Spinellis Deli (.com) in Victorian Village. Best bagels in the city, good fruit cups, incredible breakfast sandwiches and plenty of kids coming through with parents (occupies the kid's attention so they might sit still).
Outdoor place to go so the child can run wild:
Any Columbus Metropark (Metro Parks.net). Play structures, hiking, lots to do.
Indoor place to go so the child can run wild:
Educational, Columbus Library (.org): We have the best library anywhere. Any branch will do but the downtown location has coffee and food just outside the door.
Runner up, Polaris Mall: Those creepy large objects with a zillion children climbing is a good place for the parents to lay comatose and drink coffee while the kids play and acquire disease from the surfaces of the equipment.
Hometown Buffet, 2449 Brice Rd. Yes, there are regional differences in this world-size place to eat mildly flavored, but good meat and potatoes. The Brice road location is huge, the food good and plenty of space for the kid to run wild between bites.
Despite their enigmatic use of those stupid trays-as-plates, Panera (any location) is good. Since kids graze throughout the day, they can get a quick snack (bagel or something) without costing you a bundle for a sit down meal. We all hate wasting cash when the Tigger-like
little ones don't still.
Giving a kid their favorite food is the best way for parents to be able to relax while eating. All kids seem to like French Toast. Sunflower Cafe on Indianola is a great bet and the leftovers are good too.
Best incentive to force your child to go potty before leaving the house:
Giant Eagle bathrooms! I think we've been infected more than once breathing the atmosphere in these dens of Hell. If you tend to the permissive side of parenting, suck it up and force the kid to go before leaving the house - trust me!
Best outdoor place to go walk a dog and let the kid run around crazy:
Glen Echo ravine. Lots of well socialized dogs, plenty of room to run and close to the Dairy Queen on Hudson. The sugar will get your child back on track after running around.
Best place to let the kid run crazy on a Saturday morning:
Barnes and Noble Olentangy River Road. Stories and crafts in the morning and coffee available for the parents.
Best Membership to have (indoor):
COSI. Toddlers to young children, plenty of room between exhibits to run. Neat activities all over to participate in. Good mac 'n cheese in their cafeteria. Not overpriced. Clean bathrooms.
Best Membership to have (outdoor):
Columbus Zoo (.org). Pricey, but worth every penny - pack a lunch though. Clean and abundant bathrooms - walk anywhere with no fear of not having a potty nearby.
Best "zoo" on a rainy day because you're losing patience:
Petco Lennox Plaza. Employees are 20-somethings that don't really care about the business or realize there is a recession - but they dress well, so you can browse as long as you want and not feel pressured to buy anything. Bring your own coffee (or get it free next door at World Market before going in).
Best dinner and a movie:
Studio 35 (.com). Parents / Parents and kids. Children hate going to more than one place in the car. Here you can watch a movie, get a pizza delivered to your seat and when the child is with a sitter (every two months and you're too tired for sex and the babysitter is getting a million of your dollars so you have to get home in 2.5 hours), you can crash in comfort for food and a 2nd run movie. Awesome. Next beer tasting event, January 18th paired with The Big Lebowski. See you there.
**Please add your choices in the comments.