What a Time to be a Parent in Columbus

The Columbus Blue Jackets outdoor Winter Park

Being a child of the 90s growing up in Westerville, my family’s pilgrimages downtown were few, beyond annual trips to Columbus City Center for school clothes or for Red, White and Boom. It’s certainly not that my family was sheltering me or adverse to the short drive – it’s simply that there wasn’t a ton for families to do downtown.

My initial intention with this post was to highlight our first trip to the Columbus Blue Jackets Winter Park a few weeks ago. We took our daughter on a relatively mild Saturday and had a blast skating on an NHL-sized rink in the heart of the Arena District. With Columbus’ climate, outdoor activity can be scarce this time of year, but this is truly a remarkable amenity geared toward families that, quite frankly, I couldn’t imagine existing twenty years ago. Hell, it’s pretty unfathomable ten years ago.

CBUS Dads dad blogger Steve Michalovich skating with his daughter at the Columbus Blue Jackets outdoor Winter Park in Downtown Columbus
CBUS Dads dad blogger Steve Michalovich skating with his daughter at the Columbus Blue Jackets outdoor Winter Park in Downtown Columbus

After our skate, we checked out the new Fox in the Snow in German Village for a warm drink. I’ve always been a fan of the Italian Village location, and they’ve absolutely replicated the unique vibe and delicious drinks in German Village. We marveled at the fact that it was packed and busy in the middle of a cold Saturday. The clientele varied from college students to young hipsters to reading retirees to families with kids.

CBUS Dads dad blogger Steve Michalovich's daughter enjoying her hot beverage from Fox in the Snow in German Village
CBUS Dads dad blogger Steve Michalovich’s daughter enjoying her hot beverage from Fox in the Snow in German Village

On this random Saturday, I had this feeling (that I’ve had many times before) that it’s a tremendous time to be raising a family in Columbus. No longer should parents feel that they’re banished to the suburbs. In one winter weekend, we made an afternoon out of outdoor ice skating in the center of our city’s downtown and feeling incredibly comfortable taking our daughter to a popular new coffee shop in the heart of an urban neighborhood. More importantly, we felt remarkably safe and welcome doing so.

By Steve Michalovich, Regular Contributor

Two Indoor Activities in Powell for a Cold, Winter Day

CBUS Dads blogger Steve Michalovich shares his experience spending a cold day in Downtown Powell, visiting Recreations Outlet and TREEHIVE cafe & play.

The holidays are over, and temperatures have gotten quite frigid. If you have young kids, you are looking for any kind of activity that will occupy them and hopefully wear them out. When the wind chill is below zero though, it’s not as easy as heading to the park or the zoo.

My wife were in this predicament with our 20-month-old daughter last Martin Luther King Day. It was freezing outside, but we were all getting a little stir crazy stuck in the house for the three-day weekend.

We discovered two incredible ways to spend a few hours indoors in Powell:

We started at TREEHIVE cafe & play. We had never been to a play cafe before, so the concept sort of blew us away. We were able to drop our daughter off in a clean, enclosed activity space with toys, puzzles and slides, where 10-20 other children were actively playing. A TREEHIVE cafe & play staffer was in the space, being kept very busy keeping up with all of the hyped kids. Meanwhile, my wife and I grabbed a cup in the cafe, which is similar to any other modern coffee shop. We talked. We scrolled the internet. I purchased my running shoes for the upcoming season. We spent about 45 minutes there, which is probably about the max you could hope for. I was impressed with the different membership models and pay structures TREEHIVE cafe & play offered. The site is available to reserve for big parties, which I filed away for potential future use.

From there, we went across the street to Recreations Outlet. On the surface, Recreations Outlet has helped many Ohio families turn backyards into playground meccas. But their facility in Powell (there’s also a couple in the Cincinnati area) are big showrooms for the products they offer. We’re talking basketball hoops, trampolines, big toys. We learned that Recreations Outlet offers indoor play all year long. If you need additional convincing this is good (you shouldn’t), they set charitable play hours each week where 50 percent of all earnings from indoor play go to a worthy charity. In 2016, Recreations Outlet donated $42,000+ to local nonprofits. On MLK Day, the place was packed, but that didn’t stop our daughter from taking it all in. It didn’t stop me either – how could I not get in on the action? We put in another 90 minutes there, and it didn’t get dull. For a visual, here’s my daughter a year ago in a swing – in slow motion.

If you can get up to Powell, both are near the downtown, which is actually a neat place to hang out with some cool shops and local restaurants.

Winter has really just begun, so if you have any other suggested indoor activities around town, please share.

By Steven Michalovich, Contributor