What do you do when you want to go outside, but you’re not looking to pull on the spandex? Whether you have young kids, hiking trails are not accessible to you, or you just don’t really enjoy too much physical exertion, these outdoorsy activities are for you.
1. Hike/stroll/wander/cruise down to Brandywine Falls
Brandywine falls is very accessible. It's the second highest falls in Ohio, and it beautiful all year round. The 'hike' is more like a stroll along a boardwalk, with a few viewing platforms along the way to stop and admire the view. It's totally wheelchair accessible, and it's easy to take a stroller. This is a great hike for young kids or anyone with limited mobility. Just watch out for ice closures in the winter.
2. Go to the beach
Clearly more of a summer activity, but there aren't many places off the East and West coast where you can go to a sand beach and swim or sunbathe. Take advantage of the sun when it's out.
3. Rocky River Nature Center
The Rocky River Nature Center has lots of activities for adults, children and families. Man of them are free and highly informative about he natural world. There are talks about native wildlife, local plants, medicinal plants, Native American history, beekeeping, and more. There are guided hikes and walks, as well as indoor activities.
4. Cleveland Museum of Natural History and Perkins Wildlife Center
The museum is a great indoor activity for the winter, and a fun place to go with the kids. The collections are well curated, set out in an easy and informative way. The museum is fully accessible for wheelchairs and strollers. The Wildlife Center showcases endemic wildlife, from foxes to raccoons to birds. Entry to the Wildlife Center is included in the admission price.
5. Cleveland Botanical Gardens
These peaceful gardens are just across the park from the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. It's a lovely place to wander for an afternoon. There are regular activities for kids, from nature drawing to lessons on vegetable gardening. They also have community farming projects in which you can get involved.
6. Rockefeller Greenhouse
Located in Rockefeller Park in University Circle, the greenhouse is a great place to visit when you don't really want to head outside, but you're craving some interaction with nature. Basically, it's a perfect winter spot! There are indoor and outdoor sections, including a tropical garden, a desert garden, and a formal Japanese garden.
7. Cleveland Cultural Gardens
These gardens were each designed, built, and maintained by members of the communities they represent. The gardens were started in 1916 and there are 31 gardens altogether. These line Martin Luther King Jr Boulevard in University Circle, just a short skip from Rockefeller Greenhouse. They are a beautiful and peaceful reminder of the ethnic diversity and history of Cleveland.
8. Visit Mapleside Farms
Mapleside Farms focuses on fun kid-friendly activities and events like this year's 'Believeland' maze, Pumpkin Village in fall, Jump Park, plus America's longest slide! It's also an apple orchard, so you can sample and buy delicious local apple cider, toffee apples, and apple pies, literally as fresh as the day they were picked. There's even an on-site shop selling handmade ice cream. For those colder months, you can also rent a space to have a warming, glowing, night-time campfire. S'mores kits or picnic packs are included in your chosen package.
9. Observatory Park in Geauga Park
This is one of only six certified dark sky parks in the US, meaning that it is one of the places least affected by light pollution. This means that it's one of the best places to view the stars in the country. They usually have telescopes set up here and there with staff to help you get the most out of the viewing, and a planetarium experience to explain the cosmos during the day, or when it's too cloudy for viewing. It does get cold out there at night, even in summer, so make sure you take some blankets and hot cocoa. It's also obviously very dark, so take a phone or flashlight with you to find your way.
10. Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad
This trip is perfect for those who want to experience the national park but are pressed for time, or have limited mobility.
11. Learn all about farming at Lake Metropark Farmpark
all kinds of fun and educational activities at Farmpark in Kirtland. Learn first-hand how cheese and maple syrup are are made, learn about bees, help plant next season's crops, meet the animals, take a wagon ride (wheelchair accessible), or simply sit down with a coffee and a pie and soak it all in.
12. Volunteer at a farm
Cleveland is on the forefront of urban farming. It's playing a major role in the revitalization of neighborhoods, particularly those where high rates of poverty and the prices and regulations of corporate farming have made fresh, healthy food less available. Many of these urban farms aim to help kids learn valuable life skills in farming, sustainability, and business. Have a look into Rid-All Green Partnership, Fairfax Urban Farm, and Rising Harvest Farms to see how you can get involved.
13. Garden Walk Cleveland
Take a self-guided through the best private and public gardens, urban farms, vineyards and orchards in Cleveland. The tours are by neighborhood, so you can choose one close to home, or go a little further afield for something different. Because it's self-guided, you can take the tour at your own pace, or pick and choose parts that interest you. If you aren't able to walk for long periods of time, you can drive, or stop for a coffee along the way! Each year, free maps are available on the Garden Walk Cleveland website.