We spent a week in Ohio exploring all the family fun things to do. Our first destination: Cleveland, Ohio! It’s been ages since we last explored Cleveland and one thing is for sure – there is so much to do with the family. Curious? Read on and find out what to do, where to eat, and where to stay!
Disclosure: A big thanks to Destination Cleveland and their partners for hosting us.I was not required to express a particular point of view. All opinions are my own.
Hang out with animals
A trip to Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is a must for animal-loving families. One thing’s for sure, you’ll want to allot enough time to spend here. There’s ALOT of animals to see (over 3000!) and a lot of ground to cover (165 rolling wooded acres!) Our favorites included seeing the elephants cross, seeing the giraffes being fed, and the silly monkeys. The kids LOVED the treehouse play structure. We spent about 3.5 to 4 hours here and still didn’t see everything we wanted to!
A Christmas Story House
Don’t shoot your eye out! Take a tour at the A Christmas Story House. See where the movie was filmed and learn tidbits you never knew. The hour-long experience includes a talk from the knowledgeable tour guide, chance to peruse the house and the grounds, and seeing the museum. And yes, you’ll find photo ops with the leg lamp and even a BB gun. I have to admit I didn’t think I’d like this tour as much as I did. We learned so much and we couldn’t wait to re-watch the movie afterwards!
Tip: Don’t forget to get an ornament at the gift shop. They also have a pressed penny machine too.
I’m always on the hunt for quirky roadside attractions and as we walked around downtown we found the World’s Largest Rubber Stamp, the Free Stamp, at Willard Park. Pretty neat!
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If you haven’t been to the iconic Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, it’s worth a visit at least once. Look for the iconic pyramid shaped building designed by IM Pei. Spend most of your time on the basement level where you’ll find outfits, instruments, and other mementos from rock stars. The third floor boasts the Rock Hall of Fame. Although the kids may not have known who most of the artists were, they did recognize a few rock stars. (All the more reason to revisit again in the future.) My husband and I, on the other hand, thought it was wonderful!
Tip: Start at the bottom and make your way to the top.
After a trip to the Rock Hall we found the Cleveland script sign at Voinovich Bicentennial Park. It also makes for great sunset views. There are other locations around Cleveland (Tremont, Edgewater Park, Euclid Beach, airport, The Foundry).
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Cuyahoga Valley National Park
With only a few National Parks in the Midwest, how could we miss visiting Cuyahoga Valley National Park just outside Cleveland? I know what you’re thinking. This is Ohio? Yes!! Best thing admission is free! We hit three trails on our visit: Brandywine Falls for a pretty easy hike on a boardwalk and Bridal Veil Falls for a smaller cascading waterfall. Our favorite hike by far was The Ledges. It seemed like a whole other world with mossy green ledges, a bat cave (closed off though), and amazing scenery.
Need a break? Or information? Stop at the Boston Store for pre-made sandwiches.Since the kids were such troopers on our hike, they were rewarded with ice cream! This is also a great spot to pick up a Junior Ranger booklet.
Where to eat in Cleveland
Rising Star Coffee
When you need your coffee fix, head to Rising Star Coffee. Not only is the coffee great (get the Promised Land latte) but it’s located at The Arcade, one of the nation’s first indoor shopping centers with beautiful architecture.
As their name suggests, the cupcakes at Colossal Cupcakes are huge! The shop is super cute as well, but our late afternoon visit left us with only a few options – banana nut cupcake and a toffee cupcake. Both were excellent!
Cathy’s Gourmet Ice Cream Sandwiches
Ice cream and cookies. Need I say more? At Cathy’s Gourmet Ice Cream Sandwiches, choose your cookies, ice cream, and topping, and you have a one of the best dessert combos. if you don’t want the cookie, just get the ice cream. A win-win either way.
Still have a sweet tooth? Head next door to Rocket Fizz Soda and Candy Shop! Not only does Rocket Fizz have tons of candy to choose from, but my anime-loving kids found cool Dragon Ball candy, toys, and soda. And we may have walked out with a Dragon Ball Monopoly set.
Saucy Brew Works
Pizza and beer. Could there be a better combination? I didn’t thinks so. At Saucy Brew Works, guests pick a table, download the app, and order your food. The New Haven style “apizza” is a must try. (Get the Bee’s Knees.) We really liked the size of our Margherita pizza and it was very delicious although a tad too spicy for the kids. Adults, get a few tastings for a DIY-flight. Love art? Head to the side of the building for cool mural.
West Side Market
As one of the oldest markets around, a stop at West Side Market is a must especially if you have a family with different tastes. Our favorites include the jumbo gyros, pizza bagels and calzones, and Mediterranean food.
Where to stay in Cleveland
Housed in the former Cleveland Board of Education building, the Drury Plaza was the perfect home base for our family. Not only was the suite spacious enough for our family of 5, but a huge perk was the hot breakfast (the biscuits and gravy were so delicious!) AND dinner AND 3 drinks. (Yes, three per day!) The kids loved hanging out in the room and splashing in the pool, while my mornings were spent exploring the hotel and its history.
Looking to continue your Ohio fun? Stop by The Mohicans Treehouse Resort for a magical experience!