Jane Hawes

Ohio is awash in college towns, and Delaware has to be one of the quaintest inside the state borders. But this home to Ohio Wesleyan University is also a family-friendly destination with enough places to visit that will satisfy a range of ages.

The "main drag" is Sandusky Street: It runs north-south through the heart of Ohio Wesleyan's campus (don't miss the stinky sulphur spring, just off Henry Street and next to the little flood plain where the first Ohio State University football game was played in 1890 - there's a historical marker on the spot). The university schedules plenty of music, theater and cultural events (at low or no cost), so check their website for what's happening.

North of campus, you'll find lots of food and interesting retail shops along Sandusky Street and the streets that run east-west across it. Fundamentals is a longtime anchor for the downtown business district with its art and educational supplies on the first floor and a great selection of children's and teacher's books on the second floor. Around the corner is another, newer bookstore, Beehive Books, which also has a beverage and snack counter.

For the artistically inclined, there's The Bare Bowl (make-your-own pottery) and Keikos Bead Box (make-your-own jewelry). After these shops, you could hit up Global Village Collection for toys, clothing, jewelry and other goodies made by artisans in Third World communities.

Or you could combine your visit with a trip to The Strand Theatre, an independent film house that has expanded to include an art gallery. The Strand often programs children's movies during school breaks. And for more culture, you could see if The Arts Castle has any interesting one-day workshops or exhibits going on. Our Town Studios sells artwork from local artists who are developmentally disabled.

Now there are plenty of good places to eat, but first the kids can work up an appetite at a local park. Delaware State Park, north of town on Rt. 23, has great hiking trails and a big playground with, as an added bonus, the Delaware Lake Dam, the top of which you can walk across (gushing water is always a plus with kids).

In town, you have Mingo Park with soccer fields, a skateboard bowl and a good-sized playground (plus in the summer, the pool complex there offers day passes for visitors). There's also Blue Limestone Park on the west side of town with fields, picnic areas, a playground and a stocked fishing pond (for which you do need an Ohio Department of Natural Resources fishing license).

Onto the eating. Dairy Depot, north of downtown on Sandusky, or Dari Point, east of town on Winter Street, are both ice-cream stands of the old-fashioned variety and well-loved by locals. In town, you'll find newcomers Whit's Frozen Custard and Baby Cakes Cupcakes.

When you need protein, you've got either the Hamburger Inn (aka "The Hambo"), which is as authentic a greasy-spoons diner as you could hope for, or Bun's Restaurant, a landmark American-style eatery on Winter Street. Amato's Woodfired Pizza and Chelley Belly (for soups and sandwiches) are other local faves. And for Mom's and Dad's caffeine cravings (with oversized cookies and fruit smoothies for the kids), check out the Mean Bean Caffeine Lounge, right at the corner of Sandusky and William streets, or Choffey's on West Winter.

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