Melissa Kossler Dutton
Historic Dublin.

Dublin caters to families who want to play outdoors - even in cold weather.

The city promotes a wide array of outdoor activities on its website and encourages visits to its 1,100 acres of parkland year-round, said Jodi Andes, Dublin's public information officer.

"Outdoor recreation is a big part of Dublin," Andes said. "When you visit Dublin, you always see residents out enjoying these parks and paths, no matter what time of the year. In fact, these pristine parks are one of the reasons Dublin has been voted one of the best places to live."

Bird watchers should definitely consider coming before spring, added the city's nature education coordinator Mimi Migliore.

"Winter is a great time to look for waterfowl on the Scioto River, and if folks are lucky they'll spot a bald eagle," Migliore said. "Dublin sightings are highest in winter."

Kiwanis Riverway Park (part of the Griggs Reservoir Nature Preserve) and Donegal Cliffs Park are good locations to spot bald eagles, she said. Visitors also may see bufflehead, goldeneye, black and wood ducks.

The city also has places to sled and ice skate. Sled riders will want to check out the slope at Scioto Park. When temperatures stay below freezing for several days in a row, families also can try outdoor ice skating at Coffman Park (but bring your own skates).

When temperatures warm, consider exploring the city by bike, Andes said. The 25-square-mile city has about 100 miles of bike trails, she said. The city also has created kid-friendly nature scavenger hunts at several of its parks. Families can go online to dublinohiousa.gov/nature/nature-scavenger-hunts, print the directions, take them to the park and explore.

Of course, the nearby Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is another fun way to enjoy the outdoors while learning about nature.

If your family is wild about shopping, Dublin has plenty to offer. The Shoppes at River Ridge boasts several interesting boutiques. The recently opened Silver Spoon Luxury Children's Boutique carries trendy children's clothing in a spacious storefront with a fun play space for kids. Next door, Audacious Boutique has a great mix of handbags, clothing and jewelry.

On the west side of the Scioto River is the city's historic neighborhood where one can find even more unique shopping opportunities.

Blankets and Booties sells traditional children's clothing at various price points. Boho 72 Boutique has a mix of women's apparel, art and accessories, including fleece-lined leggings.Stop in Winans Fine Chocolates for a snack or hot drink. The Piqua-based chocolatier also roasts its own coffee beans. The Sisters Sweet Shoppe, home of Krema Peanut Butter and Grandma's Fruit Cakes, will give tours to groups that call ahead.

If you like to make your own treats, try Bad Frog Frozen Yogurt, where customers can create their own frozen concoctions from 20 flavors of yogurt and 50-plus toppings, or Our Cupcakery where kids can frost their own cupcake. For more substantial fare, Brazenhead serves comfort food with an Irish flair.

The Dublin branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library and the Dublin Community Recreation Center also offer plenty of reasons to head to Dublin. Both venues offer a wide variety of family-friendly programming.