Firefly Play Cafe

Community vibe keeps customers coming back to Clintonville cafe


Since opening in 2010, the original of the play cafes in central Ohio has made itself at home in the Columbus neighborhood of Beechwold.

Firefly Play Cafe, at 4822 N. High St., has become a welcoming gathering spot for children to play and adults to socialize in the environmentally conscious community.

The 2,500-square-foot cafe is sparsely decorated, resembling a warehouse or a big basement, with exposed ductwork and a concrete floor topped with mismatched remnant rugs. There are colorful splashes of lime green and tangerine on the walls, where paintings by local artists also hang. Toys lie scattered about – rubber balls, magnetic tiles, wooden scooters and hula hoops.

The cafe is geared for kids ages 2 to 6. They can jump in the bounce house, climb and slide on a wooden play set and romp around in the open space as adults catch up with friends or sip on locally roasted coffee or freshly brewed tea.

The cafe also serves light snacks, juices and sandwiches by the Columbus-based business Fresh Box Catering, which supports local, homeless families.

I visited the cafe with my two young children on a Tuesday night, when hours are extended until 8 p.m., and a local musician entertains the crowd. I sipped on “Scarlet and Grey” tea, a delicate blend of Earl Grey and dried red roses, while taking in the atmosphere from a corner seat.

It’s an unpretentious place. This welcoming vibe was accentuated by the laid-back guitarist, who encouraged children to sing “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” at lowered microphone stands or join the jam on tambourines and small guitars.

The cafe also offers regular art activities and story time. Visit Firefly Play Cafe on Facebook for information about upcoming programming.

When closing time rolled around, I was surprised to see that all the toys had been neatly put away by all those using them, as if the cafe was their own house.

Hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday; 9 a.m.-8 p.m., Tuesday; and 9 a.m.-1 p.m., Saturday.

Admission is $4 for children ages 1 to 23 months; and $6 for those ages 1 to 11. Children younger than 1 year and those older than 12 are admitted free. Guests with children are asked to sign a waiver, which is available for review online.

For more information, visit www.fireflyplaycafe.com or call 614-230-2375.