There’s no question the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium is a great stop for the whole family, especially when you need an excuse to get outdoors (yes, even when it’s cold) and get in the holiday spirit. The biggest reason to visit during this time of year is Wildlights. It’s hard to describe what it’s really like strolling along walkways surrounded by trees wrapped in millions and millions of lights – you just have to see it for yourself. You’ll be astonished by the sheer magnitude of the lights even as you drive over the hill into the parking lot. The Zoo is lit up like a beacon.
While Wildlights is great for the family, you can think of it for a romantic date night, too! It has all the elements of a perfect date: an activity to see and explore, beautiful scenery to take in – and despite its popularity, there are lots of quiet places to stroll in the Zoo. There’s no better way to get in the holiday spirit together than by gazing at all lights, huddled together on a chilly night with a cup of hot cocoa in hand!
You can start your evening nearby in downtown Powell with dinner, drinks, and dessert. You have your pick from Kraft House No. 5 and Local Roots, both restaurants serving comfort foods and a solid drink menu. You can even stop across the street at Jeni’s for dessert, or head up the road for beers at the new Ill Mannered Brewing.
After enjoying the tasty food and drinks in charming Powell, we were excited to go see the lights and the animals. Some animals are more active in the colder months, particularly in the North America and Arctic sections. We watched the wolves pacing, the polar bears romping in the water, and the big brown grizzlies – Brutus and Buckeye, they’re brothers – playing together as only siblings do. There’s something especially magical about seeing all the fun of the Zoo lit up by colorful lights throughout.
Every imaginable surface, every tree, every bush is twinkling.
You can of course stroll the Zoo arm-in-arm all night, or stop to warm up at any of the wood fires place throughout the Zoo, but a couple other activities you need to check out include:
1. Stop and watch the light show around the pond. Every 20 minutes there’s a coordinated music and light show. It lights up the whole pond, and shows you the full scope of the lights. You’ll see they don’t just twinkle, they move and dance, too!
2. Ride the train! We can never pass the opportunity to ride the train in North America. It’s the best $1 you’ll spend. The train takes you around and through North America. Grab a car to yourselves (they honestly don’t seat more than two people anyway) and hold hands while you ride. The train gives you a new perspective on the moose, the reindeer, plus wolves, bears, and birds.
For more holiday inspiration, Find It Here at Ohio.org.
(All photos courtesy of Grahm S. Jones, Columbus Zoo & Aquarium.)