On our first Thanksgiving after moving to Ohio five years ago we had a dilemma – with no relatives nearby we could either spend the day fixing a holiday spread or go exploring. We let our three kids, then ages 6 to 12, vote. It was unanimous – explore.
So we let the turkey marinate and headed to the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo.
If your family is looking to take advantage of the long holiday weekend consider spending part of your time finding a new favorite spot in the state. And hey, you can always pack leftover turkey sandwiches to eat on the road on your way to these locales.
In northeast Ohio? Head to the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
This became an instant tradition for our family. On Thanksgiving Day, the zoo opens its doors, offering free admission to everyone. The festive atmosphere helped us feel like we were surrounded by family – some visitors even donned turkey get ups (and yes, we have a turkey hat now). Even the animals seemed more active than when we visit during the summer months.
In northwest Ohio? Stop by the Toledo Museum of Art
While the Toledo Museum of Art isn’t open on Thanksgiving Day you can visit before and after – for free. The museum has activities just for families throughout the week. On Friday, November 27th, from 6–7 p.m. local dancers will be on hand to answer questions about ballet and to demonstrate a few moves for wannabe ballerinas. After, roam the rest of the museums over 30,000 works of art with your kids.
In central Ohio? Venture into Columbus’s German Village
Walking through the brick-lined streets of the German Village you can’t help but get in the holiday mood with decorations all around. When we visit our must-dos are a stop in Schmidt’s for a one-pound cream puff (we always split them) and The Book Loft.
In southwest Ohio? Fly away at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force
Dating back to 1923, this museum of all things flying is probably best known for historic aircraft like the Apollo 15 Command Module. Of course, your kids may be more impressed by the 360° Interactive Simulator. Riders choose their aircraft and then have at twists and turns – if you want to fly upside down, you can (maybe save this for a couple days after Thanksgiving). On the 21st, the museum has a family day full of activities going on from 9a.m.–3p.m. Free admission.
In southeast Ohio? Take a trip with Santa
Forget the sleigh – Santa travels by train. Climb aboard the historic Hocking Valley Scenic Railway and make your way from Nelsonville to Logan with the big guy in red. The roundtrip loop takes about two hours to complete. Daytime and night rides are available starting November 28th.