Holiday Activities in Columbus, OH
This isn’t your average trip to the zoo. Visit the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium from mid-November through Jan. 1, and you’ll see it in a whole new light. Wildlights wraps nearly every surface in Christmas lights. You’ll be greeted by carolers when you enter, and encounter more as you wander the grounds. You’ll see real reindeer, and take pictures with them and Santa. All of the zoo’s regular exhibits are open, though most are given a holiday twist. The train ride is transformed into the Polar Bear Express, and Mrs. Claus opens her own kitchen on the grounds. Make sure to bundle up, as most of the event takes place outside and it takes hours to see everything. Don’t count on seeing all of the animals – many of the warmer weather creatures aren’t available for viewing throughout the winter. If you want to miss the crowds, go through the week – you’ll get a better parking spot and won’t have to push your way to the front of
Soak up some holiday fun while you work on your Christmas shopping at Easton Town Center. Let the kids meet Santa Claus and get their pictures taken, then go on a search for one of several groups of holiday carolers who roam the grounds throughout the season. End your night in style by taking a ride on a horse drawn-carriage through Easton’s North District to see how all of Easton is lit up in celebration. Carriage rides are offered on Friday and Saturday nights, but more are added through the week as it gets closer to Christmas. There is a charge for the carriage ride, but for each paying adult, a child rides for free. To keep warm during your ride, stop by one of Easton’s many restaurants or cafes and pick up hot drinks to take along.
The stage at the Ohio Theater comes alive with the Christmas spirit each year, as BalletMet presents “The Nutcracker” through most of December. Audience members both young and old will delight in the sounds and lights from the stage, as well as the brilliantly costumed dancers. Dress the whole family up and enjoy a day in downtown Columbus. Park in one of the many pay lots on State Street, located directly across from the theater, and walk to the show. The cheapest lot is the parking garage under the State House, but you may face a line when the show is over. Bring a big purse filled with your own snacks and drinks, as the vendors at the theater tend to have long lines and high prices. There aren’t many restrooms in the old theater, so be sure to stop before you arrive or sneak out just before intermission to get to the front of the line.
Bundle up and take a stroll through Creekside Park in Gahanna, just east of Columbus. Winter Wonderland takes place through the month of December. The event transforms a beautiful piece of nature into a true winter wonderland. Bright lights and a holiday village set the perfect backdrop. If you’re good on your feet, try your hand at ice skating. The outdoor rink is open daily and skate rentals are available. Many nearby retailers get in on the fun with great deals, so do some shopping while you’re there. Sometimes the best way to warm up is with something cold. End your day with a visit to Cold Stone Creamery right down the street. Word has it that Santa stops by often and children under 12 get super cheap ice cream cones.
Your kids are well informed about the reason for the season, but do they about the science it takes to make it all come together? At COSI, Columbus’ Center of Science and Industry, children get a first-hand look at the science behind the lights, toys and games that make the holiday season what it is. Visit all of COSI’s regular exhibits, and make a stop at some of the special, weekend-only holiday workshops, such as the Holiday Lights Live Show and the Joy of Toys special events. Arrive early and purchase your tickets for the holiday events ahead of time, usually around $5 each, so you can be sure to get a seat – tickets sometimes go quickly. Stroll through the museum and enjoy the regular exhibits while you wait for your show to start.