Cleveland and Northeast Ohio are filled with free activities for kids and adults to enjoy together. There's no excuse not to get out and explore Cleveland museums, parks, and other wonders.
Cleveland's best free attraction is not just for adults. The Cleveland Museum of Art, located at University Circle, is filled with more than 43,000 works of art from virtually all periods and genres. Of particular interest to kids is the armor court, a light-filled interior courtyard filled with medieval suits of armor, weapons, and tapestry. The museum's permanent collection is free every day.
The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo rewards Cuyahoga County residents each (non-holiday) Monday with free admission to the zoo (not including the Rainforest). Located on 83 acres just four miles south of downtown Cleveland, the zoo exhibits include African elephants, the "Wolf Wilderness" exhibit, and the one of the newer additions, the "Australian Adventure." Parking is also free.
The Nature Center at Shaker Lakes, founded in 1966, is a peaceful green space nestled among the gracious houses of Shaker Heights, just each of Cleveland. The facility features a variety of trails that illustrate six natural habitats, as well as a nature center with exhibits about the Northeast Ohio landscape.
The Federal Reserve Bank Museum of Money, opened in 2005, features 30 exhibits about the history and the power of money. The most striking feature is a 23-foot tall money tree located across from the museum's entrance (pictured at left).
Cleveland's Rockefeller Park Greenhouse, located just off of Martin Luther King Blvd near University Circle, houses a beautiful collection of exotic and native plants. This peaceful and fascinating place is rarely crowded, and exhibits include the large orchid and tropical plant exhibits as well as the spring bulb and December holiday plants displays. Of particular interest to kids is the room full of cacti and other southwestern plants.
Each spring, usually in early May, the state of Ohio residents are treated to two days of "free" fishing (no license required) on Lake Erie and in the state's numerous lakes and streams.
Learn About Womens' Roles in Air and Space
Located inside the lobby and west wing of downtown Cleveland's Burke Lakefront Airport, the International Women's' Air and Space Museum celebrates the contribution of women in air and space flight with a rotating schedule of temporary exhibits, including airplanes, flight suits, and memorabilia from the likes of Amelia Earhart and others. The museum is open seven days a week during airport hours.
For about six weeks, from late July to the beginning of football season, Cleveland Browns fans have the opportunity to view the team up close for free during the training camp workouts in Berea. The events are free and there are bleachers and concessions available. The team also hosts a family night once a year where kids can get autographs from their favorite players.
AddressAshtabula County, OH, USA
Ashtabula County, in extreme Northeast Ohio, is home to 17 authentic and reconstructed covered bridges, including the longest covered bridge in the United States. Under construction is the shortest covered bridge in the country. These reminders of the past are all slightly different and are situated in beautiful settings. Take a self-guided tour (maps are available online or at the Ashtabula County Courthouse in Jefferson). The gas isn't free, but you can view the bridges and perhaps have a picnic lunch without charge.
Attend a Local Festival
Cleveland and Northeast Ohio love festivals and many of them are free. From April through October, the region celebrates the seasons, its diverse ethnic heritage, the arts, and the summer and fall harvest with a number of special events. Among the best free festivals are University Circle's Hessler Street Fair, Little Italy's Feast of the Assumption, and Geneva's Grape Jamboree (pictured at left).
The Lake Erie Nature and Science Center, located east of Cleveland in Bay Village, is a place where young and adults can learn about wildlife and nature. The center, founded in 1945, houses an animal rehabilitation clinic as well as a variety of indoor and outdoor animal exhibits.
Lake Erie isn't necessarily known for its beaches, but a couple of notable exception are the beach at Mentor Headlands Park, east of Cleveland in Lake County. This long stretch of white sand is ideal for getting lost in a good novel, watching the waves lap up at the shore, or combing for seashells. There's even a picturesque lighthouse. The park has ample free parking, just off the beach.
Another good choice is Breakwater Beach at Geneva State Park in Geneva-on-the-Lake, Ohio. This large cove beach has lifeguards, picnic tables, and restrooms. Parking is free here, too.
Check Out a Book
The main branch and 28 neighborhood branches of the Cleveland Public Library house more than 10 million books, tapes, DVDs, and CDs--all available to loan to Cleveland area residents. Visit the historic main library on Superior Avenue, between E 3rd and E 6th Sts for its classic architecture and peaceful, outdoor reading courtyard. Many branches also have childrens sections.
Located right on the square in the center of Medina, this small museum features dozens of model train set-ups, interactive children's exhibits, model cars, and airplanes dating back to 1900, and lots of dolls and toys. There's even an on-site library with books for loan about toys and trains.
Learn About the Fascinating (Yes, Really) World of Rubber
Learn about Akron's history of rubber production at the Goodyear World of Rubber museum for free. Exhibits include a replica of Charles Goodyear's workshop, depicting his discovery of vulcanization; a model of a rubber plantation; displays of tires; a film about the process of tire production; and other Goodyear memorabilia.