Christmas in Ohio

clifton mill Christmas

Tis the season in the Buckeye State, it’s Christmas in Ohio! There are so many wonderful things to see and do here that are great for enriching your holiday experience.

Perhaps you’ve been shut in with the kids (or grandkids) for too long? There are so many activities to get you out of the house! Out of town guests looking for something to do? You can show them why Ohio is a great place to visit!

Here are some of our favorite attractions during Christmas in Ohio.

Central Ohio

Starting in the Capital city, there are a number of amazing light displays. Some are free of charge (which is always a beautiful thing) and others have an admissions charge.

Probably my favorite lighting display in Columbus is downtown at Columbus Commons. It’s a public space in the city and completely free of charge. In addition to thousands of twinkling Christmas lights, the space features a stage with performances during the Christmas season and a carousel.

A decorated Christmas tree in the Ohio Statehouse during Christmas in Ohio.
Christmas at the Ohio Statehouse

Columbus Commons is walking distance to several restaurants, including the newly re-opened Spaghetti Warehouse. Parking is available on-street for free in the evenings, or for a small charge most nights in nearby garages.

If you begin your trip during the day, you can start with a visit to the Ohio Statehouse. Tours are always free and on the hour, though you’ll want to check the website for additional information. The Statehouse is alway elegantly decorated for the holiday season.

Also, near downtown Columbus, you’ll find Conservatory Aglow at the Franklin Park Conservatory. This one has a charge (it looks like adult admission is $26 this year), but it makes for a very nice visit.

A tunnel of Christmas lights at Conservatory Aglow in Columbus during Christmas in Ohio

For many in Central Ohio, visiting Christmas Corner and the nativity scene at State Auto on East Broad Street was an annual tradition. This year, however, the nativity as moved to St. Joseph’s Cathedral (also on East Broad Street). Early reports are that it looks right at home on the grounds of the Cathedral.

Southern Ohio

There are a number of beautiful light displays in Southern Ohio as well. Last year we visited Gallipolis in Lights at the city park. This display is completely free and quite extensive.

We spent about an hour walking around the displays and encountered Santa during our visit. It was definitely worth the drive!

If you’re traveling from Columbus or points further north, you should be sure to make a stop in Chillicothe. Shine on Chillicothe is set up in Yoctangee Park around the central bridge and pond. This one is free with free parking as well.

A portion of a Nativity scene in Columbus Ohio

Lastly, Portsmouth plays host to WinterFest. In addition to millions of twinkling lights, the Market Square area offers ice skating, snow tubing and carriage rides. While you’re there, be sure to take a look at the famous mural flood wall.

If you plan on making stops at any of these cities, there are plenty of dining options. My favorite pizza is at Jerry’s in Chillicothe, I’ve enjoyed delicious meals at Patties and Pints and The Scioto Ribber in Portsmouth and Tuscany in Gallipolis is a good stop for Italian food.

Western Ohio

One of my favorite light displays is at Clifton Mill in Clifton (not far from Dayton). The entire Mill is decked out in lights and it features a 100 foot waterfall of lights. You can stop by Santa’s toy shop to see him inside hard at work making toys. There’s also a miniature train set. My favorite pieces are the drive-in movies and the replica Ohio Stadium.

On-site is a Santa museum, with the largest collection of Santa toys, decorations and figurines that I’ve ever seen! They range from adorable to well, a little creepy, but it’s still an interesting display.

Ohio Holiday Lights Trail

We have plans to visit additional light displays this season, but for now this is the list of our favorites. Some of our must sees for the coming season include the Downtown Cleveland WinterLand and WinterFest at King’s Island near Cincinnati.

Check out the Ohio Holiday Lights Trail page on the state’s official tourism site for a comprehensive list of Ohio light displays. Make a checklist for you and your family and try to visit all of the Christmas in Ohio locations.


Thanks for FindingOhio with us today. Christmas in Ohio is a special time of year. Be sure to check back with us as we publish new articles every week. And, as always, we appreciate you sharing our content to your social media. We want everyone to know that Ohio is a special place to visit and live!