With Lake Erie in its front yard and a National Park in its backyard, visitors to Cleveland can easily escape the hustle and bustle of city life. From watersports to hiking and biking, opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors can be found in the 33,000-acre Cuyahoga Valley National Park, the 23,000 acres of the Cleveland Metroparks and along the shore of the shallowest and warmest of the Great Lakes.
Known as the “Emerald Necklace,” the picturesque Cleveland Metroparks
encircle the city with nearly 23,000 acres of greenspace in 18 reservations—from the Hinckley Reservation (home of the beloved buzzards) to the lush, forest-filled Bradley Woods. The mile-long Eastern Ledge Trail
opened in October 2022 in the Euclid Creek Reservation and features hiking paths, a suspension bridge and one of the park system’s most scenic vistas at a new overlook 130 feet above the valley below.
Lakefront Nature Preserve.
A peninsula that jets into Lake Erie was created for the 88-acre Cleveland Lakefront Nature Preserve
. Visitors can hike lakefront trails and observe a variety of wildlife, including more than 300 species of birds and butterflies.
Irishtown Bend Park.
The Cuyahoga River hillside known as Irishtown Bend
is being transformed into a 23-acre park with a riverfront trail, gathering spaces and boardwalk expected to be complete in 2026. The area was once the site of an Irish shantytown in the 19th
century as the city was gaining prominence as an industrial hub. The hillside slopes down from the Ohio City neighborhood, which is one of the city’s fastest developing areas. The park will complete the connection of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park to Lake Erie through the 101-mile Towpath Trail.
Mighty River Valley
Cuyahoga Valley National Park.
With over 2.2 million recreational visits each year, the more than 33,000-acre Cuyahoga Valley National Park
is perfect for hiking, biking, birding or simply relaxing. Located between Cleveland and Akron, the park is led by the mighty Cuyahoga River that snakes through a wilderness of verdant trees, valley landscapes and historic farms.
The Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail
offers 90 miles of trails that follow the route of the legendary canal, running through forests, fields and wetlands as it winds through the Cuyahoga River valley from Cleveland.
Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad.
Offering unparalleled access to the postcard-perfect scenery of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park is the 51-mile Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad
. It’s ideal for a date with nature—especially during the popular wine sampling (Grape Escapes) and beer tasting (Ales on Rails) excursions.
Kayaking. Great Lakes Watersports
on the West Bank of the Flats rents jet skis, boats and kayaks to the adventurous, while River Cruiser Kayaking
offers tours of area waterways, including the Cuyahoga River, Ohio Erie Canal and the Cleveland Metroparks’ Rocky River Reservation.
Blazing Paddles Paddlefest
. An annual kayak, paddleboard and canoeing celebration
of the Cuyahoga River commemorates the river’s transformation from an industrial pollution zone to an active urban water sports destination. The courses include an iconic turnaround point, the site of the infamous June 22, 1969 fire
that fueled the birth of the EPA, the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act.
Great Lakes Adventure
Edgewater Park & Beach.
Cooling off with a cocktail or refueling after a beachfront walk or volleyball game is easy at the Cleveland Metroparks’
Edgewater Park. Belly up to the bar for a drink or snack at the open-air, two-story beach house, which includes a full-service bar, concessions and 360-degree views of the city and the lake.
Jutting up against the expanse of Lake Erie, visitors will find the Cleveland Metroparks Lakefront Reservation
. The area encompasses Wendy Park at Whiskey Island, Edgewater Park, East 55th
Street Marina, Gordon Park, Merwin’s Wharf
restaurant on the West Bank of the Flats and Euclid and Villa Angela Beaches.
North Coast Harbor.
Take in Instagram-ready views of the city skyline and Lake Erie from the Oasis Marinas at North Coast Harbor
, located behind the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. The area boasts 53 transient slips for day-trippers and day-dockers alike.
Thrill-seekers can catch some rays while stand-up paddleboarding local water ways via Rico’s Rentals
, Aloha SUP
and 41° North Kayak Adventures
, which also offers kayaking lessons.
Travelers can let someone else navigate the fair waters on both the Goodtime III
and Nautica Queen
boats, which offer a variety of waterfront cruises.
Lake Erie Islands.
Visitors can slip away to the Lake Erie Islands
, an hour drive west of Cleveland, to visit music-filled and bar-friendly Put-in-Bay
or outdoors haven Kelleys Island
Cycle the City
Cleveland’s burgeoning bike trail system continues to expand with the Cleveland Lakefront Bikeway
. This multipurpose path spans the length of the city’s 17-mile Lake Erie shoreline. Visitors can take in the sights of some of Cleveland’s best architecture and traditional neighborhoods before reaching the scenic beauty of Edgewater State Park and the stately homes along Edgewater Drive.
Cleveland-Cliffs Bike Park.
A new outdoor biking complex
opened in October 2022 at the Ohio and Erie Canal Reservation. The park includes a pump track for motocross, a bike playground for beginners and a competition course with rollers, berms and a tunnel.
Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad Bike Aboard.
The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad’s Bike Aboard!
program allows visitors to bike through the scenery of the Ohio and Erie Canalway Towpath Trail and then ride the historic railroad (bike included) back to their starting point for just $5.
Bike Tours & Velodrome. Bob’s Bike Tours
offers expert-guided tours of the city’s enclaves, while the Cleveland Velodrome
offers adventure-seekers access to an Olympic-style track.
During the spring and summer months, local advocacy group Bike Cleveland
organizes numerous group rides for visitors to join, including night rides on the Towpath Trail or routes that explore specific neighborhoods.
For visitors who don’t bring bikes from home, Ohio City Bicycle Co-op
rents bikes for a day of traveling the city’s trails. Visitors can also take advantage of the various bike and scooter rental options
available throughout the city.
Tee the Greens
The Cleveland Metroparks
offer eight courses of varying difficulty, from the easygoing nine-hole par 3 at Shawnee Hills
to the championship-caliber Sleepy Hollow
, with its sloping greens and pernicious bunkers.
For a less-traditional game, both Mastick Woods
and Shawnee Hills
offer the novel sport FootGolf
, which challenges players to follow the rules of golf while using five regulation-size soccer balls, thereby encouraging fancy footwork rather than majestic swings.
Other public golf courses making Northeast Ohio a putter’s paradise include picturesque Boulder Creek
, rustic Geauga County mainstay Fowler’s Mill
, waterfront resort Sawmill Creek
, lake- and stream-dotted Medina course Shale Creek
and the tree-shaded Pine Hills
Hook, Line & Sinker
Fishing Charters. Eyes Ready Charters
in Fairport Harbor brings visitors straight to prime specimens of walleye, perch and steelhead, while the Midtown Fishing Charters
at Lakefront Reservation E 72nd
Marina and the Scranton Peninsula-based Holiday Charters
offer private trips.
For those looking to stay on land, the East 55th Street Marina
boasts a 1,200-foot fishing pier, guest docks and a bait shop. Beachgoers can take in skyline views at the Edgewater Fishing Pier
or enjoy a beautiful sunset at the 315-foot Euclid Beach Pier