Just northwest of Columbus, Ohio is the charming city of Dublin. Famous for its Irish heritage, the quaint historic area of High Street is full of local restaurants and unique retail stores. The modern area of Riverside Drive offers patrons a hip downtown feel in a quiet suburban neighborhood with upscale eateries and lively entertainment. This one-tank trip was my family’s home for a weekend getaway.
We experienced the culture, food and the many amazing attractions that Dublin offers its visitors. Make this charming piece of Ireland your next family-friendly destination!
Here’s your Family-Friendly Tour of Dublin, Ohio:
Dublin, Ohio is full of great lodging for any taste and family size. During our weekend getaway to Dublin, my family enjoyed the comfort and easy accessibly of the newly renovated Columbus Marriott Northwest. The updated accommodations were very clean and modern. We enjoyed FREE wifi and watched a movie from our Netflix account during some downtime. My daughter loved the pool and I enjoyed relaxing on the chaise lounge. With friendly and helpful staff, walking distance to great shopping and restaurants plus lot of parking, the Marriott Northwest has some great family-friendly amenities. And best of all, a coffee bar serving Starbucks coffee.
As we were on the hunt for Fairy Doors (see below), my daughter and I followed the path to a “sweet” bakery. We ate Our CupCakery’s famous Red Velvet cupcake — an incredibly light and fluffy devil’s food cupcake with chocolate chips and decadent cream cheese frosting. Their cupcake selection is heavenly with so many other amazing flavors and combinations. Kids can also enjoy cupcake making classes, camps and other events throughout the year. It’s also the place for a one-of-a-kind cupcake birthday party.
On Historic High Street, enjoy traditional Irish fare and other tasty pub food at The Dublin Village Tavern. On a beautiful Ohio evening, my family enjoyed eating on their cozy front patio and watching the lively night life begin. We savored menu favorites such as Hooley Eggs (hard boiled eggs wrapped in Irish sausage fried and served with a mustard herb sauce for dipping) and an Irish Kettle Dinner (corned beef, Irish banger (sausage), carrots and parsley buttered redskin potatoes). They have a large kiddie menu too! This quaint Irish pub/restaurant is a Dublin favorite, so plan ahead, they do not take reservations. But if you have a wait, enjoy the Celtic Cosmo (adults only) from the Celtic Cocktail Trail (see below).
There’s always room for ice cream! Located in historic Dublin, Johnson’s Ice Cream has been serving central Ohio for over half a century. Johnson’s uses fresh ingredients from local farms; and they are famous for their delicious flavors, sundaes, novelties, shakes/floats and ice cream cakes/pies/logs. My family considers ourselves ice cream connoisseurs, and we give Johnson’s Real Ice Cream three thumbs up! We ate several different flavors on their lighted patio enjoying a beautiful Dublin night. Note: Find the fairy door here!
If you haven’t been to Kilwins, you have not experienced chocolate. This confectionary not only includes chocolates and chocolate- and caramel-dipped treats, but their homemade ice cream, hot chocolate and fudge are sure to become your families favorite “go-to” treats for every occasion. All of their candy is made in-store fresh daily, and my daughter was put to work hand-dipping their famous confections. With a Kilwins hat and apron, she learned the art of chocolate- and candy-making from owner, Stephanie and the in-house candy master. She made amazing and delicious treats such as famous Ohio buckeyes and dipped Rice Krispie treats, marshmallows and Oreos. She is now a Kilwins fan for life! Try these hand-crafted chocolates for yourself and become a fan too. Note: This location is the extra (and 7th) fairy door… and receive a special treat.
Located of Riverside Drive, Cap City Fine Diner is a fantastic culinary spin on your favorite comfort food. My family walked into this upscale diner to be warmly welcomed and taken to a classic yet modern red vinyl booth. Our waitress was incredibly helpful letting us know the famous menu items…or the “must-eats” while we emptied the basket of buttery warm rolls. To stick with diner traditions, I fell in love with the Blue-Plate special of the day – Cameron’s Walleye (cracker crusted Lake Erie walleye, asparagus, crab, buttermilk chive mashed potatoes and sherry shallot cream). My husband devoured the Cap City Diner Meatloaf (buttermilk-chive mashed potatoes, wild mushrooms, broccoli, chili onion rings, BBQ gravy served on top of Texas Toast). And the kiddo thoroughly enjoyed the All American Burger. But I saved the best for last… the desserts. We ended our incredible dinner with The Seriously Big Chocolate Cake (three layers of chocolate), the Chocolate-Covered Peanut Butter Pie and the 24K Carrot Cake. Besides being completely life-changing desserts, these are for sharing or bringing home to enjoy in the comfort of your home. Plus, all bakery items are made fresh in house. Cap City Fine Diner receives three thumbs up! They are open for brunch, lunch and dinner and have Gluten-Free menus for adults and kids.
Celtic Cocktail Trail
The Celtic Cocktail Trail highlights the best of Dublin Dinning and Craft Cocktails with an Irish flair. To begin, pick up your guidebook at the Dublin Visitor & Information Center at 9 South High St. (Must be 21 and over to participate). Then enjoy a delicious beverage at each of the uniquely Dublin Celtic Cocktail Trail destinations. Present your guide book to your server or bartender and collect a stamp. Then to redeem prizes, drop off your passport at the Dublin Visitor & Information Center (Celtic Cocktail Trail Tee).
Just a two block walk from Cap City Fine Dinner on Riverside Drive is PINS Mechanical Company. This social destination is family-friendly combining old-school games with fun beverages (homemade soda and root beer for the kiddos). As part of the Celtic Cocktail Trail, my husband and I enjoyed Leatherlip’s Revenge… a cocktail for RedBull fans. Then the entire family had a blast playing pinball, giant Jenga and foosball. Duckpin is very popular, so arrive early and put in your reservation. PINS does not serve food, but several food trucks are parked near to enjoy food, cocktails and entertainment. Many kids were enjoying footlong hotdogs and fries!
Note: The Leatherlips Monument is the first destination on the Dublin Art in Public Places Cell Phone Tour.
We enjoyed a Celtic Cocktail Trail night cap at 101 Beer Kitchen… Muck of the Irish. This one-of-a-kind cocktail not only includes local products, but you can eat your veggies too (includes spinach..can’t taste it). This casual eatery is well-known for providing customers local, regional and national brews. Their seasonal and local menu selections are approved by even the toughest palate. Plus, check out the event calendar for educational brew dinners… these sell out fast!
Our family loves donuts. And where ever we travel, local donuts are on the itinerary. My family received a behind-the-scenes tour at The Donut Experiment, where every donut is made to order – by you! We watched as yummy, fresh-made cakes donuts came hot off the line and then cooled. Then we filled out our order sheet that allowed us to combine their enormous selection of icings and toppings to our donuts. We then watched as our creations came to life by their friendly staff. We like things simple, so vanilla and chocolate icing with sprinkles for us. The powered sugar donut was delicious too! And to make the process even more simple and fast, you can now order online. Then your donut creations will be fresh and ready for pick up when you arrive.
The Irish Fairy Doors of Dublin Trail has been updated! Whether you’ve completed it once or this is your first time, grab your passport and follow the path on your trail guide through Historic Dublin to 7 different businesses to find tiny magical fairy doors. Find the name of each resident fairy, fill in your passport and return your completed passport to the Dublin Visitor & Information Center (9 S. High St.) for a FREE Fairy Doors of Dublin t-shirt. My daughter and I completed this trail on our first afternoon in Dublin. We ventured to local shops and met with business owners happy to help us complete our trail guide. After the guide with filled with fairy names, my daughter received her adorable t-shirt, which she may never take off.
Just minutes from downtown Dublin, OH is the #1 Zoo in America by USA Travel Guide. My family and I explored this amazing zoo/aquarium, and its incredible and interactive animal exhibits. My daughter loves sea creatures. We spent a good amount of time “finding Dory”, touching starfish and sea urchins and meeting a few manatees at the Manatee Coast in the Discovery Reef, Shores & Aquarium area. But we have never seen so many beautiful pink flamingos, and these regal birds were our favorite. Also, if your kiddos need time to eat and just be a kid, enjoy Stings, Wings N’ Play Things Park. This zoo has so many activities for the entire family (check out the events calendar too), and we only experienced a few. Our adventures and education at the Columbus Zoo have just begun, and plan to visit again and again.
Within walking distance from the Zoo’s entrance, is the popular water park, Zoombezi Bay. Unfortunately, during our visit we were stormed-out, but this splash-tasctic park continues to be on our summer bucket list. This incredible water park includes thirteen attractions including Croctail Creek lazy river, Wide Tides Wave Pool, Baboon Lagoon Splash Park and tons of thrilling slides. Before you visit, make sure to pack sunscreen, hats, swim suits, water shoes and plenty of towels. Rental lockers are available.
Dublin is famous for his public works of art. These thought-provoking pieces make life a little more interesting for both the residents and visitors of this “emerald” gem of city. The collection includes a variety of sizes of visual artwork that can be enjoyed and hopefully create inspiration to its viewers. My family enjoyed many works on the cell phone tour…an interactive guide to 24 pieces of Dublin’s public art. Our favorite work was the Field of Corn (with Osage Oranges) by Malcolm Cochran. The sculpture includes 109 human-sized (6 ft. 3 in. or 1.9 m) tall ears of corn that stand upright in realistic row patterns. The installation symbolizes the history of the community’s farming legacy and serves as a memorial to rural landscapes.
On our last morning in Dublin, we enjoyed a beautiful hike in Indian Run Falls. In the middle of Dublin, hidden by lush greenery, my family found an incredible cascading waterfall and streams surrounded by hiking trails, observation platforms and bridge. We experienced nature at it’s best. My family visited the falls the morning after a day of storms, so the water levels were high and the falls were flowing fast. For safety, we stayed on the trails and bridge. If visiting the falls, please wear tennis shoes, there are slick areas.
Dublin, OH is a charming one-tank trip that’s fun for the whole family! This summer, consider hitting the road to Ohio’s own little piece of the Emerald Isle. For more information, visit the Dublin Visitor & information Center.
Ainslie Gordon is a St. Louis, Missouri native and graduate of the University of Missouri’s Journalism School. Her career has focused on advertising, public relations and event planning. In 2011, Ainslie and her family moved to Cincinnati; and she became a stay-at-mom and founder of the blog, Modhousewife.
Additionally, she was a fashion/trends contributor on Fox 19 and Fox 2. Currently, Ainslie is the Marketing Director for Game On! Fitness. She is also a Girl Scout leader and enjoys volunteering throughout the community.