Unique summer fun ideas

Staff Writer
Columbus Parent

With summer officially right around the corner, it's time to think about getting away with the family. But, getting away doesn't necessarily mean you have to go far. Check out these ideas for some unique summer fun.

Marmon Valley Horse Farm, Zanesfield, Ohio

Marmon Valley Horse Farm isn't about the horses. Well, ok, it is but it's about so much more. It's about ministering to children and their families. It's about watching a child's self-esteem grow. It's about a family spending time with one another. And, this year, they have a number of camps and events to help children and their families strengthen their faith, reconnect and simply have fun.

Summer Camps for children from June 13 to August 7

Summer Lessons begin June 17

Summer Family Days last two Saturday of July 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. Admission for the day offers several unique farm experiences. Besides trail riding through acres of scenic countryside in the hills of Logan County, families can also enjoy hayrides all afternoon, the climbing wall, swimming and paddle boating.

August 21 Dad/Daughter event 4:00 to 8:00 p.m. Devotions and dinner will follow trail rides. After a delicious farm style meal, there will be a barn dance. Cost is $29 per person. Reduced prices available if you cannot attend entire event. Reservations are needed. Space is limited.

September 3-6 Family Camp Work Weekend. This is a FREE weekend retreat for your family in exchange for a day's work on the farm.

September 24-26 Mother/Daughter Weekend camp. Mothers, grandmothers and daughters welcome for a two-night western get-away weekend together.

October 29-31. Fathers and sons will enjoy a get-away weekend of rugged fun and farm activities. Spend time together riding, shooting, archery, hiking and more.

December A Country Christmas. December Hay ride tours and live drama depicting the events of the birth of Jesus Christ. Tours leave every 15 minutes on Fridays and Saturdays. Kids fun, crafts, cookies petting zoo, Christmas trees, and pony rides. For more information, visit them at www.marmonvalley.com or call 937.593.8000.

The Titanic at COSI Columbus, Columbus, Ohio

COSI's doing it again. The Titanic, the most visited exhibition in COSI's history, is back again. This time featuring nearly 100 new artifacts and 23 of them are making their world debut right in Columbus. Visitors will have the chance to see hundreds of artifacts and room recreations. Also, costumed characters are on hand to add to the experience.

It's a quick trip back in time to 1912 as each visitor receives a replica of the board passes used on the Titanic. You're simply part of that era when you hear the tales of the fateful voyage and her passengers. The exhibit runs now through September 6th. Make plans now to bring the family to this exhibit.

The museum also features exhibit areas that all for experiences for all ages to combine science facts and learning through hands-on fun and play. In addition to its exhibits such as Titanic, COSI offers live shows, a seven-story Extreme Screen theater, the Science2GO! retail store, and the Atomicafe restaurant. COSI also hosts traveling exhibitions from other museums throughout the year. Regardless of what time of the year you visit COSI, there is an endless supply of scientific fun to be had.

For more information, visit them at www.cosi.org.

Cedar Point, Sandusky

Ask my children what they have planned for the summer and they'll tell you for sure they want to visit Cedar Point. Famous for their coasters, Cedar Point has a whole host of activities to offer your family. While you can accomplish Cedar Point in a day, if you have a couple of days you may want to consider using them here and pacing yourself. And if you do, you may even come out financially ahead.

For the first time, Cedar Point's resort properties are offering money-saving Build-Your-Own packages that can include deals on admission that are only available to resort guests. Guests can save $15 or more on one-day Cedar Point and Starlight tickets (good after 5 p.m.). Plus, new one- and three-day Ride & Slide tickets that include admission to Cedar Point and the Soak City waterpark on the same day, offer savings of more than $37 and $143, respectively.

Also exclusive to resort guests is Early Entry (enter the park one hour before Cedar Point opens to the public to enjoy select rides).

Cedar Point offers a variety of overnight accommodations ranging from the historic Hotel Breakers to the comfy and convenient Breakers Express and the year-round Castaway Bay indoor waterpark resort. Overall, Cedar Point's resort properties feature six outdoor pools, four outdoor spas, an indoor pool, shops, arcades, family-friendly restaurants, beach access and a lakeside boardwalk.

New this summer is Shoot the Rapids, an exciting river-ride adventure that features two hills, canyon walls with spraying water and a splashy grand finale. Adjacent to Cedar Point, the 18-acre Soak City outdoor waterpark and Challenge Park activity complex with go-karts and miniature golf add another dimension of fun to the mix.

For additional information about this summer's Cedar Point vacation, please visit cedarpoint.com.

Ohio Caverns, West Liberty

One would never know by looking at the area, but lying beneath farmland and woods are fascinating caverns. Created when an underground river cut through limestone and created rooms and passageways that later filled with crystal stalactites, stalagmites and other formations, the caverns are breathtaking.

The Ohio Caverns are one of our state's top tourist attractions and it's easy to understand why. Stepping down into the caverns, one is immediately transported to another world. A world of natural beauty and wonder. Regardless of when you visit, the caverns remain at 54 degrees year-round. The humidity is always above 90 percent, and the air inside the caverns is cleaner than the air above ground - filtered by the water that formed the caves and still drips today. The caverns are the largest in the state, with over two miles of surveyed passageways ranging in depth from 30 feet to the deepest point of 103 feet. Special tours take you into the "historic" part of the cave - the portion first discovered and opened decades ago.

Once back above ground, the fun continues in the large gift shop and as long as it's above freezing, then plan to head to the wooden gem mining sluice. Miners are given the equipment and strike out to find their own hidden gems as they sift through the bag of rough as water streams down the multi-tiered wood chutes from the wood water tower.

This is definitely a trip that will excite the young and the young-at-heart. For hands-on fun memories that will last a lifetime, head to the Ohio Caverns. For more information, go to ohiocaverns.com.