Free Family Summer Activities
Because if Anyone Needs a Time Out, it’s Your Wallet
Listen, we’ve been there. Family vacations can be an exercise in personal sanity for many parents. There’s the mini-van that took hours to pack, the endless Elmo videos playing on the DVD player, the fear of the impending temper tantrum and the desire to just have a vacation everyone will love.
But the need to spend an arm and a leg shouldn’t be on that list.
Thankfully, a visit to Cleveland ensures that you’ll get a fun (for kids AND parents) vacation that won’t require you to refinance your home. The city offers a series of free – yes we said “FREE” – family-friendly summertime events, attractions and activities that strike the perfect balance of cool and no-cost experiences.
Browns Training Camp
So, who is this Johnny Manziel anyway? And, why is my kid so obsessed with seeing him play? Head on over to the Cleveland Browns Training Facility in Berea, Ohio to watch Cleveland’s NFL team prep for the season. Watch the team gear up for the season on the outdoor training field at no cost.
The Observatory Park, located in Geauga County, just 45 miles southeast of Cleveland, is a certified Dark Sky Park (it’s only one of nine in the entire world). This 1,100-acre park inhibits light pollution to create an unbelievably starry sky. This means that kids and adults can learn about how galaxies and the natural world connect in a completely one-of-a-kind outdoor setting. Observatory Park has a variety of fascinating educational programming, an on-site planetarium, outdoor exhibits and telescopes.
Parade the Circle
Don’t be alarmed when elaborate puppets standing two-stories high cross paths with a steel drum band being mobilized by only human feet. You’re at Parade the Circle, an uncanny mix of art and music coming alive right before your eyes. This completely family-friendly parade is void of anything you’d expect with a typical parade, but filled with a fantastic array of whimsy and one-of-a-kind art.
An afternoon walk through the Rockefeller Greenhouse offers the right escape from the rigamarole of the typical vacation sights and sounds. The greenhouse features a wide variety of exotic gardens, flowers and other plants indigenous to Cleveland.
Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland – Learning Center & Money Museum
Ever wondered how we bought things before money existed? And, who makes our money anyway? All these answer and more answered at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland’s Learning Center and Money Museum. Kids can get a look at the Money Tree where they can track counterfeit money and follow the history of money through the ages.
Cleveland Police Museum
Got a kid who loves to play cops and robbers? Delve into the history of Cleveland law enforcement at the Cleveland Police Museum—free of charge. See confiscated firearms, uniforms, artifacts and more from Cleveland’s past including things from the legendary crime fighter, Eliot Ness.
International Women’s Air and Space Museum
The International Women’s Air and Space Museum at Burke Lakefront Airport documents women’s past and present accomplishments and contributions to the fields of aviation and space. A collection of memorabilia and historical artifacts preserve the memory of women aviation pioneers.
Exploring History – Outdoors
Take a Hike Tours
Ever wanted to meet John D. Rockefeller? Well, here’s your chance. Take a Hike Tours are unique walking tours of downtown Cleveland that come “alive” with costumed characters from Cleveland’s past. Enjoy the beautiful Cleveland summer, walk off some of those vacation calories and get schooled on the history of this destination.
Turn off the electronics and start learning about life before YouTube. Get up-close with farm animals and learn about agricultural life from the early 1900s. Stearns Homestead is a working farm complete with animals, museums, gardens and a display of historical farm and household items.
Lake View Cemetery
Taking your family to a cemetery may not initially seem like a great idea. But Lake View Cemetery is different. This incredible place is filled with sculpture, architecture and tributes to those who made great contributions to the area’s industrial and civic development. Lake View Cemetery counts J.D. Rockefeller and African American inventor Garrett Morgan among its famous residents. And here’s a tip: on a clear day stand atop the memorial for President James A. Garfield for a fantastic view of the city. While there, be sure to take a tour of Wade Oval Chapel and the Garfield Monument (where you can take the stairwell down to the basement to see Garfield’s tomb).
Perhaps what our children need is an understanding of life without technology. Enter: Amish Country. Geauga County, located just a 40-minute drive from downtown Cleveland, offers families the opportunity to truly immerse themselves in this unique culture. Think: horse-drawn buggies, homemade pies, handmade goods and exceptional craftsmanship.
Lakewood Front Porch Series?
Do the kids need to burn off some of that post-dinner energy? Head on over to the urban neighborhood of Lakewood to enjoy music on the front steps of the Lakewood Public Library. Entertainers range from jazz and indie music to early 60s Americana and folk music.
Blossom Music Festival
Each summer, the internationally renowned Cleveland Orchestra takes its talents south – to the Akron area that is. The orchestra performs outdoor summer concerts at Blossom Music Center, situated in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. While there’s a small admission fee for adults, kids under 18 years old are admitted free for lawn access. Pack the picnic basket, grab a blanket and enjoy a really cool repertoire of family-friendly music (The Wizard of Oz, The Little Mermaid, Sci-Fi, The Beatles).
Wade Oval Wednesdays
Every Wednesday this summer, enjoy live music in the heart of University Circle. Reggae, jazz, rock – Wade Oval Wednesdays (WOW) has it all. Bring a picnic basket or relax in the beer and wine garden with a great view of the stage. Great for little ones who need to let loose.
Convene With Nature
Many new visitors to Cleveland are often amazed by the impressive amount of natural greenspace the region has to offer. Take advantage! The Cleveland area has a number of nature centers that are FREE and perfect for kids. Why not learn a thing or two on summer vacation?
Cleveland Area Beaches?
While surfing in Ohio might sound crazy, the truth is that Cleveland offers a variety of accessible (and FREE) beaches along its Lake Erie coast with swimming, sailing, surfing and some of the best walleye, perch and bass fishing in the world. Check out some of these notable beaches: