When visiting German Village, it's best to follow the instructions set forth in the Columbus neighborhood's slogan: Shop. Dine. Stroll.
German Village has plenty of shops, restaurants and interesting sites to keep a family entertained and moving.
Parents and children will feel very welcomed in the pedestrian-friendly neighborhood, said Shiloh Todorov, director of the German Village Society, the organization charged with retaining the character of the historic neighborhood.
In fact, local families have created Southside STAY (Stay Together to Advance Youth) with the intention of making German Village and its surrounding neighborhoods even more attractive to young families. In the past, parents often would move out of the area when their children reached school age because they felt the suburbs offered better educational opportunities. Today, families are working to improve the schools and draw awareness to local success stories, said Ken Flower, one of the Southside STAY founders.
"We plan on staying as long as we can," he said.
He and his family take advantage of the proximity of stores and restaurants. They like to eat breakfast at the German Village Coffee Shop or grab coffee and pastries at Pistacia Vera.
"We love being out as a family and seeing people we know," Flower said.
They also enjoy playing at Schiller Park. The city's second-oldest park is home to a large playground, a duck pond and an outdoor theatre where the Actors' Theatre of Columbus performs Shakespeare in the summer.
Visitors to the neighborhood that was settled by German immigrants in the mid-1800s often head to Schmidt's Sausage Haus. Family members pride themselves on making sure diners have a great meal and an enjoyable experience, said Geoffrey Schmidt, president of Schmidt's Sausage Haus. The German Village institution is known nationally for its "Bahama Mama" and jumbo cream puffs. Leave room for a little something from Schmidt's Fudge Haus, which sells fudge, imported sweets and nostalgic candies from different decades.
Another iconic eatery is Juergens Bakery, Restaurant & KaffeeHaus. Their home-style meals and Bavarian-style baked goods have been delighting the locals for more than 40 years.
If your family enjoys cooking, you may want to make your own meal at The Kitchen, which offers participatory dining experiences. Families and groups can stop in for traditional dining on Tuesdays and Sundays or attend a special event, where they prep and cook their meals.
Families will enjoy Sunday brunch and Taco Tuesday, said Anne Boninsegna, who co-owns the restaurant with Jen Lindsey. The restaurant serves unique tacos, filling them with meatloaf, barbecue and other unexpected ingredients.
"I do want people to feel like they can come here and their kids can be kids," she said.
The Kitchen also offers specialty parties for adults, where diners cook meals based on different themes or regions of the world.
"It's a fantastic date night place," Boninsegna said.
She anticipates adding more kid-oriented events in 2014.
For more traditional dining, The Old Mohawk serves up a number of kid-friendly options including macaroni and cheese, quesadillas and soup.
Shoppers will find plenty of one-of-a-kind items at Helen Winnemore Craft. The boutique specializes in handmade items from North America. In addition to drawers full of beautiful jewelry and rooms of pottery and purses, the shop has an upstairs space dedicated to children's goods.
Another spot for unique items is the Golden Hobby Shop, which is housed in an old school building. The shop carries an ever-changing collection of quilts, wood items, toys and other goods made by local senior citizens.
Readers will spend hours perusing the voluminous stock at The Book Loft. The independent bookstore, which stays open late, has 32 rooms of books. The store also carries a nice mix of kid's games and puzzles.