Christmas Lights at Historic Clifton Mill

I LOVE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS! They area easily my favorite thing about the holiday season.  The last few years we have tried to get in at least one visit to a “major” light display.  A few years ago we went to the The Christmas Ranch (near Cincinnati).  We often got to Wildlights as the Columbus Zoo.  This year we went to the Historic Clifton Mill lights.

What is it?

The Historic Clifton Mill is a water-powered grist mill located in Clifton, Ohio (just south of Springfield, a little east of Dayton, about 40 minutes South West of Columbus).   Starting the day after Thanksgiving, and running through New Year’s Eve, the mill displays an amazing number of Christmas lights, a light show, and some other attractions.  Their website says they put up 4 million lights.  I believe it!

Ummm.. .taking good photos of Christmas Lights that aren’t blurry is really hard when you’ve not done it before.  Pardon the quality here.  Google “Clifton Mill Christmas” and you’ll get much better photos than mine.


Important note:  Clifton Mill very clearly lists their hours as 5 pm – 9 pm.  They less clearly indicated that the lights don’t come on until 6:00.  We missed this, and I talked to another couple who missed it as well.  We had about an hour to kill which was annoying.

There are lights everywhere.  We spent some time trying to figure out how they got the lights up so high in some of the trees.  They have a synchronized light show that lasts about 5 minutes and runs every 30 minutes (I think. I couldn’t find the exact timing.)  It is very well done and worth waiting around for.

Santa & Santas

A bit unique to holiday displays, Santa is there but you are not able to visit with him.  You can find him in his workshop and peek at him through the windows.  Every 15 minutes or so, he will come up out of the chimney and wave hello.  You can leave a note for Santa in his mailbox.

There is also a Santa Museum to check out.  I have never seen so many Santas in one place.  It is awesome in a creepy yet cool kind of way.  The image above is a fraction of the Santas.

Model Train Miniature Village

In the center of the grounds, there is a large village and model train setup.  If it is crowded, it takes a bit to work your way around the display.  But everywhere you go there is more to look at than you can take in.  The village covers a variety of time periods of American life.  There is an RV Park, Drive in Movies, Homes, a Christmas Tree Lot, you name it.  You can also watch Script Ohio and the Buckeyes take on that team up north… in miniature.

And they have the Wright Brother’s Cycle Shop and Wright Flyer represented*: 

You’ll also find an antique toy display, Nativity scene, historic cabin, and gift shop to explore.

What We Spent

All told we spent about 90 minutes looking at the various attractions and waiting for the light display.  We were there a bit early and had to wait for the lights to come on at 6, but we were able to go through the Santa Museum at that time.  We also waited in line for about 20 minutes to get hot chocolate and popcorn to kill some time.

I spent $44 total on our visit:

  • Entrance fee – $10/person x 3 people = $30
  • Small hot chocolate or apple cider – $3/drink x 3 – $9
  • Popcorn – $2.50/each x 2 = $5

Parking is free in a large lot that was well managed.  Some folks also parked on the street around the area, pay attention to signs.

Final Thoughts

We really enjoyed this light display.  The light show is well done, the lights are impressive, and the museums and displays are wacky enough to be charming.  The cost for food wasn’t bad at all and the admission cost is manageable.   We headed over a bit early so that we could take a brief walk at Clifton Gorge just down the street (one of my favorite Ohio Hikes).  All told we had a great Sunday out!

Happy Holidays!!!!

* We are big Wright Brother’s Fans.  A post on Dayton Aviation Heritage area is in the works.

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