Parents across the region have spoken. During the nomination period in March and the final voting period in May, we asked our readers and online followers to weigh in on their favorite family-friendly spots — local businesses, attractions, family services and more.
While some perennial favorites topped the ballots once again, this year they’re joined by several new honorees.
Here they are, the winners and finalists for our fourth annual Parent Choice Awards in the “Things to Do with Kids” theme.
View the complete 2019 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.
Cleveland Museum of Art
This world-class art museum in our very own backyard lets visitors explore the expansive galleries or check out a family-focused event like Saturday Art Stories, Sunday Open Studios for Families, and Play Days. General admission to view the roughly 45,000 objects in CMA’s collection is free, while ticketed special exhibitions rotate regularly. It’s easy to spend an entire day at the museum, especially when you factor in time to browse the Art Store and grab a meal at Provenance or Provenance Cafe.
Best live theater experience for kids
As the country’s largest performing arts center outside of New York, each year the not-for-profit Playhouse Square, located in Cleveland, attracts more than one million guests. Parent date nights and family outings are the norm year-round, but kids will particularly love the annual Family Theater Day, designed to introduce the world of live theater to the next generation.
Best park or playground
There are playgrounds, and then there’s Preston’s H.O.P.E. This Beachwood mega-park, designed for children of all ages and abilities, includes Imagination Village, with make-believe houses that are connected by a raised walkway; Play Theatre; and Sand Area; as well as numerous play areas with swings, tunnels and slides of all sizes.
Best place to explore nature
From a relaxing picnic to heart-pumping rock climbing, beachy sunbathing to chilling — and thrilling — tobogganing, Cleveland Metroparks offers activities for every age and in every season. Explore 18 reservations spanning more than 23,000 acres with more than 300 miles of trails, eight golf courses, and a nationally-acclaimed zoo. We guarantee there’s an outdoor adventure awaiting your family.
Best water park
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, outdoor/indoor spas, and much more.
Best family beach
Part of the Lakefront Reservation, Edgewater Park boasts 9,000 feet of shoreline, dog and swim beaches, boat ramps, a fishing pier, picnic areas and grills, and a rentable pavilion. It’s the summer home of the Edgewater LIVE food and music fest, and also houses the Edgewater Beach House, which offers made-to-order fare and a seasonal outdoor bar with the best view in town.
Best family sports outing (location/team)
Head to Progressive field to root for the home team and you’ll find a grand slam of family-friendly features, including KeyBank Kids Tickets for just $15; Value Sundays with select concessions for just $2; and the chance to cheer on the Tribe from the Family Deck, which is home to the Kids Clubhouse and all of its interactive activities.
Best place to take energetic kids/best play area
Children’s Museum of Cleveland
CMC has been welcoming energetics kids — and their parents — for nearly two years after re-opening at its new home, the historic Stager-Beckwith mansion in Cleveland’s Midtown neighborhood. There’s ample room to run, climb, discover and just have fun in the museum’s seven exhibit spaces: Wonder Lab, Adventure City, Making Miniatures, Arts & Parts, The Meadow, Playlist and Theater. Its interactive staff, storytimes and special events add to the experience.
Best animal encounter
Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
There’s always something to explore at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. Meet animals from around the world in amazing ways: feed a giraffe right out of your hand, get nose-to-nose with Amur Tigers, swing by The RainForest to say hi to the orangutans, and more. Unlock your adventure with KeyBank ZooKeys to learn more about your favorite animals.
Best place for tween/teen adventure
Teens and tweens 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 Cedar Point Shores water park. New this year, Monster Jam Thunder Alley lets visitors get up close, sit inside, or take a ride in several of the famous monster-sized vehicles.
Main Event Entertainment, mainevent.com
Best sensory-friendly outing
Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
Through a partnership with KultureCity, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo — and all of its events and programs — offers additional tools and information for guests with sensory needs. In addition to six quiet zones located throughout the zoo, its accessibility map denotes nine “headphone zones” where loud noises are present. Available sensory bags contain optional identification cards, fidget tools and noise reducing headphones.
Best Ohio staycation destination
Connect with nature — and your family — with a trip to Hocking Hills, in nearby Logan, Ohio, where you can hike, canoe, explore caves and more. There’s also shops, restaurants and plenty of attractions that cater to families. Lodging options vary between camping, glamping and hotel stays, with a slew of campgrounds, cabin rentals and nearby hotels from which to choose.
Best place to have a birthday party
Children’s Museum of Cleveland
At CMC, three party packages meet varying budgets and number of guests for any celebration. Bring your decorations and food to enjoy in your own private party room, and get all-day admission to the museum for all guests.
Two area showrooms, in Avon and Warrensville Heights, offer year-round birthday fun, rain or shine. Playground World provides the fun — parties include two hours in the PlayZone and a private party room — and you provide the guests and food.