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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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Columbus Christmas Staycation 2017

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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! For each day, I’m featuring one main idea and a couple of other events going on that day! I suggest reading through the whole post first instead of taking it day by day, because many things on the list are going on more than one day!  You can mix and match your plan as needed! 🙂

Monday, December 25, 2017

Chinese Lantern Festival

The Ohio Chinese Lantern Festival is open every day from 5:30 PM – 10:00 PM through January 7, 2018. Enjoy cultural performances and eat Chinese and traditional fair food. The light displays are really something to see! There are traditional Chinese sculptures and also American Christmas sights like Santa and Mrs. Claus. On Mondays, you can receive a $2 discount for bringing a canned good donation.

More Events:


Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Gardens Aglow at Franklin Park Conservatory

Gardens 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 for the holidays. From December 1-31 (except for the 24th and 25th) they are open until 9:00 PM. There will be special family-friendly activities and on Tuesday, December 26, Erica Carlson and her pet hedgehog will be at the Conservatory for a fun magic show at 11:00 AM and 2:00 PM! Also, make sure not to miss the rotating railroad!

More Events:


Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Ohio Wildlife Center

The Ohio Wildlife Center is only open to the public a few times a month and today is one of them! Join them from 1:00 PM – 4:00 PM for Celebrate with the Critters where kids can make a bird feeder and meet some of the resident animal ambassadors! Admission is $5/person or free with a donation from their wish list. Many animals can be seen on a tour of the grounds as well!  See our visit to Ohio Wildlife Center here!

More Events:


Thursday. December 28, 2017

Easterseals of Central and Southeast Ohio

Kids ages 1-7 can get out all of their energy in the ball pit, slides, rock climbing wall, tire swing, basketball hoop and more! Open Play is happening from 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM, December 27-29, 2017. Cost is $5 per child and parents must stay on the premises.

More Events:


Friday, December 29, 2017

COSI- Center of Science and Industry

COSI has extended its hours for Winter Break! From December 20th through January 6th they will be open from 10:00 AM – 7:00 PM! (Closed Dec. 24th and 25th). On Friday, December 29th, they stay open even later for Family Friday Night! Family Friday Night includes reduced admission from 5:00 PM – 9:00 PM and access to all exhibits. If you haven’t seen the new American Museum of Natural History Dinosaur Gallery, it’s included with membership or admission so Friday night would be a great chance to see it at a discount!

More Events:


Saturday, December 30, 2017

HOOT 82: Dance at Gateway Film Center

This family-friendly movie time is free with a canned good donation to benefit The Open Shelter! Watch short movies and cartoons and dance along to The Shazzbots! There are also activities in the lobby beforehand! This month there will be a special appearance by Movement Afoot Tap Dance Company! Activities start at 10:00 AM and movies end at 12:00 PM.

More Events:


Sunday, December 31, 2017

Christmas Open House at Central Ohio Model Railroad Club

On each Saturday and Sunday in December COMRC is hosting their Christmas Open House! Admission and parking are free and the open house includes model train layouts and kids can run trains on a Thomas the Train display!

More Events:


Monday, January 1, 2018

Ohio History Center

The Ohio History Center will be offer special hours from Tuesday, Dec. 26, 2017 through Sunday, Jan. 7, 2018. They will be open from 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM. During this time you can see the Holiday Train and the Lustron House will be decorated for the holidays! The museum has recently updated the kids’ area near the wild animals and there is an exhibit towards that back where kids are free to touch “historical” items like rotary phones and typewriters. 😉 See all there is to do at Ohio History Center here!

More Events:


Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Recreations Outlet

This retail store doubles as a play area with lots of playground equipment, trampolines, basketball hoops, soccer goals and more! There’s plenty of room to run, very few chances to break anything, and the best part is that during Charitable Play Hours on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 9:00 AM – 11:00 AM, it’s only $2 per child to play! See more pictures and info about our visit here.

More Events:


Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Columbus Metropolitan Library, Main Library

Don’t miss the Holiday Train at Main Library! Wednesday, January 3rd is the last day you can see it! Story times will be happening each morning throughout Winter Break at 10:30 AM. If you haven’t been to Main Library, it can be a full outing in itself! The kids will love the train, there’s a cafe in the library serving coffee, food and snacks and outside you can walk through Topiary Park, where you can see a tree-sculpture version of Georges Seurat’s A Sunday Afternoon on the Isle of La Grand Jatte!

More Events:


Thursday, January 4, 2018

Scioto Audubon Metro Park and Grange Audubon Center

The Grange Audubon Center offers a lot of indoor fun for kids! There is an indoor play area (pictured above) which also includes puppets and a cave to play in. There are animals to see, bird watching, and on Thursdays and Saturdays at 10:00 AM they host a preschool story time in the library area. See 9 Things to Do with your Kids at Scioto Audubon for more ideas!

More Events:


Friday, January 5 2018

Ohio History Center

Another good day to visit Ohio History Center would be on Friday when they stay open late for a family movie night! Mrs. Doubtfire will be shown at 7:00 PM and the museum is open until 9:00 PM!

More Events:

7:00 PM – Family Pajama Jam Skate at Skate Zone 71


Saturday, January 6, 2018

piccadilly play cafe 

On $5 Saturdays, kids can play between the hours of 9:30 AM and 12:30 PM for just $5/child! piccadilly has a cafe serving coffee, small meals and snacks, a play area for the kids, a large stage area for kids to play on and an art space for painting and other crafts!

