10 of Our Favorite Columbus Christmas Traditions

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These are 10 Holiday and Christmas events we make sure not to miss every year! If you’re looking to start some family-friendly Christmas traditions around Columbus, start here!

Every year I feel slightly overwhelmed by all of the Holiday events I really don’t want to miss. A few years ago, I sat down and wrote them out on a calendar. And THAT is pretty much where the idea for this blog began! 😉  Now we’ve come full circle and, though there are probably hundreds of holiday events going on around town, today I am sharing 10 things my family loves doing at Christmastime in Columbus!

Here are 10 of our favorite family-friendly Christmas Events in Columbus!

1. Village Lights

Village Lights, German Village, Columbus, Ohio

Hands down, this is my favorite Columbus tradition of the entire year. Wow, did I really just say that? I did. I look forward to this probably more than anything else. I honestly don’t know how much my kids like it, but there are teddy bears and free cookies and hot chocolate, so I haven’t heard any complaints!

The streets of German Village are lit with luminaries and restaurants, shops, and even a few private homes along the route are open late with special deals, free goodies and live music! Designated parking areas and shuttles are available.

When: December 2, 2018, 5:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Where: throughout German Village

2. Wildlights

You have to see Wildlights! The light shows are spectacular and the zoo becomes an (even more) magical place for about 6 weeks leading up to New Year’s Day! The first time we ever attempted to go to Wildlights, there was so much traffic that by the time we got there it was too late for my 1 yr old and we just drove right on by the entrance and back on home!

Weekends are very busy, so if you can, I suggest trying a week day evening and arriving before 5:00 PM! If you’re a member, you can also avoid the crowds by catching the Member Preview on November 16th.

When: November 16 , 2018 – January 6, 2019 (Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day) (Wildlights begins at 5:00 PM)
Where: 4850 Powell Rd, Powell, OH 43065

3. Conservatory Aglow (Formerly Merry and Bright)

Franklin Park Conservatory holiday decorations and lights

Conservatory Aglow offers special holiday decorations, performances and evening hours at Franklin Park Conservatory. Throughout the season live music and special events are scheduled and the Conservatory is decorated beautifully (that goes without saying)!

There are lights throughout inside and outside and it’s breathtaking! From December 1-31 (except for the 24th and 25th) they are open until 9:00 PM. There will be special family-friendly activities happening all through the season! (A membership to Franklin Park Conservatory is one of my 5 Best Gift Memberships for Columbus Kids!)

When: November 17, 2018 – January 2, 2019: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM, December: 10:00 AM – 9:00 PM
Where: 1777 E. Broad St., Columbus, OH 43203

Rotating railroad at Franklin Park Conservatory

4. Bicentennial Park

Christmas lights on the Scioto Mile

Throughout the holiday season, the Scioto Mile is awash in light – Christmas lights, that is! What was previously The Grand Illumination will be replaced by WinterFest this year! Taking place on Saturday, December 1, 2018, it will include live performances and food trucks, as well as the opportunity to participate in the Empty Bowls initiative. The park will be full of lights beginning November 21st!

When: November 21, 2018 through Early January 2019
Where: 233 S. Civic Center Dr., Columbus, OH 43215

Christmas lights at Bicentennial Park on the Scioto Mile

5. Columbus Commons and the Lazarus Windows

Christmas Lights at Columbus Commons

When you’re at Bicentennial Park, make plans to walk a few blocks to Columbus Commons where the park will be filled with holiday displays and lights! Just across the street (at the corner of High and Town) in the old Lazarus building, the windows will be filled with scenes from the 12 Days of Christmas!

When: Late November through early January from dusk until to 11:00 PM
Where: 160 S. High St., Columbus, OH 43215

6. Huntington Holiday Train

Holiday Train at Main Library, Columbus Ohio

Main Library is home to the Huntington Holiday Train and every year this amazing display is set up during the holiday season! This year, the library will begin set up of the train in mid November and is usually up through New Years!

