2017 Northeast Ohio Parent Choice Awards: Things to do with Kids

2017 Northeast Ohio Parent Choice Awards: Things to do with Kids

Top things to do with kids in the greater Cleveland area.Cedar Point won or earned an honorable mention in several categories; pictured here is its Raptor coaster.

When Northeast Ohio Parent asked readers about their family-friendly favorites around the region, an overwhelming number of moms and dads stepped up to the challenge. Here are the results from our second annual Parent Choice Awards in the “Things to Do with Kids” theme.

View the complete 2017 Parent Choice Awards winners in our July issue, or click here for winners in the “Food & Shopping” categories. Click here for winners in the “Health, Learning & More” categories. 

 

Best Museum 

Things to do in Cleveland: Cleveland Museum of Natural History
Cleveland Museum of Natural History

Cleveland Museum of Natural History
When your family visits the museum, you’ll have the opportunity to delve deep into the past in the dinosaur hall, discover the outer reaches of the Universe in Shafran Planetarium and experience natural wonders in outdoor galleries. Children can experience hands-on learning in Smead Discovery Center, where the motto is “please touch!”
cmnh.org

Honorable Mentions:

Great Lakes Science Center
Stay curious at GLSC, home of the NASA Glenn Visitor Center, hundreds of hands-on exhibits, special traveling exhibitions, the Cleveland Clinic DOME Theater, and the historic Steamship William G. Mather.
greatscience.com

Akron Children’s Museum
Modeled after the nation’s top children’s museums but with a few unique Akron twists that spotlight the city and its history, this relatively new space encourages learning through fun, interactive play.
akronkids.org

Best fair/festival/carnival 

Family-friendly Ohio festivals: Blossom Time
Blossom Time in Chagrin Falls

Blossom Time, Chagrin Falls
Organized by the Chagrin Valley Jaycees, the annual Blossom Time event includes carnival rides, hot air balloon launch, special children’s programming, Taste of Chagrin, Balloon Glow, and more. The festival is capped off with the Blosson Time Run and Blossom Time Parade.
cvjc.org

Honorable Mentions:

Cuyahoga County Fair
Held at the county fairgrounds in Berea, the Cuyahoga County Fair is a summer destination for animals, food, rides, live music, motor sports, and more. This year, it takes place Aug. 7-13.
cuyfair.com

Parade the Circle
This annual festival in Cleveland’s University Circle is a free afternoon of live music, delectable food, activities, and an artsy parade.
universitycircle.org

Best children’s theater 

Cleveland's Playhouse Square wins for best children's theater in Northeast Ohio
A Playhouse Square performance of “The Gruffalo”

PlayhouseSquare
As the country’s largest performing arts center outside of New York, this not-for-profit performing arts center in Cleveland attracts more than one million guests per year. Families are welcome year-round, but kids will particularly love the annual Children’s Theater Series, designed to introduce the world of live theater to the next generation.
playhousesquare.org

Honorable Mentions:

Beck Center for the Arts
Located in Lakewood, Beck Center for the Arts is a non-profit, performing arts and arts education organization that combines professional theatrical productions with comprehensive curriculum-based arts education in creative arts therapies, dance, music, theater, and visual arts.
beckcenter.org

Talespinner Children’s Theatre
Cleveland’s newest professional children’s theatre develops and produces imaginative, interactive, professional works for children that may involve acting, dance, music, puppetry, tumbling, drumming, and numerous other artistic disciplines.
talespinnerchildrenstheatre.org

Magical Theatre Co.
As the only professional resident and touring theatre for young audiences in Northeast Ohio, this Barberton-based company attracts designers, actors, producers and directors whose credentials have been established from Broadway to Hollywood.
magicaltheatre.org

Best place to get outdoors 

Cleveland Metroparks' Edgewater Reservation in Lakewood
Edgewater Beach

Cleveland Metroparks
Cleveland Metroparks lets you explore 18 reservations spanning more than 23,000 acres with more than 300 miles of trails, eight golf courses, eight lakefront parks and a nationally-acclaimed zoo. For every age and in every season, there’s an outdoor adventure awaiting your family.
clevelandmetroparks.com

Honorable Mention:

Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Though a short distance from the urban areas of Cleveland and Akron, Cuyahoga Valley National Park seems worlds away. The park is a refuge for native plants and wildlife, and provides routes of discovery for visitors, including the Towpath Trail.
nps.gov/cuva

Best park or playground 

Preston's HOPE is among the best playgrounds in Ohio
Preston’s H.O.P.E. in Beachwood

