Miniature-golf outing with kids proves fun, but tests parents’ patience

The promotional text on Magic Mountain’s website aptly sums up my family experience playing miniature golf at the Polaris-area fun center: “Each exciting hole will lead you on an adventure of skill and test your patience, too.”

My husband, Mike, and I recently decided to make use of a gift certificate by taking our two young children to Magic Mountain’s pay-as-you-go rides and attractions. Located in the Polaris area, at 8350 Lyra Drive, Magic Mountain offers go-karts, arcade, bumper boats, laser tag, climbing playground and two, 18-hole miniature golf courses.

Five-year-old Rosie was most interested in riding a go-kart with her daddy, while 3-year-old Max wanted to crawl through the above-ground tunnels in the play area.

Neither wanted to play miniature golf. That was my idea. After all, I thought, it would be a fun bonding experience for my golfer husband and our children, whom Mike hopes will one day take up his favorite sport.

My plan started out great, with Rosie selecting a pink golf ball and Max selecting his favorite color, orange. Then things went sour. Rosie immediately dropped her ball down the last hole of the game, sending it back inside the fun center and me back to the front counter to plead for another pink ball. Meanwhile, Max threw his ball over the fence into a nearby hotel’s parking lot.

Mike and I tried to play a serious game as Rosie and Max explored the interesting features at each hole including little bridges, rocky streams and a gushing waterfall at the peak of the course’s “magic” mountain.

Ultimately, we determined Max and Rosie were a little immature for miniature golf. They, however, enjoyed the outing.

Rosie had way more fun on the Magic Track Go-Karts. Rosie measured just over the required 42 inches needed to be a passenger with a driving adult over age 21. Together they rode for five minutes around a looping track, under and over a bridge. Max and I stood at the sidelines, watching as they smiled the whole way.

Max enjoyed playing Skee-ball in the arcade, where he didn’t have to meet a height requirement. (The KidsGym Playground requires participants to measure at least 58-inches tall.)

Other smart kids, like Max, will like the arcade, too, as Magic Mountain gives free arcade tokens to youngsters who get good grades. Every “A” on a report card earns four tokens.

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Play by 12-foot-high limestone head at park by Scioto River

Little did we know that on the very day we visited the Leatherlips monument in the Columbus suburb of Dublin, the limestone sculpture of a Native American chief was quietly celebrating its 22nd birthday.

Not that we would have known. There was no one else around the 12-foot-high limestone head on this sweltering day. But on July 1, 1990, the Dublin Arts Council held a dedication ceremony at the statue’s location in Scioto Park, an area along the Scioto River that was once home to the Wyandot chief, as well as near his unfortunate place of death.

In addition to the Leatherlips statue, the park has a play area, several picnic shelters and an amphitheater with grass seating and a 1,000-square-foot, wooden stage. During June and July, the park hosts “Sundays at Scioto,” featuring musical acts from 7-8:30 p.m. at the amphitheater.

Our family of four stopped by the roadside attraction at 7377 Riverside Drive on a whim to let the kids play at the playground and to explore the statue, which you can climb atop for intriguing family photos. The outing ended up being a delightful, impromptu adventure that also included skipping stones into the Scioto and climbing an easily scalable tree.

The highlight, however, remains the monument and its mystic lore. Situated on a sloping lawn, the statue stares westward – the setting sun illuminating its white stone. Legend has it that Leatherlips, who was a friend to the early white settlers, wouldn’t follow his tribe as they headed northward in 1810, so they gave him an ultimatum: Either he’d join them or face certain death.

Leatherlips knelt down beside his own grave, looked toward the sun and took a tomahawk to the forehead.

These days, it’s popular around central Ohio to blame Leatherlips for the inclement weather that typically accompanies the Memorial golf tournament held in the spring at nearby Muirfield Village. I don’t know about curses, but we found Leatherlips and his cozy park to be a real charmer.

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Beat heat, dance with 15-foot-tall bunnies

Housing developments tend to look alike with “rows of houses that are all the same,” as the Monkees sang in their 1960s hit song “Pleasant Valley Sunday.”

But the whimsical community of Ballantrae, in the Columbus suburb of Dublin, is a pleasant exception. It resembles an Irish countryside with stone houses, fabricated rolling hills, decorative grasses and hand-stacked, rubble walls.

And then, of course, there are the 15-foot-tall dancing rabbits.

The three statues, titled the “Dancing Hares,” are part of a 32-acre community park at the entrance of the development at 6350 Woerner Temple Rd. The park also contains the Ballantrae Spray Park, an outdoor water fountain that’s a popular hangout for families in the summer.

The fountain is open daily from 10 a.m.-8 p.m., May 26 through Sept. 3.

I enjoy taking my two young children to inspect the rabbits, which have everyday objects embedded in their bronze bodies. We climb the hilltop where the rabbits are perched and play a quick game of “I Spy” before heading back down to the adjacent fountain. “Look, Mommy, a camera,” my daughter, Rosie, says.

We can hear children squealing with delight as they splash in the fountain.

The spray park, which opened in 2002, is a great place for a picnic. It’s surrounded by a lawn containing big boulders, a fishing pond and a jogging path. The center is the earth mound, or hillock, with the dancing hares. In front of the hill is a 125-foot stone-like (it’s really concrete) wall that frames the spray park. Leprechaun faces are carved into the wall and a wave of water cascades from its center.

Rosie and Max like to play in the fountains that shoot from the ground. Water jets change pattern and heights from one foot to three feet. Less-adventuresome children can take their time getting used to the water in little fountains that spew low, frothy water, while thrill seekers can run under the gushing waterfall.

There’s a nearby parking area with public restrooms.

Take a blanket, chairs, towels and toys and a picnic basket. There’s not much shade on sunny days, so bring along sunscreen and an umbrella.

The Ballantrae play area is located across the street from the Dublin Community Pool, which is open only to Dublin residents.

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