Christmas is still a few weeks away, have you embraced the season yet? There is still plenty of time to find your inner Clark Griswold and get into the spirit.
Across the great state of Ohio, there are myriad ways to celebrate this most wonderful of seasons. From elaborate light shows and sensational live theater to stunningly decorated manor houses, historic-themed villages and enchanting botanical gardens, this state knows how to do Christmas right.
This is an Ohio Christmas experience like no other. Visit a historic manor house that is decorated inside and out with over one million lights. That's right, we said one million. With a dazzling light show, play garden, and a gingerbread land, this is as close to a winter wonderland as one can get. Tickets start at $18 for adults and $7 for youths.
From the "major award" pictured below to the pink bunny suit, the Christmas Story House & Museum has all the swag from the iconic movie. The house has been carefully restored to just as it was when the movie was filmed in 1983, and you even have the opportunity to stay overnight. Enjoy some Ovaltine and sleep in Ralphy or Randy's bed (not weird at all!). This should probably be stop #1 for any Christmas aficionado.
Where: 11030 East Blvd., Cleveland
This winter spectacular is a must-see. Enter a world full of cheer, lights, and wonder at the Cleveland Botanical Gardens. Ideal for families, this month-long event features mini-train rides, children's play areas, games & activities, gingerbread house-building workshops, story time & breakfast with Santa and much more.
Take a step back to the Victorian age with a visit to Cambridge. Here you'll find Charles Dickens's famous stories and characters have come to life through human-sized effigies and dioramas set up around the village. These things are a bit creepy but in a very festive and friendly way. And, they are great listeners.
Now in its 30th year, Wildlights has become a highly anticipated event in Columbus. Highlights of this extravaganza include animated light shows, a mini-Polar Express train ride, a Santa's Village for the kids, and Rudolph and friends in Asia Quest.
Where: Tower City Center, Cleveland
Ever wonder how Santa and his elves make all those toys? Kringle's Inventionasium offers kids and adults a unique glimpse of how the magic is made up at the North Pole. During an hour-long visit, guests get a chance to invent their own toys, engage in hands-on activities, explore various testing rooms and meet a Santa Claus that Time.com called "one of the best Santas in the United States." High praise indeed. Call in advance to reserve your ticket.
Where: Ohio Theatre, Cleveland
The heartwarming Charles Dickens' tale is brought to new life with this engaging stage performance. "A Christmas Carol" is really an excellent reminder of what this season is all about: Making your employees work late on Christmas Eve. Just kidding! The show runs through December 23.
Where: 400 Center St., Dennison
Anyone obsessed with Christmas is undoubtedly a fan of The Polar Express. The classic story is back on the tracks in Dennison. Put on your best pajamas and hop aboard for adventure. Enjoy games, activities, and hot cocoa as you head north through the scenic countryside to Santa's workshop. The train then picks up Santa and he visits with the kids on the way back. Let's hope he has a ticket.
Where: Krohn Conservatory, Cincinnati
Picture yourself in a shimmering frozen landscape at Krohn Conservatory this December. A Crystal Holiday features dazzling floral displays and toy trains chugging through a miniature version of Cincinnati. A unique experience for anyone in the Queen city this holiday season.
Where: Toledo Theatre, Toledo
Several years later, the phenomenon that is Frozen continues on because well, we can't Let it Go. And why should we? Enjoy the hit Disney movie like never before—live on ice in Toledo. Really it's the perfect way to enjoy this winter tale.
Where: Columbus (Sat., Dec 15)
Get ready for an assault on the eyes and possibly the liver with this holiday salute to bad taste. Everyone has a bad Christmas sweater hidden deep in their closet somewhere. Here's your chance to unleash it in all its glory while celebrating with friends.
Where: Fountain Square, Cincinnati
Here's a surreal sight: Watch Santa and his friends rappel down the side of the Huntington Bank Center in downtown Cincinnati. Are they there to rob the place or give out presents? Let's hope it's the latter. Live music and a spectacular fireworks show follow after the daredevil Santa wows the crowd.
Where: Victory Park, Middleburg Heights
Experience an electric winter wonderland from the comfort of your own warm car at the Magic of Lights festival. This show features over a mile's worth of vibrant and festive light displays celebrating multiple holiday themes. Open every day starting at 5:30 pm through December 31.
It's Christmas year-round at Castle Noel, America's largest indoor Christmas museum. But, December is still the best time to visit this extraordinary place. Here you will find a little bit of everything: Hollywood props from dozens of Christmas movies, Santa's Chimney Squeeze (it's what it sounds like, think thin), a Blizzard Vortex (you'll have to see it, we can't describe it) and more. Plus, ride the Ralphie slide from "A Christmas Story" (pictured above).
Where: Morrow, OH
For a truly old-fashioned Christmas experience, head to the charming town of Morrow ... today! This whimsical little ranch is a hidden gem with much to offer. Charming holiday shops, wagon & train rides, bonfires, a bakery, and more can all be found on the beautifully decorated property. And, best of all, a portion of the proceeds here go to different charities.
Where: Pyramid Sculpture Park & Museum, Cincinnati
Enjoy a 2-mile roundtrip drive through the Sculpture Park's annual light display. The directors behind Luminosity and Blink have teamed with Pyramid Hill for a new and exciting show this year.
Where: Various Inns in Ohio's Amish Country
Let's face it, Christmas is also about delicious treats. Embrace it and get your cookie on with the Annual Christmas Cookie tour. Visit cozy bed and breakfasts and quaint inns in Amish Country. The two-day self guided tour is a delightful journey into the Christmas of yesteryear, complete with sweet treats! On top of that, you can participate in a raffle and even if you don't win, you'll leave with a souvenir guide and some delicious recipes. And, in the spirit of the season, all net proceeds will be donated to charity.
Where: Kings Island amusement park, near Cincinnati
Seeking holiday cheer with a bit of action? Look no further. Kings Island Winterfest has ice skating, Christmas carols, shops full of holiday trinkets and best of all, all of the snacks, treats and ales you can imbibe. Grab a hot chocolate at the Candy Cane Cafe and stroll the boulevard looking for Charlie Brown and Jack Frost. Take a horse drawn sleigh ride through the park or take in a show like Jingle Jazz or Blitzen's Brass Band. An evening at Winterfest will fill you with enough Christmas spirit to last all year long.
Take a holiday tour of the manor house at the Wildwood Preserve Metropark. In addition to seeing a beautiful historic house all decked out for the Christmas season, you can see a Model Train Exhibit, take a Carriage Ride, Ice Skate, enjoy s'mores, walk through a historic decorated Garden, and stroll the Holiday Lighted Trail. IN addition to the there are two Family Movie Days where you can watch holidays classics like "Elf" and "The Polar Express." Also, you can meet Santa, dine at a food truck, shop at a holiday pop-up shop, or donate hats, gloves or scarves to the county’s largest Mitten Tree.
Want to head off the beaten path? In the middle of the Geauga County woods, you'll find a little house where you can buy charming gifts and trinkets. Welcome to Ma & Pa's Gift Shack. During the holiday season, cuddle up for a Horse Drawn Sleigh Ride through snowy woods. Enjoy the shack's maple coffee with a homemade bakery treat. You'll feel transported to a simpler time when people made their own handicrafts and food, and you could only get somewhere as fast as your horse could go. Happy Holidays!