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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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.

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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.

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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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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.

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The Pizzuti Collection: Explore 18,000-square-foot gallery space for free on first Saturday of month

Explore 18,000-square-foot gallery space for free on first Saturday of month


The Pizzuti Collection: Explore 18,000-square-foot gallery space for free on first Saturday of monthThey say art is in the eye of the beholder. And when that beholder’s eye belongs to your own child, it’s fun to see her facial expressions when roaming around a contemporary art museum.

I saw awe, joy and utter befuddlement upon my daughter’s face as we explored the Pizzuti Collection in Columbus’ Short North Arts District. Rosie’s unique eye for art influenced my own, as I found new appreciation in quirky pieces, such as a headless, silver figure made out of a tube of paint, as we explored the museum on the first Saturday in October.

“This is my favorite,” Rosie said of the paint-tube man at Pizzuti’s monthly event called the Family Day Series. On the first Saturday of each month the museum is open free of charge to families, who also can partake in an art-inspired scavenger hunt from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Guided tours are offered at 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.

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“I think it’s a great opportunity to take the family out to see and do something new and exciting,” said Mark Zuzik, programs coordinator.

The first Saturday of the month also is the Gallery Hop in the Short North, as most in Columbus know, making Pizzuti’s event the perfect prelude to a full day of exploring dozens of galleries along High Street.

The Pizzuti Collection, which opened in 2013, offers rotating exhibits of works belonging to real estate developer and art collector Ron Pizzuti and his wife, Ann. The couple has amassed thousands of pieces over four decades of collecting. The non-profit exhibition space spans three floors in an 18,000-square-foot revamped building, with more art outside in the sculpture garden.

The Pizzuti Collection is located at 632 North Park St., Columbus. For more information, visit pizzuticollection.org.

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The Smithery: Make memorable, metal trinkets at Grandview shop

Make memorable, metal trinkets at Grandview shop


The Smithery: Make memorable, metal trinkets at Grandview shopI find the most memorable adventures to be hands-on experiences. And, they’re even more memorable when I get to make a keepsake along the way.

Such was the case when I tapped the letters of my family members’ names onto a bronze heart while making a necklace for myself at the Smithery in Grandview Heights. The shop offers metal-smithing classes for adults and children, as well as has a gift shop full of neat handmade creations by local artisans.

The Smithery: Make memorable, metal trinkets at Grandview shopI participated in a “Make and Take” workshop that included choosing a charm, stamping it with decorations and threading it onto a chain. It took about 30 minutes to complete my project, and it cost less than $20.

I chose to embellish a precut heart charm for a necklace. Other options included making a pet tag or a key chain.

Once I selected my charm, I was instructed to tape it to a metal block to prevent it from slipping. I used a brass hammer to firmly tap the ends of metal pegs that had raised shapes and letters on the opposite ends. Doing so left imprints on my metal heart.

I picked from a variety of metal stamps including letters, numbers, punctuation marks and familiar shapes.

The Smithery: Make memorable, metal trinkets at Grandview shopThe hardest part was deciding what to create. I decided to squeeze three names onto my charm. My first attempt revealed a crooked “m.” But I quickly decided that any imperfection added personality and confirmed that it was handmade.

I finalized my piece by adding a few flowers. I also learned I could quickly make my piece look aged by filling in the indented metal with black, permanent marker. I was pleased with my final product, now one of my favorite pieces of jewelry.

The Smithery is located at 1306 Grandview Ave. For more information on workshops, visit shopthesmithery.com or call 614-867-5780.

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Paper Moon Art Studio: Put your imagination to the test at interactive gallery

Put your imagination to the test at this interactive gallery


Paper Moon Art Studio offers art classes for adults and children in the Columbus community of Clintonville. I found out about this fun studio while attending a children’s birthday party with my kids.

Owner Kristen Marra Marek led party guests in the making of a variety of crafts, including paint-splattered posters and cardboard puppets. Marek, who has a degree in art education from Ohio State, has a knack for engaging children in the creative process.

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One craft had the children circling around a piece of poster board. Each child held onto a section of the board as Marek squirted on colorful globs of paint. The children were challenged to cover the surface of the board without letting any paint spill off.

Squeals of joy ensued as the children moved the board around, and the result looked like the spin-art creations I made as a child at the fair.

Another craft had them dressing cardboard puppets in fabrics and objects found around the studio, such as bells, beads and buttons. My daughter chose to dress her puppet in summery fabrics. She drew a face and glued on a necklace. My son made his look like a robot by gluing on lots of tinfoil. The projects tested their imagination and their ability to use a glue gun, which they easily mastered.

