CLE Holiday Magic for Kids
Cleveland is stacked with holiday fun for kids of all ages
By Lexi Hotchkiss
We'd all be fooling ourselves if we didn't agree that kids make the holidays about 10 times more special.
Call us cheesy, but yes, there is something magical about watching a little tot light up at the sight of a large, jolly man in a red suit. And, you'd be heartless to not feel some tenderness when experiencing a child gazing at a glimmering light show for the very first time.
Cleveland offers a wide variety of holiday happenings that are great for kiddos of all ages. There are the biggies like The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad's Polar Express (sold out! But pencil it in for next year), Winterfest, GLOW and Holiday CircleFest, which are absolutely spot-on perfect for your minis. And there are tons more.
So, during this holiday season, consider spending less time trying to find that must-have-toy-of-the-season and travel to Cleveland to create lasting holiday memories with your little ones. Besides, they'll remember their time with you long after that overpriced toy has lost its luster.
Yeah, yeah. We know you’ve watched Frozen about 10,239 times. Chances are, your kids enjoyed it every. single. time. But, there’s honestly not much else like seeing Elsa, Anna, Olaf and the crew on the giant, six-story-tall screen in the Great Lakes Science Center’s Cleveland Clinic DOME Theater. Kids—decked out in their PJs—can watch the movie after enjoying a decadent hot cocoa bar on Dec. 10 and 17. NOTE: This event is wildly popular and sells out quickly. Reserve tickets by calling 216.621.2400. [Also, be sure to check out Winter Week at the GLSC Dec. 26-31.]
Lake Metroparks: Candy Land Has Gone Wild!
Not many people associate wintertime with the wonders of nature—or at least choose to explore them amid frosty temps. But take a jaunt through Lake Metroparks' Wild Days of Winter and that notion will quickly be jettisoned. From Nov. 19-Jan. 1, kids can immerse themselves in a life-size board game that moves them along spaces where they'll interact with the many things nature gives us in the winter.
Thanksgiving at the Zoo
Strap on your stretchy jeggings and keep your football-watching-armchair at bay, The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo offers free admission on Thanksgiving Day. Enjoy special holiday treats while participating in interesting enrichment presentations (like watching a tiger awesomely destroy a pumpkin).
Great Wolf Lodge Snowland
Yes, you and the fam can enjoy tropical 84-degree temps during the holidays right here in Northeast Ohio. No, we're definitely not suggesting sending your kids to a hot yoga class. Instead, splash on over to Great Wolf Lodge Sandusky, an indoor water park that, from. Nov. 26-Jan. 1, transforms into Great Wolf Lodge Snowland. Kids can attend North Pole University, explore Santa's workshop and enjoy the daily snow shows in the Grand Lobby (they actually make it snow indoors).
Roscoe Village Christmas Candlelighting
Now's the time to remind your kids that the 1980s were definitely not "the olden days," despite their (slightly adorable) misconceptions of your age. Immerse them in a true old-fashioned Christmas at Historic Roscoe Village, a small village that comes to life in the 19th century. The brood and you can take horse-drawn carriage rides, roast chestnuts, stroll with carolers and devour complimentary hot-mulled cider and Christmas cookies. Christmas Candlelighting tours, luminaries and visits with Santa happen Dec. 3, 10 and 17.
SCUBA Claus at The Greater Cleveland Aquarium
This dude Santa can fly a magical sleigh around the entire world stopping at the homes of children to deliver gifts. All. In. One. Night. So, it should come as no surprise that the guy can also SCUBA dive. Meet SCUBA Claus as he swims throughout the tanks at the Greater Cleveland Aquarium with more than 5,000 underwater sea creatures Nov. 25-Dec. 24, but be sure to check their site for specific days/hours.
December Days at the Zoo
A little December chill in the air won't stop the excitement offered at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. After all, this awesome place offers 365 action-packed days of excitement each year. Board the complimentary heated shuttle to the Primate, Cat & Aquatics Building to see the gorillas, lemurs, snow leopards and more; visit the state-of-the-art Elephant Care and Visitors Center; or take a break inside the 80-degree Rainforest to check out the orangutans and otters. These activities, along with holiday crafts and live music, are just a few of the many things happening during December Days at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo Dec. 26-30.
Farmpark Toy Workshop
What ever happened to the awesomeness that was Shop Class? It doesn't matter this holiday season because Lake Metroparks Farmpark presents the Farmpark Toy Workshop Nov. 25-27 and Dec. 27-31. Kids ages 2-11 can select from a wall full of wooden toys; sit town with a worker elf to assemble the toy using drills, power screwdrivers, hammers and nails; and then paint and glitter their new toy. Take that, liberal arts education.
Ghostly Manor Christmas Light Show
After Halloween, the spirits are put to rest at Ghostly Manor Thrill Center and the Sandusky haunted house decks its halls with a rather spectacular Christmas light show. Choreographed to seven songs over FM radio, the 25-minute light show is synchronized with more than 75,000 lights that can be enjoyed from the warmth of your vehicle. The event happens Nov. 23–Jan. 1, but if you want to meet Santa, get there on Wednesdays in December (4-8 p.m.).
If you've got a kid who goes absolutely bananas over holiday films, then gas-up the mini van and get him over to Castle Noel in Medina. Here, you'll find a rather mind-blowing collection of Hollywood memorabilia like the original Buddy the Elf costume and the Grinch's sleigh from the 2000 film How the Grinch Stole Christmas. While there, you can train to be Santa by trying to squeeeeeze down a chimney and even slide down Santa Klaus Mountain just like Ralphie in A Christmas Story.
Holiday Performances at Playhouse Square
While Playhouse Square is abuzz with blockbuster holiday shows throughout the months of November and December, there are a few shows that cater especially to the kiddos. Check out The Singing Angels, a troupe of three choruses comprised of more than 200 children, singing a range of holiday classics on Nov. 20. Or, get cozy with Cindy Lou Who and Max during Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas: The Musical performing live Dec. 6-11.
Kringle’s Inventionasium Experience
This takes "meeting Santa" to a whole new level. The event entertains families from all over the world and boasts one of the "Best Santas in the U.S.” according to TIME.com. Kids can channel their inner elves and stretch their creative muscles by inventing and building toys for the holiday season.