Cleveland Rocks! There are so many family-friendly events and attractions in Cleveland, a family could spend days enjoying an educational and fun-filled trip. Cleveland is the home to the movie A Christmas Story and you can take tours of the house in which the movie was filmed – and you won’t shoot your eye out! Here my top 10 things to do in Cleveland with kids …
1. If you are traveling with kids about ten and older, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is not to be missed. When our children were younger we would just take them to visit a few of the exhibits near the ticketing area. So if you are in the area and don’t have time, at least stop in to see the Beatles car and the cool guitars. But if you do have time, purchase an admission for the entire tour. You will love seeing the costumes performers wore for shows, this list of inductees into the hall of fame and the many musical artifacts that rotate in and out of the museum.
2. Within walking distance of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is the Great Lakes Science Center. (If you are a member of your local science museum, you may be eligible for a reciprocal discount or even free admission.) The science center has an amazing interactive section where you can literally lose your children for hours. There is also a fun playground for younger kids on the same floor. Be sure to bring a pair of socks for toddlers and youngsters enjoying this area. Afterward you might enjoy a walk around the piers and the view of the lake. Cruises around Lake Erie are also offered during peak season.
3. The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is a great place, particularly if you are a lover of elephants. The zoo’s exhibit, African Elephant Crossing, includes a five acre natural habitat for the elephants. New this year is “animal hot spots.” These little exhibits are hosted by animal keepers and allow the kids to learn more about the animals and get a bit closer to them too. Before you leave, be sure to take a ride on the carousel. This zoo often offers reciprocal benefits. If you are a zoo member in your home city there is a good chance you can score a discount to the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. If the weather is harsh (and sometimes it is) you can always visit the aquarium. It is a great place to discover, see and learn more about aquatic life.
4. Cleveland’s Museum of Art has a nice collection of contemporary, Egyptian and impressionist art. Our son is a huge art fanatic and I love impressionist art, so we can’t get enough of the museum. The best part is they offer free general admission.
5. The Cleveland Museum of Natural History is another museum that offers reciprocal benefits. So if you are a member of a history or science museum at home, there is a good chance you can gain free entrance to the museum. Our kids really love the nature exhibit that places replicas of animals in their natural environment. In the basement you will find an interactive area for kids to explore and craft with museum staff. Admission also includes a visit to the on-site planetarium.
6. Lake Farmpark is about twenty minutes south of Cleveland in Kirtland, Ohio. It is definitely worth the drive. Kids have the opportunity to explore life on a real farm. It is a highly interactive working farm that is quite hands on. They have a dairy parlor, wagon rides and as much exposure to farm animals you can possibly have. It is the perfection combination of agriculture, science and fun in a country setting. Admission is affordably priced and they offer an AAA discount.
7. Cleveland is home to the Cleveland Browns, Cleveland Cavaliers and the Cleveland Indians. If you have sports enthusiasts, you can find a game most any time of the year. We have enjoyed a few Indians games in the Summer.
8. The Botanical Garden and Children’s Garden is a perfect spot to relax and take in the beauty of nature. Our kids enjoy the treehouse, watching and sometimes touching the butterflies, visiting the Eleanor Armstrong Smith Glasshouse and of course the lily pond. In the summer the kids splash around the fountain. They offer discount admissions on some holidays as well. It is always free for active military and military veterans.
9. We love Cleveland’s Little Italy for romantic adult time and kid time, too. The restaurant selection is plentiful and ranges from inexpensive mom and pop to fine dining for mom and dad. You can find some of the best “old school” Italian cuisine in the city within this lovely village. You absolutely cannot visit Little Italy without stopping by Presti’s Bakery for sinful Italian desserts and cookies and a decadent cup of coffee. Make sure you purchase some extra for the trip home!
10. If you’re a foodie, or a fan of the Food Network, you can’t miss Barberton, Ohio. Just about a half hour away from Cleveland, you will find the national capital of chicken. Barberton is home to one of the Food Network challenges, Food Feuds. Two restaurants, Belgrade’s and White House competed in the challenge for best “fried” chicken in Barberton. Serbian style chicken is moist, delicious and must be accompanied by coleslaw with a vinegar base and “hot sauce.” (Hot sauce is really just a tomato-based, mildly spicy rice complimenting the flavorful chicken.) Take a trip to Barberton and you too can be the judge of the best chicken in the nation. Spoiler alert – our favorite restaurant, Belgrade’s, won the challenge!
With its fabulous diversity, tremendous culture, and big personality, you’ll definitely want to visit Cleveland with kids. I’d love to read your thoughts about the many other great, family-friendly events and dining in Cleveland!