Melissa Kossler Dutton

A trip to Gahanna with the family is full of possibilities. This eastside suburb offers a wide selection of activities at a wide variety of price points. Families can picnic or play at one of the city's fine parks for free, go to dinner and a movie, or shop at one of Columbus's most upscale children's boutiques.

But ultimately Gahanna is just really family-friendly, said April Tillery, who moved there in January with her husband and three children.

"We have met so many nice people and have felt at home from the beginning," she said. "I really enjoy all the things the city of Gahanna offers, and I'm looking forward to the holiday season here."

Creekside, the still newish shopping, dining and housing complex on Mill Street, is a great first stop. Park in the big parking garage and take a stroll along the property, which connects to paths along Big Walnut Creek.

"It's a great place to walk around, especially in the winter" when the area is decorated, said Kate Moening of the Gahanna Parks & Recreation Department. "People go there to relax and enjoy nature in more of a suburban setting."

The stores there might not appeal to kids but they're sure to love a visit to Cold Stone Creamery, the chain known for creating specialized ice cream treats while you wait.

Creekside hosts numerous festivals throughout the year and offers seasonal entertainment like paddle-boat rentals and an outdoor ice-skating rink. The area behind the complex also is a great spot to feed the ducks.

Just around the corner from Creekside is Friendship Park. Families travel from all over the area to let their kids climb on the mini-rock wall and fabulous play set. Be sure to head down to the edge of the Big Walnut Creek and let the little ones throw stones into the water for some old-fashioned fun. The park has a nice picnic shelter so pack sandwiches or hit the drive-thru at the nearby Wendy's Restaurant.

Older kids might enjoy the teen-designed skate park at Shull Park or the stocked fishing pond at Hannah Park.

"You can always find anything for anyone if you want to be outside," Moening said.

But if it's too rainy or cold to play outside, Gahanna has indoor options.

The Glow Putt Mini Golf will brighten any kid's day. Youngsters love recharging the glowing balls and sinking them along the tricky course. And here's a cool tip for you: Golfers who get a hole-in-one on the 18th hole receive a coupon for the nearby Rita's Water Ice (this frozen treat is a yummy alternative to ice cream).

For more traditional fun, try family bowling night at Gahanna Lanes or treat the kids to a movie at Cinemark Movies 16.

And when the crowd gets hungry, head over to the Gahanna Grill, a neighborhood bar that welcomes families. The restaurant serves up tasty meals, including their signature hamburgers, at a price that will fit any family's budget.

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