Wildlights at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

Photo credit: Grahm S. Jones, Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

Okay, okay, so we’ve gone to Wildlights at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium for years, but I haven’t written about it. I am not sure why, but I guess I figured everyone knew about it or had gone to see the awesomeness. Well, I decided to write about it this year because *just in case* you haven’t been, you need to go. Yes, it can be cold. Yes, it can be slushy, but in all honesty, even if the weather is making you miserable the lights and animals will cheer you up.

I state that from experience. Our very first visit the kids were in a stroller, and it was slushy, cold, and spitting little ice pellets. My father-in-law was in town and the weather wasn’t going to get any better that week, so we braved it. We dressed the kids in layers, hats, gloves, and put a nice blanket over them and we were on our way. One bit of advice here, wear shoes that will protect your feet from wetness…not Chucks, just ask my hubby.

The moment we walked in to the Zoo, we realized the shivers and blue lips were worth it. Twinkling lights of all colors laced the trees creating a sparkling winter wonderland. The trees and shrubs surrounding the pond were covered in lights, which reflected off the water and did a “light show” every 15 minutes or so. It was lovely. Pretty much all exhibits were open, except where the apes were kept (I think? I noticed the lights ended just passed that playground with the big caterpillar). Shimmering lights illuminated pathways from exhibit to exhibit, and made our visit unique from any other time of the year.  Our trip involved walking through Asia and back to Australia, and those were both great choices because the nocturnal animals were awake. Generally, we go during the days and never get to see them active. So, imagine my children’s surprise when their favorite monkeys in the Asia Quest house were sleeping and the Flying Foxes were awake. It was cool.

We stayed about two hours and then headed home. Of course, because of the shorter days of winter it felt as if we were out far passed Cinderella’s ball, but really we got home around 8:30 p.m. – just in time to put kiddies in their warm jammies and beds.

Wildlights typically opens right before Thanksgiving until January 1. Check it out!

Wildlights at Columbus Zoo and Aquarium
4850 West Powell Road
Powell, Ohio 43065

If you go:

  • Dress for the weather, and don’t be afraid to overcompensate for warmth.
  • They sell snacks like pretzels, popcorn, hot cocoa, etc.
  • Bathrooms are all open.
  • Bring cash for the kids to have a carousel ride.
  • I heard there are glasses on sale that make reindeer or snowmen images out of the lights when you look through them. Anyone done this?
  • I’d suggest going to Asia or Australia first – that way you can see the nocturnal animals awake. Also, be sure to get a pamphlet because they have other fun things going on too (such as a diving Santa!).
  • If you plan to visit the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium more than twice in a year, consider a membership. It includes parking!

About cBus Mom

cBus Mom offers suggestions and reviews of kid-friendly activities in Central Ohio. I am a Columbus, Ohio mom and I like to get out and explore with my kids.

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