When: Mid November, 2018 – Early January, 2019
Where: 96 S. Grant Ave. Columbus, OH 43215

Holiday Train at Main Library in Columbus, Ohio

7. Holiday Train at Ohio History Center

holiday train at Ohio History Center

If you happen to have kids that like trains, there is a also holiday train set up at the Ohio History Center. Granted, it’s not quite as elaborate as the Huntington Train, but since we’re members at Ohio History Center, this one is still a no-brainer for me and two boys who love trains! We don’t miss it! (A membership to Ohio History Center is one of my

When: Late November – Early January
Where: 800 E. 17th. Ave., Columbus OH 43211

Holiday Train at Ohio History Center

8. Think Outside the Brick

Think Outside the Brick LEGO display at Columbus Museum of Art

This exhibit at the Columbus Museum of Art isn’t even holiday themed, but it arrives in November and says goodbye in March, so in my mind it’s associated with Christmas! If you have kids on Christmas break, this would be a great reason to take them to the Art Museum! The LEGO replica of Columbus is awesome and we love to visit at this time! There are usually blocks for free building in the Big Idea Gallery, too!

Admission is free on Sundays and on Thursday nights you “pay what you want” from 5:00 PM – 9:00 PM!

When: November 10, 2018 – February 22, 2019
Where: 480 E. Broad St., Columbus, OH 43215

Think Outside the Brick at Columbus Museum of Art

9. Easton

Christmas Tree at Easton Town Center

We always enjoy going to Easton at Christmastime – and not just to do our Christmas shopping! There is a life-sized nativity and a humongous Christmas tree (an all-new, 50 ft tree covered in 28, 680 RGB LED’s arrived in 2017!)! There are carriage rides, live music performances and the lighting ceremony takes place on Friday, November 16, 2018 beginning at 6:30 PM and includes a parade, a fireworks show, a visit from Santa and more!

Nativity at Easton Town Center

When: beginning November 16, 2018
Where: 160 Easton Town Center, Columbus, OH 43219

10. State Auto Christmas Corner

Nativity Scene at State Auto Nativity

Christmas Corner is something we love to do close to Christmas Eve! You can walk through a life-sized nativity following the Christmas story! The Tree Lighting Ceremony takes place on Tuesday, December 5, 2017 at 5:30 PM. There are choirs scheduled on Friday and Saturday evenings through December 23rd and free hot chocolate (donations accepted!) will be available on those evenings!  There are ample parking lots designated for viewing this display!

When: Tuesday, December 5, 2017 through Christmas Day when baby Jesus is placed in the manger. (2018 dates TBD)
Where: 518 E Broad St., Columbus, OH 43215

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10 of Our Favorite Columbus Christmas Traditions

I hope that whatever you chose to do, you have a special season with your family!

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Top 10 Things to do with Kids in Columbus, Ohio

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9 Things to Do with Your Kids This Fall in Columbus

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Fall is such a fun time in Central Ohio! Here are 9 things you can only do during the Fall in Columbus and Central Ohio!

What Are Some of the Best Things to do with Kids During the Fall in Columbus?

Here are 9 things we enjoy doing as a family during the fall!

1. Attend a Skull Session at St. John Arena

My kids love instruments and any kind of band, so we were excited, though a little nervous, about taking them to a Skull Session at OSU! It’s a great way to get caught up in the football spirit, even if you don’t have tickets to the game!

A Skull Session is basically a pep rally where the marching band plays, the players come out and the coach gives a little speech . . . it’s very high energy and really a lot of fun!

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I’d recommend either parking on West Campus (parking is $20!) and taking a shuttle or parking in a neighborhood along the Olentangy bike path and walking up the path to St. John Arena.

The Skull session happens 2 hours and 20 minutes before each game and lasts an hour. When it’s over, you can mull around amongst the tailgaters, pick up some free samples (1/4 of a Sugardale hot dog, anyone?) and enjoy the energy of game day.

We were nervous because we weren’t sure what would happen to our strollers when we got there! We were able to take our strollers (yes, we had two) into the arena, but we left them outside the gymnasium, along the outer wall. It was a risk, but no one decided to walk off with a stroller on game day. Phew! I don’t know where else you could put your stroller, as the seating in the gymnasium is very tight. It worked out for us and we were really glad we did it!

