Kids welcome on ‘Bring Your Shorty’ days


16-Bit Bar+Arcade: Kids welcome summer SundaysNow here’s something we hope you’ll really like. Every Sunday, from Memorial Day through Labor Day, is a “Shorty Summer Vacation” at 16-Bit Bar+Arcade in downtown Columbus.

That means kids are allowed at what our daughter calls the “barcade,” which is normally reserved for the 21-and-older crowd. The bar and arcade offers craft beers, old-school cocktails and free play on more than 40 classic video games, including Donkey Kong, Frogger, Asteroids, Pac-Man and Dig Dug. There are a couple of pinball machines, which cost 50 cents per play.

16-Bit was designed for adult customers wanting to relive games of their youth while having a couple of brews. But during regularly scheduled “Bring Your Shorty Days,” kids are welcome from noon-5 p.m. In addition to games, youngsters can sip a cherry, grape or lime Slush Puppie.

16-Bit Bar+Arcade: Kids welcome summer SundaysWe had a good time on a recent Shorty Day. Mike sampled a couple of local craft beers, while I tried some hard cider. It was fun trying to remember how to play the classic games. Mike was a bit rusty at Asteroids, a game he used to master. I was similarly flailing around on Dig Dug. I think with a few repeat visits, we could raise our mastery of the games to 1980s levels. Our kids had a blast playing a Terminator-themed shooting game.

No food items are sold at 16-Bit, but you’re welcome to bring your own or order a pizza from nearby Mikey’s Late Night Slice.

There also are 16-Bit locations in Cleveland and Cincinnati. To learn more about all the locations, visit www.16-bitbar.com.


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16-Bit Bar+Arcade: Kids welcome summer Sundays

Search for pixie portals while discovering downtown Dublin’s quaint shops


Be it beer, wine, doughnuts or chocolate, we’re suckers for organized trails. So when I recently learned of a fairy trail in downtown Dublin, my daughter, Rosie, and I made plans to check it out.

The Irish Fairy Door Trail was created in 2016 by the Dublin Convention & Visitors Bureau as a fun way to highlight the independent businesses in downtown Dublin. Trail guides are available online or can be picked up in person at the Dublin Visitor & Information Center at 9 S. High St. The center is open daily from 8 a.m.-9 p.m.

Eight small, glitter-encrusted doors have been hidden inside an equal number of businesses in the historic downtown area. It’s up to participants to find them and take note of the fairy’s name that’s been attached to each. Jot down the names of the fairies found at six of the eight participating stores on your passport to earn an Irish Fairy Door Trail T-shirt. Completed passports can be slipped into a box inside the visitor’s center.

The real prize, Rosie and I discovered, was spending time together exploring the unique stores. I drank coconut-flavored coffee and devoured sea-salt caramels at Winans of Dublin. Rosie found a shamrock-spotted rubber duck at Ha’Penny Bridge Imports of Ireland and a comfortable seat in a giant Teddy bear at the Dublin Toy Emporium.

Here is the full list of participating stores at the time of our adventure:

Learn more about Dublin’s Irish Fairy Door Trail.

Also check out Dublin’s new Celtic Cocktail Trail, and Dublin’s Art in Public Places Tour.



Ten Pin Alley: Hilliard entertainment center offers bowling, laser tag, arcade, bocce ball

Hilliard entertainment center offers bowling, laser tag, arcade, bocce ball


Rosie and Max tightly grip their blue laser-tag blasters as they zip through a two-story labyrinth that’s decked out like Jules Verne’s “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea,” complete with a giant octopus strung from the ceiling.

Black lights illuminate our kids’ way as they pursue their temporary enemy: The red team. The battle elicits laughter and high-fives, and the ultimate, “Let’s do it again!”

  • Ten Pin Alley
  • Hilliard entertainment center offers bowling, laser tag, arcade, bocce ball
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The game, dubbed Steampunk H20, is just one option for fun at Ten Pin Alley in Hilliard. The bowling alley and entertainment center spans 37,000 square feet, the result of a recent $5 million renovation and expansion. Other options include dozens of arcade games and bocce ball.

“Most people bowl less than five miles from where they live,” said Andy Beougher, director of sales and marketing of the independently owned Ten Pin Alley. “We wanted to be a destination.”

Food options include appetizers, hand-tossed pizzas and burgers, which can be enjoyed at your table as you bowl or eaten in the large dining area with a big bar. Garage doors open to an expansive outdoor patio.

Spare touches include original artwork and oddities, such as chandeliers and a decades-old neon sign that reads Ten Pin Bowl in a secluded eight-lane alley that can be reserved for private parties.

Another striking element is that Ten Pin donates 2 percent of its sales to several local charities through its Heart & Bowl philanthropic program.

Ten Pin Alley is located at 5499 Ten Pin Alley. Learn more at www.tenpinalley.com.

