Cincinnati Family Magazine

Your # 1 Hometown Family Resource

June 17, 2024

The BEST of the Season

The holidays are most definitely different this season, but we can still find the joy in all of the little things.

(Featured Photo: Warm 98.5 Ice Rink at Summit Park). 

Ice Skating

Nothing is more festive than an afternoon or evening on the ice with your family!

Fountain Square Ice Skating; 520 Vine St., Cincinnati, Oh;
Open through Feb. 15, 2021. The UC Health Ice Rink is taking over Fountain Square! Reservations required to skate and to use the all-new, 60-minute Bumper Car experience on the rink; masks required; rink and bumper cars, $15; skating only, $10, (includes skate rental) ages 4 and younger are free.

Warm 98.5 Ice Rink at Summit Park; 4335 Glendale Milford Road, Blue Ash, Oh;
A family favorite open for its fourth season; $6 per person ages 4 and older; groups of three or more, $5 per person. Includes skate rental; pre-registration open seven days in advance for future ice rink dates; check the Facebook page at for up-to-date information.

Ice Skating at Fifty West Burger Bar; 7605 Wooster Pike, Cincinnati, Oh;
Tasty warm beverages, craft beer, burgers and more plus ice skating? We’re in! Monday – Friday, 4 – 10 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. $10 includes 60 minutes of ice time and skate rental.

Northland Ice Center; 10400 Reading Road, Cincinnati, Oh;
When the weather is a bit too frightful, take your skates indoors. Offers hockey and ice skating lessons. Public skating Monday – Friday 1 – 3 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday 2 – 4 p.m.; and Friday and Saturday evenings, 8 – 10 p.m.

Northern Kentucky Ice Center; 2638 Anderson Road, Crescent Springs, Ky;
Along with ice hockey, skate lessons and figure skating, this rink offers plenty of public ice sessions, too. Don’t forget to enjoy treats in the renovated snack bar; $8 admission, skate rental $3, ages 10 and younger receive $1-off admission.

Visits with Santa

See how local businesses are bringing the jolly ol’ man back in a safe and creative way!

Breakfast with Santa at Scene75; 876 OH-28, Milford, Oh;
Saturday, December 12, 8 – 11 a.m.; Santa Claus makes his appearance while you enjoy a hot breakfast buffet. $10 for adults, $6 ages 12 and younger, ages 2 and younger are free.

Santa’s Workshop at Washington Park;
Saturdays through December 19 from 1- 3 p.m. Santa and his merry elves will be spending time in Washington Park making gifts, ornaments and other fun creations. Stop by the wish-list station, write your Christmas list and take it to Santa; free; don’t forget your camera!

Breakfast with Santa at the Landing Event Center; 119 Karl Brown Way, Loveland, Oh;
Hosted by the Little Miami River Chamber of Commerce, two seatings for Saturday, December 12: 8:30 – 10 a.m.; and 10:30 a.m. – 12 p.m.; meet and get a photo with Santa (all while socially distanced), make holiday crafts and more! Then, dig into the scrumptious breakfast; ages 8 and older, $15, ages 3 – 7, $10, ages 2 and younger are free.

Photos with Santa at Fifty West Brewing Company Burger Bar and Beer Garden; 7605 Wooster Pike, Cincinnati, Oh;
Sundays, December 6, 13 and 20 from 4 – 6 p.m. Get your photo with Santa, socially distanced, right in front of Santa’s mobile toy workshop. Kids can have a chat with Santa and then sip on free hot cocoa from the bar; $45 includes photos for the whole group or family, one physical print and one digital copy and hot cocoa.

Santa Wonderland; Cabela’s and Bass Pro Shops stores; and
Through December 24; kids can have a close encounter with Santa as he sits behind The Magic Santa Shield; mail letters to Santa and bring home a free holiday craft activity kit, too! Online reservations required; temperature screening and a “Contactless Claus” visit. 

Scuba Santa at the Newport Aquarium; 1 Levee Way, Newport, Ky;
Through December 24; be amazed as Scuba Santa swims underwater with a tank full of sharks and tell him what you want for Christmas! Meet cheerful elves and enjoy a Water Wonderland and festive music. Reserve your time and tickets in advance online. 

Lights & Events

Celebrate the season in Greater Cincinnati this year and see the holidays in a whole new light!

