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4 Magical Places to See Santa in Columbus

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Where are the best places in Columbus to see Santa? Thanks to Tam Luu, now we know! In this guest post, she’s sharing 4 of her favorite places to take her kids to see Santa in Columbus – and they are magical!

Christmas has quickly become my favorite holiday now that I have kids. It’s such a magical time of year and it’s so fun to see the joy and excitement it brings to them. Growing up, we really didn’t celebrate Christmas, or any holiday for that matter, so I think I may be over compensating now that I have my own kids. Haha! 

Boy in front of Christmas tree in Columbus, Ohio

It has become an annual tradition for me and my family to take the kids to see as many Santas as possible! Well, at least for my son Zayn, who LOVES the big guy. Last year was Zoë’s first time meeting him and she was NOT a fan… picture lots of crying and flailing!

Here are my top 4 favorite Santa’s in Columbus:


1. Snowflake Castle

Everal Barn and Homestead
60 N. Cleveland Avenue
Westerville, Ohio 43082

Dates: Dec 2 – 8, 2019

Snowflake Castle sells out so quickly! Residents of Westerville get first dibs on tickets before they open up to non-residents the next day. It is the cutest event!

Tickets are only $10/child and include a toy, activity, and a printed photo with Santa & Mrs. Claus. You can also take your own pics with your phone or camera!

The event is held at the Everal Barn and Homestead in Westerville, Ohio. The walk up to the barn is always festive and decorated in holiday decor. Upon entering, there is a small shop with lots of craft/handmade goods and a train display for kids to watch while parents check in at the desk.

Tickets are sold for specific time slots, so it’s never too crowded and the lines are never too long! (Suggestion: do not bring a stroller unless you really need it… the areas are kind of small and there’s not a lot of extra room for strollers)

Kids at the Snowflake Castle in Westerville, Ohio

Once checked in, it’s a short two flights up stairs to Santa’s workshop (not sure if they call it that, but that’s what it reminds me of). There is a stage with a snow globe backdrop set up for taking your own photos, a place to hang your coats, and Christmas trees all around. They also blow fake snow every few minutes to make the room even more magical!

Once you’re done taking everything in, and snapping some of your own photos, you can get into the queue to pick your wooden toy to make with Santa’s helper. There’s a lot of options, but my kids have chosen different parts of a train each year!

woman helping a chid build her castle at Snowflake Castle in Westerville, Ohio

It is so cute to watch (and record) your kids helping to build their toy! After it’s built, you can opt to let them paint their creations or just move on to the next building where Santa awaits. They provide aprons for those worried about getting their clothes dirty and then have helpers to properly label and bag them up wet.

child building a toy at the Snowflake Castle in Westerville, Ohio

You then need to put your coats back on for a short stroll over to Santa. There is a Christmas decorated shed on the way with a big sleigh you can sit in to take pictures and a spot with bales of hay and reindeer wooden cutouts to grab some cute group photos (or attempt to lol)!

Kids outside the Snowflake Castle in Westerville, Ohio

family in a sleigh at Snowflake Castle in Westerville, Ohio

Santa is located in a cute little house. There usually is a small line inside while people visit with Santa. In the middle of the line is a table filled with puzzles, coloring pages and crayons to keep kids occupied.

kids doing crafts at the Snowflake Castle in Westerville, Ohio
 
Once it’s your turn to meet Santa, you enter the room and he is sitting on a big throne bench with Mrs. Claus. Kids can spend a few minutes talking with them and photographers are there to capture the moment. You’re allowed to take your own pics as well. After exiting that room, there is a person who will present you with your printed photo.
 
kids with Santa and Mrs. Claus at the Snowflake Castle in Westerville, Ohio
This event has become a tradition for us and we will be returning year after year. It is recommended for children 10 and under.

2. Lazarus Santa’s Workshop

Lazarus Building
50 W. Town Street
Columbus, Ohio 43215

Date: Dec 7, 2019 12-6pm

mom and chid visiting Santa in Columbus, Ohio

This is probably my favorite Santa set up in Columbus and it is FREE!!! Santa awaits in a covered outdoor area that is so beautifully decorated! There is no photographer but there are helpers who will take your photos with your phone.
 
Costumed characters at the Lazarus Building in Columbus, Ohio
 
Santa even gives the kids a free toy. Behind the Santa is a beautiful tree, and there are stations for face painting, balloon animals, and crafts. Costumed characters also roam up and down the line to entertain the children.

Child crying on Santa's Lap at the Lazarus Building in Columbus, Ohio

Child on Santa's lap at the Lazarus Building in Columbus, Ohio

Once you head inside, there are festively decorated spots to take photos and then a room full of craft stations! Last year there was even a stand giving away free cookies and orange juice!

