If all you want for Christmas is two front seats, then you’ll find your tickets at the Nutcracker ballet in Columbus. Whether you hope to step back in time to recapture the magic of your past Christmas celebrations, or immerse your family in a whimsical swirl of snow and twinkling lights, there’s a perfect Ohio vacation rental waiting to fulfill your dreams. Don’t forget to also hop on a train to go and meet Santa Claus! It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in these seven best winter getaways in Ohio.

1. Cambridge

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If there is a Charles Dickens fan in your family, then the Dickens Victorian Village makes an ideal location for your Cambridge vacation destination. During the Christmas season, the town transforms into Victorian England. Historical downtown features more than 90 displays with life-sized mannequins wearing period clothing that represent scenes from Dickens’ novels and Victorian life. Treat your family to a unique walking tour while browsing the eclectic shops for gifts or stopping for a meal, treats, or coffee. Look for trolley rides or stop by the courthouse to take in the light show set to music.

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2. Cleveland

cleveland
Source: Pixabay / 12019

Cleveland is a large city with lots going on, but the must-see attraction for the holiday season is the actual house featured in the movie “A Christmas Story.” Brian Jones purchased the house and restored it to its 1983 movie appearance, and it now invites visitors to enjoy nostalgic tours of the inside and the grounds. He sells replicas of the infamous leg lamps and keeps alive Ralphie Parker’s dreams of owning a genuine Red Ryder 200-shot Carbine Action Air Rifle. Across the street, a museum dedicated to the movie displays more than 100 behind-the-scenes photos as well as memorabilia. The Christmas Story house is at 3159 W. 11th Street, just five minutes from downtown.

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3. Steubenville

Located in downtown Steubenville, the world’s largest collection of life-size nutcrackers numbers more than 150 and continues to grow. Each figure measures 6 feet tall and is crafted and uniquely hand-painted in Nelson’s wood shop. Many of the nutcrackers are customized to reflect some theme or aspect of the town. They stand on display in Nutcracker Village at Fort Steuben Park from mid-November until the second week of January. As you stroll through the displays, feel free to stop for some selfies with your favorite characters. The outdoor Advent Market includes local arts and crafts, food, hayrides, and music. Evenings in Nutcracker Village and Advent Market create feelings of nostalgia and warmth, with the Ohio River and the Market Street Bridge, all lit up in blue and gold, in the background.

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4. Lebanon

ohio winter
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Hop on the train at the Lebanon LM&M Railroad station where the Christmas lights herald the Christmas season and promise a special excursion. Enjoy hot chocolate and cookies on the platform while waiting for your train. During your hour-long journey, Santa and his elves visit each family on the train, giving each child a small bell. Balloon artists and storytellers entertain the kiddies, and all passengers receive a souvenir hot chocolate mug. Just 8 miles to the northwest, the Christmas Ranch at Morrow, Ohio is a great family attraction that includes a million twinkling Christmas lights synchronized to music. Enjoy dozens of shops, photos with Santa, wagon rides, bonfires, and refreshments.

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5. Medina

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Your Medina vacation rental gives you easy access to America’s largest year-round indoor Christmas attraction, Castle Noel. It houses the world’s largest privately-owned collection of Hollywood Christmas movie props and costumes, including “The Grinch,” “Elf,” “A Christmas Carol,” and many more. There are also millions of dollars of animated New York City Christmas windows from Macy’s, Sak’s Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdale’s, and Lord & Taylor. The “I Had That” toyland is filled with thousands of toys from the 1950s through the 1980s. Treat the kid in you to having fun with your kids with the Blizzard Vortex, Santa’s Chimney Squeeze, and the 25-foot tall Christmas tree. It even snows inside.

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6. Grand Rapids

christmas ornament ball
Source: Flickr/Erik Drost

Grand Rapids townspeople love Christmas, and they go all out to make it special. They kick off the season with a Christmas Open House just before Thanksgiving. It includes horse-drawn wagon rides, ice sculptures, twinkling lights, festive cooking, and more. Throughout the month of December, parades, ornament contests, concerts, and downtown marshmallow roasts pair with light shows and shopping. If you’re there during a Light the Night program, take the kids downtown for cookie decorating, make-and-take crafts, a hot chocolate station, and a light parade.

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7. Columbus

snowy christmas in ohio statehouse
Source: Facebook/Ohio Statehouse

Throughout December, the Ohio Statehouse Holiday Celebration welcomes visitors for free tours of the historical building that is beautifully dressed out in Victorian style. Sounds of the season echo throughout the space as school choirs and musicians share their holiday repertoires. In Downtown Columbus, State Auto Company’s display includes a life-sized nativity scene, renowned for its attention to artistry and historic detail. Look for breakfast with Santa and candlelight dinners at Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, or attend the Nutcracker Ballet at the Ohio Theater.

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