Photo Credit: Holiday in Lights at Sharon Woods

Journey Borealis at Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park & Museum; 1763 Hamilton Cleves Road, Hamilton, Oh;
Through January 3, 2021, Monday – Thursday, 6 – 9 p.m., $20 per carload; Friday – Sunday, 6 – 10 p.m., $25; Pyramid Hill Members, $15. Watch as this unique outdoor museum flips the switch! Drive through a 2.5-mile display featuring over a million lights and laser light displays woven through the trees, gardens and sculptures of the park.

Holiday in Lights; Great Parks of Hamilton County Sharon Woods; 11450 Lebanon Road, Sharonville, Oh;
Through January 2; closed Thanksgiving and New Years Eve; Sunday – Thursday 6 – 9 p.m., and Friday and Saturday 5:30 -10 p.m.; celebrating 31-years! This family tradition features 1 million lights, special effects and more; $15 dollars a car, $45 for buses, credit cards only, check their website for a $2 dollar off coupon; choose to walk through December 2 and 30.

Light Up Middletown; Smith Park Tytus and Verity Pkwy., 500 Tytus Road, Middletown, Oh;
Open 6 – 10 p.m. every night through New Years Eve. Get ready for a lovely evening driving through Middletown’s “fantasy light display!” Admission is cash donation only; proceeds support Middletown Parks and more. 

Christmas Ranch; 3205 S. Waynesville Road, Morrow, Oh;
Through December 23; cozy up in the car and drive through twinkling lights, plus, check out the stores, bakery and don’t forget visits with Santa. Check website for times and COVID-19 precautions; $15 dollars a car, $30 a van, no buses.

Christmas Nights of Lights; Coney Island; 6201 Kellogg Ave., Cincinnati, Oh;
Through January 9, 2021, dusk to 10 p.m. with later hours on weekends; drive-through over 2 miles of lights synchronized to Star 93.3; $7 a person, 3 and younger are free. Contact Coney for larger group rates; benefits charities including the Salvation Army, The Ruth Lyons Children’s Fund, St. Vincent DePaul, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Starshine Hospice and Toys for Tots. 

Light Up the Fair; Boone County Fair Grounds; 5819 Idlewild Road Burlington, Ky;
Through January 2, 2021, Sunday – Thursday 5:30 – 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday 5:30 – 10 p.m.; feast your eyes on a half a million LED Christmas lights throughout a 1.5-mile driving path choreographed to holiday-themed music on 97.9 FM; $6 per adult, ages 3 and younger are free, for groups of 10 or more, contact Boone County Fair Grounds. 

Holly Jolly Hamilton; Downtown Hamilton, Oh;
Weekends through January 1, 2021, each weekend with its own holiday-themed happenings. This new, festive event supports local small businesses. Enjoy scavenger hunts, Santa sightings, holiday lights, shopping, at-home activities and more!

Lighted Christmas Parade; City of Independence, Ky;
Saturday, December 5 at 6 p.m.; get the family together and enjoy the holiday magic. Parade begins at Summit View school’s parking lot and ends at Simon Kenton High School..

The Legendary Lights of Historic Clifton Mill; 75 Water St., Clifton, Oh;
Through December 30; take in more than 4 million lights illuminating the mill, gorge, riverbanks, trees and bridges including the popular100-foot “waterfall” of twinkling lights. Watch Santa check his list twice in his workshop before heading up the chimney (occurs every 15 minutes; through Christmas Eve.).

Hillforest’s Victorian Christmas; 213 Fifth St., Aurora, IN;
Through December 30, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.; travel to “Christmas Past” and see Hillforest decorated in Victorian splendor for the holidays. 

PNC Cincinnati Zoo Festival of Lights; 3400 Vine St., Cincinnati, Oh;
Through January 3, 2021, festivities begin at 4 p.m. each evening; enjoy familiar favorites including over 3 million twinkling lights, a Wild Lights Show on Swan Lake, Toyland Express Train rides, finding Fiona Fairy statues, and more; new this year, is the 2020 Photo Scavenger Hunt, Santa’s Village and lights at Roo Valley and African Penguin Point! Santa visits begin at 4 p.m. through December 23; closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day this year.

