The Best Winter Activities in Columbus, Ohio 2024

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Wildlights at the Columbus Zoo

Winter may not be everyone’s favorite time of year, but you can still find plenty to do to keep you busy. Whether you love holiday lights displays, fantastic art, stand-up comedy, music, or even beer, Columbus, Ohio has got you covered.

While the winter weather isn’t always awesome, there are plenty of things to do to keep you warm and toasty all season long. These great winter activities in Columbus, Ohio will surely make your season joyful and full of fun.

The Best Winter Activities in Columbus, Ohio

Columbus is growing like crazy and is actually the 14th largest city in the United States. While the city’s midwestern location might not be what you’re after for a winter vacation, it shouldn’t be overlooked. I promise…winter in Columbus can be fun!

Here’s a look at some of the best things to do in Columbus, Ohio in winter.

Franklin Park Conservatory

Franklin Park Conservatory is a great place to visit during the winter. You’ll find lots to see, from gorgeous flower displays to Chihuly glass to light displays. There are also classes offered throughout the winter, including gardening, culinary arts, crafting, and more.

Conservatory Aglow at the Franklin Park Conservatory is a fantastic light display in Columbus. From November to January, you can check out an exhibition by Dale Chihuly and an interactive light sculpture by Jen Lewin, plus holiday favorites like the poinsettia trees, rainbow tunnel, and the gingerbread competition. This year, you’ll also find a Candyland display with a life-sized gingerbread house, plus a fantastic train display.

Here’s some of what’s happening at Franklin Park Conservatory this winter:

  • Holiday Blooms: TBD
  • Cocktails at the Conservatory: December 7, 2023
  • Paul Busse Garden Railway: June 3, 2023 to January 7, 2024
  • Conservatory Aglow: TBD
  • Community Days (free admission for Columbus and Franklin County residents): November 5, 2023, December 3, 2023, January 7, 2024, February 4, 2024.

Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

There’s lots to do at the Columbus Zoo in winter. Check out these wintertime activities to stay warm all season long.

  • Wildlights 2023: Daily from November 17, 2023 through January 7, 2024
  • Sensory Friendly Lights Stroll and Santa Experience: November 14, 2023
  • Sensory Friendly Santa Experience: November 14, 2023 and December 10, 2023
  • Zoo Year’s Eve: December 31, 2023

Wildlights is one of my favorite winter activities in Columbus, Ohio. The zoo is transformed into a magical winter wonderland every evening (except Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day). Bundle up and grab a hot chocolate to explore the zoo under the glow of millions of lights.

Winter Activities in Columbus Ohio - Wildlights at the Columbus Zoo
One of my favorite winter activities in Columbus, Ohio is Wildlights at the Columbus Zoo.

Segway Holiday Lights Tour

For a fun evening activity, why not take a segway tour that explores the beautiful holiday lights displays around downtown Columbus? You’ll even get to listen to holiday music during your tour. Tickets are available here.

Location: 400 North High Street, Columbus

Dates: November 25 to December 23, 2023

Keep Reading: Christmas in Columbus, Ohio (Lights, Activities, Concerts, Shopping)

Dine In An Igloo at VASO

Since it’s cold in Columbus in winter, you might as well embrace it by dining in an igloo. Yes, that’s right, you can enjoy tapas and cocktails from a heated igloo at VASO, a trendy rooftop bar in the trendy Bridge Park section of Dublin. Each igloo has fur-covered seats and blankets to make your experience cozy and fantastic.

igloo at VASO Dublin Ohio
Image Credit: VASO

Columbus Museum of Art

If you want something to do on a cold Columbus winter afternoon, check out the fantastic Columbus Museum of Art. The museum features permanent collections, special exhibitions, and many special events and programs throughout the year.

Check out these special events and exhibitions this winter in Columbus:

  • Sara Rosalena – In All Directions: September 9, 2023, through February 4, 2024
  • Accra! The Rise of a Global Art Community: October 6, 2023, to January 28, 2024
  • Quilting a Future – Contemporary Quilts and American Tradition: October 6, 2023 to January 28, 2024

Short North Gallery Hop

The Short North Gallery Hop happens on the first Saturday of every month. This Columbus tradition includes gallery exhibitions, performers, music, food, and drink. Don’t miss this year’s Holiday Hop, which takes place on December 2, 2023. This holiday-themed Gallery Hop is the biggest Hop of the year!


