CLE does winter
The cold never bothered us anyway
By Heather Tunstall, Annie Zaleski and Danielle Frezza, Image by Cody York
Inclement weather can hit at any time, but don’t let that snow on your parade. After all, Cleveland has a way of shining, both outdoors and indoors. Need some ideas? Keep reading for ways to stay warm or celebrate the chill.
Cold weather, hot attractions
Bring on the snow! Cleveland's got the perfect wintry balance of chilly temps and moderate snowfall to frost the area without it getting obnoxious (like, bury-your-house obnoxious). Most of the time. For you snow-lovers out there, here are some fun places to go and things to do that celebrate the cold season.
Outdoor skating, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and hiking
Ice skate to your heart's delight at the beautifully renovated Cleveland Foundation Skating Rink in Public Square. Glide alongside Cleveland's most iconic buildings seven days per week through Feb. 28. Pick a time that coincides with one of the many events taking place this winter Downtown to get the most out of your visit.
University Circle's Rink at Wade Oval, located in the middle of Cleveland's world-class museum district, is open now through March 4, 2018. Activities include ice skating lessons every Saturday, live music, open skating and much more. There are even discounts to area attractions with a Rink wristband.
Away from urban sprawl you can enjoy hiking, cross-country skiing, downhill skiing, snow tubing, snowshoeing, sledding and ice fishing in Ohio's only national park, Cuyahoga Valley National Park. The park's Winter Sports Center at the Kendall Lake Shelter rents snowshoes and cross-country skis. In ideal conditions, the center is open weekends December through February.
Sledding, downhill skiing and snowboarding
Just west of Cleveland in Strongsville, The Chalet Recreation Area in the Cleveland Metroparks Mill Stream Run Reservation boasts two icy toboggan chutes, which plummet a brave 1,000 feet at 40-plus mph.
Located in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Boston Mills/Brandywine Ski Resorts, just down the road from one another, offer some of Ohio's best skiing and snowboarding with 88 acres of groomed slopes and 264 feet of vertical. Their Polar Blast area also offers 20 lanes of snow tubing between the two resorts.
Beauty on the inside
Winter in Northeast Ohio tends to be long. No one is arguing that point. But after you’ve had your fill of snowy wonderland activities, you can escape the cold without heading south. Here are some fun, weather-not-permitting excursions that will make you forget the words “wind chill” and “lake effect.”
Shoot, score and slam
Check out the star-studded roster of the Cleveland Cavaliers and enjoy the in-game show on the flame-shooting, HD arena scoreboard. While you're there, eat signature culinary classics from Cleveland's award-winning chefs like Iron Chef Michael Symon, Jonathon Sawyer and Rocco Whalen, who have stands inside the Q. The Cavs have plenty of home games remaining this season, so make sure you score tickets to one of the greatest shows in town.
Cheer on the Cleveland Monsters, Cleveland's American Hockey League team and 2016 Calder Cup champs. Did you know that 88 percent of the players you see in the NHL got their start in this league? The Monsters always put on an energizing and captivating show for people all of ages.
Extreme adrenaline rushes
Open only October through April, Ray's MTB Indoor Bike Park offers MTB and MBX courses geared at all levels of difficulty. At this "fun, no-attitude, indoor bicycle park," let your inner daredevil do the biking.
Boss Pro-Karting is more than your average race track. Karts aren't driven in a loop; instead it's a path of challenging twists and turns. Your lap speed and skill are tracked and displayed so that you can compete with others in your group, and a mobile app let's you study the track to plan out your strategy.
Costa Rica, New Zealand, Hawaii and ... Cleveland? Yep, you can now count Cleveland among the world's most fun ziplining destinations, thanks to Zip City. The only indoor ziplining park on the planet offers five ziplines that allow you and yours to fly three stories high. Add in a trampoline park, arcade and rock-climbing wall for a ridiculous amount of year-round fun. Pro tip: Package up with 1- 2- or 3-hour unlimited zipping to save some cash.
