Staff Writer
Columbus Parent

In promoting Hilliard, Christy Clark has found that there isn't one main attraction on which to focus.

Instead, she talks about the city's rich history, its varied shopping and dining opportunities and its many family-friendly venues.

"We're not known for any one thing," said Clark, executive director of Destination Hilliard. "We have such a gamut of all kinds of interesting things."

The city was platted by John Hilliard in 1853. Although the town bears his name, Hilliard never resided there. The village was originally known as Hilliard Station but the community dropped the word Station when a post office was established there a year later.

Farming and the railroads were important to the development of Hilliard. Over the years, the community added more homes, schools and churches.

Visitors can get a feel for what life was like for early residents by visiting the Historical Village at Weaver Park. The enclave of historical buildings includes a chapel, one-room school house, a railroad station and a log cabin.

Children love touring the village, which is often the site of special events, said resident Kelly Willis. Family favorites include the old-fashioned baseball exhibits, the annual Heritage Days celebration and the Christmas festivities, she said.

Every December, the village is trimmed in Christmas finery and open for tours. The village will host Santa, live music and crafts for children Dec. 14 and 15.

The park is just one of many family-friendly options, said Willis, who moved to Hilliard 21 years ago.

"We selected Hilliard because family was on our mind," she said.

Her family enjoys using the Heritage Trail. The multi-purpose path created along former railroad tracks gets a lot of use, Clark said.

Locals also frequent the Movie Tavern, an eat-in movie theatre serving pizza, burgers, milkshakes and more.

Ten Pin Alley is another great family outing, Clark said. The bowling alley has wonderful food, sand volleyball courts and an arcade.

A good spot for active fun is Roger Reynolds Municipal Park, which has space for playing disc golf, bocce ball and horseshoes. It's also the location of Hilliard's sledding hill.

Shoppers looking for unique wares have several choices. Packrat Comics has an amazing selection of comics for kids and grown-ups to enjoy. Buckeye BMX Bike Shop specializes in BMX bikes, but services all bikes. The shop hosts part swaps and other special events.

Hilliard also has flavorful dining options. The city is home to Columbus Parent readers' favorite diner. Starliner Diner, which serves an eclectic mix of traditional diner fare and Mexican, Cuban and Cajun dishes, was named the best diner in our annual reader poll.

The Willis family regularly dines at Beef 'O' Brady's. The sports bar has a large children's menu that features smoothies and chicken tacos.

For a quick bite or special treat to cap off your visit to Hilliard, try Auddino's Bakery & Cafe. The eatery serves soup, salad and sandwiches. Be sure to try a doughssant: This fried, glazed croissant is their signature baked good. Other popular goodies are cannoli and lobster tails - a pastry filled with three types of cream.