May 2010

Shortly after the new Polar Frontier area of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium opened recently, our family headed over to the zoo to take in the new addition. We arrived towards the end of the day (to avoid the many school field trips this time of year) to see the new exhibit.  From the front gate, our littlest one had fun trying to hop on the “bear tracks” or paw print stickers that  the Zoo has placed on the ground to help visitors find the exhibit. The bears live in the North America area, up the hill past the Habitat Hollow, Pony Rides and Train.  If you are visiting with little ones (or someone who might need help walking), be sure to bring the stroller or wheelchair: the exhibit is at the top of the hill.

Meandering back through the tree covered pathway, the path opens up to the Polar Frontier area.  There are two main exhibit areas that house the Black Bears and Polar Bears.  The education building has fun interactive learning centers and an “ice” sculpture for the kids to explore. 

Our favorite part of the Brown Bear exhibit was the “sniff” center where you can sniff the bears and they can sniff you through an air exchange hole.  Our daughter declared the bears to be “forest stinky.” (Not quite sure what that means but I’d love to hear what you think the smell consists of!)  Be sure to look for the piece of iron that the bears bent while in their old enclosure.  I definitely don’t want a bear hug from these two guys!  To follow the adventures of this entertaining duo on the days when you are NOT visiting the zoo, you can follow Brutus on Twitter.

The Polar Bear exhibit was amazing in that you can view the bears from all different angles.  Above “sea level,” you can frequently see the sisters sunning themselves on the rocks.  Travel down the ramp, underground, and you can view the bears swimming in the water.  The trout swimming in both exhibits are edible, but so far the Polar Bear girls are more adept at catching them than the brown bears!  Brutus and Buckeye don’t like to swim in deep water and those smart trout have figured out how to dive deep when the bears are in the water.

Another area of the Polar Frontier is a playground area for the kids.  It has an Antarctic Outpost theme, complete with snow and vehicles and lots of room for play.  Polar Frontier also features a new snack shop where they sell soft-serve ice cream!  Grab a cone and enjoy it as you walk back down through North America.  Don’t forget to see the Bald Eagles and their nests on your way back down the hill, the Otters playing in the stream or the Bison running in the field.  I could go on and on. Make sure you have at least a day and a half to have fun at the Columbus Zoo! Until Memorial Day, the Zoo is open until 5 p.m. After that–the #1 Zoo in the nation will be open daily until 7 p.m. (Oh–and if you are considering a family fun Columbus Zoo getaway for this summer, be sure to check out these Getaway Packages offering discounted Columbus Zoo tickets.)

-Post by Katie

(In the interest of helping Dublin, Ohio visitors find deals on kids meals and family friendly eateries, we are featuring a series of guest posts by Dawn Scheurle, creator of the popular site: – “restaurant reviews from a mom’s point of view.”   This is part 4 in a 4 part series.)

We have almost finished our list of the best local eateries for families. As you’ve probably figured out (if you’ve been reading the previous posts on this subject), it isn’t an easy task for a restaurant to make this list.  Not only does a restaurant have to be kid friendly and affordable, but it has to offer good nutritious food. That, in itself, is no easy feat.  Here are our final three …

Max & Erma’s. Max & Erma’s has what it takes to make a family dinner out fun for everyone. They serve just about anything you want, welcome the kids, are very reasonably priced and have great hamburgers!  The atmosphere is fun and family friendly, but also grown-up, with a bar area, dark wood and brass tables and Tiffany type fixtures. The Dublin location has a nice patio overlooking the pond with ducks and geese to entertain the little ones eyes.  Did we mention the sundae bar?  What a fun way to end the meal!  (Although I personally prefer the warm chocolate chip cookies!) 

Chili’s Grill & Bar. Everyone is welcome here.  It’s casual, it’s festive, colorful and fun and welcomes all ages.  The food is Tex-Mex and the bar is full of people watching sports on the TVs.  Three sides on the kids menu (corn, mandarin oranges and pineapple) have been added recently to the seven options it already had. We will warn you though–aside from the grilled chicken, the sides are the healthiest things you will find on the kids menu.   But, hey, we don’t go to Chili’s for their ‘light’ menu options so if we splurge once in a while, we think the kids can too!   They do offer nutritional information on all the kids meals on their web site. 

Uno Chicago Grill.  Uno’s has a “Chicago warehouse” look that is warm, busy and energetic.  Although a lot of people still only associate it with pizza, Uno’s may surprise you with all the things on their menu.  Recently the restaurant chain began offering lighter, flatbread pizzas and a kids’ menu that features grilled chicken, whole-grain penne and health-minded sides like broccoli, apples and mandarin oranges. Kids can even put on an apron and make their own pie using flatbread dough, sauce, cheese and toppings, which are brought to your table. Then the pizza is baked and returned with the rest of the family’s order.  The atmosphere lends itself to energetic little munchkins.

So there it is.  I’m sure there is at least one thing you disagree with–or that I’ve missed one of your family’s favorite places.  To that I say GREAT!  Please leave a comment, idea, agreement or disagreement.  We would love to hear about more great places around Dublin, Ohio!

 -Guest post by Dawn Scheurle, creator of