Spent the summer exploring the attractions Cincinnati has to offer and want to head north? Those who seek Columbus as their destination should consider Grove City, located just six miles from downtown Columbus, which boasts a small-town feel and still retains access to the big city.

Just 90 minutes from Cincinnati, Grove City is a great one-tank trip and appealing getaway destination. First-time visitors will find that there is plenty to discover in Grove City, especially with numerous upcoming festivals and events that make for an eventful weekend excursion.

For a full list of events and attractions visit www.visitgrovecityoh.com.

Balloons and Tunes

The Grove City Balloons and Tunes festival provides an excellent opportunity for visitors to admire vibrant-colored hot air balloons as they illuminate the summer night sky. Pack a lawn chair or blanket to relax and enjoy the entertainment and experience a spectacular view of the 20 balloons as they launch.

Want to get more involved? Members of the Central Ohio Balloon club provide the opportunity to talk to pilots and learn more about hot air ballooning. Tethered balloon rides are available for those who want to experience the balloons first hand. The tethered balloon rides ascend 50-100 feet above ground for breathtaking views of the surrounding area.

In addition to the balloons, the festival hosts live musical entertainment, children's activities and food vendors to make for an all around enjoyable evening. Balloons and Tunes will take place Friday, Aug. 24 and Saturday, Aug. 25 from 5-9:30 p.m. at Beulah Park. Admission is free and parking is $5.

Beulah Park, 3811 Southwest Blvd., Grove City. (614) 871-9600 or
www.beulahpark.com.

Arts in The Alley

Experience the art and entertainment Grove City has to offer in the 33rd annual Arts in the Alley Music and Arts Festival located in Grove City's historic Town Center. Hosted by the Grove City Area Chamber of Commerce, the event will feature more than 100 juried exhibitors from across the country who will display works of fine art, photography, jewelry, crafts, fabric art, glasswork, pottery and wood creations.

The festival kicks off Saturday, Sept. 15 with the Arts in the Alley Parade. A variety of musical entertainment will be featured throughout the weekend such as marching bands, show choirs, jazz, blues, classic rock, folk, gospel, country and more. Children age 12 and under can visit Kids Fun Street for face painting and free take-home arts and crafts.

It wouldn't be a festival without food vendors who will be serving up favorites such as chicken and noodles, fried bologna sandwiches, curly fries and funnel cakes. Stick around for the six specialty shows that are judged professionally, as well as the Grove City easel award, presented to the artist whose work best depicts Grove City's past, present and future. Arts in the Alley will begin Saturday, Sept. 15 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and continue Sunday, Sept. 16 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission and parking is free.

Grove City Town Center, 3378 Park St., Grove City. (614) 875-9762 or
www.grovecityohio.gov/events.

Tomato Battle, Really?

Want to get out and have fun, and don't mind getting a little dirty? Ohi'™s very first Tomato Battle at Beulah Park is the perfect way to do just that. The Tomato Battle brings together thousands of participants for an afternoon of dancing to live music, drinking beer, and flinging 300,000 pounds of Roma tomatoes at one another in this ultimate food fight.

This unique event combines the best of both worlds with the marriage of Spain's La Tomatina tomato-throwing festival and Germany's Oktoberfest. It was created last year with battles in California, Colorado, Texas, Washington and Louisiana.

"We've always been fans of the famous Spanish tomato fight and wanted to bring it to the U.S.," says Max Kraner, member of the Tomato Battle Core Team. "So when we started the tomato battles last year we brought our own twist to it and our purpose is just to bring people together and have fun."

Don't forget to wear a costume for the costume contest that will take place before the battle begins.

The Tomato Battle will be held on Saturday, Sept. 15 from noon to 6 p.m. To register and buy tickets for the event, visit www.tomatobattle.com