Archive for the ‘Road Trips’ Category

westSideMarketWe spent the long weekend in Cleveland with my parents, and almost every time that we go up to Cleveland, we visit the West Side Market – one of our favorite places in Cleveland.

The market is only open on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. On Saturdays, the market is loud and crowded, and that is part of the experience. The munchkin loves the crowds and is happy to sit in her stroller as long as she has something to snack on. Navigating a stroller through the aisles can be difficult, but everyone at the market is courteous.

The West Side Market has an amazing selection of food. Vendors at the market carry cheese, periogis, fruit, vegetables, spices, grains, coffee, olives, and every kind of meat and bakery item imaginable.

One of our favorite things is the crepes from Crepes De Luxe. The munchkin loves them. One of my favorites is the loaded baked potatoe periogis from the Periogi Palace. Yum!

[Photo Credit: Market]


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I have never appreciated Columbus more than after visiting Washington D.C. for a week. I love visiting big cities, but I’m sure that I don’t want to live in one. For one, the traffic in Washington is awful – a normally 15 minute car trip can take over an hour in rush hour. On the local NPR station, they had rush hour reports until 8 p.m.! That would never happen in Columbus. Anway…

We went to D.C. because my sister lives there with her husband and two kids. My sister and I spent a week in the nation’s capital trying to entertain two two-year-olds (which was fun) and keep them a their nap schedules (which didn’t work).

We didn’t visit many of the traditional tourist sites, because taking a two-year-old on a White House tour wouldn’t be that fun. We did find some great things to do in Washington D.C. with two two-year-olds and a six-month-old:

National Aquarium in Baltimore – Our first day in DC, we drove up to Baltimore to visit the National Aquarium, which was packed because it was spring break. My daughter is currently obessesed with the movie Finding Nemo and she loved the aquarium, spending the entire time looking for a clown fish – which thank god they had. The aquarium is a great place to take kids. The only down side was that it is expensive. The kids were free, but the adults were $24 each! We also didn’t think to order our tickets online, and the aquarium does timed entry, so we had to wait an hour and a half to get in.

National Gallery Art – On our second day out, we took the kids to the National Gallery of Art. My sister, aunt, and I got to spend about 15 minutes looking at some beautiful Impression art during which we kept the kids quiet by feeding them snacks in their strollers. When they started screaming we moved onto the museum’s basement – which was the highlight of the trip to the musuem for the kids. What the kids loved about the museum’s basement was the walkway underneath the National Gallery. The walkway is a slightly bouncy moving escaltor surrounded on the ceiling and walls by lights that “move.” We rode the walkway about 10 times. The kids loved it!

Port Discovery Children’s Museum in Baltimore – On our last day, we took the kids to the Port Discovery Children’s Museum, which they loved. This is a fantastic children’s museum that appealed to our two-year-olds. There was a room specially for children under 4 years old that was great for our kids. The room was quieter than the rest of the museum, and the little kids were less likely to get run over by older kids. Definitely worth the trip up to Baltimore.

pret_bigPret A Manger – We also took the kids to a few restaurants during our week in D.C. We had Turkish, Italian, and French. My daughter ate her first creme brulee, gelato, and chocolate croissant. And yes, the kids had a few breakdowns in the restaurants. Some of the restaurants and their employees were helpful and accommodating. Some were anything but.

After one of our sight seeing trips, we stopped at Pret A Manger for lunch. I love Pret A Manger, and was so excited when my sister told me that D.C. finally got a branch of this great chain. I fell in love with the restaurant during my last trip to London. They have terrific, fresh lunch food.

However as important as the food, the employees of the Pret A Manager in downtown Washington D.C. were the nicest and most helpful restaurants employees I have ever met. Our two-year-old had the meltdown of all meltdowns in their restaurant during their lunch rush. The employees quickly offered a free cookie to the screaming two-year-old (never, ever under-estimate the power of a giant chocolate chip cookie) which instantly quieted her, helped us carry our tray to an open table, and were completely gracious to us. We thanked them by getting take-out again later that week and not taking the kids in the restaurant. By the way, their food is amazing! I love their Brie sandwich. If you are in D.C., definitely stop by for a quick lunch. I am hoping that one day Columbus will her own branch of this fantastic chain.

[Photo Credit: Capital Building, Pret]

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Growing up in Northeast Ohio, fall meant Mapleside Farms and their apple cider. I remember going there with my mom, dad, and sister when I was younger, and now I’m taking my little girl there. I’m excited to pass this tradition onto my daughter.

Mapleside is an apple orchard in Brunswick. In the fall, they sell about 20 different varieties of apples. Their apples, cider and apple butter are all fantastic. 

This weekend, September 20 and 21, is Mapleside’s 35th Johnny Appleseed Festival. The festival has wagon rides, children’s activities, pony rides, corn maze, food, craft venders, and music. And lots of apples, of course. The apples we bought to take home were delicious. If you are going to be in the Cleveland area this weekend, you should check out the Johnny Appleseed festival. 

Where: Mapleside Farms. 294 Pearl Rd., Brunswick, Ohio 44212

When: September 20 and 21. Saturday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Fee: Adults are $3, children aged 7 to 12 are $1, and children under 6 are free.

