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Christmas Staycation: 50 Things to do Over Winter Break in Columbus

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If you’ve got kids off school or family in town and you’re enjoying a Columbus staycation over Winter Break, you’re probably going to need to get out of the house! I’ve got some ideas for you! 

Note: there will be no regular What Should We Do This Weekend? post for December 28-30, 2018. This will substitute for that post!

Here is a list of family-friendly winter break ideas for your Columbus Christmas Staycation:

Activities You Can Do Anytime over Winter Break:

1. See the Huntington Train at Columbus Library, Main Library! This model railroad is a holiday classic! Stop in and see it before it’s gone on January 2!

huntington train at Main Library, Columbus, Ohio

2. See Conservatory Aglow at Franklin Park Conservatory – visit the Conservatory while it’s decked out for the season! Enjoy special performances and activities and this year the event extends into the Children’s Garden!

outdoor lights at Franklin Park Conservatory, Columbus, Ohio

3. Visit the Think Outside the Brick display at Columbus Museum of Art – this LEGO exhibit will be on display until February 22, 2018! There’s an amazing model to see and a section where kids can build with LEGOs themselves!

Think Outside the Brick Exhibit at Columbus Museum of Art

4. Join Ohio History Center for their extended hours during Winter Break! The museum will be open daily: Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2018 – Sunday, Jan. 6, 2019 from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM. On Friday, January 4th they will be open until 9:00 PM with a showing of Bedknobs and Broomsticks at 7:00 PM.

5. Walk through Wildlights at the Columbus Zoo – Wildlights is included in your admission (or membership) to the Zoo and features special activities, amazing lights, light shows, Rudolph and friends in Asia Quest, Santa’s Holiday Home in the Battelle Ice Bear Outpost, Jingle Ball light display and much more!

Trees at Wildlights at Columbus Zoo

6. Drive through Butch Bando’s Fantasy of Lights at Alum Creek Campground – families can enjoy a 3 mile drive through holiday light show with over 140 LED light displays! $30/car on the weekends, $20 Monday through Thursday. This display will be open through January 1!

drive thru at Butch Bando's Fantasy of Lights

 7. Walk through an amazing display of Chinese lanterns and holiday light sculptures at Dragon Lights Columbus. Special cultural performances, food and shopping will also be available. Save money by purchasing your tickets online. 

Dragon sculpture at Dragon Lights Columbus

8. Visit COSI for their extended Winter Break Hours! COSI will have extended hours from December 26-30th and January 1-5. They will be open from 10:00 AM – 7:00 PM. On Friday, December 28th, COSI will stay open until 9:00 PM for Family Friday Night and admission will be reduced.

boy outside COSI

9. Ride the Smart Circuit to view the holiday lights around The Scioto Mile! Take this 1.5 mile loop on a self-driving shuttle for the warmest way to see the lights on the Scioto Mile and Bicentennial Park!

Holiday lights on the Scioto Mile

10. Take your kids to LEGOLAND Discovery Center Columbus for lots of LEGO fun including Holiday Bricktacular during the weekends in December or visit during the week for fewer crowds! LEGOLAND Discovery Center Columbus is open 365 days a year!

boy playing at LEGOLAND Discovery Center Columbus

11. Visit State Auto’s Christmas Corner to see a life sized nativity and listen to live choir music! There is hot chocolate available for a donation and on Christmas Eve, Baby Jesus will be placed in the manger at 3:00 PM.

Life Sized Nativity at State Auto Christmas Corner

12. Go on a Winter Break Scavenger Hunt at Blendon Woods Metro Park. From 12/22/18 – 1/2/19 from 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM kids can stop by the Nature Center to search for hidden creatures!

13. Participate in the Winter Reading Challenge at Columbus Library – join CML’s Winter Reading Challenge to earn a book kids can keep and a pair of ear buds. Kids get a pencil and book mark just for signing up!

14. APPS Program Winter Break – Columbus Recreation and Parks is offering free programs for kids and young adults ages 14-23 with sports tournaments, cooking classes, free pizza and more! December 26 – January 5, 2019

One Time Events Happening Over Winter Break:

December 26: Celebrate with the Critters at Ohio Wildlife Center – celebrate with the resident Animal Ambassadors, make and take winter crafts and make bird feeders for wild birds! $5/person. Children under 5 are free. 

December 27 & 28: Winter Warm Up Days at the Grange Insurance Audubon Center – from 10:00 – 5:00 PM enjoy crafts, games, stories, movies and songs by the fire. No registration required.

Indoor play area at the Audubon Center

December 28: Super Games Open Play – come in for free play at SuperGames! $10/child.

December 28: Family Friday Night at COSI – admission is reduced from 5:00 PM to 9:00 PM!

December 28: KidX: Frozen Fun at Polaris Fashion Place – visit with your favorite movie characters at the Santa Set at Polaris Fashion Place!

