Today I had the pleasure of speaking with Owen, an energetic four year old who LOVES the new “Dinosaur Island” exhibit at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium that just hatched this week. Owen loved the “Dinosaws” so much that his mom had to go through the exhibit twice in one day!

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Owen with the T-Rex at Dinosaur Island

Q: Owen, what did you see today?

A: Dinosaws! Lots of them. Their wings went up and down and made noises. They had babies with eggs! The lady gave me pictures of all the dinosaws so I could see if they eat meat or leaves. The sand pit had cool, soft sand and bones in it, but i couldn’t take them home. The long dinosaw was eating a tree, then the man buckled my seat belt, but I told him I can do it. He didn’t want me to fall out of the boat. 

Q: What happened on the boat?

A: We saw even more dinosaws and they squirted me a little, but mostly got mommy wet. And do you know what?

Q: What?

A: I ate a big pretzel after!

Q: Did you do anything else after?

A: I climbed and slided then we saw penguins, elephants, lions, monkeys, pretty birds, a dark building…. then we went to see the dinosaws again!

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Dinosaur Island

Owen’s mom had a lot of great tips for seeing this fantastic new exhibit. They toured it first thing in the morning and there was no line. Stroller parking was easy as there was an area by the ticket booth as well as an area close to the boat ride if your little ones prefer to ride as long as possible. The attendants at the ride were great in making sure all the kids were buckled in safely  and if you would enjoy staying a little dryer- sit on the right hand side. The dinosaurs were all throughout the ride on both sides and very easy to view. There was nothing scary for any age. 

The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium has many areas for picnicking- Owen and his mom found a shady spot by the Aquarium building. The Grange Insurance Stings, Wings N’ Playthings Park is very close to Dinosaur Island and a great place to rest while your kid enjoys the playground. 

When they returned mid-afternoon for round two of Dinosaur Island, there was about a ten minute wait for the ride itself, but you don’t notice the line because you were enjoying a shady walk beside the river with lots of dinosaurs at every turn. The waiting area by the boats also has a shaded cover and moves quickly. 

The “Zoo-it-All” wristbands are available at the front gate for $9.99 and include unlimited entry into Dinosaur Island, the Carousel, Bob Evans Express Train Ride and Jungle Jack’s Landing. They do not include entry to the zoo.

If you are planning a trip to the Zoo this summer, check out the Columbus Zoo/COSI Family Getaway Package  that includes discounted tickets to the Zoo, Zoombezi Bay and COSI!  

Now that the long awaited warm weather has graced us with its presence, it’s time to get outside! Pack up the family and head to Dublin this weekend to see some art in public places, visit the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium or splash around at Zoombezi Bay on their opening weekend!

Zoombezi Bay

Zoombezi Bay

Zoombezi Bay has attractions for every member of the family. Fly down 17 state of the art water slides, bob in the wave pool or relax in the lazy river (Crocktail Creek is my personal favorite spot).

TIP: If your little one likes or loathes being splashed- there is a large barrel that dumps 500 gallons of water every few minutes in Barracuda Bay. Listen for the ships bell that dings when the barrel gets full to either prepare to get soaked or make a quick escape!

Many new additions have been made at Zoombezi to enhance the experience.

 NEW THIS YEAR

  • Cabanas with overhead fans, refrigerators and safes have been placed throughout the park
  • The new ZOOMPASS is a virtual ride reservation that holds your spot in line while you maximize fun!
  • Zoombezi Bay will have several special offer days:
  • Mondays: Students in the Sun- $10 discounts with student ID or grade card.
  • Tuesdays: Season Pass Appreciation Days- discounts on food and beverage, gift shop items and ZOOMPASS.
  • Wednesdays: Safety in the Sun- learning programs and discounts for the achievement of safety programs.
  • Thursdays: Fun in the Sun- Live entertainment at various times throughout the day.
Zoombezi Bay

Dolphin Dash, Zoombezi Bay

Opening Weekend Hours: May 18 & 19 from 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Zoombezi Bay opens daily beginning May 23 at 10:30 a.m. Closing times vary each day.

