Adulting is hard. And just when you think you’ve maybe got it figured out—with a semblance of stability in your life—you may (in a burst of confidence) decide to have a baby. Surprise! You will never feel like you have anything figured out again. Welcome to parenthood! Can I buy you a drink? But wait. Where can you even get a drink as a parent?
As it turns out, Columbus is a great city for raising kids without having to completely give up the life you had before. Here are a few places you can take your children that are fun for adults, that are welcoming for little ones, and where no one is going to judge you or bat an eye over a dreaded public kid meltdown. Take it from this mother of two: you deserve a break.
16-BIT SHORTY DAY
If you find yourself waking up early on a Sunday, mourning weekends of yore when you actually got to leave the house on Saturday night, 16-Bit’s weekly Shorty Day might be just what you need. Every Sunday from noon to 5 p.m., 16-Bit drops its “21+” requirement in favor of family fun. You can introduce your kids to classic arcade games like Ms. Pacman, Tron, and Centipede, while kids sip on slushies and grownups indulge in authentic adult beverages. Admission and arcade games are free, and pinball games cost a mere 50 cents. While I was there on a recent Sunday, I witnessed a mom in town from Seattle get the high score in Asteroids, proudly showing her teenage daughter the way it’s done.
16-Bit Shorty Day: Sundays from 12-5 at the 254 S Fourth St. location. Kids are welcome daily until 8 p.m. at the Dublin location with adult supervision. Learn more at 16-bitbar.com.
RAMBLING HOUSE MUSIC BAR’S FAMILY FRIENDLY FIRST FRIDAYS
Rambling House Music Bar serves up zippy sodas with traditional and roots music six nights a week. Once a month, they relax their age requirements for Family Friendly First Fridays, where from 6-8 p.m., kids can enjoy age-appropriate craft beverages while dancing to the tunes. Eileen Wukusick has attended a few Family Friendly First Fridays with her three and six-year-old. She cautions first timers to be prepared for crowds, both in the search for parking and on the dance floor. Rambling House does not serve food, though cake has been known to appear during these events, so you may want to bring along some munchies to complement those sodas, and get ready to dance the sugar o before bedtime.
Rambling House Music Bar is located at 310 Hudson St. Family Friendly First Fridays take place on the first Friday of every month. For more information visit ramblinghousemusic.com.
BROUGHT TO YOU BY
During many snow days this past winter, Studio 35 came through as a hero for Clintonville parents in search of last-minute entertainment when it offered free screenings of classic family movies. In addition to big- screen entertainment, the booths by the bar in the front room are stocked with board games that appeal to little brains; recently my kids played Operation while I drank a beer and watched the Women’s World Cup on the televisions—a true parenting win. In August, Studio 35 will screen the last two movies in its free summer kids series, The Secret of the Kells and A Long Way Home. Keep an eye on the Facebook page for more events, including last-minute ones. After all, school is just around the corner, which means heat days and parent scrambling can’t be far behind.
Studio 35 is located at 3055 Indianola Ave. Free summer Kids’ Series movies screen on Saturdays at 11 a.m. through August 10. Visit studio35.com for more information.
FRANKLIN PARK CONSERVATORY CHILDREN’S GARDEN
Franklin Park Conservatory has always been an awesome place to take kids—mine never tire of walking through the rainforest and desert, especially in the middle of gray Ohio winters. When the two-acre Children’s Garden opened last summer, however, the conservatory jumped from a “nice place to visit” to an “absolutely must do” on my list of family-friendly Columbus attractions. From the second kids enter the garden through a special tunnel that’s just their size, it takes on a magical aura. As they explore, they’ll find everything from fairies to musical instruments to giant hammocks to, yes, all kinds of native-Ohio plants. If that’s not enough, the Learning Pavillion hosts regular activities and special guests, so all of you can get even more out of your visit.
The Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation Children’s Garden at Franklin Park Conservatory is open year-round. Admission to the garden is included in the conservatory’s ticket price: $19 for adults and