Preston’s H.O.P.E.
This Beachwood mega-playground is for children of all levels of abilities and disabilities. Specific components of Preston’s H.O.P.E. include Imagination Village, with make-believe houses that are connected by a raised walkway; Play Theatre; and Sand Area, as well as play areas with swings, tunnels and slides.
prestonshope.com

Honorable Mention:

Lakewood Park
This 31-acre lakefront park offers pools, tennis courts, sand volleyball courts, a playground area, bandstand, Lakefront Promenade, picnic areas, softball fields, and the Lakewood Skatepark.
onelakewood.com

 

Best rainy day outing 

Goldfish Swim School offers lessons, open swim and special events in Ohio
Goldfish Swim School

Goldfish Swim School
Even if it’s gray outside, Goldfish Swim School, with locations in Warrensville Heights, Fairview Park and Hudson, is a tropical oasis. Indoor swimming pools are heated to 90 degrees year-round, and each location offers an in-house Snack Shack and Treasure Island Prop Shop.
goldfishswimschool.com

Honorable Mentions:

Café O’Play
After enjoying a healthy meal or snack, parents can relax with a café beverage while kids have a ball in Café O’Play’s 5,000-square-foot play area, which features a large climbing structure, toddler area, EyePlay interactive floor, sports court, and more.
cafeoplay.com

Play Day Café
Located in Solon, Play Day Café offers a multi-level playground, toddler playground, interactive game floor, ball blaster area, Wiggle Car track, and more.
playdaycafe.com

Greater Cleveland Aquarium
Open 363 days a year, you don’t need scuba gear to be an undersea explorer at the aquarium, which lets visitors go nose-to-nose with a painted turtle, get splashed by a stingray, be tickled by a cleaner shrimp, snap a selfie with a shark, and more.
greaterclevelandaquarium.com

Sky Zone
Kids will bounce off some energy at one of four area Sky Zone locations. Each offers a range of activities for all ages, including toddlers.
skyzone.com

Cleveland Museum of Natural History
Dig deep into the past in the dinosaur hall, discover the outer reaches of the Universe in Shafran Planetarium, experience natural wonders in outdoor galleries, and much more.
cmnh.org


Best water park 

Kalahari Resort is among the best water parks in Ohio
Kalahari in Sandusky

Kalahari
Kalahari’s Sandusky location features a mix of rides, slides and adventures, plus accommodations that will please the whole family. Water attractions include a 12,000-square-foot wavepool, Swahili Swirl raft ride, Zip Coaster uphill water rollercoaster, Cheetah Race slides, lazy river, indoor/indoor spas, and much more.
kalahariresorts.com/ohio

Honorable Mentions:

Cedar Point Shores
The all-new Cedar Point Shores Water Park offers 18 acres of splashing family fun, from thrilling water slides for adults and older kids to Lemmy’s Lagoon for the youngest visitors.
cedarpoint.com

Great Wolf Lodge
Family vacation fun awaits in this Sandusky resort’s indoor water park that includes several options to swim, splash and slide.
greatwolf.com/sandusky

Best jump center 

Sky Zone wins Best Jump Center for kids
Sky Zone Highland Heights

Sky Zone
Get huge air, stay fit, host a party, or just bounce around at Sky Zone, with locations in Boston Heights, Highland Heights, Canton and Westlake. The original home of wall-to-wall aerial action offers open jump daily, plus special events like Skyfit, Toddler Time, Glow, and more.
skyzone.com

Honorable Mentions:

The Jump Yard
This North Royalton bounce zone offers a variety of inflatables, an infant/toddler area, a parent lounge, and a concession stand so kids can refuel and play all day.
jumpyardcleveland.com

Get Air Trampoline Park
Get Air, located in Middleburg Heights, offers trampolines galore, including a Kiddie Court area for jumpers less than 46 inches. Also on-site are a foam pit, dodgeball area, ninja course, and more.
getaircleveland.com

Zip City
This Streetsboro spot offers the world’s only indoor zipline park, plus a trampoline park, rock wall, video game arcade, and more.
zipcityusa.com/cleveland


Best place to take energetic kids

Goldfish Swim School
The bright colors, friendly atmosphere and shiver-free 90 degree pool let kids focus on having fun, while they’re actually learning lifesaving swimming skills. Goldfish, with locations in Warrensville Heights, Fairview Park and Hudson, offers year-round swim lessons for children ages 4 months to 12 years, plus open swim sessions and special events that are sure to burn off some energy.
goldfishswimschool.com

Honorable Mention:

Sky Zone
Four Northeast Ohio locations let kids will bounce off tons of energy, whether it’s an open jump session, Toddler Time for youngsters, the after-dark experience of Glow, or one of many other programs.
skyzone.com