You can see the schedule of OSU games here! Friends recommended arriving 20-25 minutes early to get good seats, and I will pass that advice on to you. We got there around 9:20 AM for the 9:40 AM Skull Session and were able to get good seats facing the band.

2. Visit a Pumpkin Patch

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There are so many pumpkin patch options, it’s kind of amazing! Every weekend in October is filled with Fall Festivals – honestly, I had no idea before I started this blog how many there are! Make sure to visit my post, Central Ohio Pumpkin Patches and Fall Festivals for a complete list!

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We recently visited Jaquemin Farms on a Monday! This one is great, in my opinion, because it is open during the week and for only $2 kids ages 3-10 can play in the corn box and run through the straw maze! Kids 2 and under are free! During the weekends, they have bouncy houses and the price is a bit higher. So if you have preschoolers at home during the week, this is a great way to spend an inexpensive morning at a pumpkin patch! Other weekday options include Circle S Farms, evenings at Lehner’s Pumpkin Farm.

If you want the BIG pumpkin farm experience complete with kettle corn, a zip line, a huge pumpkin trampoline, mazes, corn bins, pedal carts and more, make sure to check out 15 Things to Do at Leeds Farm!

Another place we love to go is Smith’s Farm Market! The picture below is a few years old, but they always have a large selection of pumpkins and picturesque settings for fun pictures with pumpkins!

smith-farm-market

3. Go Apple Picking

I’ve shared about our visit to Orchard and Company, and Branstool Orchards, and here’s a list of more apple picking ideas from Columbus Moms Blog! It’s getting late in the season, but there are still apples to be picked at many farms and a lot of them have farm festival weekends as well! If you’re looking for some options during the week (as opposed to the weekend), a few farms are open on select Fridays: Lynd Fruit Farm, and Cherry Hawk Farm, to name a few.

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4. Attend Boo at the Zoo at Columbus Zoo

boo-at-the-zoo

Boo at the Zoo happens for two weekends in October, the 19th – 21st, and the 26th – 28th, 2018. Dress your kids (or yourself!) in costume and visit a lot of vendors in different areas of the zoo who want to fill your kid’s basket with candy! It’s also totally acceptable to take your baby in a cute pumpkin costume in a stroller and accept candy on his or her behalf! 😉

5. Take a Road Trip

I shared 6 Ohio Road Trips to Take This Fall here, one of them being the Fall Festival at The Farm at Walnut Creek. Even if you can’t make it for the festival, a drive to Amish Country will be beautiful when the leaves (finally!) start to change!

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More fun road trip ideas include:

Fall is my favorite time of year for a road trip!

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6. Visit a Metro Park

Once the leaves start to change, there are some great options for leaf viewing in our local Metro Parks! A great one is Battelle Darby! There are walking paths through the woods and also bison viewing! While you’re there, check out the living stream in the Nature Center!

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Inniswood Metro Park is also beautiful in the fall. Seriously, check out this picture I took during the fall (below)! It felt like a fairy tale! It was amazing!

7. Visit a City Park

Don’t underestimate your local city park for fall beauty. Here is a list of all the Columbus City ParksFranklin Park is particularly beautiful in the fall! Keep an eye out for the Harvest Parties at Columbus Rec Centers. You don’t have to go far to celebrate! 🙂

columbus parks

8. See Model Railroads at COSI

Mark your calendars for Model Railroad Days at COSI (October 31 – November 4, 2018) My kids LOVE this special couple of days when several model railroad clubs take over a few galleries at COSI. There are a lot of model trains to see and also trains to play with! It only comes once a year, but it’s one of those things my oldest son always asks about!

model railroad days at COSI

9. Visit the Huntington Holiday Train at Main Library

This is something I consider a Christmas tradition for our family, but it does arrive before Thanksgiving, so technically, it’s a fall activity, right? 😉  In mid November, the train will be installed at the New Main Library! It’s really beautiful, and if you have train lovers, like I do, it’s something you have to see!

Huntington Train

What else would you add to the list of “can’t miss” fall activities in Columbus?

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ICYMI: Fun for the Whole Family at EnterTRAINment Junction

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9 things to do with your kids this fall in Columbus, Ohio


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Fun for the Whole Family at EnterTRAINment Junction

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EnterTRAINment Junction in West Chester, Ohio makes an awesome day trip or weekend get away for Columbus families!

