'Tis the season for family and friends to gather in Ohio to reconnect and be thankful for the amazing people in our lives. If it’s up to you to plan some fun ways to celebrate, catch up with dear friends and create new memories, you have come to the right place!
Whether you want to share in the magic of your favorite holiday movies, the wonder of millions of twinkling lights, the peace of a horse-drawn sleigh ride, the amazing tastes of the season or the anticipation of New Year’s Eve, Ohio is truly your home for the holidays.
Don’t forget to share your adventures on social media with #HolidaysinOhio. Start by choosing a category below:
 

 


 

For Culture Buffs:

Ohio is a hotbed for arts and culture enthusiasts with luminary strolls through Ohio’s historic neighborhoods, exclusive exhibits at world-class art museums, awe-inspiring stage and musical performances that will send you into the night with a renewed holiday spirit. Following are just a few highlights to help you start planning:

  • Horse Drawn Sleigh Rides at Spiegel Grove, Dec. 26-31, Fremont
    • Gather your loved ones for a cozy sleigh ride fit for a president through the grounds of President Rutherford B. Hayes’ home, Spiegel Grove. Don’t miss the opportunity to explore the nation’s first Presidential Library during its centennial year. You will also want to be sure to take a turn engineering the multi-tiered, Victorian model train exhibit through its intricate holiday scenes.
  • Merry & Bright at the Franklin Park Conservatory, Now through Jan. 1, Columbus
    • Be amazed as you walk through the brilliant colors of the garden displays and the delightful gingerbread houses created to represent area landmarks at Franklin Park Conservatory, Columbus’ botanical landmark. After visiting the Conservatory, enjoy a signature sausage platter, spatzel, sauerkraut, noodles or a cream puff with a traditional German feast at Schmidt’s.
  • Columbus Museum of Art’s The Sun Placed in the Abyss, Now through Jan. 8, Columbus
    • Picture yourself soaking up the rays as you bask in this exhibit on the relationship between photography and the sun. After thinking warm thoughts, cozy up to a warm beverage or a slice of the decadent Hot Schokkolate Cake at the Schokko Art Café in the museum. Be sure to stop in the Museum Shop to peruse a wide range of unique, locally made gifts.
  • Dickens Victorian Village, Now through Jan. 2, Cambridge
    • Travel back to life in 1850s England with this unique walking tour, featuring more than 180 life-size figures depicting scenes from Dickens’ A Christmas Carol throughout the city’s historic streets. Each day includes the Courthouse Holiday Lights Show, during which the 1881-era building is bathed in thousands of lights synchronized to holiday music. During your visit, enjoy a sweet candy cane cookie or gingerbread treat from Cambridge landmark, Kennedy’s Bakery.
  • Akron Museum of Art’s Our Land Exhibit, Now through Feb. 12, Akron
    • This time of year, it’s important to give thanks not only for family and friends but also for the awe-inspiring nature found throughout the United States. Our Land displays photos of the majestic views found in our national parks. After a breath-taking glimpse at nature’s wonders, fill your heart with the spirit of the season with a visit to the 35th Annual Holiday Tree Festival from Nov. 19th to 27th.
  • A Whimsical Wonderland Holiday Show, Now through Jan. 8, Cincinnati
    • Krohn Conservatory, known for its stunning indoor and outdoor gardens, has a whimsical twist to this year’s holiday event, featuring poinsettias in unexpected colors – such as royal blue, lively orange and deep purple. While you’re there, take the family to an enchanting performance of A Christmas Carol at the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park or stop by for a warm meal, a pint of beer and panoramic views of Cincinnati in The Rookwood Bar & Restaurant.


      Photo Credit: Cincinnati Park Board

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For more events and activities for Culture Buffs or to refine your search by city or region, click here.
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For Foodies:

Palette pleasing adventures abound in Ohio, from elegant wine and food pairings to delectable desserts and everything in between. Foodies can nosh on some of the Midwest’s best meals or try a new taste with seasonal spirits and brews. With more than 200 wineries and an ever-growing number of microbreweries, there are ample opportunities to pick up a gift for your holiday meal host. Here are a few ideas to get your taste buds in the holiday spirit:

  • Holiday Wine and Food Pairing at Gervasi Vineyard, Dec. 7, Canton
    • Kick off your holidays with a tantalizing mix of exquisite wines paired with mouthwatering culinary creations at one of Ohio’s most picturesque wineries. Spend a romantic evening sampling wine or make a weekend of exploring the Vineyard’s lush landscape with a rejuvenating spa treatment or by relaxing fireside in Gervasi’s Villas suites. While you’re in town, don’t miss the Pro Football Hall of Fame just 10 minutes away! In addition to the Hall of Fame, you can find gifts for all the football fans in your life.


