Upper Arlington

Melissa Kossler Dutton

Many parents probably know Upper Arlington as the home of Larson's Toys & Games, but this great locally owned shop (which specializes in unique play things) is not the only reason to visit.

The inner-ring suburb has lot of fun places to explore, said Becky Hajost, president of the Upper Arlington Area Chamber of Commerce. "It's nice because there are all kinds of things for families to do."

The city prides itself on its family-friendly reputation, added Doug Ryan, a real estate broker and father of two.

"There's certainly a strong sense of community that's different than places I have helped people buy property in," he said.

Community founders King and Ben Thompson envisioned an idealistic residential community when they purchased the original 840 acres to develop into a city in 1913.

Thanks in part to that early planning, the city developed into one of Central Ohio's most attractive communities. Mature trees, winding streets and well-organized neighborhoods contribute to the welcoming look and feel of the city.

The city has 28 parks totaling more than 180 acres. Kids will enjoy exploring the community's green spaces.

Choose a hot day and head over to Reed Road Water Park. The newly renovated facility features a zero-depth-entry leisure pool, slides and a separate wading pool.

Kids with big imaginations will want to check out the playground at Wickliffe Progressive Community School. Locals call the playground "Castle Park," and the play structure is a great spot for wannabe princesses, cowboys and knights to role play.

Upper Arlington also boasts three terrific libraries, each with numerous programs geared to kids of all ages. Tiny Miller Park Branch has a cozy nook for kids while the Main Library dedicates lots of space to kids. They all, including Lane Road Branch, have a different feel but each eagerly welcomes children and families.

The Main Library has a great selection of foreign-language story books, kids' music and even has handheld video games for kids to use while they are at the library.

If youngsters get too rowdy indoors, both the Miller Park Branch and Main Library have playgrounds nearby.

There's also no shortage of tasty snacks to try in Upper Arlington.

The Original Goodie Shop (aka the Tremont Goodie Shop) is a family-owned bakery and guaranteed crowd pleaser. The bakery case is brimming with so many brightly decorated sugar cookies that little people have a hard time picking one to eat. Parents must try the cinnamon sticks, the shop's specialty. First-time visitors receive a free sample of the sweet, buttery pastry.

For a cool treat, visit Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt. Guests create their own frozen delights by dispensing yogurt into cups themselves and then adding as many toppings as they like (toppings run the gamut from fruit and nuts to candy and chocolate sauce). Workers weigh the concoctions and patrons pay based on the weight of their creations.

For heartier fare, pay a visit to Moretti's of Arlington. The Italian restaurant has an extensive list of entrees for grown-ups and offers reasonably-priced kid meals. The family-friendly restaurant has a lovely patio for outdoor dining.

For home-style meals, locals head to the Tremont Chef-O-Nette Restaurant. The diner has been serving up eggs and making milk shakes since 1955. The interior is classic 1950s. If you're in a hurry, you can call ahead and pick up your meal at the drive-through window.

Another spot for yummy food is La Chatelaine Bakery. The family-owned French bistro serves amazing soups and decadent chocolate croissants. Kids will devour the hot chocolates served in a bowl with mounds of whipped cream.

Huffman's Market is another local favorite. The family-owned grocery store prides itself on customer service. The market hosts a variety of special events, carries Ohio-produced goods and runs a wine-of-the-month club.