One of the necessities of the long car trip with kids is the rest stop — a place not only for the younguns to decant, but also to run and stretch and get their restless bodies tired out before getting back in the car. The typical rest stop visible from the highways of our country is some fast food joint with a “human habitrail” — a two, three or four-story climbing sliding contraption.
[Find Peace at the Prairie Oaks Metropark in Central Ohio]
If you’re looking for an alternative to the fast food habitrail, and if your travels this summer take you on Interstate 70 through central Ohio, consider a stop at the Prairie Oaks Metro Park. Located one mile north of exit 85, 12 miles west of Columbus, the Prairie Oaks park is an area in which the natural grasslands and prairie habitats of the area have been allowed to come back. There’s an excellent playground near the park entrance with two rock-climbers, and a rope-climbing pyramid along with a typical gym contraption and slides. The playground also serves as the trailhead for the Coneflower Trail, a trail that leads to ten others of mild to moderate difficulty that take you through fields, near woods and by ponds. The Coneflower trail is appropriately suggestive; during the summer, Prairie Oaks Metro Park is covered with wildflowers. But even now there’s a lot to see. This past weekend my family encountered hawks, frogs, the ubiquitous cricket and a bunch of garter snakes slithering through gaps in last year’s matted-down grass.
Sure, your kids need a break during a long day of travel, but you need a break too. Refresh your senses with this unconventional pit stop.