New Albany

Melissa Kossler Dutton

New Albany has existed for more than 150 years, but the community has really blossomed over the last two decades.

Through the efforts of Limited Brands founder Leslie H. Wexner and the New Albany Company, the northeastern suburb has become a hub of residential, commercial and business development.

The community, which this year acquired enough residents to officially become a city, has a strong focus on planning - so much so that the city's website touts itself as a "rare location that leaves nothing to chance."

With so much going on in New Albany, it's a great locale for a day of family fun, said Eileen Leuby, president of the New Albany Area Chamber of Commerce. The community eagerly welcomes families and children, she said.

"It's a very young community," Leuby said. "The majority of homes were built after 1990."

Kids will enjoy a stop at the New Albany branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library, which offers numerous story hours and kid-oriented programs. The library features a reading room for kids (and parents). The bright room feels like a homey sun porch and makes a great spot to read with your child.

Just outside of the library is a quaint town square that's home to a Starbucks, Learning Express toy store and Johnson's on Market Street, an ice-cream shop that's associated with Johnson's Ice Cream in Bexley. The shop delivers on its promise to give guests "good sweet fun."

A sweet spot for moms especially on this Market Square is Tailfeathers Boutique and Three French Hens, two shops housed in one store. Tailfeathers offers ladies' clothing and accessories. Three French Hens sells a great mix of house wares and gifts, including pewter bubble wands, stuffed animals and other unique kid items. (If you're lucky, your kid will sit on the bench outside the door and eat his ice cream cone while you shop.)

If ice cream is not enough to cool off your crowd, head over to the Plain Township Aquatic Center. The mini water park features two 28-foot water slides, a beach-entry kiddie pool and an interactive water play pool, in addition to a pool designated for lap swimming. If you don't hold a seasonal pass, you can buy day passes, which run $8 for an adult (18 and older), $6 for children (ages 3-17) and free for children 2 and younger.

Nearby Wexner Community Park is another fun place. Kids will enjoy climbing on the play structure and running around the attractive grounds.

Wannabe artists should check out Purple Dog Art Studio, where kids and adults can take classes using a variety of mediums like pastels, clay and acrylic paint. The studio also hosts birthday parties and summer camps.

New Albany also offers a variety of opportunities to experience professional arts programming.

The Jeanne B. McCoy Community Center for the Arts prides itself on providing unique opportunities to inspire and educate Central Ohioans, said Kristen Ferguson, director of marketing.

The center brings in Broadway musicals, musicians, authors and a wide spectrum of performers to "inspire and enrich the lives of the residents of New Albany and surrounding communities," Ferguson said.

NEW ALBANY BRANCH OF THE COLUMBUS METROPOLITAN LIBRARY

200 Market St.

614-645-2275

www.columbuslibrary.org

STARBUCKS

220 Market St.

614-775-0569

starbucks.com

LEARNING EXPRESS

180 F Market St.

614-933-0333

newalbany.learningexpress-toys.com

JOHNSON'S ON MARKET STREET

180 Market St.

614-855-8108

johnsonsonmarketstreet.com

PLAIN TOWNSHIP AQUATIC CENTER

7650 Swickard Woods Blvd.

Summer Phone: 614-775-9430

plaintownship.org

WEXNER COMMUNITY PARK

7600 Swickard Woods Blvd.

614-939-7275

naparks.org/html/wexner_park.htm

PURPLE DOG ART STUDIO

28 S. High St.

614 271-9306

purpledogart.com

JEANNE B. MCCOY COMMUNITY CENTER FOR THE ARTS

100 W. Dublin-Granville Rd.

614-245-4701

mccoycenter.org

TAILFEATHERS BOUTIQUE AND THREE FRENCH HENS

220 Market St., Suite E

614-855-1775

tailfeathersboutique.com