      Photo Credit: Gervasi Vineyard
       
  • Christmas Cookie Tour of Inns, Dec. 10 to 11, Holmes County
    • Don’t miss this two-day, self-guided tour of 12 quaint properties in Amish Country – ranging from the Guggisberg Swiss Inn in Charm, with its onsite winery, to The Barn Inn in Millersburg, known for its gourmet breakfast – with cookies and recipes at each stop. While you’re in Amish Country, explore the area’s shops filled with locally handcrafted quilts, furniture and antiques to find a gift for everyone on your list.


      Photo Credit: Holmes County Tourism Bureau
       
  • Brothers Drake Meadery Tours, Columbus
    • Grab your friends for a meadery tour to experience the passion of the team bringing this ancient form of beverages back to life. To immerse yourself in more frothy beverages, swing by the neighboring North High Brewing and Seventh Son Brewing Co. 
  • Holiday Dinner, Cocktail & Dessert Events at the Culinary Vegetable Institute, December 9 and 10, Milan
    • Innovative chefs hone their culinary skills at the Culinary Vegetable Institute, and you can reap the benefits of their knowledge and work during the holidays. Enjoy an elegant dinner of small plates paired with sumptuous cocktails created for the holiday season or indulge in a delectable dinner based on the 12 Days of Christmas. You can even try your hand at creating a holiday dessert with instruction from a master chef. 

 

Additional gastronomical inspiration is just a click away. Find more on Ohio’s food fun here, great brews here and wineries here.
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For Families:

Ohio embodies the wonder of the season and offers families every experience they might imagine and some they may not. Step into your favorite holiday movie at Castle Noel or A Christmas Story House, have an adventure on the Polar Express or get lost together in the twinkle of millions of lights. Following is a start for your holiday planning list:

  • Lights Before Christmas at the Toledo Zoo, Now through Dec. 31, Toledo
    • This holiday tradition will leave your family spellbound as you take in the Zoo’s dazzling lights, gaze at the 85-foot Christmas tree, see your favorite animals and sample delicious holiday cookies. Still want more lights? Grab your family and friends for more fun and merriment at the Maumee Holiday Light Parade on November 26.


Photo Credit: Andi Norman

  • Polar Express at Dennison Depot, Dec. 9 to 11, Dennison
    • Hop aboard the Polar Express for a classic adventure and timeless holiday tale. Leaving from the historic Dennison Depot, you will be magically transported to the North Pole to meet Santa Claus himself. Before taking off, fuel up for your mission with a warm bowl of spaghetti and meatballs or a piping hot pizza at Dennison Yard Italian Tavern. This scrumptious meal is sure to get everyone ready for the trip!​
  • A Christmas Story House, Cleveland
    • Movie buffs will love touring the home from the “you’ll-shoot-your-eye-out” classic, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary as a museum. Climb under the sink like little brother Randy, or decode a secret message in the upstairs bathroom like Ralphie. Don’t forget to pick up a souvenir leg lamp before you go! Take your holiday to the next level with a visit to Mr. Kringle’s Inventionasium at Tower City Center and let your imagination run wild as you help make a new toy.​

  • Castle Noel, Medina
    • Experience the holidays like a kid again! Guests can take in numerous experiences at this year-round holiday attraction, including the world’s largest collection of Hollywood Christmas movie props, or peer into the delightful holiday window displays seen at some of New York City’s legendary stores. You can even take a turn on the indoor slide just like Ralphie from A Christmas Story while snowflakes tumble down indoors! While in Medina, pick up an ambiance-setting gift at Root Candles, a fixture in the city since 1869.

