Christmastime in Columbus

Today has been crummy (emotionally tough, to be more specific), so I want to take tonight to talk about something light-hearted and not related to running: Christmastime in Columbus.

This year is obviously something else, with the mask mandates, capacity limits and a few places being closed down. I’ve seen a few pictures on Instagram of the lights downtown at Columbus Commons, and they look bright and festive, but overall it just doesn’t feel the same this time around.

So to feel better and because I enjoy talking about Columbus, I’m going to show you all some of my favorite sites around the city during the holiday season in years past. A little nostalgia can’t hurt, can it?

Easton Town Center

The main Christmas tree at Easton, with Smith & Wollensky in the background.

For a long time, Easton intimidated me. Hear me out. There’s an open-air shopping center not too far from my folks that’s quite popular and crowded, and on the special occasions we’d go there, the traffic would always make me nervous. Easton is easily three or four times as large as the shopping center near my folks. However, with the high-end stores – Tiffany & Co., Burberry and Louis Vuitton, to name a few – and the impressive layout, Easton is a beautiful place to mosey around on a Saturday or Sunday. I see why it’s popular, and for a long time the thought of driving there, and having to find a spot, and hoping not to door ding anyone on accident would cause my nerves to spike and successfully deter me from going.

Back in 2018 I took a day off work, figuring that a weekday couldn’t be as crowded (meaning no door dinging) and decided to go snoop around in early December. I’m still glad I did. There’s a magic in the air, and I am a sucker for Christmas trees. It’s even fun pretending to be bougie for an afternoon and not a country bumpkin.

Easton Town Center – worth the stroll. You can see some more fun stuff going on year-around at Easton on Instagram.

The Short North Pole

The rejected Olympic torch girl holding up her Jeni’s to the Short North Christmas tree.

A high school friend who had lived in Columbus before me recommended visiting the Short North when I first moved to Cbus in 2015. I made sure to enjoy strolls and runs through Short North in 2016, ’17 and ’18 (Full disclosure: didn’t go much in 2019 or at all this year because of the pandemic.) It’s a fun neighborhood with unique galleries and shops, beautiful murals and some of my favorite restaurants in the city, such as Bakersfield Short North. Back in 2016 I enjoyed a night on the town at Union and Axis night clubs and in the three following Decembers, I made sure to take Sunday afternoon strolls through the Shorth North Pole.

In 2018 I stopped by Jeni’s Ice Cream for a vanilla and wildberry lavender cone. It was pretty frigid, but I wanted to do something fun and wildberry lavender tastes just like Trix cereal. While I was heading down High Street I passed the Short North tree and took this picture. I miss those walks, but I know a year from now they’ll be back. All we have to do is hold on, and then it’s ice cream in the tundra with a Christmas tree again.

There’s a lot of fun stuff to also see on Instagram.

Wildlights at the Columbus Zoo

This is one of the few non-blurry pictures I could take.

Fun fact about Wildlights: it was our first date, after dinner at Anna’s Greek Cuisine off Sawmill Road (off-topic, but order the saganaki and don’t forget to yell “Opa!”) It was damn cold and crowded, but we had a blast seeing the lights and animals. We went back again in 2019 the weekend before my birthday to celebrate and hopefully create a birthday/holiday tradition. Which we’re not doing this year because of the ‘rona, although a former coworker of mine shared pictures of Wildights with her family and it looked like they were having a blast.

If you’d rather stay inside and cozy, you can also see the lights and animals here. I’m interested in following the cheetah cubs personally.

Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens

Do you wanna build a snowman?

Daytime visiting, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

The conservatory isn’t too far from my complex, and the first Sundays of the month being free to Franklin County residents is a wonderful perk. Each December is Holiday Blooms, where poinsettias fill the conservatory in unique colors and arrangements. I took the picture of the snow family when I was visiting in 2018, and taking in the beauty of the poinsettias, as well as the palm house, and the dessert, rainforest and Himalayan mountain biomes (Himalayan is my favorite one of all three. I need to drag Sam there soon.)

This is what I imagine the inside of a box of Lucky Charms looks like.

Conservatory Aglow, 5 p.m. – 9 p.m.

Regular daytime visits are fun, but the chilly evening walks through Conservatory Aglow are on a completely different level. I took a ton of pictures when I went there on a Thursday evening after a crummy day at OldJob, and the entire time I was ducking under the archways and walking all over the grounds I felt like a little kid again. I really don’t have a good way to describe the lights and sights at Conservatory Aglow as other than magical.

The conservatory’s website has a lot to see on there as well, if getting out to Holiday Blooms or Conservatory Aglow isn’t going to be possible for you this year.

Honorable mentions

Easton, Short North, the zoo and the conservatory are my favorites, but definitely not the only places in Columbus for fun Christmas stuff. There’s some other fun places that deserve honorable mention. They are:

1.) Butch Bando’s Fantasy of Lights in Delaware, OH (just north of Columbus)

2.) Columbus Commons downtown

3.) The Scioto Mile, which is also downtown

4.) The Nativity Scene at State Auto, which is next door to the Columbus Museum of Art in the Discovery District.

I hope you all have enjoyed reading this and the few non-blurry pictures I could capture over the last few years. Tell me in the comments what some of your favorite Christmas/holiday places are and have a wonderful weekend ahead.

Yours in writing,


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