Last year, I shared how much fun my family and I had with the Experience Columbus Roar and Explore Adventure Getaway package and this year we were thrilled to visit Columbus to once again experience this fun getaway! The Roar and Explore Getaway features two nights of accommodations (Drury Inn & Suites preferred) and tickets to three local attractions: COSI, the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, and the Zoombezi Bay Waterpark.
Columbus is a relatively short drive from Evansville - it takes us less than 5 1/2 hours to drive up - and my kids are wonderful car travelers. We drove up on a Friday morning and arrived in Columbus at the Center of Science and Industry (COSI) about noon, visited the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium all day on Saturday, and visited the Zoombezi Bay Waterpark on Sunday before driving home on Sunday night.
We stayed at the Drury Inn & Suites in downtown Columbus, our second time staying at a Drury hotel. Last year we had fallen in love with Drury Inn and we were not disappointed this year. Our hotel room was spacious and very clean. Our room included a mini fridge, free wifi internet, and cable television. I have to mention that we got the Disney Junior Channel which was fantastic for the kids since we had age appropriate programming late at night for them to watch! (Yes, I let the kids watch TV in bed when they're at hotels...it's a special treat!) The free hot breakfast features a fantastic variety including scrambled eggs, sausage, biscuits and gravy, muffins, bagels, toast, doughnuts, fruit, and make-your-own waffles.
In the evening, Drury Inn also features the "5:30 Kickback" which includes hot food that varies by the night, salad, soft drinks, and three alcoholic beverages per adult. This was our dinner the two nights that we were there, so that eliminated the expense of having to buy dinner out! Overall, I would say that the Drury Inn is the biggest selling point for buying this package - you might be able to spend less than the package by getting a low-budget motel but then you'd have more food expenses and be staying in a place that isn't nearly as nice.
We visited COSI on our first day and explored the new WATER exhibit as well as many others including Life, Little Kidspace, Ocean, and Big Science Park. COSI allows packed lunches so we were able to bring a cooler in and eat in the group lunch room (a cafeteria is also available).
The WATER exhibit was very enjoyable. It was very informative and perhaps something that would be of more interest to older children than mine, but even my young kids found several activities that were at their level. In the picture above, you can see Peter weighing himself on a water scale which displays the body's water weight in liters and gallons. Below, Peter is playing with an exhibit that demonstrates how a dam works to stop water flow. He had a lot of fun releasing the lever and watching the water rush through each time the dam collapsed.
Later, we visited the Little Kidspace area which was a huge hit from last year. The kids ran around on the indoor playground, dug for "fossils," and played doctor. The "Splish Splash" water table in the Little Kidspace area was of course a favorite with my kids. It seems like my kids relish ny excuse to get wet while wearing clothes but fortunately COSI does provide parkas for the kids to wear.
We spent a total of nearly 5 hours at COSI even though their website recommends 2 hours for children in the 3-5 age range. I imagine that older children would appreciate COSI even more, so it's a great place for kids of all ages.
Our second day was spent at the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium and we stayed for the entire day. This zoo is so huge that you really need a whole day to get through it all! Last year, our stroller broke while we were at the zoo so we ended up having to leave early and didn't get to see all of the animals we had been planning on see, so we were very happy to have plenty of time to thoroughly explore the zoo and aquarium this year. Near the main gate, we started the day off by petting... no, it's not a snake... a legless lizard.
Next we headed to Australia, which was an area we did not have a chance to visit last year, so we were really looking forward to finally seeing some outback creatures. Our favorites were the koala bears and kangaroos. Who doesn't love a cuddly looking koala? Also in Australia, we discovered this incredible "Stings, Wings, and Playthings" playground which was great for the kids to burn some energy while the parents rested on a bench.
Next we hit the Shores Aquarium area where we visited flamingos, penguins, sting rays, manatees, tropical fish, small sharks, and alligators. The kids also got to pet a live sea star! Later in the day, we visited the Animal Encounters Village where the kids got up close and personal with flamingos, a lizard, turtles, an owl, and a huge tortoise. Eventually, we had to rescue the tortoise and drag the kids away, otherwise I think they would have stayed all day chasing the poor thing around!
We had spent a lot of time in Asia last year, but we made time to visit it again to see some of our favorites like lions, tigers, elephants, and rhinoceros. Then in the North America area, we got to see our first polar bear. This was a huge hit with Peter especially, and he finally stopped asking "When are we going to see the polar bear?"
Our final day was spent at the Zoombezi Bay Water Park and was a blast! Entrance to the water park is through the zoo main entrance, so on our way to the water attractions, we stopped by the zoo Animal Encounters area again to visit more animals - a snake, armadillo, tortoise, flamingo, and even a baby alligator!
Liberty can now say she has touched an alligator!
Then my water-babies spent the day in the Roaring Rapids tube river, Katoomba Lagoon toddler play area, and Barracuda Bay interactive slide area. Peter was also tall enough this year to ride the "Dolphin Dash" giant racing slides. The majority of the water slides require a height of 48 inches though so we were unable to take the kids on those. However, the Barracuda Bay area had some decently-sized water slides that kids of any age could go down accompanied by an adult. The slides were big enough for me to enjoy going down multiple times with the kids, so I didn't feel too left out by not riding the bigger slides. My camera spent the day safely dry in a locker so I don't have any water pictures but here's one photo of the happy kids at the end of the day:
The entire Roar and Explore Adventure Getaway Package was a huge hit with our family! Both of my kids love talking about "the Columus trip" and how much fun they had. For more details about the Roar and Explore Adventure Getaway or to book your own package, visit the Columbus Family Fun website.
Experience Columbus would like to give one My Evansville Mommy reader a Roar and Explore Adventure Getaway package! This hot prize package includes:
- vouchers for 2 nights at any Columbus Drury hotel
- four admission vouchers to COSI
- four admission vouchers to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium
- four admission vouchers to Zoombezi Bay
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Thanks to Weirick Communications for providing the giveaway prize package and for providing me with with a Roar & Explore Adventure Getaway Package to review! No other compensation was received and all views expressed are my honest opinions.