Explore Clary Gardens in Coshocton, Ohio.

When it comes to local exploring, Mila and I are on a mission. Our latest go to place was the Clary Gardens in Coshocton, Ohio.

Located right by Roscoe Village, the gardens are a secret escape to play and learn for all.

There are so many aspects of the gardens that I love. Since I’m a planty person, seeing the different types of plants and flowers was magical. Believe me, everywhere you look is beautiful.

I’ve actually been planning on taking Mila here for a little while. On the Clary Gardens Facebook page, I saw them advertise their Story Walk and knew we had to go.

Mila is set anytime learning and being active is involved. So, we put our go-fasters on and went on our way.

Here were our favorite parts of the trip, besides the beauty of the gardens!

The Story Walk Trail

This isn’t a secret, the Story Walk was our favorite part of our visit!

Clary Gardens, the Coshocton Public Library, and The Frontier Power Company teamed up to make this walk happened. They plan to change out the story seasonally, so that means we’ll be going back!

This season’s story was Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae. It’s an adorable book about, you guessed it, a giraffe that can’t dance.

As you walk through the trail, you get to read more pages in the book.

Mila loved this and was searching for the page stands. Throughout the walk, I asked her to recap what happened from the pages before. She did amazing and was really engaged with the Story Walk!

The walk also lets you explore the gardens more. It gives you beautiful views of the property and a little walking trail that is safe for kids. Mila’s favorite parts of the trail was walking by the pond and going into the woods.

Mila taking the route less traveled.

This book choice was perfect for us too, since Mila loves to dance. She danced right with the different animals in the book.

It was a fun adventure through the gardens and I love seeing Mila’s love for reading expand. Spoiler alert, the giraffe dances at the end and Mila did a little celebration dance with him.

Check out the video at the end of this post.

The Octopus

Along the Story Walk was this big and beautiful, wooden octopus.

The octopus is all hand carved and hanging from a tree. He slightly sways if you touch him or the wind blows hard. This freaked Mila out a little, but she warmed right up to him.

I am completely amazed by all the details in the octopus. From the tentacle suckers to the big eyes, Mila and I both had a hard time walking away.

The size and detail reminded me of the wooden giants at the Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest in Louisville. That was our last adventure before COVID. Except the giants were even bigger. It was still nice to be reminded of that memory.

When you go to Clary Gardens, definitely seek out the octopus.

Children’s Area

Since I’ve become a mom, finding a place where Mila can play is a must. Clary Gardens has a big area set aside just for this!

There’s different areas for kids to crawl through, climb on, and play. The sandbox was Mila’s favorite! Fortunately, there were buckets and shovels already provided for kids to use.

I personally appreciated the vegetable garden areas. Mila and I were looking to see if any had grown and trying to identify the leaves. Just another learning opportunity that we had to take.

The beautiful artwork at the side of the play area was so cute too.

After her time in the sandbox, Mila pointed out the colors and different things on the mural. She immediately ran up to the butterflies and pretended to be one.

This would be a perfect spot for a play date. You could picnic here (or any of the gazebos) while the kids played. The kids would have so many options to play and moms could get some shade and catch up.

Here’s a little compilation video of our visit. My favorite is Mila’s dance at the end.

The gardens offer even more too. Not only can you get married here or hold an event, it has a beautiful amphitheater too. There’s a few plays by Rogue Elephant Productions coming up in the near future that I need to go see.

If you’re local to Coshocton, plan out your visit to the Clary Gardens soon!

Have you ever been to the Clary Gardens? If not, do you have local gardens that are similar?

Support Local: Tuscarawas Valley Farmers Market

On Wednesdays, we go to the market. More specifically, we head to the Tuscarawas Valley Farmers Market in Dover, Ohio for food, entertainment, and a fun time.

Open every Wednesday from 3-7pm during the months of June to mid-October, the Market sets up at the Tuscarawas County Fairgrounds. It’s open rain or shine.

Anytime we can support local farmers, makers, and businesses, we do! So, we grab our canvas bags and go shopping.

Mila loves interacting with all the people and I love knowing where our food is coming from.

It’s a perfect combination.

