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The Legendary Lights of Clifton Mill near Dayton

clifton mill

If we still lived in Huntsville, we would have jumped in the car, zipped across town and enjoyed viewing the Galaxy of Lights, as we have the past two years. Now that we’re back in Ohio, I thought it would be a great time to begin a new light viewing tradition. Originally, my thoughts were that it would be really fun to seek out the best light displays in Ohio and visit one each weekend until Christmas.

It sounded great in my head anyway. I quickly changed my mind once I voiced my idea.

Chelsea and I

My daughter and I. No, it’s not just the Santa hat. She really is taller than me.

Some of the family was up for it, but not everyone was on board with the idea. So with much grumbling, we jumped in the car, picked up my mother-in-law and drove nearly two hours  to view the Legendary Lights at Clifton Mill near Dayton, Ohio.

I was wagering that once we arrived and my kids saw the lights, they’d forget about the drive and enjoy the display.  Or so I hoped.

Our visit would coincide with the opening weekend and take place on a Saturday, so I was prepared for crowds. We arrived early, easily found the free parking lot and followed the already gathering bystanders towards the gate.

Personally, I enjoyed walking around and viewing the mill without the lights. Arriving early allowed us time see some of the displays before it got really busy.

We saw the nativity- every Christmas display should have one.

The amazing animated miniature village features dozens of tiny scenes, including a miniature Clifton mill and village, a moving train, and an OSU stadium- after all, this is the Buckeye State!

The Toy Shop displays dozens of vintage games, toys and sleds from the 1940’s, 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s. I saw many items that I recognized from my own childhood.

They also had this light from the Christmas Story on display.

Santa’s Workshop adjoins the Toy Shop where you can peek inside the windows and see Santa hard at work.

We made our way through the Santa display which includes over 3,000 Santa Clauses and claims to be the largest Santa display in the US!

At exactly 6 p.m. the mill goes from hushed darkness to a brilliant display of color.

The best place to view the amazing transformation is on the deck outside the seating area of the mill’s restaurant or somewhere along the fence between the covered bridge and the water wheel.

Across the bank you can see the beautiful rippling waterfall of lights. It takes over 3.6 million lights to put on a display of this magnitude.

Every hour on the hour guests gather around the covered bridge to watch an unbelievable mind-blowing light show synchronized to dramatic Christmas music that I haven’t been able to get out of my head since that night.  Da da da da….

window clifton hill 075

Just as the show ended at the covered bridge, we saw Santa pop out of the chimney of his workshop. If you miss him, don’t worry. He reappears every 20 minutes and between his appearances, you can peek through the windows of his workshop and spy on him as he tinkers around.


Don’t forget to take another peek at the miniature display once the lights are turned on. I loved the miniature Clifton Mill.

window clifton hill 082

Before you head home make sure you stop in the Country Store gift shop for some of the Mill’s special pancake mix. Doesn’t Apple Cinnamon or Blueberry pancakes sound especially yummy?

Details for visiting:

Clifton Mill is located in the charming town of Clifton, about 30 miles east of Dayton or 40 miles south west of Columbus, just outside Springfield. You’ll find the mill at  75 Water St. Clifton, OH 45316.

Hours of operation are 5 p.m. until 9 p.m. every night. I highly suggest that you arrive before the lights come on at 6 p.m. for the most memorable experience.  The gates close an hour early on Christmas Eve, Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

In the event of severe weather or rain, Clifton Mill will not be open. If you are in doubt or you’ll be driving quite a distance,  call ahead to confirm their hours at 937-767-5501.

Admission is $10 per person for everyone age 7 and older, younger children are free.

You can find out about the history of the mill and additional information on the Clifton Mill website.

Don’t let the price (or a bit of a drive) scare you, I think it was worth every penny and if you’re curious, my wager paid off. My teenagers did enjoy the outing.

If you missed it you can read my post 5 Christmas Light Displays worth the Drive. What Christmas light displays have you enjoyed?


Shirley Bunting

Tuesday 11th of December 2018

Just gorgeous.

Tonya Prater

Monday 24th of December 2018

It is a beautiful display!


Monday 3rd of October 2016

Hi Tonya! We were thinking of making a trip to the mill. Have you been there other times of the year? I was thinking it would be beautiful in the fall, but maybe I should wait until the holidays??? :-)


Tuesday 11th of October 2016

Sorry! Just saw this. The mill is gorgeous other times of the year as well, but it's especially beautiful at Christmas. Fall would be a pretty time to visit though with the leaves changing color and the waterfall. Let me know what you think if you visit. Protection Status
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