Central Ohio Spring Breakin'

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly

Just because you and the kids aren't heading to a glamorous destination this spring break, it doesn't mean you can't see exotic plants and animals, sample foreign delicacies or learn new things. Here are ideas on exploring your own city like a tourist.

  1. Go swimming. You don't have to leave Ohio to get your splash on. Fort Rapids is a fun options; plus, some YMCAs and community centers, including Dublin, Westerville and Groveport, schedule open swim hours. (Web sites:;;;
  2. Dine internationally. Cook up your own foreign delicacy by going online and finding a recipe. Shop for the ingredients at one of Columbus' ethnic grocery stores and prepare the meal as a family. (Web site for ethnic grocery:
  3. Paint your own pottery. Let the kids' creativity shine with a visit to the Clay Caf in Grandview, Marcy's Clayground in Powell or Color Your World at Easton Town Center. The studios provide the paints and materials necessary to create original pottery pieces.

    (Web sites:;;

  4. Pamper yourself on a budget. Visit the Aveda Institute, located near the Ohio State University campus. Take advantage of the beauty school's discount pricing to indulge in multiple spa services.
  5. Touch a sea star or study a gorilla. Head to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium in Powell for an adventure that includes more than 6,000 animals. Hands-on activities include a Touch Pool, where visitors can meet sea creatures face-to-face.
  6. Take a factory tour. Several Central Ohio companies -- including Anthony-Thomas candies, Graeters ice cream and the American Whistle Factory -- allow visitors a behind-the-scenes look at how their products are made. (Web sites:, and
  7. See butterflies from around the world in your own backyard. The Franklin Park Conservatory is once again the temporary home to hundreds of species of butterflies. The Conservatory, located just east of downtown, also offers more than 400 species of plants and a variety of climates including hot and steamy.
  8. Hug a tree. Head to Dawes Arboretum in Licking County for a drive or hike through scenic woods. Visitors can enjoy the all-seasons garden, conifer plants and trails for free.
  9. Donate your time off. Spend a few hours or days giving back to the community. Find family-oriented volunteer opportunities either here or here. (Web sites: or
  10. Hop over to COSI. The science center is currently hosting a special exhibit, Frogs: A Chorus of Colors. Be sure and leave time to visit the center's Extreme Movie Theater.