Visit www.zoombezibay.com for more info.

If you’re planning on going to the Zoo and Zoombezi Bay, check out the Family Getaway Package that includes discounted tickets to the #1 Zoo, Zoombezi Bay, the # 1 Science Center, COSI, and discounts at Dublin area attractions and restaurants!

Mother’s Day is quickly approaching – Sunday, May 12th this year. Have you planned to make Mom’s day extra special this year? Here are some great tips for local brunch ideas and great specials for Mom. Please call ahead for reservations as locations sell out quickly!

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Columbus Marriott Northwest: Elegant Mother’s Day Brunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Assorted Salads, Shrimp Cocktail, Crab Claws, Poached Salmon, Quiche, Omelets and Waffles made to order, Carving station, Assorted Pastries and Chocolates. 5605 Blazer Parkway. 614/791-1000. www.ColumbusMarriottNorthwest.com

Crowne Plaza Hotel: Sunday Brunch from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. with Omelet and Crepe station, Carving station, Wide array of Breakfast and Dinner Entrees, Fresh Salads and Baked Goods, Special Kids Buffet, Scrumptious Dessert Bar.$28.95 Adults, $14.95 children 6-13. 600 Metro Place North. 614/760-7939 www.Crowneplaza.com/dublinoh

Columbus Zoo and Aquarium: Free admission for Mom on Mother’s Day with a paid admission for their child or grandchild. 9990 Riverside Drive.614/ 645-3400. www.columbuszoo.org

Golf Club of Dublin: Elegant Brunch served at two seatings: 10:30 a.m. and 1:00 p.m.  Enjoy Prime Rib, Shrimp Cocktail, Grilled Salmon, Duck Tenderloin, Fresh fruit, Belgian Waffles, French toast, delicious desserts and more. 5 years and under are free, $9.95 for ages 6-12, $21.95 for 13 and older. 5805 Eiterman Road. 614/792-3825. www.golfclubofdublin.com

Ha penny Bridge Imports: In honor of their 30th anniversary, spend $30 for Mom and receive a free gift! 75 South High Street. 614/889-9615. www.hapennybridgeimports.com

La Scala Italian Bistro: Mother’s Day Brunch from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., regular menu will be available all day. Enjoy assorted garden salads, breakfast favorites, homemade sausage and peppers, homemade ravioli, chicken Milanese, Penne pasta ala Vodka, assorted sides and desserts. Adults $22.95, Children under 10 $13.95. 4199 West Dublin-Granville Road. 614/889-9431. www.LaScalaItalianBistro.com

Matt the Miller’s Tavern: Special Mother’s Day Brunch menu from 9 a.m.-3 p.m., regular menu service in the evening. $24.95 Adults. 6725 Avery-Muirfield Drive. 614/799-9100. www.mtmtavern.com

Mezzo Italian Dublin: Special Brunch menu will be available from 11 a.m.to 2 p.m. Exclusively created for Mother’s Day, Mezzo will feature a selection of breakfast fare, salads and Italian entrees including items such as ricotta pancake cannolis, fried green tomato eggs benedict, and eggplant “aubergine”. 12 West Bridge Street. 614/889-6100. www.mezzoitalian.com

Tehku Tea: Irish Mother’s Day Brunch and Afternoon Tea. Seatings are available at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. 55 South High Street. 614/761-3808. www.tehku.com

The Venue at Corazon: Family Brunch Buffet with a Complimentary Flower for Mom from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. $24.95 Adults, $9.95 children ages 3-11. 7155 Corazon Drive. 614/504-5240. www.theVenueatCorazon.com