Family at The Lazarus Building in Columbus, Ohio
 
Participants can also head over to Columbus Commons afterwards to see their 400,000+ LED light display starting at 5pm and enjoy free carousel rides, hot chocolate and holiday music!

3. Cabela’s Santa’s Wonderland

Takes place at your local Cabela’s

Dates: Nov 16 – Dec 24, 2019

child visiting santa at Cabela's in Columbus, Ohio

Check the online schedule for daily times and activities! Free 4×6 photo with Bass Pass. The Santa set up is always great and my kids love seeing the aquarium and animals on “The Mountain.”
 
Check the website to see specific activities for your location but I noticed they added a ton of new things this year! Kids can also write a letter and mail it to Santa! We usually go on a weekday so it’s not too busy.
 
Child coloring a picture at Cabela's in Columbus, Ohio

4. Easton Town Center Santa

160 New Bond Street
Columbus, Ohio 43219
Level 2, Easton Station Building

Dates: Nov 22 – Dec 24, 2019

Kids on Santa's lap at Easton Town Center in Columbus, Ohio

Easton does a great job with their Santa set up! I always try to take my kids early, on a weekday to avoid lines… and also to get a little extra face time with Santa! Don’t hesitate! Get your visit in early!

child on Santa's lap at Easton Town Center in Columbus, Ohio

Easton makes it easy with online reservations (not required). The first 5×7 photo is only $5 and you are allowed to take photos with your own phone or camera!

man and child standing by a Nutcracker at Easton Town Center, Columbus, Ohio
 
mother and child standing in Christmas scene at Easton Town Center in Columbus, Ohio

I would love to hear where YOUR favorite Columbus Santas are!

family Christmas photo in Columbus, Ohio

Hi! I’m Tam. I’m a mama of two toddlers, my son Zayn (3yrs old) and my daughter Zoë (1.5yrs old). I’m engaged to, and work with, Carl Z., toy entrepreneur and owner of Nowstalgic Toys, Inc., who’s also famous for being the first non-celebrity to be drawn into an episode of The Simpsons. Ever heard of Squirmles aka “Worm on a string?” That’s one of our products! Now that we have kids, I’m always on the search for fun things to do and you can catch our adventures on my Instagram page @Tamstargram. Additional profiles are @ZaynZealer @Zoe_Zealer and @CarlZealer,

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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 Columbus, 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 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 8, 2019, 5:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Where: throughout German Village

2. Wildlights

wild lights at Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

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 held in mid November.

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

Wildlights at Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

3. Conservatory Aglow (Formerly Merry and Bright)

conservatory aglow at Franklin Park Conservatory, Columbus, Ohio

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! During this season, Franklin Park Conservatory is open until 9:00 PM. There will be special family-friendly activities happening all through the season!

lights at Conservatory Aglow at Franklin Park Conservatory, Columbus, Ohio

New in 2019, decorations will expand into the Grand Mallway. This year there will be a Special Engagement Admission Rate for this event and members will receive half off these rates. See the link for details.

When: November 16, 2019 – January 5, 2020: 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, bicentennial park, columbus, Ohio

Throughout the holiday season, the Scioto Mile is awash in light – Christmas lights, that is! Taking place on Saturday, December 7, 2019, is WinterFest. it will include live performances and food trucks, as well as seasonal ales and cocktails. The park will be full of lights beginning November 21st!

When: November 21, 2019 through Early January 2020
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! On December 7, 2019 there will be a free Santa’s Workshop at the Lazarus Building!

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

Huntington 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! The library typically begins set up of the train in mid November and it is usually up through New Years!

When: Mid November, 2019 – Early January, 2020
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! F

or two weekends in December, Ohio Village will host Dickens of a Christmas where you can celebrate Christmas in the 19th century with Victorian crafts, snacks, caroling and more!

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 at Columbus Museum of Art, Columbus, Ohio

This exhibit at the Columbus Museum of Art isn’t necessarily holiday themed, but it is definitely a holiday tradition in Columbus! 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 23, 2019 – January 17, 2020
Where: 480 E. Broad St., Columbus, OH 43215

Think Outside the Brick LEGO exhibit 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, 56 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 November 22, 2019 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

State Auto Christmas Corner Nativity Display, Downtown Columbus, Ohio

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 3, 2019 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!

wiseman at State Auto Christmas Corner in Downtown Columbus

When: Tuesday, December 3, 2019 through Christmas Day when baby Jesus is placed in the manger.
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

ICYMI: Top 10 Things to do with Your Kids in Columbus, Ohio


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What Should We Do This Weekend? December 22-25, 2016 Holiday Edition!

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Christmas Weekend is upon us! If you have kids on winter break or toddlers that have a lot of extra energy to get out, there are a lot of things to do this week and weekend! Don’t forget to check out my 2016 Columbus Holiday Scavenger Hunt and print out the printable to take it a long with you as you’re out and about! It includes 25 things to find in Columbus before New Year’s Day! I wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

10:00 AM – Winter Warm Up Week at Grange Insurance Audubon Center – the center is offering a couple days worth of activities for kids including movies, story times, crafts, scavenger hunts and more! Admission is free!

