It’s hard to believe, but the holiday season is in full-swing! Understanding the stress of finding affordable family fun, we have compiled a list of our favorite local holiday activities! Give it a read and make plans this weekend to embrace the holidays!

Light Up the Night: Experience the Christmas magic with the Henry Vilas Zoo. During the season, the zoo transforms into a winter wonderland, featuring thousands of lights and a full holiday market. New displays are sure to keep new and return visitors entertained, while a visit with Santa may make the whole visit for the younger crowd. Whether young or old, this is something sure to satisfy the whole family!

Admission: $7.00 per person, 4-Pack tickets available for $25/night, Children under 3 are free  Schedule: Thursdays-Sundays, 5:30-9:00 PM

While some may enjoy strolling through the zoo in the frigid cold, there are some who might prefer to stay warm! Get the best of both worlds with Olin Parks “Fantasy in Lights.” You can drive through the park, allowing you to see the incredible displays while still being able to feel your toes!

Admission: Free  Schedule: Beginning at 4:00 PM every evening until January 1st

Watch a Holiday Classic: Watch your favorite holiday movie on the big screen. Select Marcus Theaters will be offering showings of the Polar Express, Christmas Vacation, and Miracle on 34th Street next week. Tickets to the shows have been reduced to $5.00, giving you the perfect excuse for a night out to the movies. For more information on show times and participating theaters, please visit:

Admission: $5.00  Schedule: Dependent on Show Times

Gather at the Governor’s Mansion: Each year, Wisconsin’s Executive Residence is meticulously decorated for the holiday season. Draped in elegance, the mansion is truly spectacular during December. You can walk the grounds on your own, giving you ample time to experience the residence. Admission is free, but there are collections for non-perishable food items (benefitting Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin), and warm winter items (benefitting Wisconsin Tourism’s Bundle Up Campaign).

Admission: Free  Schedule: December 8th (10:00 AM-Noon), December 12th-13th and 19th-20th (Noon-2:00 PM)

Skate the Night Away: Embrace your inner child and spend time ice skating at the Edgewater! Views of Lake Mendota and the State Capitol will make the trip worthwhile, and taking breaks in the Ice House will keep you from freezing! The atmosphere is festive, with ample holiday décor surrounding the rink, making this a must-visit this holiday season!

Admission: Between $4:00-$7:00 (dependent on age), Kids under 4 are free  Skate Rentals: $3.00, or bring your own  Schedule: Thursday-Friday: 4:00 PM-9:00 PM, Saturday: 10:00 AM-9:00 PM, Sunday: 10:00 AM-6:00 PM


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