Best Spots to Spend a Summer Day with Your Family in Cleveland

July 6, 2012 6:00 AM

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Cleveland’s abundance of many family friendly summer fun destinations make it hard to know where to begin a day out. If you’re interested in the great outdoors and nature, you’ll want to head to one of the 16 nearby parks for picnics, hiking and biking. Take the kids to the zoo for a tame time with wild animals or step back into the 1800s at Hale Farm. Take a train through the Cuyahoga Valley or a canoe ride down the Mohican River. There’s so much to see and do right in your own back yard – and it’s all waiting for you. Plan your Cleveland staycation today and make family memories you’ll cherish forever.

The Cleveland Metroparks
Click here for maps of all 16 locations

Price: free

For swimming, fishing, golf, hiking, biking, walking, picnicking or learning about and communing with nature, nothing beats the scenic and safe Cleveland Metroparks. Known as the Emerald Necklace, these sixteen beautiful nature reserves encircle and adorn the city like a prized jewel and can be found throughout the greater Cleveland area. Since its inception in 1917, the almost 100-year old park system has grown from three acres to 21,000 acres filled with a wide variety of natural flora and fauna. No matter the season, there’s always fun waiting for the whole family. They also have gift and an online shops, EarthWords Nature Shop, that offer a wealth of books, guides and nature-related gifts.

Cleveland’s Metroparks Zoo & Rainforest
3900 Wildlife Way
Cleveland, OH 44109

Price: free for children younger than 2/$8.25 for children 2 to 11/$12.25 for adults ages 12 and older

Whether you’re one or 100, going to the zoo is one of the most fun things to do in Cleveland. From the antics on Monkey Island to the ferocious grizzlies and the amiable elephants, there’s always something wonderful to see and do at Cleveland’s MetroParks Zoo. Home to more than 3,000 animals and wildlife, including some endangered species, walk or take the free ZooTram to cover the 168 acres. There are always new educational programs and special events to spice up visits for a full day of fun.

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cuhoya valley Best Spots to Spend a Summer Day with Your Family in Cleveland

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Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad
Click here for phone numbers

Rockside Station
7900 Old Rockside Rd.
Independence, OH 44131

Peninsula Depot
1630 Mill Street
Peninsula, OH 44264

Akron Northside Station
27 Ridge Rd.
Akron, OH 44308

Price: $10 children ages 2 to 12/$15 adults

Take the family on a train ride through the lush and scenic Cuyahoga Valley. One of the largest and most frequently visited of the National Parks, it’s located right here in your backyard, between Cleveland and Akron. Celebrating its 40th year, the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad is one of the oldest in the country. You’ll travel along the Ohio and Erie Canalway in comfort and style, riding in vintage rail coaches that are climate-controlled for your comfort, no matter the weather. The train ride also includes an audio tour of the valley’s history and points of interest. Trains operate between the Rockside Station in Independence and the Akron Northside Station. Arrive 45 minutes prior to departure to purchase tickets.

hale farm Best Spots to Spend a Summer Day with Your Family in Cleveland

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Hale Farm and Village
2686 Oak Hill Road
Bath, OH 44210

Price: free children younger than 2/$5 children ages 3 to 12/$10 adults

A visit to Hale Farm and Village near Bath, Ohio is like taking a time machine to mid-19th century America, where acts of daily living are re-enacted by costumed guides. Take a leisurely tour through homes and buildings decked out in mid-1800s décor, encourage the kids to participate in butter-churning demonstrations, play the kinds of games kids did back in the day, meet a blacksmith, and visit animals and gardens. The whole family will come away with a new found appreciation for the difficulties the settlers faced in coming to America.

mohican reservation Best Spots to Spend a Summer Day with Your Family in Cleveland

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Mohican Reservation Campgrounds & Canoeing
23270 Wally Road South
Loudonville, OH 44842

Price: $20 per person for nine-mile, two-hour canoe rental trip/$10 inner tube rental/Click here for full price listing

Mohican Reservation offers campgrounds as well as canoeing, but if you’re looking for a one-day amazing trip, pack a picnic lunch and the kids in the car. It’s well worth the 1.5-hour drive. While trips range from nine miles to 200 miles, the nine-mile, two-hour trip — which can be as long and leisurely as you like — is the best bet for children. When you arrive at the park, rent a canoe or two and take a relaxing ride, paddling down a picturesque nine-mile stretch of the Mohican River. The canoe rental includes the paddles, life-vest, and up-river transportation. Rent tubes for adults and older kids to float down the river.

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With more than twenty years of writing experience to her credit, Ellen Jacob, “The Ultimate Grammy”, provides anecdotal hints and how-tos on fun, inspiring, sociable, creative, and educational activities to plan and do with young grandchildren as well as articles of interest to seniors and aging boomers. Her work can be found at

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