Whole Foods: Special Mother’s Day Brunch available from 10 a.m.-2p.m. $25 Adults, $12 Children. 3670 West Dublin-Granville Road. 614/760-5556. www.wholefoodsmarket.com

Woodhouse Spa: Treat your Mom to an escape – right in Historic Dublin. Special Mother’s Day Spa packages are available. 19 North High Street. 614/790-8822. www.woodhousecolumbus.com

For more ideas, visit the Dublin Convention & Visitors Bureau website: www.IrishisanAttitude.com

With Father’s Day quickly approaching (Sunday, June 17), time is running out to find the perfect gift or dad-friendly activity, but there is no need to panic. Several businesses throughout Dublin and Central Ohio have something special to offer dads and their families!

Fun things to do with dad:

  • The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is offering free admission to dads with the purchase of a child admission (June 17, only).
  • Dads receive a free ticket to COSI Columbus’ newest 3D film, Air Racers 3D, throughout Father’s Day weekend.
  • Spend the day casting a line. There are several fishing holes in the area  – ML “Red” Trabue Nature Reserve, The Dublin Recreation Center, and the original Dublin fishing hole (Kiwanis Riverway Park) – just to name a few!
  • Whole Foods Columbus has a great grilling section. Stop by and find all the ingredients needed for a delicious cookout!
  • Schedule a tee time and play a round at the Irish inspired, links style Golf Club of Dublin.

The following are some gift ideas sure to delight any dad!

  • The Woodhouse Day Spa is offering a “Dad’s Great Escape” special. For every $100 gift card purchased, you will also receive a $25 gift card to Mezzo Ristorante and a GolfTEC 30 Minute Swing Diagnosis Session!
  • Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams is offering a Father’s Day four-pack (online) of their sweet treats with flavors such as Yazoo Sue & Rosemary Bar Nuts, Juniper & Lemon Curd, Whiskey & Pecans, and Plum Sake Sorbet.
  • Find a personalized baseball bat at Phoenix Bats. Fantastic for sporty dads!
  • A number of area restaurants offer gift certificates and specials on Father’s Day (Salvi’s Bistro, Sunny Street Café, ect.).

For other ideas, visit the Dublin OH Convention & Visitors Bureau website: www.irishisanattitude.com

– Post by Dawn Nolan, social media intern at the Dublin Convention & Visitors Bureau

This insider Guest Post comes to us from Katie Ronske, Communications Assistant at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.

Since Wildlights at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium was named one of the American Bus Association’s Top 100 Events in North America, we knew we had to go bigger and brighter than ever before … and that’s exactly what we did!

 This year, we’re spreading Wildlights cheer to the whole world, literally! In addition to millions of LED lights decking the halls, trees and bushes, guests will find a 24-foot in diameter, 8,200 lb. globe in the center of Conservation Lake that serves as the centerpiece for Global Celebrations, a brand new animated music and light show. The 8-minute light extravaganza features new songs and new designs and runs every thirty minutes from 5:45 p.m. to close.

In addition to Global Celebrations, Polar Pete’s Holiday Wishes Tree will help light up the chilly winter nights this year. This 28-foot-tall artificial sequoia tree shines bright with 15,500 LED lights. Here, guests can stop and say “happy holidays” to Rodney Reindeer and Wally Walrus before having their photos taken with Santa and Mrs. Claus.

Of course, we had to stay true to Wildlights tradition. Guests can still see Santa in his holiday home at the Battelle Ice Bear Outpost, visit his reindeer at Polar Frontier, take a ride on the Polar Bear Express or the Mini Kiddie Sleigh Ride, hear sounds of the season at the Animals on Safari stage and more.

Celebrate the season at Wildlights now thru January 1, 2012. Festivities take place from 5-9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 5-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. For more information please visit www.columbuszoo.org
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Give your family the gift of fun! Treat them to a Columbus Zoo Wildlights Getaway package–featuring an overnight stay at a choice of 6 Dublin hotels, plus complimentary kids tickets to Wildlights and free Kids Meal coupons. Packages start at just $99 and are available through 12.31.11. Visit www.IrishisanAttitude.com or call the Dublin Convention & Visitors Bureau 800/245-8387 to learn more.