It’s so fun watching Mila interact and explore different foods. She loves to pick out zucchini, all fruits, and flowers. I love that everyone is patient with her (and me too!). Somehow I feel like this is only going to strengthen her relationship with food.

My favorite part is trying out different vegetables than what we would normally pick out.

We’ve tried different squashes, baby carrots, and a vegetable called a kohlrabi. Kohlrabi looks like an alien vegetable, but tastes like cauliflower. I have a recipe I’m going to share soon with it.

We also love the homemade jams, puff corn, hot sauces, and flowers too. I guess you can say we like everything there.

Every time we go, Mila enjoys picking out fresh cut flowers to take home.

They add so much beauty to our home and are different every week we go. That’s the magic about buying local, it’s whatever is growing or read that week.

When you go to the Market, you’re not just going to get produce and leave.

The library brings crafts for kids every other week to do. You can either make them there or take them home to do later.

There’s usually entertainment, such as local bands and musicians too. Mila and her friends danced for a while one week. They had so much fun, as well as everyone else around too. It’s so special to watch a community come together and enjoy the moment.

Another added bonus is the food trucks and stands that join in on the fun.

I don’t know if anyone else is like me, but after I get back from shopping I get tired. Instead of rushing home to make food, we love ordering food and eating there. They usually have brick oven pizza that tastes so good!

Mila usually had sampled all of our produce by the end, but never turns down macaroons or ice cream!

Once you do get home to make meals, you won’t be disappointed.

Last week, I made an amazing BLT with all local ingredients. It honestly tasted fresh and so much better than usual. I definitely need to pick up more tomatoes and bread this week!

We hope that you can make it to the Tuscarawas Valley Farmers Market this year!

It’s a great event for our community, way to educate our kids about food, and help grow our local commerce. You might even get to try an out of this world vegetable too!

Just watch out for Mila pushing her cart!

If you’ve ever been to the Tuscarawas Valley Farmers Market, what’s your favorite thing about it?

My faraway friends, do you have a local farmers market you like to attend?

Explore the World’s Largest Cuckoo Clock in Sugarcreek, Ohio.

Mila and I love to find quirky, local adventures. One of our favorite places to explore is the World’s Largest Cuckoo Clock in Sugarcreek, Ohio.

It’s definitely worth the visit!

You’ll find this treasure located in downtown Sugarcreek, on the corner of Main Street and North Broadway.

We actually went to go out to the cuckoo clock, but got sidetracked by the Butterfly Exhibit at the Norma Johnson Center. If we’re nearby the clock, Mila and I like to get ice cream and watch the show.

It’s one of the places she asks to go quite frequently. I have no idea how she got so fascinated with it.

The clock plays it’s song and show every half hour in the summer. Its closed down in the winter, so be mindful of that if you’re planning a visit during the cooler months.

We got there a little early, so we walked around the block to explore… and take pictures.

The history of the World’s Largest Cuckoo Clock is pretty cool. If you read the Ohio marker in the picture it tells you all about it.

Here’s a little recap of what it says:

Originally, the clock was at a local restaurant a few streets down. It was on the the cover of the Guinness Book of World Records in 1978. Then, after decades, it needed a major restoration. Two years after it was restored, the restaurant it was at closed down and the clock was moved to its current location.

I think knowing what the clock has been through and seeing the shear size of it, makes it even more impressive.

Once it was time for the clock to do its song and dance, Mila ran over to the bench.

The whole thing runs about five minutes.

It’s really cute to watch and Mila likes it too. You can always tell when it’s the half hour because there’s a little crowd all around the clock.

When it was over, Mila gave me her best cuckoo clock impression. I think she loves the dancing.

If you’re close to Sugarcreek or visiting Ohio, this should be on your list to see. It’s only a ten minute stop if you time it up right. Then you can get lunch, ice cream, or go shopping at the local shops.

It’s truly a sight to see and something that will make you smile. Your kids will love it too!

Local friends… have you ever seen the World’s Largest Cuckoo Clock? What other fun things would you suggest people see?

Far away friends… what’s your closest “World’s Largest” to you?

The Butterfly Exhibit at the Norma Johnson Center

Looking for something fun and educational to do nearby? Head out to the Norma Johnson Center to see the Butterfly Exhibit.