Marcy’s Clayground: Make memorable works of art at paint-your-own-pottery studio

Make memorable works of art at paint-your-own-pottery studio


One of my favorite memories of attending Garfield Elementary School in Medina, Ohio, was when Mrs. Werger brought out big slabs of gray clay for us to fashion into works of art.

In first grade I made a basket that I painted “robin’s egg blue” – that’s what the bottle labeled it. Although my basket lacked luster when I handed it over to my art teacher, it came out of the kiln as a vibrant, colorful object d’art.

Our children recently had a similar experience at Marcy’s Clayground, at 6685 Dublin Center Dr. in Dublin. Marcy’s allows you to select a piece of unpainted pottery off a shelf, paint it and pick it up one week later after it’s been fired.

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  • Make memorable works of art at paint-your-own-pottery studio
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There’s no charge to use the space, so you potentially could work on something for weeks, using the space as your studio. We stayed for several relaxing hours. Our daughter selected a piece that portrayed a dragon atop a castle. Our son chose to paint a piggy bank because he loves pigs.

The kids weren’t crazy about the dullness of the paint on their artwork. The real thrill was returning a week later to retrieve the creations. The rich colors and shiny glaze brought them to life, just as I remember with my robin’s egg blue basket.

Our kids proudly display them today on their dressers.

Marcy’s website touts having more than 150 ceramic items and more than 80 shades of paint. Prices range from $3-$50. You’re charged half the cost of the figure to decorate it. So if an item costs $10, it’ll be $15 after you paint it.

For more information, visit marcysclayground.com.

Glass Axis: Have a ball playing with fire at Franklinton art center

Have a ball playing with fire at Franklinton art center


Glass Axis: Have a ball playing with fire at Franklinton art centerIntroduce youngsters to the art of glassmaking at Glass Axis, which offers hands-on workshops to adults and kids as young as 8 years old.

Glass Axis is a workshop and gallery located inside a warehouse in the neighborhood of Franklinton, just west of downtown Columbus. It’s been in Columbus in various locations for 30 years, but the budding arts district feels like home.

I took a beginners’ workshop called a “first-experience” class through my employer. My coworkers and I created spherical glass ornaments. I enjoyed getting a feel for the process without having the fear of getting burned. My experience seemed suitable for children.

One by one, our instructor, Jacci Delaney, guided us through the steps of making an ornament while those not participating watched from the bleachers. My personal lesson lasted about 15 minutes and included twirling a glob of molten glass at the end of a metal rod in a fire pit, dipping the hot glob into two bowls of colored glass bits, and blowing into a tube with a reed-like tip to form my glass bubble.

Delaney performed the more difficult steps, such as gathering the initial glob of molten glass on the rod, shaping the ball of glass and removing the ball by gently tapping a mallet on the rod. She also formed a glass hook so I can hang my ornament.

Glass Axis: Have a ball playing with fire at Franklinton art centerThe experience was just enough for me to appreciate the complexities and fragility of the art form, as well as taste the sensation of blowing my own glass object. I’m excited to display my ornament at home and proclaim, “Yeah, I made that!”

Other workshops include blowing a glass pumpkin, sculpting a paperweight and making a Pandora-style bracelet. Costs range from $39 for the first-experience workshops to $85 for a glass on making a stained-glass heart.

Not ready to play with fire? Observe other glass blowers by attending a free demonstration from the bleachers. While there, check out the gallery, which holds an annual spring sale in mid-May.

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  • Have a ball playing with fire at Franklinton art center
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Glass Axis is located at 610 W. Town St., Columbus. For more information, Call 614-291-4250 or visit glassaxis.org.

Castaway Bay: Cedar Point’s indoor waterpark offers 82-degree escape to Caribbean

Cedar Point’s indoor waterpark in Sandusky offers 82-degree escape to Caribbean


Castaway Bay: Cedar Point’s waterpark resort offers 82-degree indoor escape to CaribbeanWhile driving along U.S. Rt. 250 near Sandusky, we pass several indoor waterparks on our way to Cedar Point’s Castaway Bay. This must be the Vegas Strip of indoor waterparks, I think as I observe colorful tubes snaking out the sides of one hotel after another.

Castaway Bay isn’t the largest, showiest one on the block. With a 38,000-square-foot indoor waterpark, it’s smaller than the nearby 173,000 square-foot Kalahari Resort and bigger than the 33,000-square-foot Great Wolf Lodge.

For us, it was just right. Castaway Bay is perfect for anyone looking for an excuse to don a bathing suit in an 82-degree-controlled environment when Ohio’s outside temps aren’t cooperating. The contrived, Caribbean theme – with painted blue skies, synthetic palm trees and animatronic parrots that squawk and talk – also is convincing enough when you just can’t get to the real thing.

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  • Cedar Point’s waterpark resort offers 82-degree indoor escape to Caribbean
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We ventured two hours north from Columbus to Sandusky on a cold, winter weekend, eager for an excuse to pretend it was summer. If you stay the night, you have access to the waterpark for two days. Check in is 4 p.m., and check out is 11 a.m.

