Winter Central Ohio

14 Awesome Winter Things to Do in Central Ohio for All Ages

No matter what you’re in the mood to do in the winter in Ohio, you’ll find plenty of offerings. When it comes to winter things to do in Central Ohio, you have tons of choices.

The region from Columbus through the middle of the state keeps the winter months packed with fun activities, such as holiday concerts, holiday light displays, and conservatory exhibits.

Winter Things to Do in Columbus Ohio

Get Some Culture at the Russian Winter Festival

If you love the arts, you have to make time to visit the Russian Winter Festival in Columbus. This event lasts for two days in January and kicks off the season for the Columbus Symphony.

Each year, the symphony performs several concerts by Russian composers, from Tschaikovsky to Mussorgsky, Rachmaninoff, and Stravinsky. It’s a great chance to hear some music that isn’t as popularly performed and to learn about the grand tradition of Russian classical music.

Visit the Franklin Park Conservatory

The Franklin Park Conservatory is a must-visit during the winter months when the dropping temperatures and quiet snow offer a fascinating new perspective. There are regular special events through the winter, such as Conservatory Aglow, when visitors can enjoy dazzling light displays on the grounds.

Also, there are limited-time special exhibitions, like interactive light shows, poinsettias, and a rainbow tunnel. Around the holidays, you’ll find a gingerbread competition and a life-size gingerbread house too.

Franklin Park Conservatory, Columbus - Winter Central Ohio
Franklin Park Conservatory | photo via @doorstar

Grab a Drink at the Winter Beerfest

There’s nothing better to chase away the winter blues than a drink with friends. Adults will enjoy this annual festival, which showcases the best local craft beers. The scale of the event is simply enormous, with more than 130 breweries taking part every year.

Prepare ahead of time because you need to buy tickets to get into the event. If you buy entry into the Connoisseur Reception, you’ll even have the chance to sample delicious appetizers and leave with some souvenirs!

Winter Things to Do in Dublin Ohio

Hike Some Frozen Waterfalls

Dublin is surrounded by many amazing parks and hiking trails that draw visitors throughout the warmer times of the year. But astonishingly, the hikes and outdoor activities don’t stop when the snow starts to fall.

During this time of the year, visitors have the chance to see unique sights, like frozen waterfalls. Hayden Falls and Indian Run Falls are some of the most popular, with breathtaking icicle displays and the opportunity to explore some sides of the falls that aren’t usually accessible.

However, there are many beautiful waterfalls in Ohio, some of which are in Dublin and other parts of Central Ohio. We can think of nearly 50!

Hayden Falls, Dublin - Winter Central Ohio
Hayden Falls | photo via @timtellermd

Go Ice Skating

It goes without saying that ice skating is an unmissable winter experience, but most people have never had the chance to do it outside under a crisp December sky! Riverside Crossing Park in Dublin gets the season started in mid-December with its outdoor ice skating rink.

Visitors have the chance to visit until spring thaw in March. During this time, you can join in the fun every weekend from Friday to Sunday. There’s an admission fee for all skaters, though you can either rent equipment or bring your own.

Go on a Polar Hike

If you love the outdoors, winter is the time to grab your warmest jacket and brave the cold in Dublin. These weekly hikes change locations to each of Dublin’s best nature parks and are a great way to get some exercise and meet new friends.

The event series is sponsored by the Dublin Community Recreation Center. For four weeks, participants are invited to come together for a 2-mile to 3-mile hike to enjoy the brisk air, unique wildlife, and stunning scenery. Afterward, everyone is welcome to warm up with a hot snack or beverage.

If you want to expand your adventure, check out the many other things to do in Dublin Ohio too!

Winter Things to Do in Grove City Ohio

Visit Some Wild Bison

You’ve probably visited a city park before, but you probably haven’t been to one where you could view wild bison! At Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park in Grove City, visitors have the chance to see the bison up close and marvel at their size (and their resistance to the cold weather!).

The rest of the park is worth exploring, too, including the 14,000-square-foot nature center that includes a “living stream” flowing from the outdoors. There are also hundreds of exhibits, many of which are interactive.

Zoomers Skate Club, Marion - Winter Central Ohio
Zoomers Skate Club | photo via @angierinehart__

Try to Spot an Owl on a Full Moon Hike

Going on a winter hike is one thing — but what about going on a winter hike at night? The snow and falling temperatures offer the chance to spot new and unusual wildlife, including owls. In Grove City, you’ll have the chance to go on a Full Moon Hike.