A great way to sample the studio’s offerings and supplies is at a monthly family event aptly called “2nd Saturday Family Nights.” Parents and kids can stop in from 5-8 p.m. to work on a themed art project. The cost is $25 per family. Advanced registration isn’t required, but calling ahead to reserve a spot is good idea since space is limited.

The Paper Moon Art Studio is located at 4145 N. High St., Columbus. For more information, call 614-332-9149 or visit papermoonartstudio.com.

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Miner 49er: Indoor, miniature-golf course detours rainy-day doldrums

Indoor miniature golf course detours rainy-day doldrums


If there’s one thing you can count on in Ohio, it’s rain. And finding an uncrowded, indoor facility for family fun on a rainy Saturday can be challenging. Fortunately, though, we struck it rich when we discovered Miner 49er in Grandview.

We found the indoor, miniature-golf course – with an Old West mining-town theme – while searching the Internet for something to do. The 18-hole, black-lit course opened in spring 2015 and filled a void for family-friendly establishments in the area. It’s open year-round and nearly all hours of the day.

We also learned that the indoor course is connected to another golf-related business called Caddy’s Delight. Here, golf enthusiasts can play virtual golf at one of three stations that allow players an opportunity to swing their clubs at dozens of popular courses around the world.

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We decided to concentrate on the miniature-golf course on this outing. The businesses are housed in a windowless building that doesn’t scream “family fun” from the street. Only their respective names inform you that you’ve arrived at the proper place.

Inside it’s dark so the black light effect works. Pop music blares to ratchet up the kid-friendly quotient (if not the adult-friendly quotient). You can tell a lot of time and thought went into the course design. Hand-painted murals adorn the walls and add a realistic, three-dimensional effect. And the course, built of plywood, is cleverly constructed and laid out to fill two rooms.

But if I have one pick axe to grind with Miner 49er, it’s the cost. We paid $32 for two adults and two kids to play a round of golf, which seemed a bit steep considering two of our players ran through the course in 15 minutes.

Determined to get our money’s worth, Mike and I took our time playing each hole – even playing each one a second time to perfect our strokes.

A couple of other families arrived during play, but we never felt rushed to finish. The experience can be slowed down even more by ordering house-made food – including vegetarian options – from the menu or a local craft beer. Prices are higher than it seems like they should be, however.

Miner 49er is located at 1158 W. Third Ave., Columbus. For more information, call 614-725-4219 or visit www.miner49erminigolf.com.

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Vertical Adventures: Introduce youngsters to rock climbing at innovative, indoor facility

Introduce youngsters to rock climbing at innovative, indoor facility

I recently took my two children to Vertical Adventures for a birthday party. And “birthday” is just what I thought when I entered the indoor rock-climbing facility on Columbus’ north side, just off Busch Boulevard.

The interior of the 16,000-square-foot facility looks like confetti exploded all over its gigantic walls. The confetti was actually thousands of colorful hand and foot holds meant for scaling the walls, which reach up to 45 feet.

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My children and I had been never been to an indoor climbing facility, so this was indeed an adventure. Our friends at the party, however, looked like pros, as we learned they’re avid indoor climbers. I had no idea this was such a popular sport in flat Columbus – and one that provides a good physical and mental workout for children and adults.

Vertical Adventures has two climbing areas: one for rope climbing and another for equipment-free climbing on low walls, called bouldering. In bouldering, there’s no requirement for spotters. When you fall, you land on a thick, spongy pad.

The birthday party focused on rope climbing, which involved a climber and a spotter. The climber wore a harness that was tied to a rope that passed through an anchor at the top of the wall and led back down to the spotter.

My children joined other guests in donning harnesses that were tied to ropes by staff members, who served as spotters.

Climbers chose a path to climb depending on their skill level, which went from easy to expert. My daughter chose a route marked with color-coded holds of various sizes and shapes, including a puppy and an alligator. Some holds were tiny and barely protruded from the wall.

The party offered us a great introduction to the sport. But how might others do it?

One way to learn the ropes of climbing is to take an hour-long “Indoor Rope 101” class for $39, available for ages 14 and older. Parents can take the class to learn how to be spotters for children as young as 2. Spotters must be at least 14 years old.

Another way is to visit during open-climb hours from 2-6 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, when participants as young as 5 can experience five climbs with a staff-person spotter for $25. Reservations are not required, and a parent or guardian must sign a waiver for participants younger than 18.

Vertical Adventures is open daily and, unlike outdoor climbing, doesn’t waver upon on the weather.

Vertical Adventures is located at 6513 Kingsmill Ct., Columbus. For more information, call 614-888-8393 or visit www.verticaladventuresohio.com.

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