Ah, the holidays with young children. The wonder, the magic — the intense pressure to find this year’s coveted gift, play the perfect Santa and wedge a beautifully-wrapped package under the tree for your wee one’s delight on Christmas morning. Did we mention this all has to be done without breaking the bank or arousing suspicion that the man in the big red suit might actually be mom and dad?
Try to relax and take a load off. After all, you’re in laid-back, friendly Cleveland for the holidays. We know how to make the most of the season, including festive fun the entire family will enjoy. Check out the following activities guaranteed to give you those warm, fuzzy feelings — no eggnog needed.
This annual event will transport visitors to a festive holiday wonderland of colorful plants and towering trees, including a 16-foot-tall holiday tree with handcrafted ornaments. The winter wonderland will give kids from 1 to 92 the chance to celebrate the season with a special emphasisthis year on celebrating Cleveland neighborhoods by featuring scenes of iconic local architecture, along with handmade gingerbread houses, lighted outdoor trails, festive horticultural displays and, of course, decorated trees.
Select dates from Nov. 19 - Dec. 31.
Santa Claus is comin’ to town and making a splash — literally — at the Greater Cleveland Aquarium, where families can see him swim amongst the creatures of the deep. Stop for a photo op and have a chat with Scuba Claus as he navigates his way through the aquarium’s Shark Gallery.
Advance tckets required, Dec. 14-18.
If a fancy outing is your cup of tea, an afternoon at one of The Ritz-Carlton Cleveland’s tea parties is a must-attend. At Teddy Bear Tea, the young and young-at-heart can raise their pinkies with a kid-friendly tea menu, teddy bear gifts and story time with Mrs. Claus. The Holiday Tea serves up festive teas, sandwiches and sweets.
Teddy Bear Tea: Dec. 13-14, 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Holiday Tea: Dec. 27-28, 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Head to Public Square to check out Downtown Cleveland's official holiday tree, as well as six acres of magical lights that illuminate at the annual WinterLand event, but dazzle for the remainder of the season. You also can opt to stay toasty in your own vehicle at drive-through light displays like Magic of Lights, at the Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds in Berea. The lights don't end there. Check out our video for more festive lights in The Land.
Image © Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
See the zoo’s wild residents in a whole new light — actually, make that more than one million new lights. The zoo, transformed into a winter wonderland, will offer guests a 50-foot-tall tree, carousel rides, model train displays, photos with Santa, live music and other holiday surprises galore. Drive through nights are also available.
Select dates from Nov. 17 - Dec. 30.
Have a holly jolly time at this year’s Deck the Hall event, which carries the crowd-pleasing theme of “Gracious Gatherings.” The look is a traditional Christmas —with some whimsy in the mix — for all to enjoy. The Music Room is decorated in red, green and gold, and highlight Gertrude Seiberling’s musical talents. The West Porch is filled with animals in tuxes, gnomes taking a bubble bath and a woodland Santa in a forest with flocked trees. Thirty trees in 19 spaces in the Manor House will be decorated in all. Be dazzled as you stroll the gardens, conservatory and Gingerbread Land after enjoying the nightly tree lighting. Grab gifts from Molly's Shop or snag a cookie, hot cocoa, pretzel, beer or wine for Mom and Dad at the Salty Reindeer.
Select dates from Nov. 25 - Dec. 30.
Go classic or quirky with must-see holiday shows like “A Christmas Carol” and the timeless holiday favorite "The Nutcracker," performed by The Cleveland Ballet. There are even more festive options taking place on Cleveland stages before year’s end as well — check the season schedule and start your new family tradition.
“A Christmas Carol” runs Nov. 25 - Dec. 23; “The Nutcracker” runs Dec. 14-17.
Need More Holiday Fun?
Looking to add some holly jolly to your holiday season in The Land? Visit ThisisCleveland.com/holidays for events and trip-planning ideas.