’s Museum in Columbus, Ohio. I found a true gem- Little Buckeye Children’s Museum in Mansfield. Although it isn’t in Columbus it is close enough and so worth the drive!

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There were 28 interactive displays that allowed your child to be creative, engage in pretend play, explore and learn. The colorful artwork on the walls and quotes reminding you about the true importance of play were visually appealing. With two floors of fun there was so much to do.

So often children want to model adult behavior and act like a grown up. Little do they realize that working in the real world isn’t always glamorous as they think, but at least they were pumped to test out some career options. My daughter enjoyed taking care of doll babies in the hospital, using hair supplies to style and accessorize human like heads and take my order as she worked at McDonalds. My son was really interested with the bank area where he could use money to role-play as a banker. He also enjoyed acting as a dentist while he pretended to clean his sister’s teeth.

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Other areas to spark curiosity included a nature area with tanks of small living creatures, a room full of soft foam building materials to make structures, and a transportation area with trains and airplanes.

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Another few notes:

  • Admission is $7, which I think is really reasonable. They do have reciprocity for half off admission if you have a membership with another children’s museum (not science centers).
  • Cleanliness was a priority at this museum. There were spots to place toys that may have wondered into little one’s mouths, play sections were organized and I even saw one of the workers wiping down the tables and chairs while we were leaving.
  • Snacks such as Animal Crackers and Goldfish could be purchased for a dollar.

Other spots nearby:

  • As an added perk you can walk down the street and spend $2 to allow your child to take a ride on the carousel.
  • Visit the super cute boutique called Little Bo-tique. What a cute name and such an adorable store. They sell new and gently used children’s clothes and accessories, toys and maternity clothes. In the back is a play area to keep your kiddos entertained while you shop around. The owner was so friendly, offered balloons to my kids and answered politely as they asked her a million questions.DSC_1650
  • Two Cousins Pizza is down the street. I heard that the pizza is tasty and kids can make their own pizzas. There are great reviews on tripadvisor so we will be checking this place out on our next visit to Mansfield.
  • Ohio Bird Sanctuary is about 9 miles away. It is free and a neat place to visit. (I have more to say about this spot so stay tuned!)

Needless to say I was beyond impressed with our day in Mansfield. The next day my kids were already asking to go back. I know it won’t be long until we visit again!  🙂

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Strawberry Picking and Recipe

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Strawberry picking has started in Ohio.   My kids LOVED picking berries. It was like a little hunt as they searched for only the red ones. We tried to see who could find the smallest strawberry, largest strawberry and oddest shape.

Here are some u-pick locations in the Central Ohio area. Make sure you call ahead or visit their Facebook pages because fields have a tendency to be open sporadically due to the amount of berries available and the weather.

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After your visit you will be thinking about all the different recipes you can make with strawberries. My kids wanted to make strawberry cake so I decided to “assemble” a cake that I have been making since I was 8 years old. It is super easy, only uses a few products and it tastes delicious.

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  • Use your freshly picked strawberries or buy the four ingredients shown in the picture below (Strawberries, Angel Food Cake, box of strawberry Jell-O and tub of Cool Whip).Screen Shot 2015-06-06 at 6.02.44 PM
  • To flavor the cool whip I mix in a small box of strawberry Jell-O.Screen Shot 2015-06-06 at 6.24.56 PM
  • Slice the Angel Food Cake in half horizontally.
  • Use the strawberry flavored Jell-O to frost the bottom half of the cake.
  • Layer some strawberries in the middle.
  • Put the top part of the cake back on.
  • Frost the rest of the cake and place more strawberries on the top.

Strawberry picking season doesn’t last too long so don’t wait to go. Not only will you have fun but you’ll also be supporting a local farmer. 🙂

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Free Daily Bowling For Kids!

With the cold and dreary weather today my kids and I decided to check two things off our Summer Bucket List. First we signed up for the summer reading program at the library and then we headed to the bowling lanes.Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 11.39.39 PM

Did you know you could sign your children up to receive a certificate via email for 2 free bowling games per child all summer long???? Yes, it is an incredible deal. Just go to www.KidsBowlFree.com/PlainCity to register. There are a ton of other Ohio cities that are participating in this program as well as in other states. Check out www.kidsbowlfree.com to see the other available locations. I spent a minute or two entering my information and then immediately received the email with the certificates.

