King-Lincoln District and Olde Towne East
Families heading to the Lincoln Theatre or Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens need to leave room in their itineraries to visit some of the other attractions in the area.
The King-Lincoln District is enjoying an exciting revitalization spearheaded, in part, by $13.5 million in renovations at the Lincoln, which originally opened in 1928. The nearby Olde Towne East neighborhood also has a number of newer businesses that will appeal to families.
Restoration efforts at the Lincoln have helped shine a light on the area's rich arts history. The area was well known for its jazz scene from the 1930s to the 1960s.
Since reopening in 2009, the theater has concentrated on bringing jazz back to the neighborhood, but is also home to a number of other arts organizations' productions, including Columbus Children's Theatre and the Thiossane West African Dance Institute.
Children can experience the music firsthand through the PBJ & Jazz concert series, said Suzan Bradford, general manager of the theater.
"Local jazz artists come to do jazz with families and kids," from November to March, she said.
The hourlong concerts are interactive and designed to introduce youngsters to the instruments and the music they make. In the warmer months, the concerts move to the Topiary Park in nearby downtown Columbus.
The Lincoln offers more than jazz. Performances range from choral groups to author appearances to plays. It even boasts its own barbershop with the E'Voluer Barber Studio. Located next door is the dancewear boutique for the Leap of Faith Dance school, which also has its original dance studio nearby. Columbus Parent readers voted them Columbus' Best Dance Studio in 2014.
Another important venue in the area is the King Arts Complex, which includes classrooms, theater space and museumlike interactive displays.
"We are very, very kid friendly," said Mark Cardwell, assistant executive director. "We see kids as part and parcel of the programming we have."
The arts facility, which focuses on building tolerance and remembering the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., offers classes, camps and special events geared to children, Cardwell said.
Visitors to the complex also can learn about Columbus folk artist Elijah Pierce. The wood carver, who gained international attention for his art, worked at a barber shop on Long Street. Long Street continues to play a vital role in the neighborhood, said Annie Ross-Womack, CEO of the Long Street Businessmen's Association.
"It's ever evolving," she said.
Last year, city and state officials reopened the Long Street Bridge, which links the King-Lincoln District to the Discovery District. The focal point of the bridge, which includes a pedestrian walkway, is a cultural wall created by two local artists, Kojo Kamau and Larry Winston Collins. The wall uses photography and block prints to tell the history of the neighborhood. Last year, city and state officials reopened the Long Street Bridge, which links the King-Lincoln District to the Discovery District. The focal point of the bridge, which includes a pedestrian walkway, is a cultural wall created by two local artists, and Larry Winston Collins. The wall uses photography and block prints to tell the history of the neighborhood.
Families will find plenty of appealing places to explore, Ross-Womack said. She recommends visiting the Homeport Gallery, which regularly exhibits artwork in a variety of mediums. The gallery is "extremely" kid-friendly, said director Mike Fields.
"I'm usually in there drawing or painting, and they can see what artists do," he said.
Battiste LaFleur Galleria, a family-owned flower shop, also is fun to visit.
"They make art with flowers," Fields said.
The area is home to interesting eateries. Zanzibar Brews serves a Sunday brunch and often has live music. For a more casual meal, try Los Potosinos. The food truck is known for its grilled chicken and tamales.
Across Broad Street in Olde Towne East, there are several good dining options for families. Yellow Brick Pizza has exotic pizza toppings, an extensive beer list and the welcoming feel of a bustling neighborhood bar. The Angry Baker offers breakfast, baked goods and lunch made with local ingredients.
L'appât Patisserie & Café serves a wide array of dishes with an international flair. Owner Didier Alapini welcomes children in his cozy restaurant, said Laura Rosenthal, who regularly visits with her two boys, Linus, 3, and David, 1.
Rosenthal, who has lived in Olde Towne for seven years, has enjoyed rediscovering the neighborhood with her children. They have spent many happy hours at the Columbus Metropolitan Library's Driving Park branch, Franklin Park Conservatory and English Park, which features a newly renovated play space. The park and a newly formed moms' group in Olde Towne have helped the family make new friends, she said.
"It's a great community environment," she said. "It's very eclectic."