These hikes take place at Fryer Park and use the light from the full moon and bright snow to look for these gorgeous nocturnal birds. Fryer Park is a popular attraction for bird-watching at any time of day, offering glimpses of cardinals, blue jays, and other winter birds.

Compete in a Citywide Nutcracker Hunt

If you love scavenger hunts and solving puzzles, participate in the annual Nutcracker Hunt that Grove City hosts every December. You can hunt for the nutcrackers at your own pace, uploading photos with a special hashtag whenever you find one.

But, it might be more of a challenge than you think. The nearly 50 nutcrackers are hidden throughout the city at government buildings, historical structures, and local businesses.

Winter Things to Do in Mt. Vernon Ohio

Get in the Holiday Spirit at the Festival of Lights

There’s nothing better than a holiday light display, and Mt. Vernon really gets into the spirit of the season with its annual Festival of Lights. In recent years, the city has added a residential holiday light competition to its light trail.

The light displays form a trail throughout residential parts of town, as well as the city center, where you’ll find other events taking place — and plenty of holiday shopping! Get into the spirit of the season while sipping something warm from a local coffee shop and listening to Christmas music.

Festival of Lights, Mt. Vernon - Winter Central Ohio
Festival of Lights | photo via Sherrie Toth

Wander the Gingerbread Forest

Gingerbread is an essential part of Christmas, but you’ve never seen it like this before. The Gingerbread Forest event in downtown Mt. Vernon features countless life-size gingerbread figures sponsored by local businesses.

Visitors are welcome to wander the gingerbread crowd, which includes four life-size gingerbread playhouses built by the local Habitat for Humanity chapter. These playhouses are donated to local families at the end of the season, showcasing the community support that thrives in Mt. Vernon.

More Winter Things to Do in Central Ohio

Explore the Winter Wonderland Holiday Shopping Bazaar in Hilliard

The early days of winter mean that the holidays are coming and that it’s time to shop for gifts! If you’re in Hilliard in mid-December, stop into the Winter Wonderland Holiday Shopping Bazaar. This annual event features goods from local artists and craftsmen.

You’ll find everything here from delicious homemade treats to textiles, decorations, and much more. Of course, there are also food trucks on site for when you’re done shopping. This is the perfect way to shop local and find one-of-a-kind holiday gifts!

Winter Wonderland Holiday Shopping Bazaar, Hilliard - Winter Central Ohio
Winter Wonderland Holiday Shopping Bazaar | photo via @teenasfarmcharm

Skate at Night With Your Valentine in Marion

Winter season events in Central Ohio don’t stop after the New Year. In Marion, Valentines are welcome at the Zoomers Skate Club for a nighttime skate event. The event runs from 7 p.m. until midnight and includes food, beverages, and skate rentals.

Bear in mind that alcohol will be served at the event, so it’s only open to attendees 21 years and older. All persons must bring a valid ID. 

Celebrate the New Year With a Glass Town Countdown in Lancaster

You’ve heard of the “ball dropping” on New Year’s Eve, but have you ever heard of a glass ball drop? This event is a nod to Lancaster’s history in glassmaking, and visitors are welcome to stop at the Ohio Glass Museum and Glassblowing Studio as well.

The Glass Town Countdown takes place in downtown Lancaster and features plenty of fun, food, and other outdoor winter activities before the glass ball drop at midnight. The glass ball is made right in Lancaster every year. The celebration wraps up with a midnight fireworks show!

Glass Town Countdown, Lancaster - Winter Central Ohio
Glass Town Countdown | photo via @davidwachholz

Frequently Asked Questions About Winter Things to Do in Central Ohio

What can kids do in the winter in Ohio?

Parents might understandably be anxious about occupying their kids in winter in Ohio. But there are countless fun winter activities in central Ohio for all ages.

From outdoor educational programs about native animals to festive parties with Santa and interactive exhibits at museums, Central Ohio has everything you need to keep your kids busy when snow is on the ground.

What is there to do in January in Central Ohio?

January is often a time of the winter blues when energy and activities lag after the holidays. Luckily, there are still plenty of January festivals and events throughout Ohio to keep the doldrums at bay.

In Central Ohio, you’ll find concerts, indoor attractions, beer festivals, and much more going on throughout the month of January.

Finding Winter Things to Do in Central Ohio

In the age of the internet, finding the best winter things to do in Central Ohio is just a few clicks away! This guide is a great starting point to find all the activities that you just can’t miss in Central Ohio this year. Plus, there are even more winter things to do across the Buckeye State.

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