A Winter Wonderland: Seasonal Activities Around Columbus

Brighten your winter days in Columbus with some of the area’s best holiday attractions and activities.

Columbus in the winter

Conservatory Aglow

Step into a festive winter wonderland at Franklin Park Conservatory. The outdoor gardens glow with gorgeous, themed light displays, including a rainbow light tunnel, larger-than-life ornament trees and a gingerbread house. Head inside to see illuminated glass installations by Dale Chihuly while you listen to music and sip refreshments.


Enjoy one of Central Ohio’s treasured traditions. The holiday season comes to life with millions of LED lights, musical light shows and yuletide festivities at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. Ride on the Polar Bear Express, visit Santa and take a spin on the carousel.

Butch Bando’s Fantasy of Lights

This three-mile drive-through light show has been lighting up Alum Creek State Park Campground for more than 20 years. Butch Bando’s light display is open Sunday through Thursday, from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. The light shows are choreographed to a radio station so you can enjoy an immersive experience.

Holiday Bricktacular

Even LEGOLAND Discovery Center Columbus is celebrating the most wonderful time of the. Try your hand at holiday-themed games and activities, visit LEGO Santa and the Gingerbread Man and find hidden candy canes to unlock special prizes.

The Nutcracker

The holiday classic returns to the Ohio Theatre. The Balletmet troupe brings Clara, the Nutcracker Prince and the Mouse King to life in a fantastical display of dance, music and magic. The show runs on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays through Christmas Eve.

Winter Art Breaks

The Columbus Museum of Art hosts family-friendly seasonal crafting sessions through the end of December. Activities last from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and are included with the cost of admission.

Mad River Mountain and Snow Trails

Downhill skiers, snowboarders and snow tubers will find plenty of fresh powder at Mad River Mountain. The resort is just an hour outside Columbus and has 20 trails of varying difficulty. Snow Trails ski resort has 17 trails with several runs for beginners.

Franklin County Metro Parks

Enjoy outdoor winter activities closer to home at one of Columbus’s 20 natural area parks.

Cross-country skiing:

  • Battelle Darby Creek
  • Blendon Woods
  • Glacier Ridge
  • Highbanks
  • Prairie Oaks

Ice skating:

  • Battelle Darby Creek
  • Blendon Woods


  • Battelle Darby Creek
  • Blacklick Woods
  • Highbanks
  • Scioto Audubon
  • Scioto Grove
  • Sharon Woods
  • Walnut Woods

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