The resort offers 237 hotel rooms and suites and several onsite restaurants. Prices for a room-and-waterpark combo start at $149 when I checked the resort’s site in March. Day passes to the waterpark are $29 each.

We stayed in a Starfish Room with two double beds, sleeper chair, private screened balcony, small refrigerator, microwave and coffeemaker. The room accommodates up to five guests and comes with four waterpark passes.

We started our adventure by picking up an “Island Times” at the front desk. The one-sheeter states the times and locations of daily activities, such as decorating T-shirts and bags with fabric paint, and visits with Snoopy and other Peanuts characters.

We made our way to the 6,000-square-foot arcade to play unique crane games. One had us vying for large bouncy balls at $2 a pop. We didn’t win anything.

We spent the majority of our time in the waterpark – nearly seven hours playing and splashing. We bypassed the Toddlers Tide Pool in favor of the following:

Castaway Bay Wave Pool
This 100,000-gallon wave pool periodically produces 3-foot waves. A buzzer signals the arrival of waves that continue for roughly 10 minutes.

Lookout Lagoon Family Funhouse
It’s a multistory, interactive play area with a 1,000-gallon tipping bucket and twisty slides.

Tropical Tube Slides
There are three enclosed, tubular body slides that protrude from the side of the building. One affords a speedy slide through complete darkness.

Rendezvous Run
This 35-foot-high, 520-foot-long water rollercoaster propels riders uphill using water jets. It winds near the ceiling and partially goes outside, and you must be 42 inches tall to ride.

For more information, visit www.castawaybay.com.

Jump to your heart’s content at Hilliard trampoline park


Opportunities to jump on trampolines were few and far between when I was kid. You had to know somebody who had one and whose parents were willing to let someone else’s kid risk getting hurt on their property.

Nowadays kids can jump to their heart’s content at indoor trampoline parks, including Get Air Columbus in Hilliard. It offers 42,000 square feet of jumpable space and lots of steady ground for parents to lounge around on the sidelines.

Get Air has locations all over the country, including three are in Ohio. The location in Hilliard offers a two-story, full-service restaurant called Boulevard Grill that has windows overlooking the jump zone.

The main area looks like a big quilt of stitched-together trampoline rectangles. There are flat trampolines, slanted trampolines and near vertical ones along the walls.

Watch a video of our recent Get Air visit!

Kids and adults can jump and shoot basketballs through hoops, attempt an obstacle course and play dodgeball. There’s an area reserved for kids measuring less than 46 inches tall, which keeps them from getting trampled and bounced to the moon.

My family liked jumping into a pit full of foam blocks and traversing a slack line over more squishy blocks.

We’ve visited Get Air Columbus several times, once for a birthday celebration in one of the five rentable party rooms. On each occasion there were lines out the door.

Beat the crowd by arriving when doors open, or avoid busy weekends and holiday breaks. Participants need to sign a waiver before jumping. Save time by filling the online form beforehand.

Prices for everyone taller than 46 inches start at $14 for one hour of jumping. Save money on the last Monday of the month when parents jump for free with the purchase of a child’s admission, or get two hours for the price of one on Tuesdays.

Get Air Columbus is located at 3708 Fishinger Blvd., Hilliard. For more information, visit getaircolumbus.com.

Golden Hobby Gift Shop: Find handmade merchandise by local seniors including apparel for 18-inch dolls

Find handmade merchandise by local seniors including darling outfits for 18-inch dolls


Golden Hobby Gift ShopIf you’re the regular recipient of hand-knitted scarves, sweaters and blankets from an older, doting relative, consider yourself blessed.

If not, don’t fret. Local grandmothers and grandfathers aren’t in short supply. Some, in fact, are carving walking sticks and patterning quilts right now to sell at the Golden Hobby Gift Shop in German Village.

The non-profit consignment store offers merchandise handcrafted by folks over the age of 50 and living in Ohio. It’s staffed by volunteers, too, so prices are low.

The shop, operated by the Columbus Recreation and Parks Department, occupies two stories in a 150-year-old building that previously housed the Third Street School. It’s been going strong since it was founded in 1971.

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  • Find handmade merchandise by local seniors including outfits for 18-inch dolls
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I recently paid a visit with my children, who’ve never known a grandmother. We browsed through rooms brimming with carefully crafted pottery, necklaces, wreaths, cutting boards and aprons.

Golden Hobby Gift ShopBut the Children’s Room on the second floor had them hooked upon entry. They found perfectly paired Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls, miniature furniture, wooden trains and a rack crammed with fashions for 18-inch dolls.

Because of trademarking, the shop can’t say they’re targeting these fashions to owners of American Girl dolls. But I can, and it’s a must-stop for those wanting to save money while investing in the work of local seniors.

The Golden Hobby Gift Shop is located at 630 S. Third St., German Village. Hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. For more information, call 614-645-8329 or visit www.columbus.gov/GoldenHobbyGiftShop.