Bexley

Staff Writer
Columbus Parent

Parents looking for something different to do with their children should pay a visit to Bexley. The small, pedestrian-friendly community east of Downtown Columbus offers a wide array of family-friendly activities.

Bexley is home to the Drexel Theatre, an independent movie house known for showing foreign films, documentaries and independent films. The Drexel strives to offer visitors a more personal experience than large multiplexes, so it's a great chance to show kids a different side of the Hollywood. During the summer months, be sure to check out the Kids Summer Film Festival.

Moviegoers can grab a light meal, coffee drink or adult beverage at the adjoining Radio Caf, which serves up homemade salads, soups and desserts.

Across the street from the Drexel is Capital University, a walkable and welcoming college campus. The school added a fountain last spring that children are welcome to splash and play in.

The University Theatre Department always includes a family-oriented play in its annual lineup, said Capital spokeswoman Nichole Johnson. The university, known for its music program, also holds more than 200 musical performances annually.

"It's not just a way of introducing (children) to music and concerts. Given our focus on world music, it's exposure to other cultures," added Johnson.

A particularly fun event for kids is the school's Merry Tuba Christmas Program, which brings together tuba players from all over the city to play Christmas carols.

"The vast majority of our programming - when it's open to the public - is free because we want the community to participate," Johnson said.

The Jewish Community Center, located just south of Capital, also welcomes visitors. Non-members are able to participate in some classes, attend the center's amazing book fair and film festival and experience other arts programming.

After soaking up a bit of culture, families can find plenty of places for tasty snacks.

Sample fun flavors and unique pairings at Jeni's, old-style, homemade ice cream at Graeter's or hand-packed ice cream treats at Johnson's Real Ice Cream.

Kids will especially love Johnson's clown cones and ice cream sandwiches. The family-owned shop caters to children by making ice cream in flavors and colors that kids like, said president Jim Wilcoxon.

"They love color," he said. "That's why we make blue ice cream."

Customers who come in the morning can usually watch ice cream being made in the factory portion of the store.

Daytime visitors to Bexley also will find some interesting shopping options.

The etc boutique, known for its handbags, jewelry and European clothing, offers some fun baby gifts like cute dishes, fashionable socks and unusual books. The store also carries Zoobies, plush animals stuffed with detachable blankets.

The Bexley Natural Market stocks herbs and spices by the ounce, bulk grains and flours and lots of organic items. It's a great stop for any kid who has declared himself or herself a

vegetarian.

Moms who spend hours on their feet won't want to miss Hat & Sole. The store carries an extensive selection of walking shoes.

The city's main recreation site, Jeffrey Mansion, offers a nice combination of play space and natural areas. The park features two playgrounds and a path and boardwalk along Alum Creek.

The park is a great destination for walkers and bikers, said Bexley resident Emily Reiser and mother of two.

Reiser said she often picks up the Alum Creek Bike Trail near Kroger and pedals to the park. She also routinely runs errands on Main Street on foot.

"That's one of the reasons I love Bexley. It has an urban feel but it feels safe," she said. "It's a really nice place to wile away the hours."

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