The Stouts Take Columbus

A Michigan Wolverine and an Indiana Hoosier check into a hotel in Columbus near The Ohio State University and…

Well, they have a fabulous time with their kids.

No joke!


Not the best photo, but it’s the only proof I have that I was there, because I took all the other pictures.

We packed up the mini-van and headed five hours east to Columbus, OH a couple of weeks ago. It was a very easy drive from our house in West Michigan. Did I say it was a five-hour trip? OK, it took use more like 6 1/2, but that’s because we were traveling with two kids. We only had to stop eight times to use the bathroom. Google Map needs to add a feature that calculates driving time based on the number of children traveling with you. It would be something like speed x distance x number of kids x ounces of liquids consumed / by how many times somebody in the back seat says, “He’s touching me again!” = Driving Time.

I hadn’t visited Columbus since I was little. I didn’t remember much about it and had no idea what to expect.

The first thing we did was check into our beautiful Hotel, the Hilton Columbus at Easton.


Look at it! Way too classy for our two scrappy little boys. I found myself saying things like, “Now don’t pass gas in the elevator. Especially if there are other people in it.”

It really was a great place — quiet, clean, gorgeous decorations, indoor pool and someone made the bed for me every day. In other words, nothing like home. I didn’t want to leave and may have shed a tear or two upon check out.

The location was the other great part about our Hotel. It was right across the street from Easton Town Center. And by Town Center they mean the mother of all shopping malls. Oh. My. Word. I thought I’d died and gone to mall heaven. It’s a shopper’s dream! Just about any and every store you can think of is at Easton from Macy’s to H&M to Crate & Barrel. And it’s all in this pretty outdoor setting that looks like it’s straight from a 1950s downtown, only with J. Crew instead of a 5 & 10. When we were there the American Girl Store was having its grand opening.


Now, I have to tell you, my two boys were not very impressed with that, but they loved the Lego store.


They really did have fun at the Lego store. They’re just tired out from such an exciting day!

There’s plenty of entertainment at Easton too, including an outdoor splash pad, movie theater, and tons of restaurants. We ate dinner at the Northstar Cafe there one night, and their menu is filled with fresh, organic dishes. Also their artisan natural cane sugar sodas (pop to us Michiganders) were amazing.


At Northstar Cafe.

Saturday we headed out to the Columbus Zoo. It’s huge, and you’ve probably heard of its Director Emeritus, the famous Jack Hanna. Tigers, elephants, monkeys and rhinos are just a few of the animals we saw.


All those exotic animals and the only thing I managed to get a decent picture of is a goat.

We could have spent all day there, but it turned out to be over 90 degrees and really humid. We were melting. Conveniently Zoombezi Bay, a water park, is located right next to the zoo. We spent the rest of the day there cooling off on the water slides and in the lazy river.


So when it’s really hot the fan runs and runs on your cell phone and drains your battery, and I have no other pictures of this great place, but you can see more of Zoombezi Bay here.

When we go on trips we have a standing family rule that we can’t eat anywhere we can eat at home. When we visit a place we like to experience more than just the touristy parts, and one of the best ways to do that is to find local eats. So one morning we ventured into downtown to have breakfast at Tommy’s Diner. It has a such a fun, old-time diner atmosphere, is filled with lots of local color and the pancakes are pretty tasty too.


Deeply contemplating the choice between pancakes and French toast.


I’m a sucker for retro graphics. Loved their sign!

On our last day we went to COSI, Center of Science and Industry.


It’s a science museum geared specifically towards kids. This is the one place I remember visiting in Columbus as a kid. It was cool then, and it’s super cool now! There is so much hands-on stuff, and it really gets kids excited about science. David, my oldest son and budding engineer, especially enjoyed it.



Some wet hands-on fun.

We got really lucky on the day we visited, because there was a special exhibit of construction trucks outside the museum.


David and Wade both operated a crane. The two of them operating heavy equipment is sort of like my worst nightmare, but it was supervised by professionals so it was all good. Here’s a little video:

If it sounds like I’m gushing, it’s because I am! We all really enjoyed Columbus. All the things for families to do in Columbus surprised me. The zoo and COSI are well worth the trip. I want to go back and spend a whole day just at the zoo so we can see everything. And I’m pretty sure I’ll find my way over to the Easton Town Center to do a little shopping too.

One of the things I love about living in the Midwest is all the great cities, and Columbus is one of them. If you’re looking for a weekend getaway for your family, I definitely recommend heading to Columbus. Even if you aren’t a Buckeye fan. They don’t bite. At least as long as you don’t tell them you’re from Michigan.

Disclosure: Experience Columbus provided our family with accommodations, attraction tickets and meals to facilitate this travel story. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

6 Responses to The Stouts Take Columbus

  1. I get to sort of drive through Columbus. We are heading out to Wisconsin to visit friends(we are coming from near Philadelphia PA). I think we drove through Columbus on our way last year, but I am not sure(because I was sleeping)

  2. Looks like you had a fun trip! I’d much rather the American Girl store than Lego any day. I hate stepping on those things because my sons never remember to put all the pieces away. Isn’t it convenient that the water park was so close by? Nice! You got some great shots by the way, even the one with the goat. 🙂

  3. You got a lot done! How nice that they sponsored your visit! The hotel looks amazing!
    I like your calculation of drive time! They should totally have that feature!

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