Lebanon Horse Drawn Carriage Parade, Dec. 3

  • Legendary Lights of Clifton Mill, Now to Dec. 31, Clifton
    • If holiday lights are on your list this season, Clifton Mill is a must stop. Each hour the site goes completely dark before 3.5 million twinkling lights illuminate the historic mill and covered bridge, while holiday music slowly builds into booming song. Also, check out the onsite Santa Claus Museum, which houses more than 3,000 St. Nick artifacts dating back to 1850. Before making your way to the dazzling lights, breathe in the crisp air and let the stillness of nature in winter relax you with a hike through Clifton Gorge State Nature Preserve.
  • Ohio Chinese Lantern Festival, Now to Jan. 2, Columbus
    • Take in the brilliant colors and incredible artisan craftsmanship as you walk through this magical display at the Ohio Expo Center’s Ohio Department of Natural Resources Park. The entire family will be mesmerized to see how exquisite silk lanterns are created and as artists perform traditional Chinese dances and songs. If your family and friends are craving a new holiday experience, the Ohio Chinese Lantern Festival is just the ticket!


Photo Credit: Sichuan Tianyu Culture Communications Co.
 

 

  • Wildlights at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium,  Now to Jan. 1, Columbus
    • The grounds of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium transform into a colorful winter wonderland each holiday season – complete with millions of LED lights, animated musical lights shows, and plenty of animal exhibits. Before immersing yourself in bright lights, shop the charming stores of nearby Dublin to find the perfect gift for everyone on your list.


      Photo Credit: OSP Images
       
  • Fantasy of Lights at Alum Creek State Park, Now to Jan. 1, Delaware
    • Discover a world of shimmering lights at Alum Creek State Park Campgrounds as you snuggle up with your loved ones and drive through a wondrous landscape. Don’t forget to pick up a piping hot cup of hot chocolate! While you’re in Delaware, take in the wonders of the universe this holiday season at the Perkins Observatory (Check schedule in advance as programs may sell out.) You are sure to be amazed by the millions of lights across the night sky!            
       
For more holiday cheer for the entire family and to search by city or region, click here.
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For Shoppers:

Finding the perfect gift can warm your heart and be the perfect excuse to seek out (and enjoy) Ohio’s unique holiday shopping venues. From local artisans to once-a-year holiday markets, it’s easy to make a day of picking up gifts throughout the state. How about some alternative shopping at museum or zoo gift shops or some trend-setting neighborhood shops? Call some friends, don your shopping shoes and get ready for some serious fun! Check out these ideas to get you started:

  • The Candy Cane Christmas Shoppe, Archbold
    • If you’re looking for a unique gift or holiday décor, The Candy Cane Christmas Shoppe is the perfect place! This shoppers’ paradise boasts themed rooms including Bethlehem Corner (nativity scenes galore) and The Grand Christmas Room (more than 30 themed trees and related collectibles) – sure to invoke holiday cheer and inspire your shopping list. Don’t miss the Tea Room for homemade fudge samples.  For more shopping in the area, stop in at Sauder Village for Lauber’s General Store, Herb Shop, Blacksmith, Burlington Glass Works, Brush Creek Pottery and more!
  • Art Loop, Dec. 15, Toledo
    • Immerse yourself in the vibrant Toledo art scene as you explore the galleries, shops and art venues during Light Up Toledo!, a special edition of Art Loop. A monthly event held the third Thursday of each month, Art Loop appeals to all of your senses with scrumptious culinary adventures and soulful tunes as you view the newest art installations and watch artists working on their crafts. Pick up a gift for the art lovers in your family or grab a hot coffee at Flying Rhino Coffee along your tour.
  • Cottage Mart, Dec. 5 and 6, Akron
    • Shop a curated collection of handmade goods by local artisans to find one-of-a-kind gifts for the entire family. This holiday pop-up market appears for two days right in the heart of Winter Fest. Looking for a fun-filled family outing? Watch your kids’ faces light up as they take a spin on the Lock 3 ice skating rink, speed down the Reindeer Run Slide and make a fun craft with Santa and his helpers!
  • A Storybook Christmas, Now to Jan. 5, Zanesville
    • Enter a land of magic as Zanesville transforms into A Storybook Christmas! Shopping is a delight with amazing displays created by local businesses based upon their favorite tales. Your family and friends will be awestruck by the nightly Courthouse Light Show and entranced by the Visions of Sugar Plums Gingerbread House. Round out your shopping list with a visit to the shops of neighboring Dresden and New Concord.
  • Celebrate Local, Columbus and Liberty Township
    • This shop is your go-to market for all things celebrating Ohio. From artwork and clothing to edibles and unique home décor, pick up a gift that supports the work of Ohio artisans. Its two locations are right in the hub of major shopping and entertainment destinations at Easton Town Center and Liberty Center (in Cincinnati), so show your Ohio pride and shop to your heart’s content!
  • Over-The-Rhine, Cincinnati
    • Stroll this historic neighborhood steeped in German culture and classic architecture that is now a hot spot for shops and culinary delights. You’ll be amazed at the renaissance that has taken place in this area as you shop one-of-a-kind stores and try delicious food from both casual and upscale restaurants. Take a break from holiday shopping to hear engrossing tales of the neighborhood’s beer history while you tour underground brewery tunnels or savor a handcrafted cocktail and live music at Japp’s. ​ 
                         

