7 Hallmark-worthy holiday activities to do in Ohio

You don’t have to leave home to pretend you live in one of those picturesque Hallmark holiday movie towns.

As the Christmas season approaches, plan out your perfect holiday season with light displays, horse-drawn carriage rides and lantern tours. Here are seven activities in Ohio that will put you in the holiday spirit:

>> 7 of our favorite holiday traditions

1. The Historic Clifton Mill

The historic Clifton mill, built in 1802 and still working, will open its Legendary Lights on Black Friday. Unlike other lighting festivals where the lights are already on when you arrive, Clifton Mill stages a dramatic opening where people who arrive at 6 p.m. get to see all four million lights turn on at once, producing a Fourth of July-like “ooh and aah” moment.

» WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: The best holiday light displays in Southwest Ohio

The lights themselves cover Clifton Mill's scenic attributes, including the mill, a covered bridge, cliffs and riverbanks. There's also a synchronized light show to the music of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra's "Christmas in Sarajevo." READ MORE

Credit: Tom Gilliam

Credit: Tom Gilliam

2. A Christmas Story House

Take a drive three hours northeast of Dayton and you'll find the house used for the Parker family home's exterior shots in the 1983 classic holiday film, A Christmas Story, located in Cleveland's historic Tremont neighborhood. The "A Christmas Story House" and museum are open year round 7 days a week (except major holidays). Extended hours are offered during November and December. Both the "A Christmas Story House" and "The Bumpus House", fictional home to Raphie's neighbors, the Bumpuses, are open for overnight stays. READ MORE

3. Lebanon Horse-Drawn Carriage Parade

"It started out with one parade in the evening, and it began with 13 horses and carriages, and ever since then, we've made it so we have horses, carriages and wagons, but no riders on horseback. So, that's what makes us unique. We're an all-carriage, wagon and cart parade." The free, family-friendly event always takes place the first Saturday of December. Up to 124 carriages have been part of the event in the past. READ MORE

4. Holiday Lantern Tours at Sauder Village

Sauder Village in Archbold, Ohio, gives visitors a taste of yuletides of yesteryear. The lantern-lit holiday trolley tour begins at Witmer-Roth Home circa 1850. Step back in time as you learn to prepare historic holiday food recipes and make festive crafts. Then transport to the 1920s where you'll even help decorate a tree and frost cookies in the kitchen. Spaces are limited: register online or call 800-590-9755.

5. Dickens Victorian Village

Experience old-world England in historic downtown Cambridge, Ohio. It is charmingly transformed into a Dickens Victorian Village each holiday season. The 92 Dickens Victorian Village scenes features life-sized and hand-made mannequins wearing real vintage clothing. The faces for each character are individually sculpted and painted by local artists.

6. The Christmas Ranch

The Christmas Ranch, located in Morrow, is an indoor and outdoor experience with seven heated buildings in the village area. The ranch has an expansive light display, animals, train and wagon rides, Christmas shops, Santa's bakery and cafe, and a bonfire. The Christmas Ranch stays open until Dec. 23, and will be closed on Thanksgiving. Admission is $20 per car, and parking is free. READ MORE

7. Hayes Home Holidays

“Tour the historic Hayes Home in the evening and discover the holiday traditions of President Rutherford and First Lady Lucy Hayes during a unique new holiday event at the Hayes Presidential Library & Museums. Costumed greeters will welcome guests into the home in the evening, a time the house is not usually open for tours. Visitors will tour the home and learn about the Hayes family’s Christmas and New Year’s traditions, as well as celebrations for President Rutherford and First Lady Lucy Hayes’ wedding anniversary, which was Dec. 30.”

Hayes Home Holidays will run Dec. 20-22, 2019, from 5-8 p.m. Guests will enjoy some wassail, a non-alcoholic drink that was served during the Hayeses' day. READ MORE

About the Author