The Columbus Recreation and Parks Department is once again encouraging families to visit one of the city's newest gems by offering free children's activities throughout the summer.

The Columbus Recreation and Parks Department is once again encouraging families to visit one of the city's newest gems by offering free children's activities throughout the summer.

Children can make crafts, learn about science and nature and enjoy free ice cream at FountainSide, an ongoing series that takes place along the Scioto Mile in Bicentennial Park.

The park, which can be reached by bike path from many areas of the city, is a great spot for family fun, said Tiffany Dixon, communications coordinator with the parks department. "It's a perfect venue in the heart of the city," she said. "It's super accessible. There's access to the city's greenways."

FountainSide events, which take place from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. most Wednesdays, have themes with a focus on hands-on learning and are designed to appeal to children from preschool to middle school, she said. Kids also can splash in the Scioto Mile Fountain and stop by the Lazer Craze Treat Truck for a free frozen treat.

"There's a lot happening on any given week," Dixon said. "Our partners come in and offer several different activities for kids. It's free and a lot of fun."

The schedule for July:

• July 6 – Soak Up the Sun. Activities include performing science experiments with COSI on Wheels, writing activities with the Thurber House and visiting with creatures provided by the Turtle Lady.

• July 13 – Leap into Learning. Children can meet the Fountain Frog, learn how Pilot Dogs help the visually impaired and get creative with the Ohio State University Urban Arts Space.

• July 27 – Dig into Farm Life. Kids will see animals and learn about life on the farm with representatives from Bring the Farm to You, the Ohio History Connection and Slate Run Living Historical Farm.

FountainSide will not be held July 20 because of Jazz & Rib Fest. In August, FountainSide will be held Aug. 3, 10 and 17.

- Melissa Kossler Dutton