As the weather gets warmer, visit the awesome, kid-friendly parks in downtown Columbus.

Warmer temperatures are the perfect reason to head to downtown Columbus and visit the awesome, kid-friendly parks that have opened up in recent years.

The Scioto Mile, which opened in 2011, is a fun place to play or picnic. Kids can't resist the Scioto Mile Fountain, the 200-foot showpiece of Bicentennial Park that shoots water 75 feet into the air.

Columbus Commons also has plenty of kid appeal. The 9-acre park, which opened the same year on the site of the former City Center, has a carousel, food vendors (including Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams and Mikey's Late Night Slice pizza this year), an outdoor "reading room" stocked by the Columbus Metropolitan Library and a full schedule of events.

The Grange Insurance Audubon Center has great outdoor and indoor spaces. Kids will love romping through green spaces and exploring the building, which is home to various critters and a great indoor playground. They can't help but learn interesting facts about the area's wildlife while interacting with the staff, volunteers and exhibits there.

Downtown has many venues where kids will learn as they play. The Main Branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library has welcoming spots for creative play, computers featuring educational games and lively story hours.

The Ohio Statehouse Museum has great displays on voting, budgeting and Ohio history. The Statehouse Museum Shop has inexpensive souvenirs and a wide array of Ohio-made products, which make great gifts when visiting out-of-state friends and relatives.

Kids love scampering around the various levels of the replica Santa Maria docked along Marconi Boulevard. During guided 45-minute tours of the vessel, they can learn what life was like for sailors who crossed the Atlantic Ocean during the time of Christopher Columbus.

Families also can find educational fun at the Columbus Museum of Art, which has several rooms dedicated to fostering creativity in kids.

COSI makes a great indoor retreat on a hot day, said Jaclyn Reynolds, public relations manager. The science center's newest exhibit, MythBusters, opens on June 8. Based on the Discovery Channel's popular science show, the exhibit will feature hands-on experiences dealing with flight, friction, gravity, speed and combustion.

If you work up an appetite exploring the museum, Reynolds suggests heading a few blocks over to the Dinin' Hall for good eats. The venue features a rotating selection of food trucks and an indoor dining area where patrons can sit and enjoy their food.

Another good spot for yummy food is along East Gay Street, home to Café Brioso and Sugardaddy's. Café Brioso brews amazing java and makes wonderful soups and sandwiches. Sugardaddy's will appeal to your sweet tooth with its gourmet brownies. The nearby Café Napolitana sells mouth-watering pizza by the slice.

If all the good food inspires you to cook some of your own, head over to the new downtown location of The Hills Market. The gourmet grocery store has great Ohio products, a fine selection of wine and tasty prepared foods. Kids are sure to like the pint-sized grocery carts and free samples, said Hills spokeswoman Jill Moorhead.

Downtown also has numerous entertainment options - everything from concerts to plays to classic movies.

Many of the downtown parks offer free concerts throughout the summer. The city's historic venues - the Ohio Theatre, the Southern Theatre, the Lincoln Theatre and the Palace Theatre - often host family-oriented performances. "Sesame Street Live" comes to the Palace on June 15 and 16.

The CAPA Summer Movie Series, which features a Saturday morning showing of Loony Toon cartoons, takes place at the Ohio Theatre. CATCO is Kids will present "The Rude Mechanicals," a kid-performed, loose adaptation of Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" in late summer at the Columbus Performing Arts Center.