Rec Center Roundup: Toddler Edition


Rec center

Rec Centers in Columbus

There are so many fun places to take kids in Columbus that sometimes it’s hard to choose what to do on a free day! This list includes a roundup of recreation centers in our city that have open gyms or play times for toddlers and preschoolers. These are not classes that you have to sign up for and attend weekly, but open times so you can attend when you want. I find this to be an easy, fun, and inexpensive way to expend energy and expose your child to different types of play. Most places have large muscle toys and activities, as well as smaller toys like balls and pretend play. There is also a valuable social component in playing alongside or with other children and learning to share. One con is that these are often held during the week, so that limits opportunities as a working mom, but we have been able to find times to attend on days I am off work. (Notes: we stick to toddler times because my son is two, but there are even more options for older kids at additional rec centers around the city. Also, this is not an exhaustive list, so please share in the comments other options!) Enjoy!

Schedules, activities and pricing can change.  The pricing listed is just for the open gym times.  Be sure to click on the links below to check on the details before heading out to one of the centers!

1. Westerville Community Center: 

Westerville has a gorgeous community center complete with indoor pools, fitness center, and indoor playground. On Mondays there is “Pee Wee Play Gym” and on Fridays there is “Toddler Time.” The Monday activity is for ages 3 and under, while Fridays includes children up to kindergarten age (and babies up to 6 months are free!) A large room at one end of the center is set up with tricycles and other ride-on toys, balls and hoops, large climbing blocks, and a large variety of small toys to play with. There is room to run around and try everything, but without your child being out of sight (which I appreciate!) My son loved to run up and down the large gymnastic wedge and slide down it, and put a ball into a hoop over and over again. Bonus: the playground inside is super fun and toddler-friendly and has tables so you can enjoy lunch after playtime!

Westerville Community Center (350 N. Cleveland Ave, Westerville 43082)
$3 per visit (or buy a punch card and get 6 visits for $15) 
9:30 am-11:30 am
Mondays (ages 3 and under)
Fridays (kindergarten age and under)

Website: Westerville Community Center

2. Dublin Community Recreation Center:

Dublin also has a great recreation center. On Monday and Friday mornings, they hold a “Preschool Open Gym” for kids ages 6 and under. It’s similar to Westerville with multiple types of activities but held in a gym, so the space is much larger. There are large gymnastic-type apparatuses to play on, as well as small toddler playgrounds and ride-on toys and smaller toys and puzzles as well. We visited this last year when my son was younger and he mostly just ran around in circles, but it was still a fun time. The rec center also features an indoor pool and a childcare room.

Dublin Community Recreation Center (5600 Post Rd, Dublin 43017)
$3 per visit (or buy a pass and get 11 visits for $30)
9 am-11 am
Mondays and Fridays
Ages 6 months to 6 years

Website: Dublin Community Center

Also, be sure to check out Toddler Theater on select Wednesdays from 10-10:45 am.  Marlene Metz plays music and is joined by a costume character. Kids can dance and sing along to the music.  The cost is $2 per child.

3. Whetstone Community Center: 

This center is part of the Columbus Parks and Recreation system (which has 29 different rec centers!) Whetstone is a valuable community center with tons of programs for all ages. It also has a great outdoor park, a library, and sits in front of the Park of Roses. On Wednesdays and Thursdays, they hold “Open Playtime Gymnastics” for kids ages 1-5. Stations are set up with various activities and it’s held in a gym as well, so there is space to run. This is one we haven’t made it to because the time conflicts with nap time, but friends that have attended have shared that their kids enjoyed it.

Whetstone Community Center (3923 N. High St, Columbus 43214)
$4 per visit (or $30 for 10 classes, $50 for 20 classes)
Wednesdays and Thursdays
12:30 pm- 2 pm
Ages 1 year to 5 years

Website: Whetstone Community Center

4. Westgate Community Center:

Westgate is also part of Columbus Parks and Rec and is located on the west side of Columbus. They have a “pre-K open gym” on Tuesdays from 2:15-3:00 pm, accommodating kids from ages one to six. And this class is free! We hope to visit this one soon.

Westgate Community Center (455 S. Westgate Ave, Columbus 43204)
2:15-3:00 pm
Ages 1 year to 6 years

Website: Westgate Community Center

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Andrea Connell
Andrea Connell is social worker, wife, and mom to a smart, active, and sweet toddler, Brady. Originally from Lexington, OH (not Kentucky as commonly thought!), she moved to Columbus in 2001 to attend college at The Ohio State University, and it has been home ever since. She earned Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in social work, and has worked with children in some capacity for over ten years, including as a therapist, case manager, and early intervention service coordinator. She now works full-time for a large social service agency, but a flexible schedule allows her to manage work, motherhood, and domestic duties and keep (somewhat) sane. She met her husband, Brian, through mutual friends about six years ago and they have been married since 2013. Andrea loves living in Columbus and enjoys exploring all the fun places, events, and festivals that the city offers. Most weekends, you can find her and her family at the Columbus Zoo or any park that is conducive to expending toddler energy. She loves spending time with her friends and extended family, which includes ten nieces and nephews! Other interests include reading (when she can stay awake long enough to do so), occasional date nights with her husband, texting instead of talking on the phone, local coffee shops, live music, and attempting crafty projects that may or may not get finished.