It’s hard to believe the holiday season is already here. Although winter is usually a time when we tend to stay indoors to keep out of the cold, there’s a great reason to get out of the house starting next week – Columbus Zoo’s Wildlights is opening!      

The 3 million lights displayed throughout the Zoo are enough to put even Clark W. Griswold to shame.  The event is an American Bus Association “Top 100 Event in North America” and offers a little something for visitors of all ages to see and experience.

This year the Dublin CVB has teamed up with some of our local hotels, the Zoo, and a few of our partner restaurants to make it easier and more cost effective than ever to bring your entire family to Dublin to see the Wildlghts through our Kids Go Free/Columbus Zoo Wildlights Package.

Here’s how it works:

When you book an overnight stay at one of our participating Dublin hotels, you will receive free kids admission tickets to the Wildlights (up to 2 per reservation – additional tickets can be purchased at the hotel). On top of receiving FREE kids admission tickets, you will also receive FREE kids meal coupons to participating restaurants (including Graeter’s Ice Cream for a sweet treat). To make your stay in Dublin even better, many of the hotels are offering free shuttle service to the Zoo, complimentary treats, and complimentary breakfast.

Don’t miss out on this great opportunity to bring the whole family to Dublin for a holiday getaway they will never forget!

-Post by Sam

When we were kids (WAY back in the day), summer meant packing everyone up in a hot station wagon and making the long trek south to a crowded beach—where we would all get sunburned and cranky, do cartwheels on the beach and eat too many deep fried clams.  Ah, good times.

A lot has changed since then. Nobody drives station wagons anymore (thank goodness), we’ve cut back on our deep fried clam intake (again, thank goodness), we use sunscreen AND we don’t have to spend  two days in the car to have some summer family fun that includes sun, pool time and a great hotel stay. (Although some of us might still be able to pull off a cartwheel, if pressed.)

One thing that hasn’t changed? We still want our summer vacations!

According to a recent study conducted by Orbitz, most of us taking summer vacations in 2012 will be spending more than last year and likely will be traveling by car. Not so surprisingly, most of us will be weighing the increasing price of gas when making our decisions on which destination to visit. The BEST piece of advice found in the article? “Book a package deal.”  Amen.

Whether you are traveling across the country or just taking a “staycation”— here is the #1 GOLDEN TIP from your friends who work in tourism:  find the package deals.

Convention and Visitors Bureaus are DESTINATION MARKETING ORGANIZATIONS. That means that year-round, we are showcasing the best of our destinations to lure you to visit us. We track where people are going, when they are visiting, what their travel preferences are and how they are spending their travel dollars. So, we can tell you where to go and where to save. For example, every summer—we watch our Kids Eat FREE Columbus Zoo/COSI Getaway package numbers increase exponentially.  Why? Because visitors (a) want to visit the #1 Zoo and #1 Science Center in the nation, (b) they like discounted attraction tickets and free kids meals (c) they don’t want to spend 2-4 days of their vacation driving in the car with the kids and (d) they want a great experience.

So, look before you book. Start with your targeted destination’s convention and visitors bureau.  CVBs KNOW their areas. Really well.  Visit their web site. Call them for insider tips, ticket deals, hotel specials. Yes—you can do your own research—but why wouldn’t you talk with a local first? They’ll tell you their favorite restaurants, who has a half-price admission on Wednesday, and where the free factory tours and best splash pads are located.  Then pack the car (and your sunscreen), unplug and GO HAVE FUN!  And, if you happen to end up in Dublin, Ohio — be sure to stop by the Dublin Convention and Visitors Bureau and say ‘hi!’

~Post by Mary

‘Tis the season for Wildlights at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium! Can you help us come up with a caption for this photo of the Columbus Zoo’s Jack Hanna with a couple of his 2-legged friends?

This insider Guest Post comes to us from Katie Ronske, Communications Assistant at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.

Since Wildlights at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium was named one of the American Bus Association’s Top 100 Events in North America, we knew we had to go bigger and brighter than ever before … and that’s exactly what we did!

