Worthington's stately history is apparent the moment you arrive in the heart of the town. Surrounded by lovely old homes, the downtown shopping district exudes New England charm. The northwest suburb is one of the first planned communities in the Midwest, founded in 1803 - the same year Ohio became a state.
Still the downtown businesses have a fresh feel. One of the newest tenants of High Street, the city's main drag, is Blue Frost Cupcake. The bakery's fabulous cupcakes are reason enough to visit Worthington. But, luckily, there are plenty of other enticements for families.
Fritzy Jacobs is a great place to find unusual and well-crafted children's clothes, gifts and accessories.
The Candle Lab is a great place to shop for teachers, grandparents and other hard-to-shop-for people. Kids (and adults) can make their own scented soy candles by mixing the lab's amazing array of scents. Aromas range from fresh-cut grass to bacon to bubble gum. The Candle Lab welcomes kids, said owner Steve Weaver, who installed a lower work table to accommodate younger guests.
The downtown businesses strive to make kids feel welcome because the town is very family-oriented, he added.
"It's very much a community," Weaver said. "It's a family environment."
Weaver, who also has stores in Grandview and Powell, loves the sense of community found in Worthington.
"It's unlike any other community we have been a part of," he said. "I wish we could duplicate this in all the places where we're located."
Worthington residents go out of their way to be friendly, added Melissa Kirtley, who moved there in 2002.
For the last several years, the city has encouraged residents to visit with their neighbors, she said, with a Neighborhood Network program and other events.
"People take time to get to know their neighbors," said the mother of two. "There's a sense of community."
Kirtley's children enjoy visiting the downtown businesses, including the Zettler Hardware Store, an old-school, fix-it-yourself shop full of cool gadgets and goodies.
Kids with a sweet tooth have plenty of reasons to smile. The downtown features a Graeter's ice cream store and a Dairy Queen.
There's also Emlolly Candy store, which carries an awesome palette of M&Ms and boasts a wide selection of Jelly Belly jelly beans. The store also stocks retro candy that parents and grandparents will recognize, like Razzles, Charleston Chews and pastel-colored Candy Buttons.
Children, their parents and grandparents will want to see the displays at the Doll Museum at the Old Rectory. The museum has a stunning collection of antique dolls and dollhouses.
The nearby Old Worthington Library features an awesome children's section. Kids are immediately entranced by the doorway, designed to look like a tree. Once inside, children can explore the story-themed castle, which is home to many famous characters from children's literature. There are plenty of cozy corners to snuggle in and enjoy a good book.
For more active fun, check out one of the city's parks.
"We have parks in every neighborhood," said Worthington spokeswoman Anne Brown.
She recommends visiting Selby Park, which features a modern climbing set, a tot lot and a shelter house. The Worthington Community Center, which has an indoor pool and lazy-river ride, routinely holds family fun nights and has open swim hours that non-residents can attend, Brown said.
On rainy days or during breaks from school, families will want to check out the Adventure Education Center & SuperGames facility. In addition to renting inflatable bounce houses and obstacle courses, the Worthington business allows the public to come to its facility for open gym times and parties. SuperGames also runs a parents' night out, where kids stay and play at the center while parents enjoy a night out.
Another sightseeing must is the American Whistle Corp. The whistle-making factory offers tours by appointment. For $4, visitors can watch how a Mickey-Mouse-shaped piece of brass gets formed into a whistle, plus learn why the whistles have balls inside. (Warning, parents: all children will leave with a free whistle!)