Cleveland has dozens of things to do right in the city, however you can multiply the opportunities with a short day trip. Heading west, you’ll discover the world-famous Cedar Point Amusement Park, but there are some budget alternatives as well. Head southeast for outdoor entertainment at one of Ohio’s most beautiful outdoor concert venues. Heading further south, the countryside gets more scenic with a national park and the Amish/Mennonite communities. For well under $100, you can enjoy your day and come back with some great memories of Ohio’s great offerings.
Put-In-Bay, South Bass Island (via Miller Ferry)
5174 E. Water St.
Port Clinton, OH 43452
After just a 15-minute ferry ride from Port Clinton, you’ll find yourself on the eight-square-mile South Bass Island. Home to our nation’s third tallest monument, this island is alive with vacation amusement opportunities. Two wineries and the Guinness World Record’s largest bar are right here in town. Ready to go underground? Try Perry’s Cave or the world’s largest geode at Heineman’s. For surface transportation, rent a bike or golf cart at the ferry dock, or bring your car for only $15 more.
Lakeside, Ohio – A Chautauqua Community
236 Walnut Ave.
Lakeside, OH 43440
Lakeside is a gated community, but once you pay your summer gate fee, almost all of the entertainment options are then free. Try tennis, boat building or sailing lessons or swim and fish off the pier. Shuffleboard is the activity everyone participates in, with national tournaments held here annually. After dinner at Sloopy’s, take in a free concert any summer evening at the Hoover Auditorium. Lakeside Chautauqua received the designation of a National Historic District and is listed in the National Registry of Historic Places.
Blossom Music Center
1145 W. Steels Corners Road
Cuyahoga Falls, OH 44223
Surrounded by woods, you’ll never see Ohio’s favorite outdoor concert venue from the road. Tucked in the hills of Cuyahoga Falls, Blossom’s lawn seating accommodates 13,500 people while 5,700 seats are available in the pavilion. During the summer, you can watch the Cleveland Orchestra perform or buy tickets to some of the best headliners performing in this country. Beautiful gardens and an art gallery give you an opportunity to explore before the concert starts. Then, pull out a blanket, your picnic meal and enjoy the music under the stars.
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Der Dutchman – In Amish Country
4967 Walnut St.
Walnut Creek, OH 44687
Northeast Ohio claims the world’s largest population of Amish and Mennonite people, with their simple lifestyles and trademark horse carriages. Come to Walnut Creek and sample their famous cooking, cheeses and wooden furniture. The Der Dutchman is renowned for its family-style meals and fabulous home-made pies. Just five minutes away, visit Yoder’s Amish Home for guided tours of Amish homes, barns and one-room schoolhouse. Just a short drive west, in Millersburg, you’ll want to visit Heini’s, where you can tour its cheese-making operation and taste free samples of 50 different cheeses. (All Amish businesses are closed on Sundays.)
Cuyahoga Valley National Park
1550 Boston Mills Road
Peninsula, OH 44264
Following the path of the old Ohio and Erie Canal, Cuyahoga Valley National Park helps to connect Cleveland with Akron to the south. Hiking, biking and jogging trails offer hours of enjoyment in scenic wooded valleys. You can bike one direction and then take the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad back the other way for just $3, including your bike. There’s even a smartphone app to tell when the next train is coming. Be sure to take in Brandywine Falls, the second tallest waterfall in Ohio. If you have the time, you can also hike the 1.5-mile Brandywine Gorge trail.
Doug Bardwell is a freelance writer, traveling the globe in search of unique experiences to share with his readers. He writes about travel, tech and the active life from his base in Cleveland, Ohio. Doug’s work can be found on Examiner.com