It’s hard to believe the holiday season is already here. Although winter is usually a time when we tend to stay indoors to keep out of the cold, there’s a great reason to get out of the house starting next week – Columbus Zoo’s Wildlights is opening!      

The 3 million lights displayed throughout the Zoo are enough to put even Clark W. Griswold to shame.  The event is an American Bus Association “Top 100 Event in North America” and offers a little something for visitors of all ages to see and experience.

This year the Dublin CVB has teamed up with some of our local hotels, the Zoo, and a few of our partner restaurants to make it easier and more cost effective than ever to bring your entire family to Dublin to see the Wildlghts through our Kids Go Free/Columbus Zoo Wildlights Package.

Here’s how it works:

When you book an overnight stay at one of our participating Dublin hotels, you will receive free kids admission tickets to the Wildlights (up to 2 per reservation – additional tickets can be purchased at the hotel). On top of receiving FREE kids admission tickets, you will also receive FREE kids meal coupons to participating restaurants (including Graeter’s Ice Cream for a sweet treat). To make your stay in Dublin even better, many of the hotels are offering free shuttle service to the Zoo, complimentary treats, and complimentary breakfast.

Don’t miss out on this great opportunity to bring the whole family to Dublin for a holiday getaway they will never forget!

-Post by Sam

Assistance with this post provided by Doug Warmolts and Patty Peters of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.

Columbus Zoo and Aquarium’s newest exhibit, Stingray Bay, opened to the public on Monday, June 18. Located in Jungle Jack’s Landing (near the front entrance and adjacent to Zoombezi Bay), Stingray Bay is an 18,000 gallon, shallow, saltwater touch pool within an open-air shelter that gives guests a hands-on experience with this aquatic animal. Zoo staff (or interpreters) are stationed around the exhibit to answer questions and share facts about the stingrays.

The exhibit is made up of a few dozen Cownose Rays and Southern Stingrays. Typically, these creatures are bottom feeders. They have molar-like teeth that are used to crush the shells of their prey (crustaceans, mollusks, and other invertebrates).  The rays are fed a variety of seafood several times a day, and guests can watch or participate in the feedings.

Though stingrays may have a less than stellar reputation, it is stressed that visitors should not be afraid of them. In all actuality, these animals are quite harmless and only use their barbs for defense purposes. However, the rays in the exhibit have also had their barbed tips removed to ensure safety.

Fun Facts:

  • Cownose rays get their name from their unique forehead, which is similar to a cow’s nose.
  • Cownose rays’ bodies are shaped like kites and look like they are flying through the water.
  • Southern stingrays are often found buried in the sand, with only their eyes and spiracles showing.
  • Southern stingrays not social, so they are often seen alone or in pairs.

Stingray Bay is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. It is a timed-ticket exhibit. There is a small charge to enter the exhibit (not included in regular Zoo admission rates*):  $2 for Columbus Zoo members and season pass-holders and $3 for non-members. Guests can also purchase 1 cup of food for the rays for $2.

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*Coming to the Zoo this summer? Save up to 30% off gate admission rates with the Dublin CVB’s “Kids Eat Free Columbus Zoo/COSI Summer Getaway” package. Go HERE to learn more.

~ Post by Dawn

 

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

(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: www.kidseatout.com – “restaurant reviews from a mom’s point of view.”   This is part 3 in a 4 part series.  

If you are like me, you are always on the search for family friendly restaurants that deliver on that magic combination of great value, nutritious choices, good food, convenience and ability to cater to kids. Here are a few more of my top choices (approved by my kids) …

Bravo.  Bravo is one of my favorite places to go with or without the kids!  It is a little more on the upscale side compared to some of the others on the list–so if you have particularly rambunctious children, it may not be for you.  The kids menu is huge, with chicken fingers (if you must), to all kinds of pasta and pizza. The servings are quite large, so for little appetites–you may want to share. They offer “Grande Kids, Meals for Small Adults” for more mature tastes (think Chicken Parmesan and Grilled Salmon). They even have a “Sides and Salads” section on the kids menu! Bravo has one of the most impressive kid’s menus out there.  The kids menu does come with crayons and activities, but you might have to ask for the raw dough to play with, as sometimes the wait staff forgets to bring it out!

Bob Evans.  Bob Evans is known for its family friendly atmosphere. You’ve probably eaten there at one time or another for breakfast.  Try it with your kids for dinner.  The kids menu is varied, with a complete Breakfast menu anytime, but lots of other options too–many very healthy. Their sides include low-fat strawberry yogurt, mashed potatoes and gravy, cottage cheese, broccoli, salad, fruit dish, baked potato, plus seven more. I love that they have grilled chicken strips (in addition to the usual fried), turkey, pancakes, etc. Everyone should be able to find something they like here. (Bonus deal: Bob Evans is a partner in the Dublin Ohio Convention & Visitors Bureau’s Kids Eat FREE Columbus Zoo/Zoombezi Bay Getaway” package program. Book your online getaway and get FREE kids meal coupons to Bob Evans and up to five other restaurants!)

Noodles & Company. Noodles & Company is a great option when you are looking for something faster than a traditional sit-down restaurant but don’t want to do fast-food.  It’s in the fast-food category of restaurants, but that is where the connection ends.   For not quite two times what you would pay for a combo meal at another establishment, you can get a nice meal.  The restaurant recently added a selection of sandwiches too.

Instead of having a separate kids’ menu, all of the noodle bowls, soups and salads come in two sizes–small and large.  Small is great for older kids, and big enough to split between two smaller children.  Since every noodle dish is prepared to order, diners can customize–swapping or adding veggies and a protein like chicken or tofu. Mac ‘n’ cheese, buttered noodles and pasta with marinara sauce will appeal to picky eaters.  And be sure to ask for no spices or spices on the side for them too.  Food is served on real dishes and kids will love the colorful chopsticks holders.

