Cuyahoga Valley National Park & Scenic Railroad
Northeast Ohioans are pretty lucky. Between Cleveland and Akron sits a long stretch of public greenspace that many cities would kill for. That big, green stretch of wonderful is called the Cuyahoga Valley National Park and it's just a quick drive from civilization. The park covers 33,000 acres of woods, water and wildlife, and is free to the public.
Running along the length of the national park is the Towpath Trail. Joggers and cyclists can travel for 80+ miles along it without crossing traffic and in the beauty of natural wilderness, often with the Cuyahoga River on one side and remnants of the Ohio & Erie Canal on the other.
For those who want to see the park without breaking a sweat, book a trip aboard the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad. The vintage railroad offers trips, including wine and beer excursions on special days, between the suburb of Independence and the city of Akron and back.
Cyclists can hop aboard the train for only $3 from April to October. Bike one direction down the Towpath Trail and take the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad train the other way to double the views. Century Cycles rents bikes in Peninsula, a quaint small town with shops, restaurants and a waterfall along the trail.
Hikers shouldn't miss the ancient rock formations at Ritchie Ledges, which can be found in the national park. A two-mile hike through hemlocks and birch starts in Boston Heights (in between Cleveland and Akron) and runs through dramatic sandstone cliffs.
And, for visitors who want to see a waterfall on their family visit, they can check out the 65-foot-tall Brandywine Falls nestled within the park. Visitors certainly won't find an on-site photo booth where they can create digital images of themselves going over the falls in a barrel, though. Just pure, unadulterated greenspace.
Wherever you wind up in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, stay alert for wildlife sightings. Birders, especially, should keep their binoculars handy. Bald eagles have nested in the park for several years and great blue herons are a common presence.