Starliner Diner

Quirky Hilliard eatery serves up Cuban-inspired fare

Worlds collide at Starliner Diner in Hilliard. As Martians fly spaceships alongside hamburgers, watermelon and pies on a fanciful mural, the independent restaurant dishes out Cuban-inspired fare in the city’s historic downtown.

A giant crescent moon gazes affectionally at the sun – a scene that’s become synonymous with this 20-year-old restaurant that moved a year ago from its longtime home on Cemetery Road to Main Street in the heart of Old Hilliard.

It’s this quirky atmosphere and an eclectic menu that makes Starliner Diner our family-friendly restaurant pick for February.

The unique combo draws crowds, especially for breakfast, which is served until 3 p.m. on weekends. Big portions of traditional favorites, such as huevos rancheros and an egg scramble called Chiliquiles, have earned Starliner Diner accolades as the “Best Breakfast in Columbus” in polls of local magazine readers.

Prices range from $3.25 for a banana pancake to $13.75 for Cajun Jambalaya with shrimp. There also are lots of of vegetarian choices.

Strainer Diner is located at 4121 Main St., Hilliard. For more information, visit www.starlinerdiner.com.


Get Air Columbus

Jump to your heart’s content at Hilliard trampoline park

Opportunities to jump on trampolines were few and far between when I was kid. You had to know somebody who had one and whose parents were willing to let someone else’s kid risk getting hurt on their property.

Nowadays kids can jump to their heart’s content at indoor trampoline parks, including Get Air Columbus in Hilliard. It offers 42,000 square feet of jumpable space and lots of steady ground for parents to lounge around on the sidelines.

Get Air has locations all over the country, including three are in Ohio. The location in Hilliard offers a two-story, full-service restaurant called Boulevard Grill that has windows overlooking the jump zone.

The main area looks like a big quilt of stitched-together trampoline rectangles. There are flat trampolines, slanted trampolines and near vertical ones along the walls.

Watch a video of our recent Get Air visit!

Kids and adults can jump and shoot basketballs through hoops, attempt an obstacle course and play dodgeball. There’s an area reserved for kids measuring less than 46 inches tall, which keeps them from getting trampled and bounced to the moon.

My family liked jumping into a pit full of foam blocks and traversing a slack line over more squishy blocks.

We’ve visited Get Air Columbus several times, once for a birthday celebration in one of the five rentable party rooms. On each occasion there were lines out the door.

Beat the crowd by arriving when doors open, or avoid busy weekends and holiday breaks. Participants need to sign a waiver before jumping. Save time by filling the online form beforehand.

Prices for everyone taller than 46 inches start at $14 for one hour of jumping. Save money on the last Monday of the month when parents jump for free with the purchase of a child’s admission, or get two hours for the price of one on Tuesdays.

Get Air Columbus is located at 3708 Fishinger Blvd., Hilliard. For more information, visit getaircolumbus.com.

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Central Ohio Farm Markets

Prime picking time for farmers markets

One of the best things about summer in Ohio is the bounty of fruits and vegetables. There’s nothing like a sun-ripened tomato, picked fresh from the vine. Even better is dicing it up and combining it with peeled cucumbers, strips of basil and a freshly made vinaigrette for a tasty summertime salad.

You can find these ingredients and more at the many farm markets sprouting up this time of year in central Ohio. I recently visited the farmers market in the Columbus neighborhood of Clintonville, held each Saturday from April through November.

Vendors from around Ohio set up temporary shops along N. High Street, offering fruits, vegetables, pastries, jams, honey and flowers. The farmers grow their produce within 75 miles of Columbus, so it’s made for flavor — not made to survive long trips on trucks or trains.

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Here is a brief look at some of the many farm markets around central Ohio:

Bexley Farmers Market: 4-7 p.m., Thursdays, May through October, Bexley City Hall, 2111 E. Main St., Bexley. Learn more: www.bexleyfarmersmarket.com.

Canal Winchester Farmers Market: 9 a.m.-noon., Saturdays, May through October, Main Street in downtown Canal Winchester. Learn more: www.thecwfm.com.

Clintonville Farmers Market: 9 a.m.-noon, Saturdays, April through November; and 4-7 p.m., Wednesdays, June through August, west side of N. High Street between Orchard Lane and W. Dunedin Road, Columbus. Learn more: www.clintonvillefarmersmarket.org.

Delaware Farmers Market: 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Saturdays; 3-6 p.m., Wednesdays, May through October, Sandusky Street, downtown Delaware. Learn more: www.mainstreetdelaware.com/farmers-market.

Dublin Farmers Market: 3:30-6:30 p.m.., Wednesdays, May through September, Oakland Nursery, 4261 W. Dublin-Granville Rd., Dublin. Learn more: www.dublinfarmersmarket.com.

Franklinton’s Market at 400: 11 a.m.-2 p.m., Saturdays (biweekly), year round, 400 W. Rich St., Columbus. Learn more: 400westrich.com.

Grandview Avenue Farmers Market: 10 a.m.-1 p.m., Saturdays, July through October, 1371 Grandview Ave., Grandview Heights.

Grove City Farmers Market: 8 a.m.-noon, Saturdays, April through October, Grove City Town Center, at the corners of Park Street and Broadway.