Light in the Forest at Cincinnati Nature Center; 4949 Tealtown Road, Milford, Oh; cincynature.oruytg/events-and-programs/events-18/light-in-the-forest-154 
Through January 3, 2021, Thursdays through Sundays, 5 – 9 p.m.; closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. All-new; walk glistening nature trails and notice three installations by OBLSK, a participant in BLINK, music, bonfires, shopping and more. Register in advance, tickets available every half hour.

Krohn Conservatory A Very Merry Garden Holiday; 1501 Eden Park Drive, Cincinnati, Oh;
Open through January 10, 2021; fall in love with the Krohn’s special Cincinnati theme laced with lush green foliage, beautiful red poinsettias, holiday trees and magical train displays. Check out their take-home craft activities for kids, adult activities and more holiday events on their website. New this year, purchase tickets online in advance. 

EnterTRAINment Junction; 7379 Squire Court, West Chester, Oh;
Through January 1, 2021; escape the cole and take a journey to the North Pole and meet Mrs. Claus and the Big Man in Red; walk through an indoor winter wonderland and visit reindeer stables, too! Although Santa won’t be here in person, kids can still whisper their wish lists to Santa in real time through EJ’s virtual “ZoomFace” system. See website for hours and pricing. 

Holiday Junction Featuring the Duke Energy Holiday Trains at the Cincinnati Museum Center; 1301 Western Ave, Cincinnati, Oh;
Through January 3, 2021, little engineers will love seeing over 300 rail cars and 60 locomotives, the popular detailed LEGO display and Brickopolis. New this year, a colorful Northern Lights display, a no-touch interactive storybook and rotating Holiday Scavenger Hunt! Santa will socially distance, as kids speak with him in the Public Landing exhibit adjacent to Holiday Junction through a plexiglass barrier; admission tickets required.

Holiday Shopping

Shop safely at one of these winter markets! 

Liberty Town Center Merry Market Days; 7100 Foundry Row Liberty Twp., Oh;
Saturday, December 12, 11 a.m.- 3 p.m. Complete your holiday shopping at Liberty Center along Bales Street between Rusty Bucket and Express; safety measures will be in place and vendors will be wearing masks. 

Findlay Market Holiday Market; 1801 Race St., Cincinnati, Oh;
December 5 and 6; support local businesses and enjoy a wide selection of food and holiday gift items at this weekend-long market. Get into the festive activities and events, too!

City Flea Holiday Market; Washington Park, 1230 Elm St., Cincinnati, Oh;
Saturday, December 12, 4 – 9 p.m.; this urban flea market is a Cincinnati favorite taking place at Washington park. Browse dozens of vendors ranging from vintage dealers to artisan pizza makers to plant studios! 

Art on Vine Holiday Gift Sale; Rhinegeist, 1910 Elm St., Cincinnati, Oh;
Sunday, December 13, 12 – 7 p.m.; shop local and support small businesses in Greater Cincinnati! 

Sip & Shop at The Landing Event Center; 119 Karl Brown Way, Loveland, Oh;
Saturday, December 5, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.; sip cocktails while you shop! Check out a ton of unique items from local Etsy vendors, online stores and boutiques.

Head to for more holiday festivities!

Safe With Your Family

We know all about social distancing and mask-wearing, and with the holiday celebrations, it’s important that we take extra precautions to protect one another.

“The same infection prevention bundle we have been encouraging for months – masking, social distancing, washing your hands and avoiding group events – will still help families decrease their risk of COVID-19 during the holidays,” says Jennifer Wall Forrester, M.D., associate chief medical officer for UC Health, and associate professor of medicine at the UC College of Medicine.

In making this untraditional year special, Forrester suggests planning holiday events with immediate family, and adding some flare while rekindling with the members in your household.

“Gatherings with those who are not part of your household should be extremely limited, if done at all,” Forrester emphasizes. “I am thinking of this year as a special year to really get back in touch with my immediate family, trying some new things – new foods, new games, new shows, even.”

Stephen Feagins, M.D., chief clinical officer at Mercy Health – Cincinnati, says now is an extremely important time to help keep our family, friends and community safe.

“Consider using technology to safely connect with friends and loved ones,” he says.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers health and safety considerations for families to keep in mind before they gather for holiday fun. Visit for more information.

About the Author

Amanda Hayward

Amanda Hayward is editor of this publication. She is from Cincinnati, Ohio, and a mom of three with one on the way. If she's not writing for Cincinnati Family, you'll find her running, juggling kids, teaching group fitness classes and cooking up healthy recipes.