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12 days of Holiday Activities 2018 – Day #2

Zoo Lights

Our Review.

Ohio Zoo’s are world class. At the holidays they do not disappoint. They are annually some of the best lights in the nation. This year the lights are again in the running for Best Zoo Lights from the 10best at USA TODAY.

PNC Festival of Lights 
Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens
http://cincinnatizoo.org/events/festival-of-lights/

The Cincinnati Zoo will have a 25 foot tree on their swan lake, with floating orbs, all synchronized to music. A gingerbread village with hidden surprises will entertain. The Sisters from Frozen have a meet and greet at the Frozen Wonderland area, and Santa will be available 1 hour before the lights this year.

The Cincinnati Zoo was #1 in 2015 and #8 in 2017. How will they do this year?
To vote for them as the best: https://www.10best.com/awards/travel/best-zoo-lights-2018/pnc-festival-of-lights-at-the-cincinnati-zoo-cincinnati/

WildLights
Columbus Zoo

https://www.columbuszoo.org/home/visit/plan-your-visit/event-calendar

The Columbus Zoo has gone all out this year. They have a 42 ft tree that puts on a show. Santa is at home near the polar bears. They also have shows through out the zoo, and much more.

The Columbus Zoo was #5 in 2015 and #7 in 2016. Can they break the top 5 this year?

To vote for them as the Best : https://www.10best.com/awards/travel/best-zoo-lights-2018/wildlights-at-the-columbus-zoo-columbus-ohio/

 

Toledo Zoo Lights Before Christmas
Toledo Zoo
https://www.toledozoo.org/lights

The Toledo Zoo has carolers, lights, and more lights. This year the historic tunnel will make its renovated reopening at the lights. The Cafe will once again be used as a backdrop for a dazzling lights show and the winter village will return.

The Toledo Zoo was #2 in 2015, #1 in 2016 and 2017. Will it make this a 3rd year in a row?

To vote for them as the best: https://www.10best.com/awards/travel/best-zoo-lights-2018/lights-before-christmas-at-the-toledo-zoo-toledo-ohio/

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Fort Ancient

6123 St. Rt. 350, Oregonia, Ohio 45054

http://www.fortancient.org/

Fort Ancient is a museum and grounds representing the Native American cultures which once inhabited the area. It contains a museum and surrounding grounds with trails to explore the ancient site.

The history of the area is long and complicated. The first people to build a village at the site were the Hopewell people. They were a mound building society, which they inherited from the Adena. Some of the best examples of this are at Hopewell Culture National Historic Park. The Hopewell Culture only lasted until the 500’s. About 500 years later people of the Fort Ancient culture took over the site and used the area until the arrival of Europeans. It is because of the walls and mounds on the site that the first archaeologist to study the area thought that the recent inhabitants had used it as a fort. Only recently has it be understood that the walls and the later village were from separate unrelated cultures.

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The museum offers 9,000 sq. ft. of exhibit space. There are exhibits on the first Ohioans, how they used the land, their first contact with the Europeans, and the conflict which ensued. There is also a prehistoric garden, showing all the crops that would have been grown during the time. There are lots of hands on exhibits too.

Fort Ancient is not just a museum but also a great outdoor space. It is the largest outdoor historic site of its kind in the country. There are 2.5 miles of walking trails. These trails allow one to see the historic mounds and also the surrounding countryside.  There are two overlooks that give a great view. The trails are easily accessed from parking lots throughout. The park is nice because what is learned at museum can be experienced in the natural setting. The maps and dioramas in the museums show off where everything used to be, so seeing this outside really adds to the overall experience.

As one of the best museums in the state for the history of the area before the influx of Europeans, Fort Ancient is a must see for an Ohio History buff.

Tip: Fort Ancient is worth a visit on its own, but is also part of the Ohio History Connection and is free with Membership

 

Meanwhile at the Hall of Justice: An update on Cincinnati Museum Center and Union Terminal

In 2014 the citizens of Hamilton County voted to increase the sales tax of their county to pay for a restoration of the historic Union Terminal. Due to the the work that needs to be done on the building Cincinnati Museum Center’s two history museums will be closed during the process. The Duke Energy Children’s Museum and Special Exhibits should remain open during construction.

The construction is expected to take up to two years and be completed around Nov of 2018.

For more information visit the website of Cincinnati Museum Center

Here are a few pictures of what the museum looked like before the renovation.