COSI is one of the best places to take your kids in the winter in Columbus. You can spend the day exploring the cool exhibits, watching a movie in the Giant Screen Theater, or checking out the Planetarium.

Check out some of the current and limited-time exhibits:

  • Creatures of Light: Nature’s Bioluminescence: Opens October 14, 2023
  • Barbie You Can Be Anything: The Experience: Opens October 24, 2023
Winter activities in Columbus Ohio - COSI
COSI is a great place to take kids in winter in Columbus!

Funny Bone Comedy Club

Take a break from the cold and head to the Funny Bone Comedy Club at Easton Town Center to have some fun. You’ll find great stand-up comedy and a full-service restaurant, making it a great stop for date night.

Here’s just some of what’s coming up this winter at the Funny Bone:

  • Morgan Jay: November 1, 2023
  • Phil Hanley: November 2, 2023
  • Anjelah Johnson: November 3 to 4, 2023
  • Majah Hype: November 5, 2023
  • Steve Hofstetter: November 6 to 7, 2023
  • Gary Owen: November 9 to 12, 2023
  • Kevin James Thornton: November 15, 2023
  • Sommore: November 24 to 26, 2023
  • John Morgan: December 1 to 3, 2023
  • Greg Warren: December 8 to 10, 2023
  • Dustin Nickerson: December 13, 2023
  • Ryan O’Flanagan: December 14, 2023
  • Dale Jones: December 15 to 17, 2023
  • JP Sears: December 22 to 23, 2023
  • Rob Little: December 19 to 30, 2023
  • Ashley Gavin: January 5 to 6, 2024
  • Josh Blue: January 18 to 20, 2024
  • Steph Tolev: January 21, 2024
  • Ismo: January 4, 2024
  • Jeff Arcuri: February 23 to 24, 2024

Read More: If you’re looking to get away for a day or 2, check out these awesome day trips that are all within a 2-hour drive of Columbus.

Columbus, Ohio Winter Events and Festivals in 2023-2024

Check out these fun festivals and events this winter in Columbus, Ohio.

Ohio-Made Market

This fun holiday shopping event features over 80 independent makers and businesses that are all based in Ohio. You’ll find home decor, clothing, crafts, and gifts. Tickets are available online or at the door.

  • When: November 17 to 18, 2023
  • Where: Hollywood Casino, 200 Georgesville Road

Columbus Winterfair

Winterfair! is an event featuring artists from all over the country where you can shop for jewelry, crafts, art, food, gifts, and more.

  • When: December 1 to 3, 2023
  • Where: Multipurpose Building | Ohio State Fairgrounds

Short North Holiday Hop

The Short North Holiday Hop is a holiday-themed gallery hop featuring exhibitions, performers, music, food, and drink!

  • When:  December 2, 2023
  • Where: Short North Arts District

Winterfest Columbus

Winterfest Columbus is a free festival that features local craft beers and cocktails, live music, Columbus food trucks, and winter fun for the whole family.

  • When: December 2, 2033
  • Where: Dorrian Green | 50 S. Belle St.

Jurassic Quest

Jurassic Quest is an interactive experience with photorealistic dinosaurs. This family-friendly event also includes themed rides, dinosaur shows, fossils, photo opportunities, a play area just for little kids, and so much more.

  • When: January 19-21, 2024
  • Where: Ohio Expo Center, Bricker Building

Columbus Winter Carnival

Columbus Winter Carnival is an indoor, family-friendly carnival featuring character meet-and-greets, games, food, and live entertainment.

  • When: February 3, 2024
  • Where: Franklin County Fairgrounds

Columbus Dispatch Home and Garden Show

This Home and Garden Show is a week-long event that features indoor gardens, home renovation vendors, demonstrations, and more.

  • When: February 17-25, 2024
  • Where: Ohio Expo Center

Columbus Winter Wine Festival

The Columbus Winter Wine Festival includes wine tasting and live entertainment.

  • When: February 24, 2024
  • Where: Brew Master’s Gate | 495 South Front Street

Arnold Sports Festival

A classic Columbus festival, the Arnold Sports Festival showcases physique and strength sports.

  • When: February 29 to March 3, 2024
  • Where: Columbus Convention Center

Visiting Columbus during a different time of year? Check out these guides to Columbus in every season:

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Chrysa

    So many fun options! I like the idea of staying warm in the comedy club.

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