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Here’s what I loved about our experience today:

*It only took me about 15 minutes to drive to Plain City Lanes & Pizza from the Dublin library.

* Bowling shoe rentals were $2.50 each so for a total of $5.00 my kids enjoyed two full games.

* The staff was friendly. They helped me find the 6-pound balls and get the ramp so my kids could push the ball down. Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 11.39.49 PM

* We can head back tomorrow and every other day this summer if we decide we want another bowling adventure.

The lanes are right next to Der Dutchman so I recommend stopping there before or after to dine in or pick up some yummy treats at the bakery. We will definitely fit that into our next trip.  🙂

Enjoy!

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My Summer Bucket List

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One more day of work until my summer vacation officially starts! I’ve created my local Summer Bucket List full of exciting activities for my family. Click here: LocalBusyBeesSummerBucket2015.pptx  for a printable version of my list and a blank copy of the template so you can write in your ideas.

I’m thrilled to have been asked to guest blog on The Club Mom.  Check out my blog post at http://theclubmom.com/category/family/ for a ton of ideas for everyone.   I have lists of outdoor activities, craft ideas, rainy day fun and more.

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Leave a comment below about what is on your Summer Bucket List. Whatever it is, I hope it is fun filled! 🙂

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Stop “Summer Slide”-Fun Activities to Keep Your Kids Thinking

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I can’t believe summer vacation will begin in just a few days. As a teacher I must give my public service announcement about the importance of maintaining a summer learning routine. By this, I don’t mean skill and drill worksheets that will result in a battle between you and your child, but rather fun activities that keep their brains thinking and charged up. It’s all about disguising the learning because after all learning can and should be FUN!

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You don’t want your child to experience “Summer Slide” because if their brain sits idle for too long it may result in a loss of academic skills. Not only have I witnessed this first hand but there is a ton of research about the loss of learning that occurs over summer break for some students. When it comes to learning, nobody wants to see his or her child slide backwards. Here is a wide range of engaging activities that your kids (and you) will enjoy!

Click StopSummerSlide.pptx for a printable with over 100 high interest ideas.  There are activities for toddler through upper elementary children.

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Screen Shot 2015-05-23 at 8.52.37 AMScreen Shot 2015-05-23 at 8.53.53 AM(Above is just a sample of the pages.  Click StopSummerSlide.pptx for the entire document.)

Read, Read, Read!!!

Screen Shot 2015-05-20 at 9.45.00 PMThis is the single most important thing your child should do throughout the summer.  Signing up for the summer reading program at your local library is always a motivator for reading.  Read to your children, with your children and encourage them to read as much as they can.

Build background knowledge about places you’ll be visiting.  For example, if you are going on vacation to Washington D.C. read books with your child and have them learn a little history about what they will be seeing. Perhaps they can help you plan the itinerary or keep a journal about their experiences.

Vacations

Here is one of my favorite quotes that emphasis the importance of exposing your child to a wide variety of opportunities.

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Have an entertaining summer and remember to squeeze in some learning time!

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Fun Ways to Celebrate the End of the School Year!

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When I think of the last day of school I can’t help but sing, “School’s Out For Summer” by Alice Cooper. It’s such an iconic song symbolizing the end of a school year and the beginning of a more relaxed schedule. Why not start Summer Vacation off right with a way to celebrate your child’s accomplishments and have fun?

Here are some exciting ways to kick start summer:

