So, I have a confession. I still consider myself a “newbie” to the Dayton holiday scene. I grew up south of Dayton which meant my family went to Cincinnati for major holiday events. Honestly, other than occasional trips to Dayton Mall and an occasional show at what is now Blind Bob’s (or the Night Owl for those old enough to remember) I didn’t explore Dayton until my (very) late twenties.
The Historic Clifton Mill Christmas Lights has been a long time entry on my Dayton bucket list and I’m happy to say it has now been checked off. This was by no means a planned out trip. As we were pulling into the driveway after picking my oldest up from school a thought occurred to me. “Let’s celebrate Christmas break with something festive!” and the decision to go was swiftly made. It also helped that the weather was mild for December in Ohio and we tend to take advantage of the random warm days we tend to get here in the winter. So after a quick dinner we all threw on an extra layer of clothing and out the door we went.
As someone who had never been to Clifton Mill I was surprised at the lack of parking when we arrived. I understand that it’s a small town and that the lights draw a much larger crowd than they are use to during other times of the year. Luckily we found some street parking about a block away and walked in the back entrance of the mill. *Parent Tip: when I say street parking, I mean we parked on the side of the road near a farm field. There are no street lights so keep your little ones close as we were walking on a busy road in the dark. It wasn’t bad, it just made this mama a bit anxious.* I’m actually happy with the fact we went in where we did because it wasn’t crowded at all. We had a decent view of the lights coming on (they come on at 6pm btw!) without having a crowd to fight with and I was able to snap a photo of the girls in front of the covered bridge with little interference.
The big highlight at the mill is obviously the lights themselves, but also the light show. They do the show every 30 min starting directly after turning the lights on for the evening. We postponed viewing the show as there were a ton of people there to see it upon opening. Instead we walked around, checked out some of the little sets they had on display, grabbed hot chocolate and watched their famous Santa pop up from the chimney of his workshop and disappear back down again. Everything was well maintained and looked so pretty all lit up, so I’m glad we took the time to poke around and check out the other things there besides the light show.
The light show played twice in the time it took us to look around and wait in line for hot chocolate which worked out because once we came out of the gift shop the show had just finished up and we were able to make our way through the crowd to a decent spot along the fence line near the mill wheel to watch the next showing. The wheel did block a bit of our view but it was still a great spot and a lot of fun for Charlotte to watch. (Freya screamed the whole time because she was ready to go haha!) It also made for a great photo op spot while we waited which made me pretty happy. So it was a definite win in my book to have taken our time and wait a bit before attempting to watch the light show.
I am so glad we made the quick trip from our home over to Clifton Mill while we had some amazing weather to do so. The lights were gorgeous, the staff we encountered were very friendly, and the overall feel was exactly what we needed to kick off Christmas Break. The only thing I think I’d like to do differently is go earlier and snag a seat in their restaurant and watch all the light up fun with a tasty meal. So back on the Dayton Holiday Bucket List it goes! Happy Holiday Friends!