Sometimes, Nature Calls
We mean plants, animals, and wilderness parks (of course)
By Denise Koeth
You're never too old (or too young) to learn something new. And with summer providing the perfect excuse to get outside, you'll have more fun if you know more about what you're looking at. Cleveland offers a wealth of information on everything from the cosmos to that weird bug you can't identify, so get inspired at some of the city's best science and nature spots.
Experience a close encounter of the furry, feathery or scaly kind at this Bay Village facility. View actual wildlife recovery as part of the Kenneth A. Scott Wildlife Education and Rehabilitation Program, which takes in approximately 1,200 injured and ill wild animals each year. If your interests are more extraterrestrial, the on-site planetarium offers entertainment for the youngest "twinkle tots" to adults.
See where your food comes from (before the grocery store) and where your clothes originated (prior to The Gap) at this educational extravaganza in Kirtland. Meet a variety of farm animals and learn about their care. See how flour, cheese, and ice cream are made, soak in a maple syrup tutorial, and take part in crop planting or harvesting, depending on the season.
Operated by the Geauga Park District, this Dark Sky Park (one of only 20 worldwide) is the place for stargazing near Cleveland. View planetarium shows and get up close and personal with a meteorite at the Robert McCullough Science Center, or peek through the Oberle Observatory's partially retractable roof using a Newtonian reflector telescope, requiring visitors to climb a ladder to look into the eyepiece.
Take in both arms of the recently merged Holden Arboretum and Cleveland Botanical Garden for all your birding, hiking, and botany needs. At the Botanical Garden, located in the Cleveland cultural mecca of University Circle, stroll through 10 acres of outdoor gardens before entering the 18,000-square-foot Eleanor Armstrong Smith Glasshouse. Envision your own personal biodome as you travel from the butterfly-filled Costa Rican rainforest to the spiny desert of Madagascar. Holden Arboretum, in nearby Kirtland, is home to more than 20 miles of hiking trails, multiple gardens, and sprawling natural areas, and some 218 species of birds that have been reliably reported since the facility's inception. Combined, the arboretum and botanical garden are the 13th largest public garden in United States.