 

La Comedia Dinner Theatre

765 W Central Ave, Springboro, OH 45066

http://www.lacomedia.com/

La Comedia Dinner Theatre is located in Springboro, OH. It is a dinner theatre and much more. La Comedia has been putting on shows since the 1970’s, so they have perfected the dinner and theatre idea. The theater normally puts on about six Broadway type shows along with many concerts. The shows range from newer musicals to classic favorites. Many of the actors who star in shows are locals, but many also are from New York. The productions try to have the best cast available. Each year the good part is that La Comedia puts on some classic Broadway musicals that older audience will remember. They also put on newer shows and kids classics. The season generally has something for anybody looking for family friendly entertainment.

La Comedia has a good sound system so the actors can always be heard and the dancing is normally really good. The stage is floor level and the audience sits on many sides, so the action of the play or musical is up close. The seating is the dinner tables, which are on levels rising about 4 feet up each row giving a good view to each person attending.

The real star of La Comedia is not the show itself, but the food. Nights start with the house signature salad with the Papaya Chutney Dressing. This dressing is a very good compliment to any salad. The evening continues with a wonderful buffet. The buffet has chef-carved meats, a variety of pastas and fresh vegetables, fresh-baked breads, some deep fried cod, and their famous sweet potato soufflé.  The buffet also normally has some dishes that go along with the theme of the show, so coming back for a new show one gets something different. Each show also has a different desert. The desert is delivered to the table after the buffet is over. The nice thing about the buffet experience is guest who arrive early are allowed to the buffet first. This is not only a nicety, but also keeps the buffet line short.

La Comedia is a great place to see a show and get a meal. One should arrive early and dress appropriately. La Comedia will leave you will a full stomach and good times, not to mention a head full of show tunes.

Cincinnati Museum Center

1301 Western Ave,
Cincinnati, OH 45203
http://www.cincymuseum.org/

Quick Review: 3 cool museums in one awesome building, with array of other things to top it off.

The Cincinnati Museum center is more than just a museum, it’s 3 museum in one, and a train station, and a gift shop, and a historic land mark, and etc., etc., etc. One can spend all day inside and still not see everything.

Housed inside the historic Union Terminal the center is mostly three museums: The museum of Natural history and Science, Cincinnati History Museum, and Duke Energy Children’s Museum. Not being a kid and all I have not been to the children’s museum… but what one can see from the escalator looks awesome.

The Cincinnati History Museum is dedicated to the history of the area. Starting off with a giant train display (worth the admission itself) of the city the museum slowly works back up to the modern day. A lot of the exhibits are well designed and make one feel as if they actually are in the time period described. On busy weekends the museum even has costumed interpreters. The artifacts are not just displayed but used to enhance the story. From a log cabin of the frontier days to a rocking riverboat, every era is brought life.

The Museum of Natural History and Science is just as amazing as the history museum.  Starting off with an audio/visual/ artifact presentation one is slowly transported in to a world of learning. As with the other museums the displays are large and looming. The best of which is a HUGE walkthrough cave with 2 separate paths to explore, waterfalls, and bats. The museum does get to be a little bit to scientific at times but quickly gives hands on displays to help enforce the subject matter.

The best part of the center is the terminal it’s housed in. With a large format screen (ominmax which is a domed IMAX) to a working Amtrax Station, Art Deco decor, and a pretty good food center, it has a little bit of everything. Give yourself a 1/2 hour to explore it.

Quick tip: Find the original Train yard switch room; it has an awesome view of the train yard in back.  The Amtack boards at night and you can see the museum empty. Extremely creepy!!! Worth seeing.

COSI

333 W Broad St,
Columbus, OH 43215
http://www.cosi.org/

Quick Review: A cool little museum about science…designed more for kids.

Okay, COSI (Center Of Science and Industry) is not a kid’s museum. It is designed to teach kids, but even adults can learn there.

“A good museum cannot be just a warehouse of Artifacts. It also must tell a story.” COSI does this. From brightly lit exhibits to plenty of hands on displays, COSI has a little bit of something. That also is the problem. While exploring the museum the first timer might learn a lot of new stuff. On subsequent visits one might not learn anything new.

The museum is broken into 5 distinct separate sections with each section teaching something different. The sections are well done although a bit small. While basic information about the subject matter is taught, no space is left for any real in-depth study. This is great for kids learning about a subject but not so much a place to “explore more information.” It is like a Reading Rainbow book review. “To know more visit your local library”

The “Extreme screen” is extreme. What major museums IMAX isn’t. The format is available at many places and shows many great movies. Don’t think that the screen is the only reason to go to the theater. The shows are awesome. IMAX has some of the best documentaries out there. The screen helps. As with anything that has been around over 100 years there are some not so good aspects. Think about the show playing before buying a ticket. If you wouldn’t rent it from a library, why pay to see it.

Overall COSI is a good museum to take kids to or Visit once.

Quick Tip: The life section is a bit too adult for some kids. (Testing for testicular cancer anyone?) AVOID SCHOOL DAYS (too many school kids.)