If you’re looking for fun, educational outings for your children around Westerville, Ohio, you’ve come to the right place. Westerville is near Columbus, which means there’s a wealth of educational and recreational offerings to keep your children entertained while they learn. Check out these six cool educational destinations around Westerville, Ohio.
Children’s Garden at Franklin Park Conservatory
The Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation Children’s Garden is a two-acre garden located within the Franklin Park Conservatory and botanical gardens at 1777 E. Broad St., in Columbus. It features many interactive experiences centered on celebrating the Ohio landscape. The Children’s Garden is designed to introduce children to nature in a meaningful way. This focus helps connect kids to nature and helps renew parents’ and other family members’ connection to the earth.
The Children’s Garden is part of the Conservatory’s overall educational mission, promoting engaged learning for all ages, with a special dedication to the natural sciences and health. The Children’s Garden is open year-round from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is included in admission to the conservatory and botanical garden. The Children’s Garden also hosts E ducational Programming during spring and summer, with themes that change monthly. On the first Sunday of every month, the conservatory holds community days, so Franklin County and the City of Columbus residents can enjoy the gardens for free with a valid ID.
Take an Open-Air Safari tour at The Wilds inside Columbus Zoo at 14000 International Road in Cumberland. This wild adventure will take you through a 10,000-acre park where animals roam free, and they may even come right up to your open-air bus, where you can look but don’t touch. The tours are two- to two-and-a-half hours long and run between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
There are two stops along the way of the tour where you can get off the bus. At the first stop, you can hike down to a lake to feed the catfish. You can also feed the birds at the aviary. The Carnivore Center is the second stop, where you can spot cheetahs, wild African dogs, and other carnivorous species from a boardwalk through the area. The tour guides share information on the animals you’ll see along the way, so your children will learn about how The Wilds was created and how it’s helped many animals through its conservation mission.
AHA! Children’s Museum: A Hands-On Adventure
At AHA! Children’s Museum: A Hands-On Adventure located at 1708 River Valley Circle South in Lancaster, your little ones will explore and discover through play, with many exhibits designed to fire up their imagination. Children are naturally curious, and AHA! is designed for children from six months to eight years of age to tap into their desire to explore. The 8,000-square-foot facility is chock full of sixty hands-on exhibits, where your children get to use their creativity, imagination, and drive to discover. Your kids will have opportunities to become artists, explorers, scientists, and engineers.
In addition to all the indoor exhibits, there’s an outdoor bonus space, The Raymond B. Martens Nature playscape. This playscape is open all year long. During the week, AHA! has STEAM-focused activities, and they’ll be happy to host your child’s birthday party or other special events on the weekend. Hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Located in the historic Carnegie Library building at 244 S. Main St. in Marion, Explore-It-Torium is 10,000 square feet of learning and fun playtime. All play is hands-on, in different themed rooms, where your kids can imagine, explore, learn, and create.
There’s a nature-themed room where your kids can camp out and search for lost animals. They can plant, harvest, and sell produce in the barnyard room. There’s a Maker Space to tinker and explore how things work, whether taking things apart or building and racing cars. Little ones can paint, glue, cut, and paste in the arts and crafts room. They can also put on a puppet show. They can explore future careers as doctors, vets, mechanics, police officers, or nurses in the Little City. Stop by Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The Ohio Bird Sanctuary
The Ohio Bird Sanctuary is a non-profit nature preserve and bird rehabilitation center located at 3774 Orweiler Road in Mansfield. The sanctuary is a safe haven for birds, including sick and injured birds, under the tender loving care of the Ohio Bird Sanctuary staff. This team of special folks rehabilitates and cares for native Ohio birds. They protect the natural habitat and provide an opportunity for people to interact with nature. While their mission is to release birds back into the wild, some injuries make that impossible, so the sanctuary is home to over 60 permanent residents.
There are many opportunities to get up close and personal with the birds, assisted by the team members. You and the kids can also visit a special aviary of songbirds and feed them with bags of bird feed purchased at the sanctuary store. They also go to schools, host field trips, and offer family-friendly programs. A caring team manages the 90-acre preserve and helps nurse sick and injured birds until they’re healthy again. You and the kids can swoop in on Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Blendon Woods Metro Park
This green space is the perfect spot to take kids for outdoor play and nature education. Blendon Woods Metro Park is a 10-acre spot located at 4265 E. Dublin Granville Road in Columbus. There’s a ravine and wooded hillside area for kids to explore. There are multiple play structures, including a very popular zipline, a cargo climbing net, a basket swing, a teeter-totter, a tether-ball, and more. They also have fun and educational programming for kids ages 2-5. In these programs, there’s a storytime that incorporates reading, rhymes, and songs to foster early childhood literacy while inspiring curiosity about nature.
Getting to the play area is its own mini-adventure. Find the ranger station, then take the second left, which takes you to the parking lot, and the entrance to the Blendon Woods natural play area is at the far end of the parking lot. Blendon Woods is open April through September from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and October through March until 6 p.m.
If you have other cool educational destinations around Westerville, reach out to the team at Creme de la Creme. We’d love to add your favorite spots to the list for our families to enjoy.