Winter Family Fun Illustration

Ohio Winter Fun: December Park Programs

’Tis the season for winter warmers for the whole family — check out these programs that will be sure to spark that little bit of extra holiday cheer.

This article ran in our December 2019 issue. Although many of these programs were repeated in December 2023, several of them may already have occurred. Make sure to check websites and social media before traveling.

Winter Warmers
It’s time to embrace the arrival of the snowy season. Check out these family-oriented outdoor and nature-related events happening this month at Ohio park systems. 

Dec. 1: Aullwood Winter Luminary Walk • Aullwood Garden MetroPark • Dayton 

Kick off the month with this evening walk through luminaria-lined pathways leading to the main house where visitors enjoy hot chocolate and cookies. 6–8:30 p.m.,

Dec. 2: Get to Know Your Trails • Side Cut Metropark • Toledo
Join a Toledo Metroparks naturalist on a hike highlighting the flora and fauna of this park along the Maumee River. Noon–1 p.m.,

Dec. 4: Preschool in the Gardens: Winter and Watercolor • Inniswood Metro Park • Westerville
Sip hot chocolate and create a winter watercolor, after taking a short walk for inspiration, of course (ages 3­–5). 11 a.m. & 1 p.m.,

Dec. 5: What’s Happening on the Farm • Possum Creek MetroPark • Dayton
Learn how life on the farm changes during the winter months, including how different animals adapt to the weather (ages 2–5). 10–11 a.m.,

Dec. 6: Winter in the Woodlands  California Woods Nature Preserve • Cincinnati
Enjoy a luminaria-lit trail on a self-guided walk through the forest at night. The festivities include cookie decorating and crafts. 6–8 p.m.,

Dec. 7: A Holiday Evening at Carriage Hill  Carriage Hill MetroPark • Dayton
Take a candlelit stroll through the farm and experience life as it was in the 1880s with holiday music, parlor games and more. 6–8:30 p.m.,

Dec. 8: Old-Fashioned Holiday • Vermilion River Reservation • Vermilion 
Experience an 1860s holiday, complete with costumed actors, horse-drawn carriage rides, hearthside cooking demonstrations, live holiday music and more. 2–6 p.m.,

Dec. 10: Winter Tree ID  West Creek Reservation • Parma 
Learn how to identify trees in the winter from a Cleveland Metroparks naturalist before taking a hike to test your new skills. 12:30–2 p.m.,

Dec. 11: Wildlife Folklore • Cascade Valley Metro Park • Akron 
Learn the truth behind wildlife myths (like the erroneous assertion that bats are blind) while hiking the Oxbow Trail. 2–3:30 p.m.,

Dec. 12: Full Cold Moon Hike • Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park • Galloway 
Take a stroll through 4 miles of forests and fields during the evening of a full moon. 5–8:30 p.m.,

Dec. 13: Seasons and Stories: Goodbye Autumn, Hello Winter • Rocky Fork Metro Park • Westerville
Gather for stories about animals and nature, followed by a 1-mile hike on a paved trail and warm drinks (ages 6 and under). 10 a.m.,

Dec. 14: Christmas in Ash Cave • Hocking Hills State Park • South Bloomingville
Enjoy a lighted walk to Ash Cave, followed by fireside refreshments, Christmas carolers and decorating a Christmas tree for wildlife. 5–7 p.m.,

Dec. 15: Ugly Holiday Sweater Hike • Wellington Reservation • Wellington
Wear an ugly, holiday-inspired sweater to get in the spirit of this Lorain County Metroparks hike. 1–3 p.m.,

Dec. 16: Bird Monitoring • Oakwoods Nature Preserve • Findlay
Birders of all skill levels are welcome to learn more about observing birds in their natural habitat. 9–11 a.m.,

Dec. 17: Preschoolers: Winter in the Woods • Blendon Woods Metro Park • Westerville
Gather at the Nature Center to learn the different ways animals survive winter: hibernation, migration and waiting it out (ages 3–6). 9 & 11:30 a.m.,

Dec. 19: Lantern Walk • F.A. Seiberling Nature Realm • Akron 
Enjoy a short, lantern-lit walk through the woods, followed by a campfire with hot chocolate and marshmallows. 6–7 p.m.,

Dec. 20: Kick Off the Holidays • Mill Stream Run Reservation • Strongsville 
Kick off the holidays at The Chalet with fun winter activities, including toboggan rides, crafts, a photo booth and prize wheel. 6–9 p.m.,

Dec. 21: John Glenn Astronomy Park • Hocking Hills State Park • Logan 
View the night sky in one of the few areas of Ohio where it can be seen in a near-pristine state. Open 24 hours,

Dec. 22: ’Tis the Season • Slate Run Living Historical Farm • Canal Winchester 
Celebrate the holiday season with a walk around the farm, as well as crafts like making an ornament and stringing popcorn. 1–3 p.m.,

Dec. 24: Christmas Eve Skate • RiverScape MetroPark • Dayton
Create a holiday tradition at this outdoor ice-skating rink that offers beautiful scenery, warming stations and hot chocolate. 11 a.m.–5 p.m.,

Dec. 25: Holiday Walk • Wildwood Preserve Metropark • Toledo
Celebrate Christmas Day with a peaceful walk in the woods, followed by sassafras tea in the Window on Wildlife. 3–4:30 p.m.,

Dec. 26: New Moon Lantern Stroll • Blendon Woods Metro Park • Westerville
Take a break from the hustle and bustle of the holiday season with a peaceful, lantern-illuminated hike through the forest. 5 p.m.,

Dec. 27: Humor Hike • Sand Run MetroPark • Akron
Laugh along with other hikers while walking Dogwood Trail during this trek featuring nature jokes and riddles. 1–2:30 p.m.,

Dec. 28: Stargazing • Stonelick State Park • Pleasant Plain
Take in the beauty of the night sky in winter through a variety of telescopes guided by volunteers from the Cincinnati Observatory. 6–11:45 p.m.,

Dec. 29: Coffee, Cocoa & Birds • Blendon Woods Metro Park • Westerville
Enjoy a cup of coffee or hot cocoa while watching birds through the Nature Center viewing window. 10 a.m.–2 p.m., 

Dec. 31: Christmas Bird Count • Glacier Ridge • Plain City
Join others in searching for birds to collect information for the National Audubon Society Christmas Bird Count. 8–11 a.m., 

Editor’s Note: Most activities listed are free, but some may require a small fee or advance registration. Further information about each of these events can be found at the websites listed. We advise confirming program dates and times haven’t changed before traveling. 

How to Get Tickets for the Polar Express: Both the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad and Dennison Railroad Depot Museum offer excursions based on author Chris Van Allsburg’s children’s book. But if you’re trying to secure tickets now, you’re may up with a lump of coal (although Dennison still had tickets as of mid-November). Your best bet is to buy a membership at your railroad of choice while we’re all still wearing shorts. Dennison railroad tickets go on sale to members May 1 and to the public July 1. Cuyahoga Valley railroad members at the “brakeman” level can buy tickets starting in September with sales opening to the public in early October. Those who volunteer 20 hours with the Cuyahoga Valley railroad also get the chance to buy early.,

Ohio Winter Fun: Sleigh Rides | Tobogganing, Tubing & Snowshoeing | Outdoor Ice-Skating | Christmas Tree Farms | December Park Programs