Clifton Mill Lights

clifton mill lights

We’re always looking for something fun and unique to bring a little extra to our holiday season. Last year we checked out the Conservatory Aglow and the Columbus Commons displays in Central Ohio. This season we headed to Western Ohio to visit the Clifton Mill Lights.

Clifton Mill Lights near Dayton, Ohio
The front of Clifton Mill. The Santa museum is at the far right of the photo.

Clifton Mill Lights

The Clifton Mill Lights are on right now and run through December 30. Most evenings, the display is open to the public from 6 to 9 p.m. You’ll want to check the website before you make the drive to check the hours for your date. Parking is free and admission is $10 per person for those ages four and up.

According to the website, the display offers four million lights and it takes six men three months to set the display. Parking is close and the grounds are not as extensive as others. This makes for an easy walking experience for children, seniors and those with disabilities.

All Aboard for Clifton Mill Lights

While the lights on the mill are impressive, my favorite part of the display is the model railroad. As you watch the train makes its way through the Christmas town, it’s clear they’ve thought of everything.

A large model railroad at Clifton Mill Lights in Ohio
Model railroad through a fully lit Christmas town.

The attention to detail at the drive-in movie theater is impressive. If you look closely, you can even spot teenagers climbing out of car trunks as they’ve snuck in! There’s also a football stadium, complete with TBDBITL performing script Ohio.

Drive-in theater in a model railroad Christmas town
The model railroad steams by the drive-in at Clifton Mill’s Christmas town.

Santa’s Coming to Town

Santa is, of course, on site. If you’re looking to snap pics of your kids on Santa’s lap, you’ll have to head to the mall. When Santa comes to the Clifton Mill lights, he’s there to work.

Santas from the past grace the displays at Clifton Mill's Santa museum.
This is just a small part of the Santa display at the on-site museum.

He has a workshop on site and children can gather around the windows to watch him work on the toys. Occasionally he looks up to wave and sometimes comes over to the windows to interact with the boys and girls. He also pops his head out of the chimney to wave to visitors.

Script Ohio is performed by the Ohio State Marching Band in the model railroad display.
The Ohio State University Marching Band performs script Ohio in the model railroad Christmas town.

There’s also a Santa museum at Clifton Mill lights. It’s included with admission and is the largest display of historic Santas that I have ever seen.

A Bite to Eat

The restaurant at Clifton Mill is open only for breakfast and lunch, closing at 2 p.m. We’d eaten before our visit, but we were hungry for a snack. We decided to stop at Young’s Jersey Dairy afterward. Their ice cream is delicious and our visits there are always interesting.

Christmas manger scene at Clifton Mill Lights.
The light display also includes a full size manger.

If you’re looking for more of a meal on your trip, I recommend you look into one of the small eateries in nearby Yellow Springs. I don’t think I’ve ever had a bad meal there.

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