You clearly remember buying three rolls of tape, but now you’ve run out. Only half of the Christmas lights on your bushes are actually twinkling. You’ve just learned out-of-town family is planning on staying at your place ... for a week. And yesterday, the dog knocked the Christmas tree down. When “home for the holidays” has those around you singing “you’re a mean one, Mr. Grinch,” consider a holiday away from home. Here are some fun day and weekend trips guaranteed to help you relax and boost your holiday spirit.

CHRISTMAS IN THE CAPITAL

Plan a day trip to Columbus during the month of November or December and you’re guaranteed a day filled with holiday activities.

The highlight of Columbus’s holiday season is First Night Columbus, Central Ohio’s largest New Year’s Eve celebration held from 4:30 p.m. to midnight. It has 150 entertainers scheduled to appear at 15 sites, and hands-on activities to amuse children both young and old.

Many of the city’s attractions, including the Franklin Park Conservatory and the Ohio Statehouse, are offering special holiday displays and events. The science museum COSI will present Holiday Science of the Season, which includes a Holiday Lights Show featuring more than 10,000 lights. Also, on Nov. 3 through Jan. 10, go back in time while walking through Dickens Victorian Village in downtown Cambridge, where 106 lifelike Victorian figures are on display.

If shopping’s on your to-do list, options abound. Stop by Longaberger’s Holiday Open House, Nov. 7-8, or stroll through Historic Downtown Olde Worthington Business District during its Holiday Open House on Nov. 30. Artists from across the nation will be showcasing their wares at Winterfair, Dec. 4-7 at the Ohio Expo Center. Olde Pickerington Village is hosting its Annual Holiday in the Village on Dec. 5. On Dec. 6, you have multiple shopping options: Sunbury Village Square’s Christmas on the Square Festival, Holidays in Powell at Village Green Park, the North Market Holiday Open House and Craft Extravaganza, and the Short North Holiday Hop.

Columbus also offers a wide range of holiday shows. On Nov. 10 through Nov. 15, check out Chocolate Nutcracker, an African-American-inspired version of The Nutcracker, at Veterans Memorial. Your children will love Columbus Children’s Theatre’s Ebenezer at Park Street Theatre, Nov. 28 through Dec. 21. Listen to Clement Moore talk about his life as a writer at Ohio Village’s T’was the Night Before Christmas
production at its Echoes in Time Theatre, Dec. 4-18. And then there are the old favorites, such as Radio City Christmas Spectacular
at Nationwide Arena, Dec. 9 and 10. For details on these Columbus holiday activities and many more, call (800) 354-2657 or visit www. experiencecolumbus.com.


HIT THE SLOPES

Think you have to hop on a plane to hit the slopes? Think again. Two area ski resorts offer day and night skiing and tubing for both novices and advanced skiers. Perfect North Slopes is offering extended hours (9:30 a.m. to 1 a.m.) Dec. 26-30. On New Year’s Eve, the resort is open until 2 a.m. with a DJ inside the ski lodge and a fireworks show at midnight over the slopes.
19074 Perfect Place, Lawrenceburg, Ind. 9:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., Sunday through Thursday; 9:30 a.m. to 3 a.m., Friday and Saturday. Lift ticket $40 (ages 13-59), $35 (ages 7-12 and 60 plus). Tubing $20, $10 for children 6 and under. (812) 537-3754 or www.perfectnorth.com.


In 2006, Mad River Mountain Ski Resort in Zanesfield, Ohio, underwent a $2.5 million expansion. It now features 23 skiing or snowboarding trails, three terrain parks and the Avalanche Tubing Park, which boasts two carpet lifts and 10 chutes, each 900 feet long. The ski resort offers extended hours — 9 a.m. to 3 a.m. — Dec. 20 through Jan. 3. On Dec. 27, the resort will host its fourth annual Louie Vito Rail Jam. Skiers must bring a nonperishable food item for donation to participate in the for-charity event. 1000 Snow Valley Road, Zanesfield, Ohio. 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., Monday through Friday; 9 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Saturday, Sunday and holidays. Midnight Madness hours: 10:30 p.m. to 3 a.m. Fridays, Saturdays and holidays. Call (800) 231-7669 or visit www. skimadriver.com for more information and ticket pricing.


PAMPER YOURSELF

Although decorated for the holidays, the newly restored and expanded French Lick Resort is the perfect place to briefly flee festivities and indulge in some non-holiday fun. The resort, which recently underwent a $500 million renovation, now includes the completely restored French Lick Springs Hotel, the reopening of West Baden Springs Hotel, the reopening of French Lick Casino, a brand new salon and spa, and retail shops. There’s also an indoor pool and fitness center, a six-lane bowling alley, arcade and pizzeria. Enjoy afternoon tea at the West Baden or historical tours offered by Historic Landmarks of Indiana. 8670 West State Road 56, French Lick, Ind. (888) 936-9360 or www. frenchlick.com.

12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS

If money’s tight, consider taking a short drive to Indianapolis Dec. 13 through Dec. 24 to participate in the city’s 12 Free Days of Christmas. Each day, a different attraction offers something for free, often admission. Participating attractions include Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum (Dec. 13); President Benjamin Harrison Home (Dec. 14); Indy Wine Trail, which includes seven wineries (Dec. 15); Artsgarden Music Mistletoe Festival and James Whitcomb Riley Museum Home (Dec. 16); Morris-Butler House (Dec. 17); Indianapolis Museum of Art and Lilly House (Dec. 18); Indiana Historical Society (Dec. 19); Indiana Medical History Museum (Dec. 20); Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art (Dec. 21); Indiana State Museum (Dec. 22); free dessert with the purchase of an entrée at 14 area restaurants (Dec. 23); and The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis (Dec. 24).

While in Indianapolis, be sure to stop by the State Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument located in Monument Circle, in the center of the city. From Thanksgiving through the new year, the monument, called the Circle of Lights, is transformed into a 242-foot Christmas tree covered in 4,784 lights and 52 strands of garland. Toy soldiers and peppermint sticks encircle the seasonal tree. For more information about 12 Free Days of Christmas and other holiday events in Indianapolis, visit www. indianapolis.org.


THE POLAR EXPRESS

Children will forever remember their night on the Whitewater Valley Railroad’s The Polar Express. The train, which departs from Grand Central Station in Connersville, Ind., includes a reading of Chris Van Allsburg’s famous story, caroling, a visit from Santa Claus, cocoa and cookies, and a jingle bell — if you still believe. Children are encouraged to wear their pajamas.
Nov. 14 through Dec. 14. Friday and Saturday depart 5:15 pm. and 7:45 p.m.; Sunday depart 5:15 p.m. $26 adult; $16 children. (765) 825-2054, www.whitewatervalleyrr.org or www.polarexpressride.com.


SOUTHERN LIGHTS

More than a million lights on more than 100 displays at the Kentucky Horse Park will put your icicle lights to shame. Nov. 21 through Dec. 31. The $15-per-car ticket includes the exotic petting zoo, the model railway, Santa Claus, an arts and crafts fair, the mini express train, area performers and the International Museum of the Horse. 4089 Iron Works Parkway, Lexington. 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. daily. (859) 255-5727 or southernlightsky.org.