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house decorated all over in christmas lights at night in marietta ohio

5 Charming Towns that Go All Out for the Holidays

These towns are filled to the brim with holiday cheer!

Merry-Etta in Marietta

5 Charming Towns that Go All Out for the Holidays

By Meg Berno

Posted On: Nov 14, 2022

The holidays are on display in Ohio. You may already know big cities will be lit up - for example, the Scioto Mile in Columbus (which covers 175 acres of parkland around the downtown's Scioto River) will be decked out in holiday lights from Nov. 23 - Jan. 2. But what if we told you there are even more lights, traditions, and festivities to see off the beaten path?

These five charming towns are chock-full of holiday spirit, making them the perfect getaway this season. Take your pick from these holly, jolly Ohio towns that go all-out for Christmas!

North Pole Express train at the Northwest Ohio Railroad Preservation in findlay ohioPhoto credit: Visit Findlay, Facebook

Findlay

Things get more than a little festive in Findlay during the holidays. The town gets into the holiday spirit with a window decorating contest among downtown businesses, festive light displays, and luminaries line streets filled with stately homes decorated to the nines with yuletide cheer. 

Hop on board the North Pole Express at the Northwest Ohio Railroad Preservation for a magical trip through a winter wonderland of sparkling lights and festive decorations. During your ride try and count the Christmas Trees (warning: there are so many that you may lose track) – don't forget your camera for a photo op! 

Get nostalgic for yuletides of yesteryear at the Hancock Historical Museum's "Victorian Christmas Tea" event on Dec. 10 from 11AM - 1PM. Or swing by on Dec. 16 for their Classic Movie Night showing of 1942's The Man Who Came to Dinner (starring Bette Davis, Ann Sheridan, and Monty Woolley). 

If the theatre is more your holiday style, head to the Fort Findlay Playhouse for their performance of Irvings Berlin's White Christmas - the Musical on Dec.1-4, 8-11 & 15-18. On Dec. 17 (1PM, 3PM & 7PM), you can watch as a young girl - gifted a nutcracker for Christmas - battles an evil Mouse Queen, dreams of sweets, and dances through a snowstorm. The ballet, Masha and the Nutcracker is put on by the Marathon Center for the Performing Arts. You'll be fa-la-la-ing all the way home after a getaway to Findlay this season. 

Horse Drawn Carriage Parade and Christmas Festival in Lebanon Ohio

Lebanon 

Historic charm and holiday cheer abound in Lebanon. Known for its rich history and a great antiquing scene, the holidays truly bring out the best in this charming town. Their holiday marquee event, the Horse Drawn Carriage Parade and Christmas Festival on Dec. 3, is actually two parades this year! The daylight parade (1PM) will be followed by the traditional candlelight parade (7PM).

The town celebrates all season long with beautiful light displays, which you can check out at Christmas Tree Park. Just up the street is The Golden Lamb restaurant, perfect for that holiday meal or even a getaway. You can stay overnight at the historic spot, known for being Ohio's oldest continuously operating business. And what better way to celebrate the season than a stay in the same place A Christmas Carol author Charles Dickens once rested his head too. 

Bundle up the kids and hop aboard the Lebanon Mason Monroe Railroad (LM&M) for a train ride with Santa. Or head to the 1795 Beedle Log Cabin (part of Warren County Historical Society) on Dec. 10 & 17 from 10AM - 2PM for a free visit with Mr. and Mrs. Claus. There's so much so much fun to find in Lebanon this holiday season. 

house covered in christmas lights lit up at night in marietta ohio
Photo credit: Marietta Main Street, Facebook

Marietta

Create warm memories this holiday season in Marietta with their hometown holiday celebrations known as Merry-Etta. The small-town streets illuminate with holiday spirit during the season. Lampposts throughout downtown are decorated with pre-lit garlands, wreaths, big red bow, and gift tag. While you're there, feast your eyes on thousands of twinkling lights and a beautiful Christmas Tree in Armory Square which creates a perfect holiday picture.

Experience even more quintessential holiday charm on the Holiday Tree Walk. This seasonal attraction, which starts on Dec. 1 and runs all month long, leads you along a pathway of decorated trees in East Muskingum Park. If you're with the kids, head to the Gazebo on Dec. 3 (3PM), Dec. 11 (1-3PM), or Dec. 17 (3-5PM) for the Santa House. The (free) pop-up lets you visit with Kringle, take photos, and enjoy hot cocoa and cookies provided by area nonprofits. 

Still looking for more holiday fun the whole family can enjoy? Check out the annual pajama matinee of The Polar Express at Peoples Bank Theatre on Dec. 18 at 3PM. Or venture just outside of Marietta and check out the Belpre Holiday Lights. A holiday visit to Marietta and Washington County is one you and the family won't soon forget! 

pottersburg covered bridge in union county ohio decorated with christmas lights lit up at night
Photo credit: Marysville & Union County CVB

Marysville

Looking for holiday cheer? Find it in Marysville! You may have heard that Marysville (and Union County) is known for its covered bridges, but did you know they light up for the holidays? You can follow along on the Covered Bridge Trail to see all the Merry and Bright Bridges - like the Bigelow and Pottersburg Covered Bridge. Take the festivities home with you thanks to the Gingerbread Bridge Kit, inspired by the architectural treasures in the area.

On Dec. 4 (2-3PM), you can see the sights and sounds of the holiday during the Marysville Elks Christmas Parade. Or take to the silver screen at The Avalon Theatre. There are three classic holiday movies nights this season: White Christmas on Dec. 3 at 2PM, National Lampoons Christmas Vacation on Dec. 10 at 7PM, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas on Dec. 17 at 2PM. 

If staying active is your key to a good time, lace up your skates and try ice skating on Downtown Marysville's Iceless rink (and its free!). The Merry on Main Iceless Ice Skating is open on Dec. 10 from 2-8PM at Partners Park

gazebo covered in snow decorated for holidays with garland and giant chrismtas tree in background in willoughby ohio
Photo credit: The City of Willoughby, Facebook

Willoughby 

Northeast Ohio is brimming with charm - and none more then the town of Willoughby in Lake County during the holidays. Downtown Willoughby's Holiday Lighting Ceremony is on Dec. 1 (7PM), but you'll be able to stroll the streets and see seasonal sights all month long. On Dec. 3 from 9AM - 4PM, enjoy Miracle on Erie - a series of events at Willoughby Public Library that include holiday music, a visit from Santa, plus Hanukkah and Kwanzaa crafts. 

Let dreams of sweet treats dance through your head when you visit Penitentiary Glen Reservation. The nature center is bringing back its popular indoor attraction, Candy Land gone to the BIRDS! This experience, which runs from Nov. 19 - Jan 1, takes you through an enchanted wonderland while learning all about birds and birding.

For more holiday fun, head to nearby Kirtland for Lake Metroparks Farmpark's Country Lights Drive-Thru. The driveable light trail is open on Nov. 30, Dec. 1-4, 7-11 & 14-23 and you can also pre-purchase wooden toy kits with special toys to add to your holiday decroations this year. 

Ohio is home to several charming towns that go all out for the holidays, with parades, festivals, light displays, carriage rides, musical performances, and other fun festivities. If you want to feel like you're in your own holiday Hallmark movie, consider visiting one or more of Ohio's charming towns.

For more #HolidaysinOhio cheer, check out #OhioFindItHere at Ohio.org.

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