Next….  The final 3.  Will your favorite be there?  🙂 

 -Guest post by Dawn Scheurle, creator of www.kidseatout.com

 

Hmmm. How to woo your sweetheart in a way that is both unique and memorable this Valentine’s Day? The Dublin, Ohio CVB has plenty of ideas to help make your job easier.

Stay and play.  Cozy up with your Valentine this weekend (or anytime through February) to enjoy a close-to-home retreat. Eight Dublin hotels have designed their versions of a memorable Romantic Getaway. Build your own package online, selecting luxurious inclusions ranging from champagne and chocolates to roses and bathrobes. Then enjoy a complimentary breakfast and late check out.  Packages start at just $104—make for an affordable and unforgettable getaway.

Take Time to Wine, Dine (and Shine).  Who can resist being courted over a lovely lunch or dinner? But nothing kills your romantic efforts more than a packed, noisy restaurant and a hefty bill. We’re proposing some off-the-beaten-path establishments that are whipping up some specials just for their Valentine’s guests—with prices that will make Cupid’s harp sing.  

  • TehKu Tea Company (55 S. High St.) Enjoy a romantic Tea, Spa and Dinner Package complete with violin music on Sat., February 13.  Treat your Valentine to some Butterfly Kisses or Chocolate Strawberry Cake … (both featured tea flavors). Reservations: 614/761-3808
  • Digger & Finch Scottish Pub (is offering a special dinner menu from 5-10 pm on Saturday for $27.95/pp. The price includes an appetizer, soup or salad; choice of main courses and dessert of Crème Brulee (with chocolate dipped strawberries). Oh … and a rose for each lady. Reservations: 614/889-8585 
  • La Chatelaine French Bakery & Bistro (65 W. Bridge St.) Enjoy a St. Valentine Dinner in a romantic old world European setting. The ($32.95/pp) Prix Fix Three Course Menu offers some culinary creations that will encourage a long evening.  Reservations: 614/763-7151.

Treats for your Sweet. There is chocolate, then there are Historic Dublin’s famous Sweet Treats.  

  • Sugar inc. (36 N. High St.) is hosting a High Noon Tea Tasting from 12-2 pm Saturday.  It is free—and they will feature their beautiful Valentine’s Day cupcakes and cookies for purchase. (614/389-3459)
  • Sisters Sweet Shoppe (45 N. High St.) The Sisters have been busy dipping, decorating AND filling orders for their famous Chocolate Covered Strawberries this week. These delectable darlings will only be available through Saturday. (614/761-1118)
  • Enjoy “All Things Chocolate” at Our Cupcakery (16 N. High St.) for Valentine’s Day.   Savor dark, white, Swiss, German, and Devils chocolate cupcakes or share one of the new “King” size cupcakes with your sweetie.  (614/659-1555)
  • Pick up some Graeter’s Ice Cream for the weekend. Take advantage of their Pint Sale through Sunday—just $3.29 each.

Nifty Gifts. So, if you’re going for the gift rather than (or in addition to) the night out—the rules are the same: it’s the unique thought that counts.

  • Ha’penny Bridge Imports of Ireland is featuring Claddagh and My Soul Mate rings, as well as the Valentine bead for Tara’s Diary bracelets. Take advantage of 25% off selected jewelry. Brand new arrivals include the Belleek 2010 Event Piece as well as divine imports from—you guessed it—Ireland. If jewelry is not her thing, wrap her in a red or pink cape or sweater or consider a woolen throw to warm her heart. Other inventive ideas? Toasting flutes and Irish fragrances.
  • Whole Foods has some great deals for natural Valentines: including two dozen roses for $19.99/ea and packages (including flowers, dinner and more) for $50, $75 and $100.

Hopefully, these ideas will help to make your Valentine’s Day memorable.

-Post by Mary

I’m the only person in the office that drinks coffee. My morning routine of brewing my coffee forces everyone to listen to the angry bubble and drip
of the coffee pot. This is fine for most days, but sometimes I just need some variety. That’s when I turn to Java Jan Gourmet Coffee located just down the street from our nestled office in Historic Dublin Ohio. What I found was not only delicious coffee and espresso, but a friendly atmosphere and great service.

When I first entered Java Jan I was greeted by the head barista herself, Jan Antauer. My eyes darted to the lengthy menu of drink options that rests right above the shop’s cozy fireplace. Jan helped me with my Buckeye Mocha decision and just like her slogan, it was “Love at first sip.”

Would you like a cupcake with that coffee? Java Jan also neighbors Our Cupcakery, a local cupcake shop. The two work together to pair flavors. If you aren’t in the mood for coffee, Jan offers refreshing smoothies as well.

I chatted with Jan to learn a little more about Historic Dublin’s newest business.

Q: How did Jan Antauer become Java Jan?

A: I have always been interested in working closely with the public. Instead of setting up a restaurant, I decided to focus my energies on my favorite beverage: coffee. While visiting plantations in Costa Rica, Brazil and Jamaica my interest deepened. By learning the processes of growing, harvesting, roasting and processing–I was hooked. I became Java Jan.

Q: What are your hobbies?
A: Gardening and decorating

Q: What’s your favorite coffee?
A: Java Jan Highlander Grog is one of my favorites but I have many favorites. They are all available and made fresh daily in my shop.

Q: Why did you open your business in Dublin?
A: I live here, it’s perfect.

Q: What’s your favorite Dublin event?
A: Sláinte Thursdays. I welcome the opportunity to share our beautiful downtown Dublin with clientele, as well as visitors from outside of our community. (Note: Sláinte Thursdays are held from 4-7 p.m. on the third Thursdays during the warm weather months.)

-Post by Allison