10:00 AM – Holiday Open Play at SuperGames – the first 150 children (first come, first served) will be allowed to play during these open hours!

10:00 AM – Winter Break Scavenger Hunt and Craft at Blendon Woods Metro Park – stop by the nature center for crafts and a scavenger hunt!

10:00 AM – Merry and Bright at Franklin Park Conservatory –  the Conservatory stays open until 9:00 with special musical performances, a gingerbread house display, a holiday train, holiday lights and seasonal plantings!

1:00 PM – Lego Class at Level One Bar + Arcade – sign up in advance to attend a class teaching the kids how to create a special Lego figure! There is also a class at 3:00 PM

5:00 PM – Visit with Santa at Partner’s Park – last chance to visit with Santa before he gets ready for Christmas Eve!

6:45 PM – Family Night Painting and Cocoa at John E. Bickley YMCA – paint a picture on canvas, watch a holiday movie and enjoy a hot cocoa bar! $5 per person.

7:30 PM – Movie Night at Coffee Underground – watch Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and A Charlie Brown Christmas for free, with popcorn!

7:30 PM – Cirque Dreams Holidaze at Palace Theatre – Cirque’s holiday performance is in Columbus this weekend!

7:30 PM – Holiday Wishes at the Disney Store at Polaris Fashion Place – make a holiday wish every night at 7:30!

Friday, December 23, 2016

10:00 AM – Winter Warm Up Week at Grange Insurance Audubon Center – the center is offering a couple days worth of activities for kids including movies, story times, crafts, scavenger hunts and more! Admission is free!

10:00 AM – Winter Break Scavenger Hunt and Craft at Blendon Woods Metro Park – stop by the nature center for crafts and a scavenger hunt!

10:00 AM – Merry and Bright at Franklin Park Conservatory –  the Conservatory stays open until 9:00 with special musical performances, a gingerbread house display, a holiday train, holiday lights and seasonal plantings!

10:30 AM – Jingle and Mingle with Seniors with Seeds of Caring – join residents from Jaycee Arms Senior Apartments at their annual holiday party to play games, sing songs and give gifts to the residents! See the link for more info about registering.

11:00 AM – The Shazzbots at Franklin Park Conservatory – join this fun band for two sets (11:00 AM and 2:00 PM) of Shazzbots classics and holiday tunes!

1:00 PM – Open Swim at Worthington Pools – $5 per person during these open swim hours!

7:30 PM – Cirque Dreams Holidaze at Palace Theatre – Cirque’s holiday performance is in Columbus this weekend!

7:30 PM – Holiday Wishes at the Disney Store at Polaris Fashion Place – make a holiday wish every night at 7:30!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

11:00 AM – Cirque Dreams Holidaze at Palace Theatre – Cirque’s holiday performance is in Columbus this weekend! Also at 2:00 PM!

6:00 PM – Christmas Eve Ceremony at State Auto Christmas Corner – this life-sized nativity display will be completed when baby Jesus is placed in the manger!

7:30 PM – Holiday Wishes at the Disney Store at Polaris Fashion Place – make a holiday wish every night at 7:30!

Sunday, December 25, 2016

5:00 PM – $1 Roller Skating at Skate Zone 71 – admission is only $1 from 5:00 PM – 8:00 PM!

Ongoing

Think Outside the Brick at Columbus Museum of Art – check out the huge LEGO display and make your own LEGO creation!

Wildlights at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium – see the amazing light shows, special performances and holiday festivities!

Tribute to the Nutcracker at Grove City City Hall – see the animated window display Monday through Friday from 4:00 PM – 10:00 PM and Saturday and Sunday from 12:00 PM to 10:00 PM.

Ohio Chinese Lantern Festival at Ohio Expo Center and State Fairgrounds – a 5 week celebration of Chinese culture with amazing silk lanterns, traditional performances and food!

State Auto Christmas Corner – walk around inside a life-size telling of the Christmas Story and check out their schedule for each weekend’s choir performances! For every photo posted on Instagram with #StateAutoChristmas2016, State Auto will donate $1 to Manna Café (up to $500)!

Downtown Columbus Holiday Lights Photo Contest – share your pictures on Instagram or post to their Facebook page with the hashtag #DowntownColumbus to enter the contest for a $20 gift card to a downtown restaurant!

Fantasy of Lights at Alum Creek State Park Campgrounds – take an in-car tour of this light show!

For more ongoing ideas click here for 10 of Our Favorite Columbus Christmas Traditions!

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ICYMI: 2016 Columbus Holiday Scavenger Hunt


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