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When nature calls, Cleveland answers. In and around the city, there’s a plethora of outdoor adventures just waiting to be discovered. From biking to birding, hiking to hitting the fairways, here’s how you can spend a nature-packed weekend in the CLE.
Image © Cody York
Fuel your adventure with breakfast from Blackbird Baking Company in Rocky River. The local bakery specializes in made-from-scratch pastries and artisan breads. Located near the entrance of the Cleveland Metroparks Rocky River Reservation, Blackbird is the perfect pit stop.
Hit the greens for a round of golf — Big Met, Little Met and Mastick Woods golf courses are all located within Rocky River Reservation. Tee times start as early as 6 a.m., so rise and shine, buttercup.
Head to the northernmost part of Rocky River Reservation and find 41° North Coastal Kayak Adventures, where you can rent kayaks and stand-up paddleboards at the Yak Shack Rental Center. No experience? No problem, as all levels of paddlers are welcome. Yak Shack is a 1-mile paddle down the placid Rocky River to Lake Erie. If conditions are calm, paddlers are free to head out onto the Great Lake.
If you’re looking for a little more power, jet ski rentals — in addition to paddle boats, paddle boards and kayaks — are available at Rock & Dock at North Coast Harbor Marina.
Rest up and refuel at one of the many lunch spots downtown. You’re going to need it for the afternoon’s adventures.
Perfect your Tarzan yell at Go Ape Mill Stream Run Reservation, located in nearby Strongsville. Go Ape and Cleveland Metroparks partnered to create a treetop adventure course loaded with adrenaline-pumping zip lines, obstacles and jungle crossings, all with an awe-inspiring view.
Beach, please; it’s time to leave the jungle and head back to the Lake Erie coast for dinner at Edgewater Beach House. Soak up the sandy vibes with made-to-order fare, a full-service bar and one of the best views in town.
Catch a sunset with gorgeous skyline views and snap a selfie with the Cleveland script sign at Edgewater Park. Cool down with a scoop of Honey Hut ice cream for dessert and, if the mood strikes, grab some bait and tackle for the fishing pier all from The Pier Grille & Bait Shop.
If you’re more about glamping than camping, spend the night in one of The Land’s well-appointed downtown hotels. If sleeping under the stars sounds like your idea of fun, pack your bug spray and s’mores fixings and head south to Cuyahoga Valley National Park, which offers five primitive campsites near the Towpath Trail and backcountry trail. Reservations are required for the seasonal sites, which are available May 1 through Oct. 31.
If you slept indoors, get a hearty morning meal at one of these Cleveland brunch hot spots before heading south for a full morning of outdoor adventure. If you spent the night in the great outdoors, it’s time to restart that campfire and grill up some morning grub.
Grab a field guide and a pair of binoculars for an adventure in bird watching. Cuyahoga Valley National Park — which covers 33,000 acres of woods, water and wildlife — has been designated as an Important Bird Area by the National Audubon Society and has long been recognized by bird watchers as an ideal area for observing birds. Throughout the year, more than 200 bird species can be observed at the park, from the miniscule Ruby-throated Hummingbird to the impressive Great Blue Heron.
Get your heart pumping with a bike ride on the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail, which currently stretches 87 miles. Cycle one way and then ride the rails back to your starting point with the “Bike Aboard” program from the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad.
Kick back and relax at the Winking Lizard, also located in Peninsula, with wings and an ice-cold beer. If you’re really feeling adventurous, try the Fire in the Hole sauce on your wings — can you take the heat?
Take a hike. The Cuyahoga Valley National Park offers more than 125 miles of trails, but since you’re already nearby, check out the Brandywine Falls area. The 65-foot waterfall can be viewed from a boardwalk, while the 1.5-mile Brandywine Gorge Trail lets you explore beyond the waterfall.
Keep your weekend agenda right on target with a trip to the Cleveland Metroparks’ Brecksville Reservation, where Crooked River Archers (a Cleveland archery club) provides a target range that is open to the public from May to October.
Grab a quick burger or hot dog at Brecksville Reservation’s Back Nine Grill at Seneca Golf Course or pick up supplies for the ultimate picnic from Heinen’s, a locally-owned grocery chain adored by foodies for its vast selection and gourmet offerings. Brecksville Reservation offers several picnic areas. Check out Ottawa Point for a fireplace, grills, swings, a ball field and horseshoe pit.
Finish your day — and your 48-hour outdoor adventure — gazing at the night sky. Cuyahoga Valley National Park offers suggested spots for viewing different celestial phenomena, including lunar eclipses, the Aurora Borealis, and meteor showers.
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