The exhibit only runs until July 18, but it’s worth the quick trip.

Their hours are from 10-4 on weekdays and Saturday and 12-4 on Sunday.

Mila and I actually didn’t plan on seeing the butterflies this week. It was quite the happy accident. On our way out to Sugarcreek, we saw signs adorned with butterflies.

After a quick thought, I asked Mila if she wanted to go and we were on our way.

The Norma Johnson Center (NJC) is between Dover and Sugarcreek. We’ve been there to hike, take pictures, and look at flowers. It’s a beautiful location that also offers educational programs for kids and adults. This was our first one, but we will certainly be back for more.

To get to the exhibit, all you have to do is park in the lot by the red barn. Then follow the signs up to the pavilion you saw when pulling in. I promise you can’t miss it.

Mila was so excited to see the butterflies, she ran up the hill to get to them.

Under the pavilion, the NJC crew had butterfly crafts, face painting, and information. Plus, the main event: actual butterflies!

The butterflies were in a screened off section of the pavilion.

Inside, there was a lady who was extremely knowledgeable about butterflies. She was such a huge help in teaching kids the different parts of the butterflies and how to handle them.

We learned that we shouldn’t touch butterflies with our fingers, they eat with their proboscis (which is like a straw), and they love to eat rotten fruit, but prefer flowers more. Also, that Eric Clarke wrote that caterpillars made a cocoon, but it’s actually called a chrysalis!

Those were the main takeaways. There was so much more information.

If you’re wondering why Mila has the q-tips, it’s a good question. Since you shouldn’t touch butterflies with your finger, q-tips are the best option to be interactive with butterflies.

They’re dipped in watermelon, which some butterflies like. You can get them on there so they drink the juice. Then they can either fly away or you can transfer them to a flower. You get to see the butterflies up close AND they get to stay safe.

After we visited the butterflies, it was craft time!

The NJC had a free paper butterfly craft. It consisted of coloring the wings, cutting them out, and assembling it together. Mila and I tackled this one together!

Then, she got to get her face painted, with a butterfly of course. She picked all her favorite colors: pink, blue, purple, and a silvery color. The butterfly was very unique.

It was her very first time getting her face painted! I think she was a little nervous, but overall stayed as still as she could.

Immediately after, she wanted to do a little photoshoot and ran on the hill.

I guess you could say she was happy with the finished product.

After face painting, she made some sand art.

They had crafts that costed up to $5 that were butterfly themed. She choose to do the sand, but they also had concrete garden stones kids (or adults!) could paint too.

Before we left, Mila said goodbye to everyone, especially the butterflies.

I’m so glad we fluttered by the Butterfly Exhibit.

Everyone at the exhibit was so helpful and nice to Mila and me. We loved learning, playing, and interacting with it all.

She’s even asked if we could go again!

If you’re local to Ohio and are looking for something to do this week, check out the Norma Johnson’s Butterfly Exhibit!

You can learn more about the Norma Johnson Center and all of their programs on their website.

For those who live further away, I hope you have something similar close to you. It’s definitely worth checking into. Maybe you’ll find a new place to take your kids to play too!

Did you learn anything about butterflies through this post? Or what’s a fun fact you have about them?

5 Reasons We Love the Akron Zoo.

One great thing to do is go to the zoo. Ohio has some great ones! Our latest adventure was to the Akron Zoo.

Since the Akron Zoo is the closest to us, we seem to frequent it more. Although it’s smaller than the Cleveland and Columbus zoos we’ve been to in the last few months, it’s just as beautiful and educational.

Before you visit, here are five of the reasons why we LOVE the Akron Zoo.

The Size

Although the zoo may be smaller, it’s perfect for toddlers. There’s isn’t as many animals or as much walking as Columbus, Cleveland, or Cincinnati, but it still makes an impact.

We can walk and see all the animals in a few hours without rushing. Plus, we can play in certain areas without feeling like we need to hurry up to get through. It makes it nice for kids to actually play and explore.

The zoo is expanding though!

On May 29, 2021, they’ll be opening their Wild Asia expansion. Mila and I will be back to see. We love tigers! There were also signs about expanding Africa too!

Even though it is smaller, you’ll still be getting a workout. There’s a huge hill to walk up!

