Photography and article written by Ashley Weingart
While just a short trip from the bustling city of Cleveland, a visit to the quaint, picturesque village of Chagrin Falls feels like a journey back in time. It’s a place where strangers still smile and say hello, neighbors know each other by name and families walk to town. Chagrin is a community where children meet for ice cream after school, shoppers patronize locally owned boutiques and a horse-drawn carriage trots past.
This city’s rich history begins in the mid-1800s when settlers from New England utilized the strong current of the Chagrin River and the “High Falls” to power mills and factories. Today the houses and shops look surprisingly similar to how they did then. But, the streets (some still made of bricks), which once echoed the clip-clop of horses pulling wagons, now reflect the laughter of busy families. Chagrin Falls offers endless opportunities year-round for memorable family adventures.
Holiday Traditions — Each year on the Friday after Thanksgiving, locals meet at Triangle Park to sing carols and await the lighting of the tree. Visit “Holly Hall” for photos with Santa. Then cuddle under a blanket as you travel through town in a horse-drawn carriage, taking in the glow of holiday lights and fragrant greens adorning every block. Rides are free on Sundays in December in front of Dazzle. Warm up with a hot chocolate at The Popcorn Shop on Main Street and walk through the village to view the festive window displays. Stop in Fireside Book Shop for gift ideas for the kids. The third floor features children’s classics as well as popular toys, games and crafts.
Sledding — The South Chagrin Reservation of the Cleveland Metroparks features a sledding hill for kids of all ages. Park at Chagrin River Road and Sulphur Springs Drive. On occasion, a campfire burns at the top of the hill to help sledders stay warm.
Easter Egg Hunt — The annual egg hunt is held at Riverside Park. Every child exchanges the eggs they’ve collected for a generous bag of candy. Don’t forget to bring your basket.
Blossom Time Festival — As the snow finally melts and icy branches surrender to the colorful flowers of springtime, the anticipation of the Chagrin Falls Blossom Time Festival also blooms. Every May, locals eagerly await the arrival of the carnival in Riverside Park, the Balloon Glow at the high school, the kids race and the parade down East Washington Street where they collect candy from the floats.
Picnic & Play — Visit Chagrin Falls Riverside Park playground and feed the ducks. Bring a picnic to eat by the river. Then cool off with an ice cream cone at the famous Popcorn Shop or Jeni’s. Afterward, travel down the adjacent staircase to view the roaring waterfall from which this village was born. For a unique view, follow the stone stairs down to the water. On Thursdays, stick around for a concert in Triangle Park where the kids often dance to the music.
July 4th Bike Parade — On Independence Day, families gather at Triangle Park for a bike parade. Children can decorate their bicycles at Mountain Road Cycles the day before. A short ride circles through residential streets. A patriotic tribute to our country follows.
Hike & River Walk — Chagrin Falls is surrounded by acres of scenic forests, meandering creeks and hidden waterfalls. Local parks offer outdoor adventure, helping instill an appreciation of nature in our children. Whitesburg Park on High Street features a catch-and-release fishing pond. The South Chagrin Reservation has a paved walking path that begins at Chagrin River and Miles roads.
If you’re up for more adventure, leave the stroller behind and pack your hiking boots and water shoes. Park at Sulphur Springs, Squaw Rock, The Sledding Hill, Jackson Field or The Polo Field, strap on the kids’ rain boots and head for a river walk. The kids will love skipping rocks, balancing on fallen trees, hunting for wildflowers and discovering wildlife.
Arts Programs — Chagrin Falls is a hub of enrichment programs for children. The Chagrin Valley Little Theatre offers youth acting classes for kids grades 1-12. The Valley Art Center provides courses in pottery, drawing, painting, jewelry design and more. Chagrin Falls Kuk Sul Do Academy and En Pointe Danse offer training in martial arts and dance, respectively.
Trick-or-Treat — The close proximity of the homes in the village makes it the perfect place for trick-or-treating. While some go all out creating sublimely scary abodes, most keep things just spooky enough to delight young children.
Chagrin Valley Roller Rink — Roller skating has been a popular activity here since the craze began in the 1870s. Today, families enjoy the pastime at the Chagrin Valley Roller Rink at 7151 S. Main St.
No matter the season, Chagrin Falls offers unlimited possibilities for family fun.