Kick it up a notch at Play: CLE, a brand new, 25,000-square foot adventure park. What's that even mean, you ask? It means you can cruise down the longest indoor zip line in Ohio, or challenge yourself on one of the largest ninja courses in the entire Midwest. You can boulder, parkour, wall climb, or swing on the ropes course. There's even a dedicated kids area and on-site dining, so you can make a full day of it with the family.
Take in the scenery from the warmth of a train. The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad chugs through 33,000 acres of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio's 12,000-year-old forest and the 11th most visited of all national parks in the country. Take a trip with a view and choose your favorite themed event, including murder mysteries, beer tastings or brunches, among others.
Music to your ears
Plan to spend most of the day at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. The jewel of the North Coast boasts artifacts, memorabilia, listening stations and films—including the new, multimedia Power of Rock Experience honoring inductees.
The party doesn't stop there as Cleveland has an abundance of unique live music venues. For a classical fix, visit majestic Severance Hall and see the world-famous Cleveland Orchestra. Rock 'n' rollers can check out Waterloo Road staple the Beachland Ballroom & Tavern—the former Croatian Liberty Home that's booked everyone from the White Stripes to the Sonics—or Coventry indie music mecca the Grog Shop. Nighttown and the BOP STOP @ the Music Settlement offer up jazz-oriented programming (among other things). And on the Flats West Bank, the Music Box Supper Club boasts some of the best views of the Cuyahoga River along with a large concert hall with a cozy, supper club-style stage.
Sharpen your mind by trying an escape room, which requires groups of people to pool their knowledge in order to get out of a locked space. Locally, Perplexity Games—Escape Room Challenge and Escape Hunt Cleveland are brain-teasing bets.
Cleveland's art scene is diverse and invigorating. The world-renowned Cleveland Museum of Art—which boasts over 40,000 pieces—is free. Make a day of it, and also check out some cutting-edge exhibits at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) as you journey through University Circle. In Ohio City, the recently opened location of beloved gallery SPACES joins CMA satellite Transformer Station—while just down the street, in the former American Greetings building, the 78th Street Studios offers a sprawling maze of colorful galleries.
Flash back to the '80s and '90s at 16-Bit Bar + Arcade, the always-packed Downtown Lakewood destination, which puts an adult twist on the kid-friendly arcades of yore. For pinball aficionados, Gordon Square's Superelectric Pinball Parlor—a cozy corner storefront crammed full of old and new machines—is the place to be. Both the east and west side outposts of Happy Dog have pinball—in fact, the venue hosts the popular Cleveland Pinball League. Flats East Bank's Punch Bowl Social has all of this and much, much more—including bowling, karaoke, Skee-Ball and pool. Or head west into Westlake to Dave & Buster's, an all-ages arcade sure to make the whole fam happy (and competitive).
For more traditional gaming, you can head over to Ohio City's Tabletop, a cozy and inclusive Ohio City establishment that's a gaming paradise catering to all ages and skill levels, or The Side Quest in Lakewood, where you can get your geek on in what feels like the coolest basement rec room ever.
Get your sea legs
The Greater Cleveland Aquarium is perfect for sea-creature-loving kids of all ages. Not only does it have tons of fun events—including family-friendly overnight stays and a swimming Santa during the holiday season—but it also has a giant shark tube and a stingray petting zone.
Shop 'til you drop
Check out the wares at Ohio City anchor the West Side Market—everything from produce and meats to specialty kitchen delicacies—or browse the boutiques and galleries at the 5th Street Arcades. Downtown Cleveland mall Tower City also has a massive cinema that's perfect for indoor fun.
Who says shuffleboard is old-fashioned? Not Forest City Shuffleboard, which pairs five indoor shuffleboard courts with pop-up food offerings and a hefty drink menu.
You'll shoot your eye out! Head to A Christmas Story House, the 19th-century Victorian in Tremont that was used in the 1983 film of the same name—and is now a museum dedicated to the seasonal favorite.