The Otter Exhibit

Any parent who goes to this zoo knows they’ll be spending a ton of time with the otters.

There’s a huge slide that goes right through the exhibit and water. Kids can see the otter swim right by them!

The slide goes surprisingly fast and it’s a big hit with the kids. Mila spent a ton of time going up the steps and sliding right down. It’s cute to see the kids make themselves stop midway so they can get a better look at the otter.

It also has two huge viewing spots to see the otter. So while parents are waiting for their kids, they can get a good view too.

The otter was adorable! This was my favorite exhibit as a kid!

The Komodo Dragon

One of mine and Mila’s favorite zoo animals is the Komodo Dragon. The exhibit at the Akron Zoo is beautiful and we can always get a close look at this guy.

We love seeing him walk and perk up. It’s not an animal you get to see everyday!

I’m pretty sure Mila think this guys either an actual dragon or a dinosaur. Honestly, I can’t say I disagree.

One of my favorite parts of the zoo is seeing animals you’d never be able to get close to in the wild. I think this is why Mila and I are both fascinated with this guy.

By the Komodo Dragon is other reptiles, amphibians, and sea creatures. Plus the Komodo Kingdom Cafe!

The Carousel

I know, I know. There’s carousels at every zoo, but it’s our favorite every time.

Mila genuinely gets so happy when she sees them. She picks out an animal in the line, then switches last minute!

This carousel has beautiful painting on all the saddles and above. It also has a variety of different sized animals you can ride, which I thought was really nice.

It’s also a great break before walking up the hill!

I think the carousel at every zoo will make our top five. It’s only $2 to ride at the Akron Zoo and if you’re a parent who has to accompany your child, you get on free. The best $2 spent!

The Greenery and Gardens

If you didn’t know, I love plants and greenery. The Akron Zoo has beautiful plants everywhere you look!

I love when zoos really step up their plant game. It makes it feel more relatable for the animals and gets you in a wild mindset.

The Zoo Gardens also gives you the opportunity to walk and really take in the flowers. Immersing yourself in nature is so healing and relaxing. Mila loves it too!

These aren’t the only things we love at the zoo, but are the ones that stuck out the most during the latest trip. We cannot wait to go back this summer to check out the new exhibit!

I love that this zoo is growing since it’s so close to us.

Here are some other pictures I have to share from our experience.

We love the Akron Zoo!

Anytime I can see Mila’s amazement by what’s around her makes me so happy. She loves the animals, the playgrounds, and the environment when we get to go.

What’s your favorite part of the zoo closest to you?

Explore the Fountain of Dogs in Mount Vernon, Ohio.

It’s no secret that Mila and I love to explore. Whether it’s in our backyard or a different country, we love adventure. So, finding a Fountain of Dogs wasn’t too out of the ordinary.

Located at South Main Plaza in Mount Vernon, Ohio, sits 18 dogs all spitting water to a golden bone.

We were in town visiting a plant store and after looking for a place to eat. It was quite eye catching to drive by this… playful fountain. I was surprised Mila didn’t see it.

After dinner, we walked around the block and her eyes got so big as she took in the fountain.

If I hadn’t had a hold of her hand to cross the road, she would’ve ran right up to it. For a little girl who LOVES animals, she was impressed.

Upon further inspection, there was a variety of different dogs. Four you could touch and the rest were in the fountain. But, they all were pining for the golden bone in the middle.

There’s also a cat, horse, and two birds that are around the fountain too. They’re not so interested in the bone.

Around the fountain are plenty of benches and it’s a clean place to just relax.

Honestly, if we lived in Mount Vernon, I could imagine eating lunch here during the summer. It’s beautiful, fun, and quite peaceful.

Although if you’re a toddler… there’s no relaxing.

Mila gave every dog or animal she could get to equal attention. She loved putting her hands in the water and trying to get me wet. We were there for about forty-five minutes and I think she ran and climbed the entire time.

When we had to leave, Mila was heartbroken. I reminded her of the plants in our car and she was happy to get them back home. Before we left, she said goodbye to every dog.

We had to get one last picture too.

It was one of the most unusual fountains I’ve ever seen, but I’m glad I got to see it with Mila.