 This year, we’re spreading Wildlights cheer to the whole world, literally! In addition to millions of LED lights decking the halls, trees and bushes, guests will find a 24-foot in diameter, 8,200 lb. globe in the center of Conservation Lake that serves as the centerpiece for Global Celebrations, a brand new animated music and light show. The 8-minute light extravaganza features new songs and new designs and runs every thirty minutes from 5:45 p.m. to close.

In addition to Global Celebrations, Polar Pete’s Holiday Wishes Tree will help light up the chilly winter nights this year. This 28-foot-tall artificial sequoia tree shines bright with 15,500 LED lights. Here, guests can stop and say “happy holidays” to Rodney Reindeer and Wally Walrus before having their photos taken with Santa and Mrs. Claus.

Of course, we had to stay true to Wildlights tradition. Guests can still see Santa in his holiday home at the Battelle Ice Bear Outpost, visit his reindeer at Polar Frontier, take a ride on the Polar Bear Express or the Mini Kiddie Sleigh Ride, hear sounds of the season at the Animals on Safari stage and more.

Celebrate the season at Wildlights now thru January 1, 2012. Festivities take place from 5-9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 5-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. For more information please visit www.columbuszoo.org
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Give your family the gift of fun! Treat them to a Columbus Zoo Wildlights Getaway package–featuring an overnight stay at a choice of 6 Dublin hotels, plus complimentary kids tickets to Wildlights and free Kids Meal coupons. Packages start at just $99 and are available through 12.31.11. Visit www.IrishisanAttitude.com or call the Dublin Convention & Visitors Bureau 800/245-8387 to learn more.

*Wildlights is efficiently powered by gridSMART from AEP Ohio.

Sigh. The busy summer travel season has come to a close again. Wait. Let me say that again … the busy summer travel season has come to a close again. Back in the day, that meant you had to wait another year until vacation rolled around again. But it’s a brand new day! Take it from a die-hard traveler, there couldn’t be a better time to take a getawaythan Fall. Why, you ask?Dublin Ohio Fall Getaways

1)      We’ve got your color. Ohio is showcasing its auburn leaves, orange pumpkins, golden sunsets and amber waves of grain (or corn or soybeans). There are hayrides, apple picking, pumpkin patches and ghost tours awaiting. The temperatures are cooler, the bonfires are warmer. Now is the time to stop and catch your breath.   Hint: DiscoverOhio.com (the website for the Ohio Division of Tourism) offers a Fall Color Report, an Autumn Adventures section and a myriad of fun events happening all over the Buckeye State.   

2)      Great rates. With the kids back in school and folks back to their fall routine, there are plenty of great hotel rates and packages to be found, making it possible for you to visit the same places you were considering a month ago … at a fraction of the price! Competition is fierce for your travel dollar at this time of year.   Hint:  Search online for great deals. Don’t forget to visit the Convention & Visitors Bureau websites of your destination—where you’re likely to find great, exclusive deals like the Dublin CVB’s Fall Getaway Package (which offers discounted passes to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium and COSI Columbus).

3)      No Crowds.  Call me crazy, but I love to explore a Zoo, museum, shopping mall and other attractions when I don’t have to wait in long lines, get bumped by people around me or herded in mass crowds like sheep.  You, too? Then Fall could be your magic travel season, as well.  Hint: Mondays are usually one of the “lightest traffic days” at attractions, museums, etc. If you are going on the weekend, start early and arrive when the gates open to get a jump on the crowds. Check attraction calendars for special events.

4)      FOOTBALL!  At risk of contradicting what I just said about crowds, I have to admit that there are those rare occasions where you WANT to be part of a large crowd … like a college Football Game!  There’s something about being packed into a stadium like sardines, all dressed in your team colors and screaming GO BUCKS! (Or whatever your lesser team of choice might be : – )  Hint:  Check for online packages that cater to fans. For example, our OSU Football Getaway offers a choice of discounted hotels and team related goodies. (Tickets not included.)

For other autumn Ohio Travel ideas, visit www.IrishisanAttitude.com or www.DiscoverOhio.com.  

~Post by Mary