Fun to be found around Easton Town Center’s fountain


Children love to play in outdoor water fountains during the summer heat. Central Ohio has several public fountains where kids can cool off, but only one that offers major shopping, dining and entertainment opportunities.

Many people regard Easton Town Center as the preeminent shopping destination in Ohio, in large part because its developers have tried to attract families. A good example is a playful fountain near the Brio Tuscan Grille and Cheesecake Factory restaurants.

The popular attraction has several water jets that shoot up from the ground in pre-programmed synchronization. Children donning bathing suits jump and play while parents relax on the sidelines in the shade where concrete benches align two sides of the space known as Town Square.

The square also contains a grass lawn where you’ll find beach balls, ice cream vendors and an outdoor train exhibit. The cement walk adjacent to Townsfair Way contains a family chalk-drawing area where kids can pick up a fat stick of chalk and create colorful artwork, then wash themselves off in the fountain.

Town Square is a great place for Easton visitors to take a break from shopping, although it’s not a good idea to leave kids there unsupervised. Traffic flows steadily around the square.

Easton also offers:

• More than 130 stores, including Macy’s, Nordstrom and Tiffany & Co.

• Dozens of restaurants offering just about everything you need to please your palate.

• Several nice hotels, including the Columbus Hilton, one of the top-grossing hotels in the region.

And if the weather suits your fancy, be sure to dip your toes in the fountain.

For more information, visit www.eastontowncenter.com.

Pause at tiger exhibit while prowling around Columbus Zoo and Aquarium


Chimpanzees have always been my favorite attraction at the zoo because their humanlike qualities make me contemplate life as we know it. Recently, though, I’ve become captivated by tigers – Amur tigers to be exact.

Three of them are on display at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium near the suburb of Dublin, and I’ve gotten to know them better thanks to a family zoo pass that we purchased. Our family has visited the zoo several times this year, giving us varying views of the tigers. Each time these prowling felines put on an amazing show, simply by being themselves, with a beauty and grace not seen in most other animals.

In February, we saw one tiger peacefully lying atop its cement cave during a snowstorm. Another time we watched one pace about its enclosure through a pane of glass. Its massive body slinked by us, a hands-length away. It looked me in the eye, sending a chill up my spine.

The Columbus Zoo is a great place to visit because of encounters such as these. Recently the USA Travel Guide named it the No. 1 zoo in the country. A lot of the publicity comes courtesy of Jungle Jack Hanna, the director emeritus whose many public appearances through the years have propelled the zoo into the national spotlight.

But let’s not forget the animals.

The Columbus Zoo has one male tiger, named Foli, and two females, named Kisa and Irisa. Foli is Kisa’s brother, and he’s been at the zoo since the Asia Quest exhibit opened in 2006. The males can weigh up to 800 pounds, making them the largest tigers in the world.

Amur tigers come from the forests of Eastern Russia, northeastern China and the northern regions of North Korea.

“These forests can look like jungles in the summer, but they become very cold and snowy in the winter,” says Patty Peters, who works in promotions at the zoo. “Its large paws help it cross the snow, as though it’s wearing snowshoes.”

Whether rain, shine or snow, I like to think that these tigers and I are becoming fast friends.

For more information, visit www.colszoo.org.

Satisfy your PB&J craving at small nut company


A peanut butter and jelly sandwich seems to taste better when somebody else makes it. You can find one of the best around central Ohio at the Krema Nut Co. in the Columbus suburb of Grandview Heights.

“Welcome to the Nut House,” reads a sign outside Krema Nut, a peanut-butter manufacturer and retail shop at 1000 W. Goodale Blvd. The small company has been producing and selling the creamy (and crunchy) delight since 1898, making it the oldest continuously operating peanut butter producer in the United States.

It’s a fun place for families to visit because they can tour the small factory and later enjoy a great sandwich.

When I recently visited Krema Nut with my brother-in-law, David, and my 2-year-old daughter, Rosie, we sampled a $5 treat they call the Classic Old Timer. They started with two thick slices of fresh bread from the Great Harvest Bread Co. One slice was smothered in Krema’s crunchy peanut butter, made simply of roasted Spanish nuts that have been slowly ground.

Next came a layer of strawberry preserves supplied by Urbana, Ohio-based gourmet producer Robert Rothschild Farm. The fixings were topped with fresh, sliced strawberries. Our sandwich was diagonally sliced and neatly wrapped in wax paper.

Delicious.

“We work hard to make certain that all the ingredients are always the freshest and best they can be,” says Brian Giunta, Krema Nut’s senior vice president.

Even though Krema Nut is located in primarily an industrial corridor of Grandview Heights, walk-in traffic for the sandwiches typically is brisk.

“The lunch hour from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., is quite busy,” Giunta says. “It makes for a quick, reasonably priced, healthy alternative.”

Krema’s peanut butter comes creamy or crunchy. They also sell other nut butters, including almond and cashew. Daring types might want to try the Hot and Spicy Peanut Butter. It doesn’t seem hot at first, but the spices kick in soon after the butter brushes your taste buds.

Giunta told me that he sometimes gets unusual requests, such as the addition of pickles, bacon, mayonnaise, potato chips and pretzels to a P&B sandwich.

“Most people, though, just want a standard PB&J,” he said.

For more information, visit www.krema.com.

Art in Public Places driving tour helps demystify Dublin’s unique sculptures.

Driving tour helps demystify Dublin’s unique sculptures


The first time I stepped inside Watch House in Dublin’s Coffman Park, I ran out terrified.

It was evening, and I could have sworn I just saw a dead cat hanging from inside the structure’s copper-domed roof. I later reasoned that the black blob I saw on the ceiling was probably a colony of bats, finding the small house set atop a circular earth mound the perfect home. Whatever it was, I didn’t quite understand this thing called public art.

Recently, while taking the Dublin Arts Council’s Art in Public Places tour, I finally understood.

  • Art in Public Places
  • Driving tour helps demystify Dublin's unique sculptures
Art in Public Places1 2 3 4 5 6
jquery slider by WOWSlider.com v5.4m

The self-guided driving tour consists of nearly two dozen installations commissioned by the city of Dublin and the Dublin Arts Council. A pamphlet containing a map and descriptions of each sculpture on the tour is available at the Dublin Arts Center, 7125 Riverside Dr. – or click here for an online map and details about a cell-phone tour.

As part of the tour I re-entered Watch House at 5600 Post Rd. To my surprise, I discovered that there really is a cat mounted on the planetarium-like ceiling. There’s also a curled-up dog. Both figures are cast in bronze and located alongside dozens of other familiar shapes, such as eating utensils and pieces of fruit all cut out of the roof.

The tour helped me see Dublin’s public artwork as less spooky and more unique. The city’s arts council developed its Art in Public Places program in 1988 to enhance the quality of life for Dublin residents as well as to establish a public art tour throughout the city. The tour reinforces the importance that art plays in the community and also demystifies some of Dublin’s more unusual public art installations such as Watch House.

Other installations include Field of Corn, 109 human-sized ears of concrete corn at the corner of Frantz and Rings roads; Leatherlips, a 12-foot-high limestone portrait of an Ohio Indian chief in Scioto Park; and Going, Going…Gone! a bronze sculpture that marks the passage of time through the imagery of baseball at Darree Fields.

Learn more at www.dublinarts.org.