December 29: The Big Explore – on December 29th, The Columbus Foundation celebrates it’s 75th anniversary by offering free admission to Columbus Museum of Art, COSI, Franklin Park Conservatory, National Veterans Memorial and Museum, Ohio History Center and Wexner Center for the Arts! Rides on COTA will be free and Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams will be offering $.75 scoops! 

two scoops of ice cream at Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream

December 29: LEGO Design Challenge Day at Columbus Museum of Art – compete in creative challenges using LEGO bricks between 1:00 PM and 4:00 PM! Included in admission to the museum (which happens to be free that day thanks to The Big Explore!)

December 29: HOOT Family Film Series at Gateway Film Center – enjoy family friendly short films and live music from The Shazzbots! This is a free event with a donation of a non perishable food item for the Open Shelter.

HOOT Family Film Series

December 30: Pizzuti Collection Family Day – Family Day offers free admission and will include a mini chair building workshop, story time and a family centered tour! 

December 30: – Harlem Globetrotters at The Schottenstein Center – see the Harlem Globetrotters in action! There are two game times on Sunday!

January 2: Winter Wonderland Carnival Skate at Skate Zone 71 – in addition to roller skating, this event features a bounce house, face painting, balloon twisting and more!

January 3: $2.00 Roller Skating! at Skate Zone 71 – enjoy $2 admission at all 3 skating sessions!

Winter Break Camp Options:

Click each link for dates and availability.

Winter Camps at Code Ninja Hilliard

Winter Brain Camp at Learning Rx

Winter Break Camp at We Rock the Spectrum

Mary Poppins Returns Camp with Paulette’s Princesses

Winter Break Camp at Vertical Adventures

Mini Art Camps at Art with Anna

Winter Break Youth DIY Camp at AR Workshop Pickerington

Family Friendly New Years Events in Columbus:

Family Fun: New Years Open House Party at Sharon Woods Metro Park – this party takes place on December 30th and includes activities for kids ages 3-8 such as games, activities and crafts! There will be a countdown for a ball drop on every hour!

Countdown to Noon Year’s Eve at KSM Sports and Fitness Indoor Facility – there will be a countdown to Noon Year’s Eve, coffee, snacks, pictures with the Snow Queen, sports, nerf wars and more!

New Year’s Eve at Ten Pin Alley – Ten Pin Alley will be family friendly all day and evening with bowling, $3 laser tag missions, arcade games and the restaurant! Walk in or call ahead to reserve a package!

bowling at Ten Pin Alley

Happy “Noon” Year Celebration! at We Rock the Spectrum – Columbus – celebrate “Noon” Year with crafts, snacks and a balloon drop during open play time! No registration required.

Noon Years’ Eve! at Sycamore Plaza Library – this event includes a noontime balloon drop, crafts, games and “mocktail” toast! 

Noon Year’s Eve at Marysville Public Library – this celebration includes crafts and a countdown to noon!

NYE Kids Countdown! at Skate Zone 71 – this event takes place from 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM and will include an early countdown to 2019! $12 per person includes admission, skate rental, unlimited cheese pizza and drink.

First Night Columbus at COSI – this huge New Year’s Eve event includes live music appropriate for all ages, a magician, creation stations, special movies, holiday lights, a story time, an animal show, fireworks and more! Tickets are $10 before 12/30 and $15 the day of the event. 

New Years Eve Family Skate Celebration at Skate Zone 71 – ring in 2019 on skates with unlimited cheese pizza and drink, noisemakers and a countdown!

New Year’s Day Hike at Deer Haven Park – celebrate the New Year with a healthy hike through the woods and prairies and enjoy a hot drink and cookies by the fire place afterwards!

Visit COSI on New Year’s Day – COSI will be open on New Year’s Day from 10:00 AM – 7:00 PM!

Ohio Road Trip Ideas for Winter Break:

PNC Festival of Lights at Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden – enjoy a “Wild Wonderland” at the Cincinnati Zoo through December 31. This includes 3 million LED lights, a black-light puppet show, a ride on the BB&T Toyland Express and more!

Christmas at the Castle in Loudonville – see the castle decorated with over 100,000 lights and listen to holiday music! Kids eat free at the Copper Mug Bar and Grille with the purchase of an adult entree. Through January 6.

Holiday Celebration at EnterTRAINment Junction – the holidays at EnterTRAINment junction include visits with Santa and Mrs. Claus, a Winter Wonderland and Elf Workshop. Santa does not appear after Christmas but special activities continue until January 2.

Train Track at EnterTRAINment Junction

Christmas at Kingwood – visit Kingwood Gardens to see the Tree Walk, a special Greenhouse display, live music and an outdoor Trail of Lights! Through December 30.

Christmas Lights at Clifton Mills – the Legendary Lights of Clifton Mill are on display each evening through New Years Eve and feature over 4 million lights including a 100 foot “waterfall” of lights! There is also a Santa Claus Museum, a toy collection, a synchronized light show and more! Children 6 and under are free. 

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*Please be aware,  information is gathered from multiple community sources.  Times, dates and locations are subject to change. There may be a fee to participate in a featured activity.  Please call ahead or check links to confirm activities.  Enjoy what you do today!*

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Columbus Christmas Staycation

 


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