 

For more opportunities to find the perfect gifts, click here.
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For Nature Lovers:

This time of year, Ohio becomes a winter wonderland for nature and outdoor enthusiasts. Enjoy the crisp winter air and perhaps a fresh coat of pure, white snow as you head outside for hikes and tobogganing or get your legs pumping with a holiday road race or skating session. Here are a few ideas to help you get started:

  • Santa Hustle 5K and Half Marathon, December 11, Cedar Point and Sandusky
    • Throw on your jolly red suit and join thousands of Santas as you jingle all the way through the streets of Sandusky and Cedar Point. This one-of-a-kind race is lined with candy cane and cookie stops and plenty of holiday tunes to set the pace. Carb load prerace with an amazing meal at The Brick Oven Bistro or unwind afterwards with a tour of Firelands Winery.


      Photo Credit: Adrenaline Sports Management
       
  • Maumee Bay New Year's Event Night Hike, December 31, Maumee
    • Bundle up and welcome the coming year in the calming presence of nature at Maumee Bay State Park. After an invigorating hike around the Bay that showcases Lake Erie, hikers can enjoy a cold seasonal brew while sharing tales of the trek at Maumee Bay Brewing Co..
  • Cleveland Metroparks Toboggan Chutes, Now to March 5, Strongsville
    • If traditional sledding isn’t enough for your group, try out the tallest and fastest toboggan chutes in Ohio. The 700-foot-long chutes propel riders at speeds up to 50 miles per hour! You are certain to have fun spending the day screaming and giggling all the way down these icy channels.


       
  • Glow at the Cleveland Botanical Garden, Now to December 31, Cleveland
    • Visitors will be dazzled by the lights wrapped in breathtaking greenery along with traditional Christmas fun including a Gingerbread Competition and a festive trip on the Garden Express train. Keep the glow going with a stroll through the artsy neighborhood of Cleveland’s Historic Little Italy afterwards. You’ll want to stop for an amazing meal or get some cannoli to go!
  • First Day of the Year Hike at Caesar Creek State Park, January 1, Waynesville
    • Start the year off on the right foot with a picturesque three-mile winter hike. Meet at the Nature Center at 1 p.m. for a naturalist-guided hike to the new Swinging Bridge and scenic Horseshoe Falls. You may be surprised by the wildlife you encounter while traversing woodlands, meadows and ravines. Take your camera to commemorate this bonding experience and remember the first day of 2017.
  • Winter at the Wilds, Now to March 31, New Concord
    • Experience the thrill of this one-of-a-kind safari with behind the scenes views of giraffes, rhinos and more! The Wilds is a conservation center that is home to rare and endangered species that roam and mingle together as temperatures allow. During winter, tours in a heated vehicle take you up close and personal with animals out on the range or in their winter homes. Turn your safari into a weekend getaway with unique lodging right on the property or cozy, luxury log cabins within a short driving distance. A Wilds package also makes an amazing gift for someone special in your life!


      Photo Credit: Grahm S. Jones
       
  • Decemburr Dash 5K, December 17, Columbus
    • Bundle up and rebel against the treadmill to brave the paths of Genoa Park for this fun and casual run/walk by the river. Head to the North Market for comfort food like Hot Chicken Takeover or just enjoy perusing the market’s unique merchants, sure to help you discover the perfect last-minute holiday gift or addition to you holiday meal.
  • Christmas in Ash Cave, December 10, Logan
    • Enjoy a chilly night hike in one of Hocking Hill’s most stunning caves! Let your lantern be your guide as you take the trail into Ash Cave, then snuggle up with your loved ones while sitting around the campfire and sampling hot chocolate and cookies. Joining in with carolers on holiday favorites and meeting Santa himself makes this a fun outing perfect for the whole family.


