A trip to the Dickens Victorian Village in Cambridge Ohio during the holiday season should be on everyone’s Christmas Bucket List and we’re sharing a few reasons why you won’t want to miss it!
Each year, at the beginning of November, the charming Ohio town of Cambridge is transformed into old-world England and the most adorable Christmas town you ever want to lay eyes on.
Take the beautiful historic architecture with classic storefronts and add almost two-hundred hand-crafted, life-sized Dickens characters to line the streets depicting classic Dickens scenes with Christmas music emanating through the air from the courthouse light show, and add a dusting of snow and you have the perfect recipe for a Hallmark movie.
It almost sounds too good to be true doesn’t it? I can assure you a road trip to Cambridge is sure to get you in the holiday spirit.
Where is the City of Cambridge?
Cambridge, Ohio is located in Guernsey Country just about 80 miles east of Columbus and less than 70 miles south of Akron. Cambrige is a very drivable destination but if you opt not to road trip, you’ll find directions from the two closest major airports below.
While you’ll find a small, regional airport, most people who travel to Cambridge fly into John Glenn International Airport (CMH) in Columbus, rent a vehicle and follow I-270 S toward Wheeling to I-70 E which will lead them directly into Cambridge in less than an hour and a half.
Another option is to fly into the Akron-Canton Regional Airport (CAK), rent a car and follow I-77 S to EXIT 47 Cadiz/Cambridge which will take you to downtown Cambridge in about an hour.
Who would Best Enjoy the Annual Dickens Display?
Cambridge is a great year-round Ohio vacation destination but the Dickens Experience makes it a popular winter getaway for families, couples, or as I recently discovered, girlfriends.
I asked one of my best friends from elementary school to join me in Cambridge to check out the Dickens Victorian Village.
With shopping, food, and Christmas lights, what more could we ask for?
Planning Your Dickens Victorian Village Getaway
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Dickens Victorian Village Welcome Center
647 Wheeling Avenue Cambridge
Your first stop should be at the Dickens Welcome Center.
When you step inside you’ll find friendly costumed volunteers ready to share the rich history of the Dickens Village which began 16 years ago by a local artist and businessman, Boy Ley.
After watching buses of tourists visit Ogleby, West Virginia to see their Christmas Lights every year, he knew there must be something that could be done to bring visitors to Cambridge.
He and his wife came up with the idea for creating Dickens characters and placing them in classic scenes along the sidewalks.
- the sketches that Bob Ley created which started it all
- learn how the faces for each character is sculpted and painted by local artists
- see the wooden structures that serve as the skeleton for the mannequin bodies
Today, what started as a dream by one man to bring tourists to this small Appalachian town in Ohio has grown to a community effort that welcomes people from all over the globe. Gerald Dickens, the great-great-grandson of author Charles Dickens has even visited in the past to offer a special reading of The Christmas Carol.
Dickens Victorian Village includes 92 scenes and 180 characters all representing everyday life in the Victorian era.
Visitors to the Welcome Center can purchase souvenirs and gifts from the on-site Curiosity Shoppe, pose for a photo with Dickens, purchase tickets for special events that include the Trolley tours and the Victorian Teas.
Hour-long tours are offered on 12/4 and 12/18 from 10-5 in heated, wheelchair-accessible trolleys.
Just make sure that you don’t leave without picking up a map to ensure you find all the Victorian scenes as well as other shops in the area.
It goes without saying that you won’t want to miss the magic that happens at night when the scenes truly come to life as the antique street lights turn on, but don’t miss the opportunity to appreciate the detail that goes into the lifelike figures and scenes that line Wheeling Avenue by viewing them during the day as well.
While you’re downtown, you should take a few moments to browse the shops with the classic storefronts and appreciate the charming Dickens folks you “meet” along the way, from lamplighters to royalty, you may just run into Tiny Tim, Bob Cratchit, Queen Victoria or Father Christmas. You never know who you’ll run into in the historic Cambridge downtown area.
The Guernsey County Courthouse Light Show
801 Wheeling Ave, Cambridge
The best spot to see Cambridge light up is at the Guernsey County Courthouse, and good news! If you’ve arrived by 5:30 you’re right on time for the nightly light show.
The courthouse holiday light show is probably about as well known as the Dickens village itself! Over 60,000 colorful lights are synchronized to a variety of holiday music selections that include children’s favorites to Mannheim Steamroller. The hour-long light display loops continuously until 9 p.m., later on select weekend nights in December.
Take my advice and grab a seat on one of the few benches in front of the courthouse or pack a portable camp chair from home as seats are limited on the courthouse lawn. You’ll want to be comfortable for this. Watch for a few minutes or kick back and enjoy the entire show before strolling back down Wheeling Avenue to view the evening transformation.