  • Have a countdown to summer calendar.
  • Take a photo of your child on their last day. Click Last Day Signs.pptx for printable signs.
  • Leave a note on your child’s bathroom mirror before school, tucked in their lunch box or waiting somewhere for them when they arrive home.Screen Shot 2015-05-12 at 7.20.19 PM
  • Send your child to school with a last day of school shirt. (You could even have their classmates autograph it, but you may want to check with their teacher first.)
  • Bus Stop Greeting- have a treat to give them when they get off the bus such as a popsicle or cupcake.
  • Arrange for a special visitor to come over such as a grandparent, aunt, uncle, cousin, friend, neighbor.
  • Throw a Bash! It could be simple or elaborate. Consider coordinating with neighbors or their classmates for a joint party.
    • Theme Ideas:
      • Ice Cream Shop- have different flavors of ice cream with toppings for them to create their own sundae.
      • Camp Out- have a tent set up, roast marshmallows, grill out
      • Water- fill a small pool, have squirt guns, run through the sprinkler, slip-n-slide
      • Game Night- Twister, Tag, Bean Bag Toss, Pickle in the Middle
      • Home Drive-in- watch a movie under the stars
      • Minute to Win it Games
      • Beach Party or Luau
  • Welcome Home Banner- hang it on the garage, front porch, or have them run through it.  Click Last Day posters.pptx for printable signs.
  • Door Decorations- decorate your front door with things such as streamers or balloons.
  • Chalk Sayings on the driveway or along the path on the way home.
  • Dinner- cook their favorite meal or go out to dinner.
  • Special Activity such as a park, miniature golf, bowling, etc.
  • Decorate your car for pick up with balloons, streamers or the markers you can write on your car or fill your car with balloons. ** I have not tried this so test these items out first in an inconspicuous spot to make sure there is no damage to your car.**
  • Jazz up their bike with streamers or other fun items and have a bike parade.
  • Gift basket with summer related items or gear (bubbles, swim suit, goggles, sunscreen, sidewalk chalk, etc.)  Click S’more.pptx for the s’more gift tags.Screen Shot 2015-05-12 at 7.48.13 PM
  • Sayings: Fun in the Sun, That’s a Wrap, Goodbye ___th grader, Hello ___th grader!, O”fish”ally Summer, Too Cool for School, Have a Ball This Summer, I’m Looking Forward to Spending “S’More” Time With You

First impressions are everything so kickoff the summer with something that will make your kids smile!

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Battelle Darby Creek

DSC_1102I can’t believe I’ve lived in Columbus since college and haven’t visited Battelle Darby Creek before.  I’ve missed out all of these years but I’m sure glad I know about it now.  It is perfect for people in all stages of life and varying interests.  I saw many people running and biking the trails, out walking with their binoculars, taking their dog for a stroll, families and couples hiking and people fishing.

Hiking Trails 

Battelle Darby Creek is Ohio’s largest Metro Park with miles and miles of activities.  We started our day at the Cobshell trail near the Ranger Station.  Here I grabbed a guide that included a map of the trails with details such as difficultly level and length.  Since I was with my 3 and 5 year old I didn’t want to be overzealous and get too far out on a trail only to have one of them utter the words, “carry me”.  We took the path down towards the creek and enjoyed watching the creek gush on by.  There was a ranger walking around and my son was interested in asking him what kinds of animals lived in the area.

Playgrounds

My kids had spotted a few swing set areas when we initially pulled in so they wanted to go play on those for a bit.  Kids who were attending celebrations at the nearby shelters you can rent also wandered over for some playtime.

Bison 

Then we hopped in the car and drove about 1 mile down the road to another entrance (1415 Darby Creek Drive, Galloway, Ohio 43119).  As we drove in we saw lots of bison in the field.  We went over to the fenced area and watched these creatures as they roamed around.

Nature Center

Nature Center (FREE!!)

Next up was exploring the Nature Center, which was FREE.  Also this center stays open later into the evening so it really gives you a lot of options to fit this into your schedule.  There were so many hands on opportunities to learn about animals and habitats.  My children loved sticking their hands in the large water area and getting to touch a turtle and a frog.  There were lots of animal skins sitting on tables so you could feel the different textures.  Another large room had a huge projection screen area to view short videos, pretend wooden tree for puppet shows, animal magnets you could maneuver on a wall and screens with buttons to push to learn more information.  This room is where they do story times a few times a month so we will have to head back for that.  My children and I were intrigued and were really surprised at all there was to do there.   The facility was new, clean, well managed and engaging so that is always a plus in my book.

We finished our day by heading to a natural play area where you were encouraged to go off the path and explore in the woods.  The signs said feel free to dig in the dirt, build a fort with sticks and investigate the natural environment.

What could be better than a day exploring Mother Nature’s beauty, spending time with my family and getting some exercise?  Not much.  Consider spending a day at one of Columbus’s wonderful Metro Parks!

Click on the link for a list of activities upcoming activities at various Metro Parks.  Link: Metro Park Activities

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