Grove City

Melissa Kossler Dutton

Gina Perry and her husband, Jim, moved to Grove City to raise their children in part because the community has retained the small-town feel it had when she lived there as a child.

But they also were attracted by many of the town's newer amenities. Grove City has a thriving retail community, lots of locally owned and chain restaurants and an ever-growing array of family attractions.

"We feel like we have the best of both worlds," said Perry, mother to a 10-year-old boy and 6-year-old girl.

The city has high-quality recreation facilities, including Gantz Park, known for its beautiful gardens; The Big Splash, which has water slides and zero-depth entry pool; and the newly renovated Grove City YMCA.

More recently, a Columbus Metro Parks nature center, a disc golf course and the dog park at Breck Community Park have opened. The nature center at nearby Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park features an indoor living stream. The man-made body of water flows through the center and is home to turtles and fish, said park spokeswoman Peg Hanley.

"For people who can't get down to the creek, it's a great chance to experience the park," she said.

Park officials introduced bison to the park several years ago because the animals are native to Ohio and would have roamed prairies like those at Battelle Darby 200 years ago.

Grove City staffers worked last year with the Grove City Church of the Nazarene and Boy Scout Troop 275 member Paul Rouch to develop the Grove City Community Disc Golf Course, which the public can access on the grounds of the church. The city also recently donated almost 200 acres to Metro Parks for a new park within city limits.

City officials continually look for partnerships that will increase offerings for residents, said Kim Conrad, director of the parks and recreation department.

"We don't want people to feel like they have to go to other communities to have recreation opportunities," she said.

Perry is holding a crowd-funding campaign to raise money for an art studio, and she welcomes the efforts to offer more family-friendly venues in Grove City.

"We need more activities that are easy to get to," said Perry, who owns Creative Clinic Center, a mobile studio that offers painting classes for kids and adults. She would like to open a studio in the Town Center, the historic downtown that the city is working to revitalize. Plans call for renovating existing buildings, building a new library and adding multifamily housing units.

Families already can find plenty of fun in Town Center, said Sue Baisden, owner of Capital City Cakes & Sweet Treats. The bakery, located in the heart of downtown, makes cakes for special events but also serves ice cream, cupcakes and cookies to walk-in customers. Baisden also offers decorating classes and hosts birthday parties at the shop. She said she loves the small-town feel of the suburb.

"Grove City is a great community to live in and raise a family," she said. "People support local businesses like crazy."

Kids will wholeheartedly support the Lollipop Stop, an old-school candy store that also sells ice cream and cupcakes. Marks Sports Cards Plus, which carries trading cards for a variety of professional sports, is another kid-friendly store.

Town Center also has family-friendly dining options. Lilly's Kitchen Table is a tasty spot for breakfast and lunch. Plank's On Broadway makes pizza, salads and subs and serves as the gathering place for local sports leagues.

Other family-friendly destinations in Grove City include World of Bounce, an indoor play area with inflatables; Coffee Break Pottery, a paint-your-own pottery studio; and Putt-N-Play Family Fun Center, which combines miniature golf with an arcade and batting cages.