*Wildlights is efficiently powered by gridSMART from AEP Ohio.

This guest post was provided by Katie Ronske at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. We figured she could give you the “inside scoop” on Jack Hanna’s Fall Fest far better than we could!  

It’s fall in Columbus which means it’s time for, you guessed it, Fall Fest at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium!  This summer has been a scorcher, and if you visited us here at the Zoo you may have left with a slight sunburn and sweat…well, everywhere. Now that the temps have finally dropped, dig out your comfy sweatshirts and jeans and head to the Zoo for some fall fun beginning this weekend at Jack Hanna’s Fall Fest.

This year’s Fall Fest celebration kicks off on Sep. 10 -11 and continues Sept. 17-18. Festivities include pumpkin carving, delicious fall food, country music, kid-friendly entertainment, character caravans, animals bobbing for apples and more! Nick Jr.’s Kai-lan will join the fun on Sept. 10-11 and our very own Jungle Jack Hanna will be live on stage with our Animals on Safari stars on Sep. 17-18.

Looking for more fall fun? Meet your Best Friend at the Zoo on Oct. 8 when area rescue organizations and humane societies provide guests with an opportunity to rescue some of their favorite furry friends. This is your opportunity to visit the Zoo AND go home with an animal…no lions, tigers or bears, of course.

After you take your new friend home, come back on Oct. 9 for Colo’s Classic Car show featuring your favorite classic, muscle and low-rider cars from all over Ohio. The cars will be parked at Jungle Jack’s Landing and Colo’s Cove and there will be plenty of  raffle prizes and awards!

Local retailers aren’t the only ones dusting off the black and orange Halloween décor. Boo at the Zoo is right around the corner and we’ve got Casper, Spider-Man and Captain America to help us celebrate. Witch? Lion? Ghost? There’s still time to decide, but mark your calendars for the weekends of Oct. 21-23 and Oct. 28-30 for this merry (not scary) event! We’ll see you at the Zoo!

For more information about these events, visit www.columbuszoo.org.

Among my many resolutions for this year: (1) Spend less. (2) Travel more.

At first glance, those two tasks might seem to cancel out each other. But, you see, I have this addiction. I’m a travel-a-holic. I love to go to new places … whether they are on the other side of the country or the other side of the city. So I’m (working on) becoming a super savvy traveler this year. I’m searching for the best values, insider tips and special offers.  

Working in the travel industry, one thing I’ve learned when planning a trip is—start with your local Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB). CVBs are made up of locals who are passionate about their destination. We know the best places to eat, visit, stay and see. And we usually have knowledge of some great packages.  Like this one I’m going to share with you today:

The Embassy Suites Columbus Dublin is offering a Cabin Fever Family Fun Package (Feb. 19-20) with tons of fun and entertainment for everyone in the family—all for $124.99/night.  Activities include a family game and activity room (think board games, crafts and family friendly music), a movie room with kid-friendly flicks, bingo and wacky DJ games, a chocolate fountain, an Evening Manager’s reception, an indoor swimming and whirlpool, one large 2-topping pizza and a 2-liter bottle of soda per package, a goodie bag with local discount coupons and snacks, AND a full cooked-to-order breakfast buffet for all. (Call 614/790-9000 to book your package.)

Need more incentive? How about half-price admission to the #1 Zoo in the country? The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is offering half-price general admission during the entire months of January and February.  That’s plenty of opportunity to see Polar Bear Twins Anana and Aurora frolicking in their cool Polar Frontier habitat the way three-year-old Polar bears sisters do.  It’s hard to beat that kind of economical family travel fun, right?  For more info, visit the Dublin CVB website or call 800/245-8387.

-Post by Mary