Built to be a "lifestyle" center, it's not surprising that Easton Town Center welcomes children and families.

Built to be a "lifestyle" center, it's not surprising that Easton Town Center welcomes children and families. Children, often toting boxes from Build-A-Bear Workshop or bright yellow bags from The LEGO Store, are a common sight at the shopping center, designed to give the feel of an old-fashioned downtown. Families often head there for movies, ice cream and socializing. The annual tree lighting and parade is a tradition for many families. The shopping center and several of its stores organize events for kids. Many retailers there also cater to children and their parents. Families will find numerous free activities including story hours at Barnes & Noble and Lego-building opportunities at The LEGO Store. Easton officials have arranged a full line-up of fun for kids during the summer. Events include interactive games, visits from COSI and the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium, miniature boat sailing at the North District pond and hands-on activities. Check Easton's website for more details. Many children look forward to the arrival of warm weather so they can romp in the fountains at Easton. The splash pad's rotating jets and gusts of water are a great way to cool off on a hot day. Easton's also got trains. Children can spend loads of time watching the miniature Easton Express, which rolls around its permanent track in the south District's Town Square, or they can hop on the Easton Trolley, which circles the shopping center April through December. Visitors can pick up the free trolley across from Brio Tuscan Grille or in front of Bon Vie. Kid activities at the Easton retailers cover everything from painting to cooking to gaming. Little ones enjoy making stuffed animals at Build-A-Bear Workshop, where they have the opportunity to stuff, name and dress a bear or other cuddly friend. Any youngster with a creative streak will want to make a work of art at Color Your World, a paint-your-own pottery studio. Visitors select a piece, use the store's paint to decorate it and return a few days later to pick up their one-of-a-kind pottery. Young chefs can learn a few tricks of the trade during cooking classes at Sur la Table, a store that sells cookware and other kitchen items. Speaking of food, there are numerous delicious dining opportunities at Easton. Families can eat and play together at KDB, a restaurant with more than arcade games, billiards and televisions. Burger lovers can have their pick at Easton. Choices include Flip Side, known for gourmet burgers topped with goat cheese, shrimp and sun-dried tomato; Five Guys, which promises to never serve burgers that have been frozen and claims there are more than 250,000 ways to order its burgers; and Max & Erma's, the burger chain that began in a bar in German Village. There are also plenty of places for snacks. The staff at Planet Smoothie is always whipping up frozen fruit concoctions featuring strawberries, bananas, honey and much more. The frozen yogurt shop, Yagööt, allows diners to make their own creations by topping the frozen treat with fruit, nuts or candy. Another spot for cool treats is Graeter's, the Ohio-based ice cream maker known for its century-old recipes that produce creamy, flavorful ice cream. And of course, Easton has shopping. The open-air mall sells everything from tennis shoes to kitchen knives to furniture. Here are a few fun stops for young shoppers: Girls of all ages enjoy can find something sparkly at Claire's, the value-priced jewelry and accessory store. Trend setters will want to check out dELiA*s, a clothing and room décor store for girls, and Justice, a clothing store geared to tweens. Gamers will want to visit GameStop, where they can find new and used equipment. One of Easton's unique shopping options is Celebrate Local, a store that grew out of the Easton Farmer's Market. The shop features fabulous Ohio products, like honey, cheese and sweets, and handmade items, like jewelry, clothing and soap.
Photos by Eric Wagner