Holiday Bucket List 

The holidays are here, and there is no shortage of family activities to enjoy in our area. If you’re looking to add some Christmas fun to your month, here are some ideas to add to your family’s winter bucket list! 

Visit with Santa 

Santa is a busy guy — he has been spotted all over southwest Ohio! You’ll find Santa scuba diving all season long at the Newport Aquarium, or hanging out at the North Pole in Caesar Ford Park during ParkLights on Dec. 1. Meet and greet Woodland Santa on Dec. 17-18 at Yuletide Village: Season of Lights at Renaissance Park in Waynesville.

Delight in Christmas Lights 

See downtown streets transformed into an interactive, drive-thru light show with Dayton’s Downtown Jingle Lights, running through Jan. 1, 2022. At Coney Island, experience thousands of lights set to music with the drive-thru light show Christmas Nights of Lights. Or see Cincinnati Nature Center in a whole new light with Light in the Forest, happening all season long.  

winter break, Cincinnati

Enjoy a Nutcracker Performance 

The Nutcracker is a holiday tradition, and fortunately, there are many performances happening in our area. Watch Dayton Ballet remake this iconic classic from Dec. 10-19, or see The Nutcracker performed by Cincinnati Ballet alongside the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra on Dec. 16-26. For a fun twist on a classic, enjoy Dayton Live’s performance of The Hip Hop Nutcracker on Dec. 3. 

Cut Your Own Christmas Tree 

There’s something magical about picking the perfect Christmas tree with your family and cutting it down yourself! Around southwest Ohio, you’ll find Bartels Farm in Hamilton, Timberland Tree Farm in Lebanon, Koch Christmas Trees in Okeana, Big Tree Plantation in Morrow, and Corsi Tree Farm in Hamersville, among others. Many of these tree farms also have family activities to enjoy during the weekends, too. 

Go Ice Skating 

Bundle up and grab your skates! MetroParks Ice Rink in downtown Dayton is a great place to go ice skating and is open through February. (Bonus: The ice rink is sheltered under a covered pavilion.) Celebrate the last night of Hanukkah on Dec. 5 in downtown Cincinnati’s Fountain Square, where there will be ice skating, ice bumper cars and other outdoor fun.  

See the Holiday Trains 

Christmas and trains are the perfect match! Check out Holiday Junction featuring the Duke Energy Holiday Trains at Cincinnati Museum Center through Jan. 3, or Bill Schott’s Holiday Train Display at Highfield Discovery Garden through Jan. 9. Or experience the largest indoor train display at EnterTRAINment Junction’s Christmas at the Junction, running through Jan. 2. Want to take a ride on a real train? Then all aboard the North Pole Express during an hour-long train ride starting at LM & M Railroad in Lebanon. 

Watch a Merry Movie 

Holiday movies should be on every family’s bucket list! At The Neon in downtown Dayton, check out a family holiday movie on Dec. 4 (The Polar Express), Dec. 11 (A Christmas Story) and Dec. 18 (Jingle Jangle). Kids 12 and younger are free, and adults are only $2. 

Shop at a Holiday Market 

Find the perfect gift and help your local economy by shopping locally! You’ll find two great Cincy-area holiday markets this season with Findlay Market’s Holiday Market on Dec. 4-5, and The City Flea Holiday Market at Washington Park on Dec. 11.  

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