More Events:


Sunday, January 7, 2018

Columbus Museum of Art

Admission to the Columbus Museum of Art is free on Sundays and this is a great chance to see Think Outside the Brick! This LEGO exhibit is a temporary exhibit that will only be on display until March 2, 2018. If your kids love Legos, it’s a must see! You can also check out the newly remodeled Wonder Room – a creative space just for kids!

If you’re still looking for more ideas, check out 10 of Our Favorite Columbus Christmas Traditions, 5 on Friday: Holiday Trains and 6 of the Most Festive Things You Can Do in Columbus This Holiday Season!


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Make sure to follow What Should We Do Today? on FacebookTwitterPinterest and Instagram and never miss a post!

ICYMI: 6 of the Most Festive Things You Can Do in Columbus This Holiday Season

*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 2016

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When I was a kid, this was the best week of the year: the week between Christmas and New Year’s!

I picture the week being filled with long, restful days filled with playing with new toys, padding around in pajamas, eating cookies  and sleeping in every morning. We all know that’s just a page out of a Pottery Barn Kids magazine. Real life looks more like kids fighting over toys, crashing from too much sugar and NEVER sleeping in!

If you’re enjoying a Columbus staycation this week, you’re probably going to need to get out of the house! I’ve got some ideas for you! For each day, I’m featuring one main idea and a couple of other events going on that day. This will be my only post for the week! Don’t forget to check out the 2016 Columbus Holiday Scavenger Hunt to check off the list throughout the week!

MONDAY

Ohio History Center

Visit the museum (which is open for special holiday hours this week) to see the holiday train display, the Lustron home decorated for Christmas and the finalists in the LEGO Design Challenge!  The museum will be open every day through January 8th. Monday through Saturday: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM and Sunday: 12:00 PM – 5:00 PM. Make sure to click here to read about all there is for kids to do at Ohio History Center!

More Events:

  • 11:00 AM – 2:00 PM – The Bugman at Franklin Park Conservatory
  • 12:00 PM – 8:30 PM – $1 Roller Skating at Skate Zone 71
  • 5:00 PM – 9:00 PM – Wildlights at Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

TUESDAY

Recreations Outlet

By Tuesday, you may be reaching all-time-high levels of cabin fever and sugar overload! Take the kids to Recreations Outlet to let them run around and get out all that energy! The retail store doubles as a play area with lots of playground equipment, trampolines, basketball hoops, soccer goals and more! There’s plenty of room to run, very few chances to break anything, and the best part is that during their special Winter Break Playtime, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 9:00 AM – 11:00 AM, it’s only $2 per child to play! See more pictures and info about our visit here.

More Events:

  • 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM – Open Play at Easterseals
  • 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM – Open Play at SuperGames
  • 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM Open Play at SuperGames

WEDNESDAY

Little Buckeye Children’s Museum

Take a road trip to the Little Buckeye Children’s Museum in Mansfield! Just one hour away from downtown Columbus, this hands-on children’s museum is great for children 12 and under! On Wednesday, The Little Ren Players, from Renaissance Theater will be there from 10:15 AM – 11:00 AM, acting out interactive fairy tales! My kids had a blast at the museum where there are cars to drive around, houses to play in, businesses to run, dinosaur bones to dig for, a water table and much more! See more about our visit here!

More Events:

THURSDAY

Blendon Woods Metro Park

All week long (Monday through Friday from 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM), the metro park is hosting their Winter Break Scavenger Hunt and Craft time! Stop in to the Nature Center to do a scavenger hunt and a winter-themed craft! The Nature Center at Blendon Woods has large viewing windows and some “please touch” bins full of all sorts of things kids can touch and feel! My kids were big fans of those boxes! 😉

More Events:

  • 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM – Open Play at Easterseals
  • 10:00 AM – PreK Storytime at Scioto Audubon
  • 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM – Play to Learn at Columbus Metropolitan Library, Franklinton Branch

FRIDAY

Grove City Library

Check out the new Grove City Library! There’s a great kids area with a puppet theater, Duplos, toddler toys and cozy reading areas! During Winter Break, the library is having Winter Break at the Movies! At 2:00 PM every day December 27-30, they will be showing a movie with popcorn and crafts! If 2:00 PM doesn’t work for you, all day, each day they will be offering Building with Boxes, where children of all ages are welcome to pop in and create!

More Events:

SATURDAY

Grandview Library

Grandview Library has a great play area for kids with a train table, doll house, Duplos, puzzles, and there’s always an area for drawing and coloring. On New Year’s Eve you can join them for Noon Year’s Eve where you can count down to Noon with your Pre-K kids!

Looking to celebrate New Year’s Eve with kids? Here are some more options!

SUNDAY

Columbus Museum of Art

The museum is open on New Year’s Day and this is a great chance to see Think Outside the Brick! PLUS, admission to the Museum is FREE on Sundays! This LEGO exhibit is a temporary exhibit that will only be on display until February 26, 2016. If your kids love Legos, it’s a must see! There are also Legos available for free building and the Wonder Room is across the hall for more fun with kids!

Happy New Year’s Day! The lights are still on at Columbus Commons, State Auto Christmas Corner, Wildlights, the Ohio Chinese Lantern Festival and Bicentennial Park! See my post: 10 of our Favorite Columbus Christmas Traditions for more info!

Thanks for following along with us this year! I truly hope you enjoy your week and have a Happy New Year!

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ICYMI: 2016 Columbus Holiday Scavenger Hunt


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