Akron, Ohio is never boring in the middle of winter. Whether you want to stay warm indoors or brave the weather, there are many ways to stay active and enjoy family time including cross-country skiing along the river, sledding in the park, skating at the downtown rink, taking a train excursion, and enjoying the ice carvings at the annual Medina Ice Festival.
Go Sledding at Metro Parks
To some, most eagerly anticipated part of Ohio's winters is riding a sled speeding down a slippery snow-covered hill. Akron is fortunate to have many great sledding hills within its metro parks. One of the most popular is at the Goodyear Heights Metro Park where you can find hundreds of sledders flying down the large hills, touted as the highest in the metro area.
Amenities include heated restrooms, lights on the hill, warming fire pits, and plenty of parking. Other parks with sledding hills include Firestone Metro Park, Furnace Run Metro Park, Munroe Falls Metro Park, Sand Run Metro Park, and Cascade Valley Metro Park.
Ice Skate and More at Lock 3
Experience the thrill of ice skating in downtown Akron at the Lock 3 outdoor arena and park next to the Akron Civic Theater on Main Street.
The winter season at Lock 3 offers an exciting list of things to do for all ages including skating Ohio's largest seasonal outdoor ice rink, sliding down Reindeer Run sledding hill, trying your game at Polar Putt-Putt, and more. The season is kicked off annually with the Downtown Holiday Lighting Ceremony and fireworks.
Admission is $4 with a rental or $2 with your own skates. Hours start at 11 a.m. daily. Watch the Lock 3 calendar for 2019-2020 dates, for special skating times for preschoolers, and a range of special events.
Attend Kinderealm Programs
Kinderealm is a special program that runs several times each month for children ages 3-5 at the F.A Seiberling Nature Realm Visitor Center and nature preserve. The children explore different aspects of nature including, the birds, plants, fossils, and wildlife in interactive, fun formats. To find current Kinderealm offerings as well as programs for adults and older children, see the park calendar.
F.A. Seiberling, the co-founder of the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company in 1898, donated over 400 acres and additional land that he owned was purchased by Summit Metro Parks in 1964 to create the Nature Realm.
Have Fun in the Snow at Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Have fun in the snow at Cuyahoga Valley National Park. There are several programs for kids in the winter such as the Man in the Moon program where Junior Rangers can hear stories about the moon, go for a hike, and search for December's Long Night Moon. Other programs may include learning about the survival skills of the winter residents of the park and taking a guided snowshoe hike through the forest. Current workshops and activities are listed on the park calendar.
Take an Acting or Musical Theater Class
The Weathervane Playhouse offers many acting and musical theater classes throughout the year. Toddlers learn theatrical fundamentals by using their imaginations during craft time, dramatic play, and storytelling activities. Weathervane offers a variety of youth classes in acting, improvisation, auditioning, dance, visual arts, voice training, musical theatre, and more for ages up to 17—They have classes at the beginning, intermediate, and advanced levels.
Get Active at the Local Community Center
It doesn't matter where you live in Akron, there is a community center nearby with a variety of activities for the whole family to enjoy. Many activities are free or low cost. Activities include basketball, tiny tot programs, soccer clinic, martial arts, ceramics classes, Chinese martial arts, art classes, dance, drama and theater, billiards, kids craft time, story time, kids cooking classes, and movies.
Some community centers offer indoor swimming pools, racquetball courts, as well as hot tubs and saunas where you can warm up on a cold winter day.
See the Sculptures at the Ice Festival
All ages delight in the spectacular ice carving sculptures at the Medina Square Ice Festival held annually in February. Amateur and professional carvers participate in this competition, with live demonstrations such as speed carving. During the weekend, you can watch the carvers at work and then on Monday, tour the finished sculptures. This free event takes place in the middle of Medina's historic public square surrounded by quaint shops and restaurants.
Join an Art Class
The Akron Art Museum offers enriching programs for all members of the family. The calendar is full of events and activities including art classes, "Free Thursdays" to visit the museum, evening music events, and the after-school "Mind Unwind" program for kids where they can explore their own creativity.
October 19, 2019 through February 2, 2020 the museum has a special exhibit that would be of interest to the video gamers in the family—"Open World: Video Games and Contemporary Art," an exhibit of art based on a wide range of games, from early text adventure and arcade games to modern multi-player online roleplaying games. Open World Arcade, a day-long indie game event, will be held at the museum on Saturday, December 7, 2019.
When the snow blankets the hills of the Cuyahoga Valley, it is a beautiful sight. Take steam- or diesel engine-powered train ride on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad during the winter months. You'll enjoy the comforts of a warm train while passing through the beauty of a snowy wonderland.
The National Park Scenic excursion is a great way to see the Cuyahoga Valley National Park from a unique vantage point. As the train weaves through Cuyahoga Valley and travels along with the rushing Cuyahoga River you may see wildlife like eagles, deer, beavers, and otters.
At holiday time, kids will love the special Polar Express trains which include hot cocoa and cookies and a visit from Santa.
The train excursions depart from Rockside Station in Valley View.
Tour a Chocolate Factory
A quick trip out of Akron to Canton will be fun for the chocolate lovers in your family. You can take a 45-minute tour of the Harry London Chocolate Factory Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m.–4 p.m. You'll learn about the history of the company, watch the chocolate being made, and sample some of the famous Harry London chocolates.
After the tour, peruse the factory store where you'll find a selection of more than 500 candies and chocolates.
See the Animals in the Snow
The Akron Zoo is open 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily (except holidays) November through March. It's a time to see the animals in their winter habitat—some are more active and some are in hibernation.
During the holiday season "Wild Lights" makes evenings come alive with the glow of colorful lighting displays and music. Visit Santa, chat with him about your gift list, and have a professional photo taken.
Go Cross-Country Skiing
The rolling hills of the Akron area, make for great Nordic skiing. At the Cascade Valley Metro Park you can enjoy flat trails along the Cuyahoga River and at Furnace Run Metro Park you'll find three miles of Nordic ski trails. If there is more than two inches of snow (otherwise the rocks may damage your skis) in many parks, you can ski the meadows and trails.
Sun Valley Sports is one shop where you can rent cross-country ski gear.