I plan on going back to the plant place and I’m pretty sure the Fountain of Dogs will be on our list of places to stop, maybe for lunch.

If you’re ever in Ohio and love roadside attractions, the Fountain of Dogs is a cute place to go. No matter your age or if you’re a dog lover or not, it’s something to be seen!

What’s your favorite roadside attraction in your state or beyond? Maybe Mila and I will have to go visit!

One Weekend In Louisville: Toddler Included

Let us cut to two weekends ago…

The coronavirus was not rapidly spreading throughout the US and the world felt a little more normal. (By the way, Mila and I are doing okay here! We’re just staying at home and to ourselves.) Since I was on spring break from school, I thought it would be a nice weekend to getaway. After a little research, I settled on Louisville, Kentucky!

Not your average and usual spring break spot and maybe not the first place you’d think about taking your toddler, you know…the birthplace of bourbon. BUT it’s less than a five hour drive for me, there’s a TON of museums with a wide variety that anyone could enjoy, and GIANTS.

After booking the hotel room, packing up the car, and getting all the snacks for Mila and I, we headed out midday Friday.

Let me tell you, I was nervous for the drive to Louisville. Mila still really dislikes being in the car to the point where the only way she doesn’t cry is if it’s twenty minutes in the car OR I can use an iPad to distract her. Honestly, we only had to stop once on the way there. Disney+ and Pets 2 on Netflix (better known to Mila as ‘Dog, Cat, Baby’) really saved me with nap time.

Mila fell asleep looking at her Gigi and Papa.

We didn’t end up to the hotel (which was downtown, so easy to get to, and the staff was friendly) until like seven. If you don’t know anything about Louisville, just know almost everything closes at five. So, Mila and I ordered Chinese in and went swimming in the pool. Honestly, I think we could’ve went to any hotel with a pool and Mila would have been a happy camper.

The next morning, we sort of slept through breakfast… oops. The pool really tired her out. But, we woke up, got ready, and started our little adventure.

Kentucky Derby Museum

We started out at Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby. This wasn’t originally planned until I got to the hotel. I’m not a huge fan or horses (I literally call them land sharks), but Mila is really into animals. After looking at their website, I found that their museum was super interactive and we could see one of their horses too.

I let Mila wear her fancy dress and she had an absolute blast. There was so much there to learn for me, but even more to play with for her. She was obsessed with this game where you sat on a fake horse and did a virtual race. There were three horses that could race against each other and somehow all she had to do was sit there and she only didn’t come in first place once? It was really weird and funny. Maybe her yelling, ‘GO, GO, HORSE, GO!’ helped. We spent a good while there and I had to promise her there were more horses for her to see.

Honestly, Mila loved looking at the hats and outfits they had displayed, wanted to sit on every fake horse we saw, danced through their 360 movie, and was shocked when she saw their horse and pony. I am SO glad I decided to take her to this specific museum. She really loved stand I got to learn a few things too. We were there for about two hours, maybe a little more. It was definitely worth the price of the tickets for as much as we did, and we didn’t even do the included walking tour.

You can check out the website, here.

Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest

One of the big draws to go to Louisville was the giants at Bernheim. I don’t really remember how I found out about them, but they’re made from recycled materials and they’re really neat. The forest has a lot of walking paths, playgrounds, and information throughout. Mila loves being outside, so anytime I can incorporate that, I’m all for.

We actually went straight to the forest after being at Churchill Downs. Mila napped on the way down there and as I got changed to hike through a forest. I woke her up, got her changed, and we were so hungry. They have a little café called Isaac’s Café in the visitor center. A really cool fact is they grow their vegetables, herbs, and edible flowers a stones throw away. Everything tasted really fresh and Mila ate all of the sandwich.

Everyone who was in the forest and the people who worked in the visitor center were kind and helpful. Interacting with everyone there really made our time at Bernheim special. I would 100% recommend anyone who is visiting the Louisville area to check out the forest. As an adult, I know most people that way are going to the Bourbon Trail, but this is a good way to escape that. The giants were amazing to see in person and I loved the stories that went with them.

I know the giants won’t be around forever, so I’m glad we got to see them. If I had another day in Louisville, I would have spent the whole day there. Maybe another time!