       
  • Christmas Bird Count at Dawes Arboretum, December 16, Newark
    • Get out your binoculars and help Ohio’s feathered friends by participating in the nation’s longest running citizen bird project. By participating in the bird count, you’ll identify bird species, enjoy a gorgeous winter landscape and help assess the health of bird populations that guide conservation efforts. With fewer leaves on the trees, this is a great opportunity for beginners to start their birding lists or introduce friends and young people to the fun and beauty of birding. While you’re there, reward yourself with a standout meal at Newark’s Bummie’s Pub & Grub.                      

 

Click here for more holiday outdoor adventures.
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For New Year’s Revelers:

Countdown the seconds to an exhilarating year ahead with celebrations taking place all over Ohio. Ring in 2017 in new and distinctive ways, kicking the year off with an original experience that will set the tone for your best year yet. Family-friendly festivities, stylish galas and more make Ohio the place for celebration:

  • Walleye Madness, Dec. 31, Port Clinton
    • Forget Times Square’s glittering ball drop and head to the tiny lakeside town of Port Clinton, where the locals drop a 20-foot-long, 600-pound walleye from the sky at the stroke of midnight. Known as the “Walleye Capital of the World,” the town celebrates with all things fishy. Expand your palate by sampling everything walleye from walleye chowder and walleye cinnamon chips, to walleye popcorn and even walleye wine.
  • New Year’s Eve Toledo, Dec. 31, Toledo
    • Send out 2016 and welcome in the New Year with a grand celebration! As anticipation for midnight builds, enjoy live music, fun photo booths and a lavish dinner. Grab a glass of delectable champagne and toast your friends as you watch the New Year’s Eve balloon drop. After a night on the town, dive into a mouthwatering brunch on New Year’s Day at local favorite, Glass City Café.
  • Cleveland Pops’ 21st Annual New Year’s Eve Celebration, Dec. 31, Cleveland
    • Ring in the New Year with a rousing performance by the Cleveland Pops. Join in as the orchestra plays an exhilarating melody of Broadway classics, soulful jazz and contemporary pop songs with vocalist Melinda Doolittle. Following the program, dance in the New Year with additional dance and rock n’ roll performances in Severance Hall. The next morning, saddle up with your friends and get your blood pumping as you traverse the countryside during a New Year's Day bike ride.
  • New Year’s Eve Gala Aboard the Nautica Queen, Dec. 31, Cleveland
    • Celebrate an evening of music, food and fun as you cruise down the Cuyahoga or on Lake Erie under historic bridges and check out your favorite sights. Have other plans for New Year’s Eve? Book passage on the Nautica Queen’s “Noon” Year’s Eve for an early countdown with all of the same excitement!
  • New Year’s Eve Blast on Fountain Square, Dec. 31, Cincinnati
    • Kick off the New Year with a bang! Start your day by taking a few spins on the Fountain Square ice rink before grabbing a tasty treat from local food trucks, getting goofy with games and dance contests, or listening to live music. Wrap up the evening with fireworks, as they light up the night sky and welcome in the New Year.


       
  • New Year’s Eve: American Vistas, Dec. 31, Dayton
    • Immerse yourself in the arts world as the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra, Opera and Ballet combine forces to celebrate the New Year with a feast for your senses. Sample delicious appetizers and treats before heading into a performance that is sure to delight! The performance ends at 10 p.m. with a balloon drop so you have plenty of time to head to nearby bar Century for a New Year’s toast.


      Photo Credit: Dayton Performing Arts Alliance
       
  • New Year’s Eve Train & Fireworks, Dec. 31, Nelsonville
    • Close the book on 2016 with a unique, two-hour train ride through the hills of southeastern Ohio, including the best seat in the house for a fireworks display welcoming 2017. Fill up with delicious food options including “pizza & pop” (perfect for those with little ones) or the separately housed “wine & cheese” (for adults).
  • New Year’s Eve Popcorn Pop-n-Drop, Dec. 31, Marion
    • Marion pays homage to its snack food history with the annual New Year’s Eve Popcorn Pop-n-Drop, featuring a countdown that ends with dropping a huge, illuminated popcorn ball from the sky at midnight. The free event also includes an entrancing fireworks display and other family fun, including hot chocolate and – of course – lots of popcorn.
  • First Night Columbus, Dec. 31, Columbus
    • End 2016 in spectacular fashion as you come together for one last spectacular celebration! This event is perfect for the entire family with live entertainment and games before the sky lights up with fireworks. Grab your tickets now!
                  
For more New Year’s countdown celebrations, click here.
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