Upper Arlington is a community built around many different hubs of activity - schools, churches, parks and unique shopping districts. UA's Parks & Recreation Department helps nudge things along with its motto, "We Make Fun Happen," and July is a big month for fun here.
The Upper Arlington Civic Association, a nonprofit organization, organizes the city's popular Fourth of July parade and fireworks (which do actually happen on July 4). And the Parks & Recreation Department sponsors a Summer Celebration: This year it happens July 17 in Thompson Park. The event includes inflatables, games, crafts, tethered hot air balloon rides, food and more. The city also hosts free movies and concerts in the parks.
"It's just a spirited community that understands they're fortunate to have what they do. They're willing to support the schools and events and keep them strong," said Russ Golowin, who is president of the civic association, grew up in UA and is raising his two children here.
Becky Hajost, president of the Upper Arlington Area Chamber of Commerce, is partial to the Upper Arlington Public Library with its full slate of family fun. This summer, the three-library system will offer juggling, science and crafts events.
Hajost also points to UA Crew, a scholastic rowing program, for unique fun. UA Crew regularly holds rowing events at Griggs Reservoir Park that are exciting to watch, she said.
Hajost recommends coming in for an event but allowing time to visit the city's eclectic shops and quality dining options. UA has a number of business districts, each with its own character.
The Shops on Lane Avenue development is well-known: Anchored by the recently expanded Whole Foods Market (which offers children's classes and kid-oriented special events), the plaza also is home to Larson's Toys and Games, an iconic, family-owned toy store. Children (and adults) are encouraged to try out many of the playthings before buying them.
The "triangle" of Northwest Boulevard and Tremont and Zollinger roads is enjoying a renaissance of rebuilding and expansion in the Kingsdale Shopping Center. The Giant Eagle Market District is a massive grocery store and eatery with a full "colander" of events listed on its website. Parents can bring their children to the Eagle's Nest - a drop-in play space - while they shop. The Eagle's Nest also regularly organizes special events, many of which coincide with foodie happenings in the store. Nearby Schakolad Chocolate Factory is a chocolate-lover's dream. Caffé DaVinci offers traditional pasta dishes such as lasagna, gnocchi and spaghetti. The eatery also serves homemade gelato.
Just down Tremont Road is the Tremont Center, home to several longtime, much-loved businesses, including The Original Goodie Shop, a family-owned bakery known for its cinnamon sticks, decorated sugar cookies and fancy buckeyes; Huffman's Market, a full-service grocery store; and Chef-O-Nette, a family diner that offers classic diner dishes such as ham steak, pork chops, fried chicken and thick shakes made with real ice cream. Not too far from there is Lacrosse Unlimited, a one-stop shop for families who love their lacrosse.
Reed Road also has unique businesses, including Penzeys Spices, a spice emporium with an art table for visiting children, and The Blowdry Cafe, which opened earlier this year and focuses on styling hair rather than cutting it. Hajost also recommends Nicola Restaurant & Bar, which offers recipes from several regions of Italy.
Finally, the "Mallway" district next to Jones Middle School and Barrington Elementary School (with its great playground) offers a refreshing dose of sophistication, whether it's from high-end boutiques and florists or from South of Lane, a breakfast/lunch bistro that also carries antiques. And Tennis ltd has, for 35 years, been central Ohio's home for all your tennis needs!