Note: There were a lot of bees at the festival. I’m not sure if bug spray works for keeping the bees away, but it couldn’t hurt. We didn’t take any bug spray and had a lot of bees around us. 

[Photo Credit: Farm]

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While in Cleveland recently, we went to the Children’s Museum of Cleveland. The Children’s Museum is designed for children ages 1 to 8 years old. I first took my daughter there when she was 12 months old, and she had a great time. She enjoyed the museum even more at 19 months. 

Her favorite exhibit at the museum is the farm. The farm is for children ages 1 to 4 years old. In the farm room, the kids can climb on a padded tractor, go down a slide, dress up in animal costumes, and pick velcro apples. The room also has farm books and giant blocks to stack. 

Another exhibit in the museum is a mini-town. The kids can shop in a grocery store, complete with small grocery carts and food; play in a house with a kitchen and baby’s room; sit in a city bus and car; and play in a doctor’s office.

The museum has a seasonal exhibit that changes throughout the year. When we visited the museum recently, we explored the Abracadabra Everyday Magic exhibit. The magic exhibit had activities for all different ages. Beginning in mid-August the seasonal exhibit changes to Healthier Ever After.

When we had visited the museum in January, the seasonal exhibit included the entire room being filled with sand. The kids could dig and play in the sand. The munchkin loved the sand, which was a perfect activity in the winter. 

The museum’s water exhibit, Splish! Splash! was also a hit with my daughter. The exhibit has a water table the kids can play in, a two-story climbing structure that demonstrates how water flows, and weather forecast center. Save this exhibit for last as the kids usually end up wet from the water table. 

The museum is small, which is good for toddlers. We spent the morning at the museum and were able to visit all the exhibits. If you are in the Cleveland area with young kids, the museum is worth a visit. 

Location: The museum is located in University Circle. The address is 10730 Euclid Ave., Cleveland, OH 44106.

Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. everyday. 

Fees: Children (12 months to 12 years old) $7.00. Adults (13 years old and up) $6.00.

Parking: Parking is free in the lots at the museum.

[Photo Credit: Museum]

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Last week, we went up to Cleveland for a few days. While visiting my parents, we went to the Akron Zoo.

The Akron Zoo is a beautiful zoo. It is smaller than the Columbus or Cleveland zoo, which made it much more manageable with toddlers. We were able to see the entire zoo in a morning.

Our favorite exhibit at the zoo was the jellyfish. The exhibit had 10 aquariums of different types of beautiful jellyfish. The munchkin loved looking at the graceful jellyfish as they floated past. Inside the jellyfish exhibit there was a touch pool with starfish, crabs, and sea urchins, as well as a climbing wall and art tables. The kids loved running around this area. 

In addition to the jellyfish, the zoo had a nice collection of animals, including red panda, lions, tigers, lemurs, sun bears, and others. Our other favorites were the penguins and otters. 

The zoo was very stroller-friendly. The paths were wide and easy to navigate with strollers. The exhibits allowed the toddlers to view the animals easily. At some, they could stay in the strollers and still see the animals. Other exhibits had ledges the kids could stand on to see the animals. 

If you are in the Akron area, the zoo is worth a visit. 

Location: The zoo is located on Euclid Avenue near Edgewood, near downtown Akron. The zoo’s website has directions to the zoo from locations around Ohio. 

Hours: Summer Hours (May to October) 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Winter Hours (November to April) 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Fee: Adults $9.00, Children (2 to 14 years old) $5.50. The zoo also has memberships

Parking: Parking was $2.00.

[Photo Credit: Jellyfish]

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This is Capital City Mama’s first Road Trip Post and first guest writer. The guest writer is my sister, who is mom to a beautiful 22 month old daughter. Here is her post about her family’s recent trip to Sharon Woods Park.

In Lebannon, Ohio, just an hour and a half from Columbus,  is Sharon Woods Park, which is part of the Hamilton County Park District.  On a recent family trip with grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, we enjoyed a long afternoon on the playground, water fountains, and pedal boats.  For a $2-per-day car pass or $5 for a year long pass, you have access to the trails and playgrounds.

We rented a “pedal boat” (or paddle boat as we grew up calling them) for four people for $10 an hour.  We sat our 22 month old in between us in the boat or on our laps and were both able to pedal.  There were lots of ducks in the lake, which the kids loved!  

Near the lake is a fantastic playground and water fountain area.  The playground had areas for both younger and older children, including baby swings. 

There were also water fountains that would squirt water periodically, surprising and delighting the children.  We really enjoyed the water fountain that was made to look like a creek bed. The best part about your child walking in this man-made creek is how clean it was.  Our daughter loved climbing over the stones and splashing in the little waterfalls.

The playground and water play area is surrounding a snack bar with many options and clean bathrooms.  The kids, from ages 1 to 6, all enjoyed the playground and water play areas.

There are also rowboats, canoes and bikes rentals for the lake, bike paths, hiking trails, fishing and a golf course. Also a great break from hot weather or a rainy day is the Adventure Station, an indoor playground. Cost is $2.50 per child.

Where11450 Lebanon Road, Cincinnati, Ohio 45241

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