This post is written in partnership with Visit Butler County!

If anyone in your family loves trains, EnterTRAINment Junction should be on your list of road trips this summer! What a fun place to explore!

EnterTRAINment Junction

model train

First of all, the model railroad display is amazing – in fact it is the world’s largest train display! The trains run on 2 miles of track and takes a journey through the history of railroads. Beginning in the 1860’s, the display takes viewers through the Civil War, into the Middle Period in the 1940’s and 50’s and into the Modern Period including subways!

kids looking at a model train

model train at EnterTRAINment Junction

model train at EnterTRAINment Junction

The display is so lifelike, it’s almost like you could step right into the city and walk the streets and wait for the subway.

Model Train

Model Train

kids watching a model train

This isn’t just for little kids. My kids loved this display, of course, but my husband loved it too! It’s a display that I believe has something for all ages!

model train display at EnterTRAINment Junction

model train at EnterTRAINment Junction

Upstairs, there is a separate model depicting Cincinnati’s Coney Island Amusement Park in it’s glory days (1965)! This is a 1000 foot, handmade replica that includes a roller coaster, ferris wheel, haunted house, arcade games and more! There are also interactive portions of the exhibits! You can press buttons on the exhibit that make the rides move, buildings light up and more!

Coney Island display at EnterTRAINment Junction

Coney Island display at EnterTRAINment Junction

You can’t miss Imagination Junction, a play area for kids! There is a large climbing structure, small model train displays, a train to ride on and an area for toddlers to play, too! Socks are required to play here and are available for purchase if you forget!

Indoor play area at EnterTRAINment Junction

Indoor play area at EnterTRAINment Junction

Indoor play area at EnterTRAINment Junction

Toddler play area at EnterTRAINment Junction.

Indoor play area at EnterTRAINment Junction

There are also two outdoor rides that are available Memorial Day through Labor Day. We didn’t get to experience these but friends have told me this was the best part!

Also inside EnterTRAINment Junction is the A-Maze-N Funhouse which resembles a circus midway. (Admission to this exhibit is separate.) There are various exhibits to enter and experience! Some of the exhibits were a little too stimulating for my kids, but they liked running through the mirror maze!

hall of mirrors at EnterTRAINment Junction

A-Maze-N Fun House at EnterTRAINment Junction

Last, but not least (certainly for my kids), were the amazing toy and gift shops! Honestly, I had to drag my kids out of the toy store to go see the exhibits! haha! There is a huge LEGO section, so I don’t think I need to explain myself! 😉

toy store at EnterTRAINment Junction

Toy store at EnterTRAINment Junction

We try to pick out a new Christmas ornament every year when we go on vacation. Our 2018 ornament will be from EnterTRAINment Junction! 🙂 Get your souvenirs in the gift shop and almost any toy you can imagine in the toy store!

There is also a cafe on site and the space is available for birthday parties!

lobby at EnterTRAINment Junction  Cafe at EnterTRAINment Junction

This attraction is well worth the drive! We’ve had this one on our list for a long time and I’m so glad we finally did it! We spent about 2 hours here and the kids probably could have played longer in the play area if I had let them! But either way, that means you still have time for the Butler County Donut Trail!

If you’re looking for somewhere to eat before or after visiting EnterTRAINment Junction, check out Bagger Dave’s, which is close by! They have lots of Kids Meals to choose from and the restaurant is very family-friendly!

hamburger at Bagger Dave's

 

Know Before You Go:

7379 Squire Ct, West Chester, OH 45069
513-898-8000
Monday – Saturday: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Sunday: 12:00 PM – 6:00 PM

  • EnterTRAINment Junction is running a special April 2nd through May 25th, 2018 where if you buy one Do-It-All ticket you will get a return visit for free! Get it All tickets are currently $14.95
  • In addition to your admission ticket ($13.95 for adults, $9.95 for kids 3-12), the outdoor rides are $3 and the Funhouse is $9.95. Check the website for group rates, senior pricing and other upgrades! Kids 2 and under are free.

EnterTRAINment Junction

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