History buffs are sure in luck: The Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton are world-class institutions. The Cleveland History Center at the Western Reserve Historical Society, meanwhile, is a fascinating look at what makes Northeast Ohio such a cultural, political and entrepreneurial hotspot for innovation. And the Baseball Heritage Museum chronicles baseball's multicultural history and impact on the site of League Park.
The Great Lakes Science Center covers all the scientific bases—physics, biology, chemistry, astronomy and all points in between—in the form of hands-on learning and exhibits.
Take a gamble
Get the kids a babysitter, and spend a day (or night) at the JACK Cleveland Casino playing live poker, table games or the slots. Of course, you'll work up an appetite gambling, so grab a sandwich at Corky & Lenny's or a burger at Stack'd. Or take a road trip out to the Hard Rock Rocksino Northfield Park to catch a show or spend an afternoon at the slot machines.
With nine indoor theaters, Playhouse Square has a packed schedule of concerts, Broadway musicals, plays, dance performances and much, much more. In Gordon Square, the Cleveland Public Theatre offers thought-provoking plays, while the east side's Karamu House produces education and community programs while honoring the African-American experience.
Cleveland remains a bowling mecca—and whether your preference is traditional (Corner Alley, with locations Downtown and near University Circle; Lakewood retro haven Mahall's) or duckpin (try the Hi and Dry in Tremont), there are no shortage of options.
Summer Fun in Winter
We get it. Some people just simply hate the cold and want nothing to do with it, and want to downright escape it. That's fine—there are plenty of places around Cleveland that make you forget about the snow and think you're in the heat of June.
Cleveland Botanical Garden and Rockefeller Greenhouse
Walk amongst the baobab trees or watch butterflies flit by in the Cleveland Botanical Garden's indoor glasshouses, a year-round tropical paradise. Or head just down the street to the Rockefeller Greenhouse, where you'll be greeted by the lush scent of fresh flowers as you walk the paths in this indoor garden set to a warm temperature.
Porco Lounge & Tiki Room
Picturing yourself sipping a cocktail in a Polynesian paradise? Get your fix at Porco Lounge & Tiki Room on West 25th Street, between hot-spot neighborhoods Ohio City and Tremont. Why drink from a regular bar glass when you can sip from a pineapple, upside down ceramic skull, pirate face or tiki mug? Drinks vary widely from specialties such as the Fog Cutter (complete with dry ice for effect) to traditional Mai Tais. Soak it all up with a sampling of small plates, and you've got yourself a mini-vacation.
Great Wolf Lodge
Located in Sandusky, this indoor water park is always calibrated to 84 degrees Fahrenheit for a relaxing and delightful way to forget that Lake Erie is frozen outside. The resort offers access to slides, hot tubs, climbing structures, and a lazy river with your reservation. There is also a restaurant—along with four other dining spots—and souvenir shops, which make for a perfect extended stay. Great Wolf Lodge also provides guests with a fitness center, arcade, and interactive game MagiQuest. There’s also live entertainment and activities for the little wolf pups in your family—so be sure to bring the entire pack.
Cleveland Metroparks Zoo’s RainForest
It’s easy to feel like you’re on the equator once inside the Metroparks' RainForest exhibit. Showcasing more than 600 animals and 10,000 plants, the all-indoor RainForest has offered visitors insight into the world’s most diverse and endangered wildlife since 1992. Not just a warm and colorful haven from the chilly walk around the zoo, this “living museum” is one of the largest educational presentations of its kind. The two-acre building features a 25-foot waterfall, research center, tropical rainstorm simulation, and interactive exhibits that promote leadership and education for the preservation of the African, Asian, and South American jungles.
This winter you can close your eyes and dream of warm, exotic places at Barroco Grill. This Lakewood or Larchmere spot (there are two locations) boasts an extensive menu of Colombian-inspired fare (and BYOB!) amidst vibrant décor and live music on weekends. You will feel like you are at an impromptu party in Bogota. A Barroco specialty is the Arepa—a white hominy corn-grilled pocket filled with the guest’s choice of ingredients. Other menu items include beef entrees, sandwiches, and sweet and savory loaded plantains.