We are always looking for free or cheap ways to enjoy Ohio. When my kids were little, it was my mission to find new experiences that didn’t break the bank. One of our favorite stops has always been visiting the farm at Slate Run.
Slate Run is part of the Columbus Metro Parks System and is divided into two properties: Slate Run Park and the Slate Run Living Historical Farm. The entire Metro Parks system is fabulous and these two are no exception.
Slate Run Park
The parks are located just outside of the outer belt on the southeast side of the city, just 26 minutes from downtown. The Park is a visit in and of itself. It offers multiple pet-friendly trails, two play-grounds, multiple picnic areas and even horseback riding (bring your own horse).
An easy half mile trail leads to Buzzard’s Roost Lake. The lake is 14 acres and is stocked with blue gill and large-mouth bass. Fishing is allowed, but check at the ranger station for current rules.
Visiting the Farm
Though the two parks share an entrance, that’s where the similarities end. The farm is an experience like no other. It is, in fact, a step back in time.
The Slate Run Living Historical Farm is designed to function as a homestead from the late 1800s. You are able to explore the farmhouse, barns and gardens and see what life was like for early Ohio farming families. And admission is entirely free!
Costumed staff and volunteers are on site working the farm, just as it would have been done over a century ago. You, or your children, can help with daily chores.
Over the years, my children have shelled corn, pumped water, collected eggs from the henhouse, slopped the pigs, tended the garden and helped the ladies in the kitchen.
Animals on the Farm
Young children especially enjoy all of the animals on the farm, especially the babies. On our most recent visit, we were able to see baby lambs and a number of piglets. Over the years we’ve also visited with calves, baby ducks and geese and more.
The fields on the farm are planted and harvested under the power of humans and horses. There are a number of Percheron horses at the farm which can be viewed in the barn or paddock area when they aren’t working in the fields. Additionally, there are turkeys, geese, ducks and chickens.
Home on the Farm
If you head to the house, you can really see what life was like for rural families. The ladies are often working in the kitchen or hanging out laundry. They may invite you to help and are always happy to answer questions about life on the farm. You can tour the living room. It’s decorated for the time period, so you’ll get an accurate picture of life on the farm.
Outside you’ll find a homemade wooden swing hanging from a tree limb. This was always a favorite for my children. And across from the farmhouse, you’ll find the arbor and a number of outdoor toys from the period. We always liked to try the stilts, though we never truly mastered them.
Planning Your Visit
If you plan to visit, you may want to pack a picnic lunch and make a day of it. It might be a good idea to visit the farm early in the day. There are usually plenty of chores to do and the staff will welcome the help.
After lunch, you can hike the trails. Walk down to the lake to do some bird watching or fishing from one of the docks. And let your children burn off the last of their energy at one of the playgrounds.
Be sure to check the website ahead of time. You’ll want to check the hours for the farm and note that they are closed on Mondays. One additional note: the trails and park are dog-friendly, but pets are not allowed at the historical farm.
If you’re looking for more adventure, you can check out the nearby town of Canal Winchester. The community still has that small town Ohio feel. You might visit the last covered bridge in Franklin County or the historic train depot near downtown.
Still hungry at dinner time? There are a number of local places that offer everything from barbecue to tavern food and home cooking.
Brew Dog brewery and restaurant is a local favorite. In addition to their signature beers, they offer casual food and a fun atmosphere.
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