Hilliard Farm Market: 4-7 p.m., Tuesdays, June through September, parking lots at the corner of Wayne and Center streets, Hilliard. Learn more: hilliardfarmmarket.com.

Jefferson Township Farmers Market: 9 a.m.-noon, Saturdays, June through September, Jefferson Community Park, 7494 Clark State Rd., Blacklick.

Lancaster Farmers Market: 8 a.m.-noon, Saturdays, May through October, Government Services parking lot, 239 W. Main St., Lancaster. Learn more: www.lancasterohfarmersmarket.org.

Pearl Market: 10:30 a.m.-2 p.m., Tuesdays and Fridays, May through October, Pearl Alley, one block north of the Ohio Statehouse, downtown Columbus. Learn more: downtowncolumbus.com/pearlmarket.

Powell Farmers Market: 9 a.m.-noon, Saturdays, May through October, City of Powell Municipal Building, 47 Hall St., Powell.

Reynoldsburg Farmers Market: 3-6 p.m., Thursdays, June through August, Huber Park, 7300 E. Livingston Ave., Reynoldsburg.

Worthington Farmers Market: 8 a.m.-noon, Saturdays, May through October; 9 a.m.-noon, Saturdays, November through April (indoors), downtown Olde Worthington. Learn more: worthingtonfarmersmarket.blogspot.com.

Upper Arlington Farmers Market: 3-6 p.m., Wednesdays, May through September, Upper Arlington Senior Center, 1945 Ridgeview Rd.

Uptown Westerville Farmers Market: 3-6 p.m., Wednesdays, May through October, N. State and E. Home roads, Westerville. Learn more: www.marketwednesday.com.

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The Homestead

Get into water-gun battle around wooden fort

Entertaining youngsters and cooling them down on a hot day is easy at the Homestead in Hilliard. That’s because the 44-acre park, at 4675 Cosgray Rd., is full of fun things for kids to explore, including a wooden fort with water guns.

The Homestead, operated by Washington Township Parks and Recreation, offers an array of recreational activities for people of all ages and abilities. The park has a farm-like atmosphere with white picket fences, a pair of barns, apple trees and a 2-acre pond stocked for fishing. There’s also a covered bridge, a train station and a caboose.

The play equipment, though, is what attracted this mother of two young children. We recently visited the park on a warm, drizzly afternoon, which proved to be a good move since the rain appeared to keep others indoors.

The wooden Fort Washington looks like the set of a Western movie, except it’s child-sized. There are three water hoses with trigger-activated nozzles. Two are located at the base of the fort and one is on top, which makes for a good three-way water battle.

My kids didn’t seem too interested in getting wet. They just liked running barefoot on the pebbles and ducking in and out of passageways throughout the fort.

Near the fort is another play area with water features for children ages 5 and younger called Norwich Toddler Farm. Bordered by a picket fence, this area contains wooden cutouts in the shapes of farm animals, little slides and shallow water troughs, best controlled by adults.

The Homestead also has basketball and sand volleyball courts, horseshoe pits, and two playgrounds linked by a tunnel that my kids enjoyed more than the slides, swings and climbing apparatuses. A third play area is wheelchair accessible.

Circling the property is a paved path, which links to the adjacent the Heritage Rail Trail that stretches 7 miles from downtown Hilliard to Plain City.

For more information, visit www.wtwp.com/parks-and-recreation/facilities/the-homestead-park.


Franklin County Fair

Hilliard kicks off Ohio’s fair season in early July

Get a savory taste of a traditional fair before the granddaddy Ohio State Fair takes over Columbus later this summer.

The Franklin County Fair in Hilliard, a suburb west of Columbus, is one of the earliest in the state’s fair season. It’s also one of the lengthiest, stretching eight days in July at the Franklin County Fairgrounds, 4100 Columbia St.

The Franklin County Fair dates to 1917, making it one of Ohio’s oldest county fairs.

The 80-acre fairgrounds come alive each year with the usual fair fixings, including candy apples, elephant ears, fresh-squeezed lemonade and Italian sausage sandwiches. The midway bustles with skill games and exhilarating rides.

More than 45,000 people attend the Franklin County Fair each year, says Melissa Brinkerhoff, who’s on the board of the Franklin County Agricultural Society, which runs the fair.

“It’s inexpensive and small enough that families with small kids and with strollers can easily get through it in a day,” Brinkerhoff said.

During a tour of the location a day before the fair started, I caught a glimpse of a horse named Andy, which Brinkerhoff’s son, Brad, shows through the 4-H program. Brad is one of more than 700 youngsters who will showcase animals including rabbits, goats, cows and sheep.

The fair also has a tractor pull and demolition derby, as well as ongoing entertainment including Nojoes Clown Circus and Jesse & James Mutts Gone Nuts Show, which features a cohort of rescue dogs.

A unique characteristic of the fairgrounds is an onsite historic village called Weaver Park that includes a log cabin, one-room schoolhouse, chapel, outhouse and covered bridge. It’s operated by the Northwest Franklin County Historical Society, which also is housed on the grounds. The society will be open from 1-7 p.m. each day of the fair, except July 24.

This year the society is proud to showcase its renovated 1923 C&O red caboose and 1800’s mobile voting booth.

“The villages make a great stop for families to have an impromptu picnic,” Brinkerhoff said of the grassy area surrounded by tall oak trees.

General admission to the fair is $6. Learn more at www.fcfair.org.