If you haven't played tourist in Westerville, it's time to load the kids in the car and do it.

If you haven't played tourist in Westerville, it's time to load the kids in the car and do it.

The bustling Uptown Westerville area is a great place to start. This historic district has an eclectic mix of stores.

Shoppers can buy pet supplies at Captivating Canines, pick up a novel at Foul Play Mystery Bookshop or check out skateboards at Old Skool Skateboards.

Visitors also can shop for antiques and unique gifts at A Gal Named Cinda Lou, at Westerville Antiques and at Outside Envy, a shop that focuses on items for the yard or garden. For handcrafted items, the Ohio Art Market and Amish Originals are must-sees.

It's also fun to just stroll the streets of Uptown and walk through the campus of Otterbein University, said Janet Tressler-Davis, president and CEO of the Westerville Area Chamber of Commerce.

"There's always something going on," she said. "It's upbeat. It's vibrant."

Many of the Uptown businesses are working with the city, community organizations and the Westerville Public Library to host arts-related events this year. The city has dubbed 2013 "The Year of the Arts" and numerous exhibits and performances are planned.

"There will something related to the arts going on each month," Tressler-Davis said. "It's something all ages could experience."

The Library also is home to the Anti-Saloon League Museum, which provides a fascinating glimpse into Westerville's unique history.

But there's more to Westerville than Uptown. The suburb has quality thrift stores, an old-school hardware store and interesting discount shops. The community also has great parks and bike paths.

Families should experience Roush Hardware, where customers can purchase everything from cream soda and chip clips to hand tools and furnace filters.

Another local favorite includes Raisin Rack, a natural food market that specializes in vitamins, herbals and minerals.

For outdoor fun, head to Huber Village Park. The park is home to the Planet Westerville Playground, an awesome play and climbing structure. Another good spot is Inniswood Metro Gardens, a nature preserve that features formal gardens and woodlands, as is Millstone Creek Park to the north.

When the munchies hit, hungry visitors have plenty of options in Westerville.

Locals and Otterbein students line up for the donuts at Schneider's Bakery. The Westerville Grill serves delicious breakfast, burgers and other diner favorites for a reasonable price. Thai Grille has great Thai food and also offers gluten-free and vegan options. For pizza and pasta, Pasquale's is a longtime fave with locals (check their website for coupons, too).