Carraige rides are offered at the courthouse on Friday and Saturday nights from 5:30-9:30.
More Things to do in Cambridge
National Museum of Cambridge Glass
136 S 9th Street, Cambridge
Let’s learn a bit more of the area’s important heritage with a stop at The National Museum of Cambridge Glass.
This museum is a must for anyone interested in glassware or history, plus, you’ll find the largest collection of Cambridge Glass you’ll ever see under one roof.
Costumed docents invite you to the museum and introduce you to the history of Cambridge Glass via a short film and glassmaking demonstration. If nothing else, you’ll leave with a greater appreciation for your grandmother’s stemware that may sit in your cabinet after you learn the 75 steps it took to make a single piece.
See examples of the different types and styles of Cambridge Glass that was made during the factory’s operations. My favorite part of the display is the Hollywood Collection which are look-a-likes of the pieces of Cambridge Glass that have been shown in TV, movies or owned by movie stars like Clark Gable.
You can also try your hand at etching from antique etching plates, see some of the molds used to create the glassware and see a traveling salesman’s original sales kit. You can also shop from the gift shop before you leave.
The museum is open from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays until December 21st. Cost is $5 for General Admission | $4 for AAA Members or Senior Citizens | FREE for ages 12 and under.
9279 Cadiz Road Cambridge
Now that you have an appreciation for how glass is made, it’s time to explore the beautiful Mosser Glass Showroom a.k.a. Retail Store. During non-Covid times you may also tour the factory and see the artisans at work.
Mosser Glass has been in operation for over 40 years and is considered one of the leading manufacturers of high-quality, handcrafted pressed glassware. You’ll find a stunning collection of seasonal and everyday items from pitchers to cake plates to adorable Christmas Trees in a variety of sizes.
If you love glassware, you’ll have a hard time narrowing down your selections. If you love to decorate, you’re in just as much trouble.
My friend and I both picked up a couple of gifts while we were there but I’d be lying if I didn’t add that I wish I had purchased a trio of their white Christmas trees to add to my milk glass collection. No worries, if you leave and suffer regret for NOT purchasing something you may be pleased to know that Mosser ships around the world.
The Mosser Glass Retail Store is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Read my post You’ll Find Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Glass Manufacturing in Cambridge to learn more.
218 N. 8th Street Cambridge
Take a drive to City Park to see the Armstrong Covered Bridge. While closed to vehicle traffic, it is open for foot traffic and a great location for a photo opp.
If you want to take a drive outside of town and see the scenic surrioundings, you’ll find another covered bridge.
Indian Camp Covered Bridge is located on Covered Bridge Road. This will take you about 15-20 minutes out of town but if you like covered bridges, it’s definitely worth it.
Guernsey County Museum
218 N 8th Street Cambridge
At 189- years old, the Guernsey County Museum is one of the oldest homes in Cambridge. Stroll through the 16 rooms, which include an authentic one-room schoolhouse and replica of a coal mine from the late nineteenth century.
Places to Eat in Cambridge
705 Wheeling Avenue Cambridge
McKenna’s Market features many unique items, Ohio made food products, a selection of Ohio Wines and a deli where you can order hot or cold deli sandwiches.
632 Wheeling Ave, Cambridge
Theo’s pride themselves on home cooked food and has been serving food to happy customers since 1931. While you really can’t go wrong with anything served at Theo’s, I would highly recommend that you leave room for a slice of one of their famous pies.
224 Dewey Avenue Cambridge
If you’re traveling with kids or just love pizza, you may want to grab a pizza or stromboli from Creno’s.
Other recommened options include: The Forum Restaurant, Francis Family Restaurant Georgetown Tavern on the Hill and the Bear’s Den Steakhouse.
1025 E. Wheeling Avenue Cambridge
If you have a sweet tooth to satisfy, I’d suggest heading directly to Kennedy’s Bakery. This hometown favorite has been serving the community since 1925. You’ll find made from scratch baked goods ranging from fresh-baked bread to Tea Cookies, Cream Sticks and so much more waiting for you.
Where to Stay in Cambridge
We enjoyed our stay at the Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott. The room was large, and clean and the beds were comfortable. The hotel is also minutes from downtown Cambridge and located directly off the Interstate.
More Hotels and VRBO’s Near the Dickens Victorian Village. Book Your Stay Now!
If you are looking for different accommodation options, you’ll find them below. Book early for the best rates and availability.
For more things to do in the area read 17 Quirky and Unique Things to do in Southeastern Ohio .
More Things to do for Christmas in Ohio
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Have you been to the Dickens Victorian Village in Cambridge? Leave a comment and tell us what you enjoyed most.