To learn more information about Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest, click here.

After a few hours, we went back to the hotel, and again, we were beat. We ended up napping and my mom and dad surprised us by meeting us in the city. When they got there, we, again, ordered in so we could spend some time in the pool.

The pool was probably the most fun of everything. Mila was singing and stomping her foot to make noises. She jumped in the pool… all by herself, after throwing the ball across the pool. It was scary, but she wanted to keep doing it. Summer should be a joy to try to keep her out of the pool.

I think everyone fell asleep pretty quick after the day Mila and I had AND after my mom and dad drove all day. We did wake up for breakfast the next morning, so score one for us.

Another big thing I wanted to take Mila to was the Louisville Zoo. We drove out there and were about to talk in when we realized a lot of people were leaving after the zoo was only open for forty minutes. A lot of the animals aren’t out because of the time of the year. Mila also fell asleep in the car on the way there. We made the executive decision not to even go to the zoo and change our plans…

Muhammad Ali Center

I had heard so many good things about the Ali Center and I knew there we interactive parts for Mila. Honestly, there was so much infomraiton. I learned a lot about Ali, historical racial issues in the US, and about boxing. All the exhibits let you be interactive and if Mila wasn’t so tired or if she was a little older, I think I could’ve spent a lot more time there. But with a tired, almost two year old, you do what you can.

We played a lot with their boxing area. There was a boxing ring, shadow boxing, and speed bag. I low key feel bad for how much time we spent there, but Mila was all for it. It was fun to like have little competitions between the three adults too.

By the time we got done playing, Mila seriously needed food and a nap. Again, I wish I had more time to go through, but again, I can always go back when Mila is older and she can appreciate the education too.

Learn more about the center here.

Troll Pub Under the Bridge

At this point in the trip, Mila and I had only been to one sit down restaurant and I hadn’t had any bourbon. I don’t drink frequently, but I really wanted bourbon since I was in Louisville. Anyways, after looking on Pinterest for child-friendly restaurants and something that was unique, I found the Troll Pub Under the Bridge.

Honestly, I LOVED this little pub. It’s aesthetic was perfect and the theme was spot on. The food was delicious. I got the burger with beer cheese and it was delicious. My dad got the chicken and waffle sandwich, that made me jealous I didn’t get it. The berry, bourbon drink I got was fantastic. Seriously, just an overall positive experience for me. Mila liked her food, but was a tiny bit afraid of the troll that she called ‘beast.’

If you’re Louisville definitely check Troll Pub Under the Bridge. Their website is here.

After going back and forth of whether we should leave or not, we walked around downtown for a little bit. Louisville is such a walkable city. We did notice all the home plates and bats commemorating different baseball players and the bats they used. I went back and forth of whether I should take Mila to the Louisville Slugger museum. Well, we thought what the heck and decided to go!

Louisville Slugger Museum

So I fibbed a little bit. We technically went to the museum and saw the biggest bat and glove there is in the world, but we didn’t go through the museum. I had a bat custom made for Mila. Of course it’s pink and mini and perfect for her to chase me around the house with. It only took around twenty minutes for it to be done. In that twenty minutes, Mila played a game of hide and seek without letting anyone know… Panic ensued. One minute she was in front of us and the next she was gone. My mom and I just like instantly searched the store, then my dad said something to let us know she was okay. She decided it’d be fun to hide in the clothes rack… not fun, but she was safe so I didn’t care.

Again, we didn’t go and see how the bats were actually made and this history of it. We did go to the batting cages and Mila played in their little area. We actually put Mila in their kids tball batting cage… she liked hitting, maybe needs to work on her aim. But it’ll all come together.

Louisville Slugger Museum (or what we saw) was a hit. Pun fully intended. I can imagine the full tour was informative and the building was beautiful.

If you’ve never been there, check out their website here.

Mila and I had such a blast exploring Louisville and were happy that my mom and dad could join along too. It was so nice to get out before the coronavirus hit. A mini vacation before our quarantine.

I can’t wait to start exploring with Mila more this summer and as she grows older no.

For now, I just keep looking back at pictures and am so thankful for everything in my life. In less than a month, Jensen will be four and Mila two. Through all the craziness, there is so much to be happy about.