Playground Patrol

Debbie Angelos

Whole Foods Children's Play Area

Fun and grocery stores typically don't go together, especially when kids are involved. Whether it's the tantrum over the marshmallow cereal, ninja chops in the tomato sauce aisle, or earsplitting shrieks, sometimes it may feel like you're a contestant on "Survivor: Frozen Foods Section."

Fortunately, Whole Foods has created a new shopping-and playing-standard. Here, shopping is no longer a chore: It's an experience.

It may not be your typical family outing, but Whole Foods provides everything a busy kid could need. In addition to standard and not-so-standard grocery fare, Whole Foods offers eye-popping culinary displays, free samples, kid's club activities and a dine-in children's play area.

Make a day of it by perusing the aisles for favorite treats, picking out something exotic (Hemp and Greens Cereal, anyone?), oohing and ahhing over the confectionary creations at the bakery or grabbing lunch at the food counters. Though its products can be pricey, the store is sure to have something to please even your pickiest eater's palate, with offerings of everything from soup, salad, sushi, pizza and more.

Then head over to the semi-enclosed dining area where an array of toys, trucks, puzzles, blocks and books awaits. Parents can eat in peace while kids enjoy their own mini lounge, complete with comfy couch, picnic table and giant chalkboard. Restrooms and drinking fountains are nearby, which mean that play time for the kids and rest time for the parents can last for a long time, even if it is at the grocery store.

Whole Foods Children's Play Area

3670 W. Dublin-Granville Road (Dublin)

Columbus, 43235


Hours: 8 a.m.-10 p.m. daily

Cost: Free

Whole Foods Kid's Klub: Sign up at Customer Service to receive monthly emails about Kid's Klub events (such as culinary classes, crafts and activities) and receive a free coloring page and piece of fruit with each visit!