Kids in CLE
Things to Do in Cleveland with Kids
By Lexi Hotchkiss
Having a kid changes everything. Especially traveling.
Now that you've got a family in tow, you're in need of fun family-friendly experiences that get those little brain juices running, giggles a' flowing and pictures that will have Grandma jonesing for more.
And, chances are, you don't have the time, patience or extra cash lying around to gamble on attractions that may not be fit for the fam.
So, in no particular order, check out these 15 year-round kid-friendly experiences in The Land:
There are zoos. And, then there's the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo & Rainforest - 183 acres filled with more than 2,000 animals representing 600 species from six continents. Don't miss the Rosebrough Tiger Passage, a totally renovated sanctuary in which you'll come within inches of Amur tigers who'll literally walk above your head (yikes stripes!), as well as the all-new Asian Highlands exhibit with snow leopard cubs, red pandas and takins.
Image by Cody York
Not many destinations can boast a national park just minutes outside of a major city. Cleveland can. Add to that, the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad offers rides aboard its vintage rails through 33,000 acres of Mother Nature's finest. In warmer weather months, enjoy biking on the Ohio & Erie Canalway Towpath Trail.
Image Courtesy Children's Museum of Cleveland
Inside this historic mansion along Euclid Avenue is a brand-new children's museum perfect for kiddos up to age 8. While inside this multi-sectioned museum, check out Adventure City, a two-story city-themed playground, featuring a market, construction site, garage and the kind of climbing opportunities that kids live for. It's like a massive game of House ... but on steroids.
Whether they're still in diapers or preparing for prom, kids of all ages (ahem ... adults, too) can get that OMG-look-at-that-shark's-teeth experience inside the Greater Cleveland Aquarium. The historic building is home to more than 5,000 sea creatures and the nation's largest underwater walk-through viewing tube.
Do you just know in your heart that Junior is the next Einstein? Put him to test at the GLSC where his hair will stand on end, he'll make shadow photographs, play with pulleys and even help make things explode - all in the name of SCIENCE!
Image Courtesy Cleveland Museum of Natural History
For real, there's a TON for kids to do at the CMNH. But, be sure to make a show at the Shafran Planetarium, which will blow your kids' minds with a cool nighttime sky that'll teach them about the universe. Afterward, make way for the recently renovated and totally interactive outdoor wildlife center featuring bald eagles, foxes, bobcats, coyotes and other live animals.
Image Courtesy Cleveland Botanical Garden
In between exploring the numerous gardens at the CBG, make a stop at the institution's two indoor glasshouses. Kids inevitably go bonkers inside the rainforest glasshouse where hundreds of butterflies - many of which land right on your shoulders - swarm the gorgeous interior. Added bonus: The Hershey Children's Garden offers hours of outdoor fun in the summertime.
You can hand-milk an actual, legit dairy cow at this agriculturally focused science and cultural center. Crazy, right? Other activities perfect for city slicker (or suburban) kids include wagon rides, wheat grinding and the opportunity to greet the farm's pigs, sheep, goats, llamas, alpacas and chickens.
Image Courtesy Great Wolf Lodge
With kids, factoring weather into your travel plans is such a pain. So, don't do it. Head west of Cleveland to Sandusky, Ohio, home to several family-friendly indoor waterparks like Great Wolf Lodge and Castaway Bay. The oh-so-excellent bonus is that they offer an all-in-one experience so that you can swim, play, eat and stay overnight in one location.
Image by Cody York
Experience spectacular theatrics and pyrotechnics during a Cleveland Cavaliers NBA game. Run the bases and take part in plenty of kids' activities at a Cleveland Indians MLB game. Or, give the team your best "WOOF WOOF WOOF" during a Cleveland Browns NFL game.
Looking to burn off that endless energy your kid's been harboring in the backseat of your minivan all day? Get to Swings-N-Things, which offers year-round fun like a huge indoor playground, laser tag, video games and air hockey. During warmer months, enjoy go-karts, bumper boats and mini golf.
Get this: There's a money tree you can visit at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland. Before you book your ticket on a space voyage with Richard Branson, let us tell you that it's actually an educational exhibit inside the Learning Center and Money Museum. (Sorry to crush your dreams.) But, it's a great attraction where kids learn about money and currency.
Here's a quick and easy way to become the Best. Parent. EVER. Take ‘em to b.a. Sweetie Candy Company, a massive candy warehouse featuring 400,000 pounds of different types of candy including everything from classic Snickers bars to chocolate-covered crickets. Better still, this massive candy kingdom comes complete with a candy-themed miniature golf course and a soda shop with make-your-own sundaes.
Cleveland wears an emerald necklace. And, no, it's not because we're so fancy. This is a term we give to the Cleveland Metroparks, 23,000 acres of greenspace encircling the city. Warmer weather brings hiking, biking, fishing, swimming and paddleboarding at its dozens of reservations. In wintertime, experience toboggan chutes, sledding and snowshoeing. Did I mention there are lots and lots of playgrounds?
Image by Cody York
So, your kid probably isn't psyched to hear she's going to a history center. Instead, tell her she's going to ride the historic Euclid Beach carousel; check out airplanes and cars from eras past; and learn to cook over a fire, hearth, range and microwave oven. While they're busy doing all that, you'll be exploring the fascinating history of Northeast Ohio.
A Snail-Mail Surprise
Who are you going to ask for the inside scoop on your visit to Cleveland? That guy outside the convenience store? Or, the destination experts? Request to receive an Official Visitors Guide (yes, a real glossy publication featuring all things Cleveland) sent to your home or office here.