It only takes a moment to pick up on the welcoming spirit that permeates the village of Granville.

It's apparent when the cars stop so pedestrians can cross the street or when a shop owner offers patrons a free cup of coffee.

The community prides itself on having "huge community spirit," said Maggie Barno, executive director of the Granville Area Chamber of Commerce.

The New England-style village, located about 30 miles east of Columbus, makes a fun outing for families, especially if they want to combine it with a trip to cut down a Christmas tree at Timbuk Farms - which is a tradition for many Central Ohio families.

Granville, home to Denison University, has plenty of places to shop, eat and play. The sidewalks of the downtown business area bustle with activity as people go in and out of stores and dine al fresco in good weather. The town also is very dog-friendly.

"What you're going to get here is the feel of stepping back in time," Barno said.

Visitors can fuel up on coffee and stock up on environmentally-friendly products at the Shoppes at Seven Pines on River Road, a few blocks away from the downtown district. The River Road Coffeehouse specializes in espresso but also serves a variety of brewed and drip coffees made by a local roaster. The coffeehouse even includes a small retail area featuring handmade goods by local artists.

The Going Green Store has a wide selection of earth-friendly goods. The store carries everything from toys and cleaning products to meat and jewelry. The locally owned store, which focuses on food grown within 50 miles of Granville, plans to start cooking classes this winter.

Granville Milling Co. is another interesting stop. The store is primarily a feed store but also stocks an interesting array of gifts, cards and garden items.

Shopping and eating opportunities abound on Broadway, the town's main drag.

For little ones, visit Tickleberry Moon. The shop sells diapering and nursing supplies, baby gifts and toys.

Moms will enjoy browsing at Green Velvet. It has an eclectic mix of housewares, jewelry and gift items.

Readers' Garden Book Store offers a robust selection of current titles. It also is one of the places where shoppers can buy whoopie pies and homemade sandwich cookies baked by local Trish Newcomb.

Candy connoisseurs will want to sample goodies from Goumas Confections and Goumas Candyland. The town supports two chocolatiers because of a rift in the Goumas family that made headlines in 2009. The businesses are located within an easy walk of one another.

What's In It For Me boasts an ever-changing inventory supplied by sisters Renee Terebuh and Andrea Hookfin. They specialize in vintage home décor and kids' clothing.

When it's time to dine, Granville visitors have decisions to make. The village has several good choices.

Brews Café is a casual eatery that serves soup, salads and sandwiches. As the name suggests, the restaurant has wide selection of beer.

Locals talk up the Mexican food at Day Y Noche and the Chinese eats at New Dragon Village. Fancier fare can be found at the iconic Buxton Inn and Granville Inn, both located in the downtown area.

Granville also is home to the original Whit's Frozen Custard. The treat, which is made daily, is a sweet ending to any meal.

There's more to Granville than shopping and eating. The village has a bike trails and parks that families will want to explore. Wildwood Park has a massive wood play structure that's sure to please children. During the summer months, check out the beach at Lake Hudson.

Denison University also provides interesting opportunities for family entertainment. The college has a planetarium and observatory and hosts several astronomy-oriented events each year. The university's theatre productions, musical performances, author lectures and other special events are all open to the public.