Best kids’ play area 

Cafe O Play offers indoor fun for kids
Cafe O Play in Stow

Café O’Play
Located in Stow, Café O’Play boasts an extensive play area. Older kids will enjoy the climbing structure, which consists of colorful tubes, slides, obstacle courses, ramps and stairs. A toddler play area entertains kids up to 48 months and offers cushions, ramps, toys and a small climbing structure. The play area also includes an EyePlay interactive floor, screened in Sports Court, Gaga Ball, a dance room, and private party rooms.cafeoplay.com

Honorable Mentions:

Play Day Café
This Solon play spot offers a multi-level playground, toddler playground, interactive game floor, ball blaster area, Wiggle Car track, and more.
playdaycafe.com

Best animal encounter 

Cleveland Metroparks Zoo wins Best Animal Encounter
Cleveland Metroparks Zoo

Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
Meet animals from around the world and learn how you can secure a future for wildlife at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. Feed a giraffe right out of your hand and get nose-to-nose with Amur Tigers. Unlock your adventure with KeyBank ZooKeys to learn more about your favorite animals.
clevelandmetroparks.com/zoo

Honorable Mention:

Akron Zoo
Get nose-to-nose with hundreds of rare and exotic animals from around the world. The new “Curious Creatures” exhibit features animals that are uniquely different or have odd adaptations.
akronzoo.org

Best place for tween/tween adventure (tie) 

Cedar Point is an Ohio destination for families.
Cedar Point’s Rougarou

Cedar Point
Stay at Cedar Point all day, and it’s likely that you’ll still run out of time to do it all. Teens and tweens will love the independence of navigating the park themselves, making their way through more than a dozen high speed roller coasters, experiencing thrill rides, and even taking a splash break at the all-new Cedar Point Shores water park.
cedarpoint.com

Sky Zone
Teens and tweens love stretching boundaries, and that includes testing the limits of gravity. At four area Sky Zone locations, kids can experience a Skyslam dunk contest, dive into the Foam Zone, compete in Ultimate Dodgeball, or just plain jump the day away.
skyzone.com

 

Best dog park

Lakewood Dog Park
Let your furry friend off-leash to socialize at this dog haven, located just south of the Emerald Necklace Marina in the Cleveland Metroparks’ Rocky River Reservation. The park features grass and sanitary stone ground cover, an after-dark lighted area, seating, a seasonal water fountain, two secure double-gated entrances, and a designated small dog area.
lakewooddogpark.com

Honorable Mention:

Bow Wow Beach
This seven-plus acre park in Stow features a lake, sandy beach, grassy knolls, dog washing stations, a separate area for small dogs, and more.
stowohio.org

 

Best family staycation destination

Kalahari
Kalahari’s Sandusky location features a mix of rides, slides and adventures, plus accommodations that will please the whole family. The resort features Indoor and Outdoor Water Parks, an Outdoor Adventure Park, an array of attractions for children of all ages, plus amenities such as Spa Kalahari & Salon, and dining options.
kalahariresorts.com/ohio

Honorable Mentions:

Cedar Point
While older kids and teens will enjoy this Sandusky amusement park’s high-speed thrills, there’s plenty of fun for the littlest guests, too.
cedarpoint.com

Great Wolf Lodge
Staycation fun awaits in this Sandusky resort, where families can Splash away in the indoor water park, explore activities and attractions throughout the resort, and experience delicious on-site dining.
greatwolf.com/sandusky

Best Place to Have a Birthday Party

Goldfish Swim School
Nothing says “party” like a 90-degree swimming pool decked out exclusively for a little boy or girl on their special day. For parents, nothing says “easy” like having the Goldfish team handle all the details and cleanup. With three area locations — Warrensville Heights, Fairview Park and Hudson — Goldfish Swim School offers party packages that are sure to make a splash.
goldfishswimschool.com

Honorable Mentions:

Café O’Play
Party Heroes will do more than provide you with your food order, private room, and time to play — they will lead customized games and creative play, keeping kids engaged throughout the whole event.
cafeoplay.com

Sky Zone
Four area Sky Zone locations offer several out-of-this-world birthday (and special event) party packages to make any party soar — literally. Each includes jump time, refreshments, and a staff coordinator to help with planning.
skyzone.com

Cleveland Museum of Natural History
Combine fun and education with a museum birthday party package — themes include Down with Dinosaurs, Animal Safari, and Birthday Under the Stars. Party packages include admission, cake, and a few fun surprises.
cmnh.org

About the author

Denise Koeth is managing/digital editor of Northeast Ohio Parent. She writes for and assists with production of the print magazine, as well as manages digital content on the NortheastOhioParent.com website and oversees the brand’s social media activity. Denise grew up in Northeast Ohio and she and her husband are currently raising their two boys here.

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