In Columbus, rainy days are unfortunately not few and far between. Couple rain with temperatures in the low 40s, and your options for keeping a toddler busy on a Saturday are limited. It was one of those days a couple weekends ago and my son, Brady, and I hit the road for an afternoon out.
A few months ago we discovered indoor putt putt at a small strip center off the main drag running through Gahanna. I had driven by it prior to having a kid, but it wasn’t on the short list for date night options in my mid-20s. Now that I have a four-year-old that loves golf, swinging things and yelling, we had to check it out. Don’t be fooled by the exterior appearance of the building – this place is clean and well run. Each golfer gets to choose a glow-in-the-dark wristband and a rechargeable illuminating golf ball. 18 holes of neon lined greens under the black lights await for an experience that kids (and adults) of all ages will enjoy.
No putt putt course is complete without a zoo of animals throughout and a prize & free round for a hole-in-one on 18. Brady aced 18 and went with the finger light for his prize. Solid choice, son.
After we filled our bellies at Jason’s Deli (tip: eat-in and take advantage of the free ice cream), we headed east on Polaris Parkway to Lakeshore Learning. I didn’t know much about the place, but I got an email about a Pete the Cat craft day. I learned that craft day for kids happens every Saturday at Lakeshore, and who doesn’t love Pete and his groovy buttons? We stopped by on our way home and, what I thought would be a quick trip, ended up being an hour of art and exploration.
Brady opted for the Pete puppet and managed to assemble the entire thing on his own (sort of). The staff was great and well prepared for a crowd. I highly recommend craft day, even if you only have 20 minutes to burn.
After Pete got his buttons and misshaped eyes, we explored for a bit among the different education based games and activities they had to try. The kind folks at Lakeshore even had story-time for those interested. The day’s activities caught up with us and we opted out, but it’s nice to know it is another option.
From the Full Disclosure Department, Star Lanes asked CBUS Dads to check out this event. Dan has worked with a PR agency that does work for Star Lanes. CBUS Dads has complete editorial control to write anything its wants in regards to this review.
When I was five, I remember watching bowling on television. My mom reminds me quite often that I would run around the house screaming the phrase “BOL-YING FOR DOLLARS” interrupting any semblance of quiet in the Farkas household.
My kids Leah (seven) and Will (four) didn’t interrupt naptime, but they did express a great deal of enthusiasm asking questions about our first family bowling trip to Star Lanes Polaris. Upon arriving, things changed.
That’s because Star Lanes has arcade games. Lots of arcade games. The kids had a chance to eat and bowl first. No way. They were going to milk those games for as many tickets as humanly possible.
So, our first hour of family bowling was spent playing the guitar, racing motorcycles, shooting bad guys, and teaching the nuances of air hockey. There were no concerns over keeping all the tokens and trying to not lose all the tickets; Star Lanes gives you a card to swipe. Through the magic of technology, it keeps track of how many credits you have and how many tickets you earn. I have no idea why I never thought of this, but it makes arcade gaming so much easier. There’s only one thing you can possibly lose! Of course, Will lost his card for five minutes. But when you’re driving the Batmobile, this can happen.
One hour and several prizes later (a bouncy ball, a plastic spider, 2 finger traps, and a candy necklace), it was time to eat. Bowling alley food has a connotation that is less than optimal. Star Lanes had the staples: pizza, chicken tenders, etc. They also had this stuff called healthy food. I’m a guacamole snob, but it was really good! The vegetables were fresh and pretzels maybe aren’t kale, but they were a solid option. Of course, the kids ate no veggies, but Leah and Will gave the pizza a grade of “mighty tasty.”
My wife and seven-year old daughter, causing tears from the little one, decided to check out the “XD Dark Ride,” which is a brand new, interactive, 4D theater attraction. We decided it looked a bit too scary for Will, which caused a mini meltdown! My sweet Leah decided to go for the “Zombie” option. You sit in a chair, buckle up, grab your gun, and kill zombies while driving through a super scary forest. I heard a lot of screaming from behind the curtain – and it was my wife! My daughter wanted to go again but my wife said she had enough zombies for the day!
Oh yeah, there was also some bowling at the bowling alley. I remember going to my grandmother’s bowling alley in Zanesville. It wreaked of smoke, seats upholstered in 1912 and you had to add the scores by hand.
Star Lanes took a far different approach. For starters, they have four massive screens so we could watch the NFL games and see my fantasy football team implode before my very eyes. They also had really comfortable couches. I know they were comfortable because Will wanted to jump on them all afternoon, and we had to strongly encourage him to stop.
The space was also very functional; they have space underneath the tables where you can store your personal items like purses, shoes and bouncy balls. That’s a big plus with kids.
Oh yeah, the bowling. We did that. The alley had bumper lanes for kids and could be taken down automatically for adults. My wife and I decided to keep the bumpers on because we stink at bowling. And we bowled the best games of our lives! As for the kids, words don’t truly convey their thoughts but they really did have a blast!
The only downside of the entire experience was the bar. It was open, fully stocked and looked delightful. I had to go on a run that night and couldn’t enjoy proper hydration I would have liked to.
Good thing is there’s always a next time. Modern, contemporary and technologically-advanced are terms you may not associate with bowling. Star Lanes Polaris had all those bells and whistles. Still, the core of any fun bowling experience is the bowling itself. We played for an hour, the kids never asked to look at phone, laughed, and even knocked down some pins on occasion. I may never go “BOL-YING FOR DOLLAS” anytime soon, but I’ll definitely go back to Star Lanes for a family bowling day again.
Recreational activities during the colder months can be a challenge. Or try having a birthday party for 15+ kids in March.
We attended one a couple weeks ago at The Little Gym in the Polaris area. I didn’t know much about it going in.
The activity room was huge and offered anything from inflatables to gymnastics equipment. While that would be awesome enough, the party was incredibly structured, with two instructors in the room facilitating the kids’ fun, but also guiding them through activities.
After the party, I dug in to find out more.
First, I discovered this is a global chain.
Secondly, I uncovered that they offer structured programming based on experiential learning and physical development. In addition to birthday parties, their schedule includes structured classes based on creating a positive learning environment that creates opportunities for children to try new things and build self-confidence. I was impressed by their philosophy and story.
The birthday party was incredibly structured. The team facilitated everything, even beyond the activities. They shepherded us into a separate room for pizza and cake and even cleaned up the space, so my friends didn’t have to.
But based on what I learned, I’d like to take the kids back to The Little Gym for a class soon.