Even though the return to school is just a few weeks away, there’s still plenty of time left to enjoy summer vacation with your kids.
If your family hasn’t completed its summer bucket list yet, now is the perfect time to try something new together. Look no further than the park systems in Northeast Ohio to find unique activities and events taking place before the back-to-school bell rings. Check out these suggestions, then plan your family’s next adventure.
Activity: Go Ape!
Get a new view of the park while you get your adrenaline pumping at Go Ape’s Treetop Adventure course in Mill Stream Run Reservation. For ages 10 and older, the course features five zip lines, 42 obstacles and breathtaking vantage points. Treetop Adventure takes between two and three hours to complete, with times varying based on availability, weather and daylight hours. 16200 Valley Parkway, Strongsville, clevelandmetroparks.com
Event: Asian Lantern Festival
Through Sept. 5, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo has been transformed with more than 1,000 new illuminated lanterns, live acrobatic performances, and culturally-inspired cuisines. It’s all part of the Asian Lantern Festival, now in its fourth year. The after-hours event runs Thursday through Sunday evenings from 6:30-10:30 p.m. 3900 Wildlife Way, Cleveland, futureforwildlife.org/lanterns
Geauga Park District
Activity: Go Stargazing
Explore nature from the ground to the galaxy at Observatory Park, which features six trails, a science center and the Nassau Astronomical Station. The trails include one with interactive pods representing each trail proportional to the sun, another with interactive stations representing ways to study weather, and life-sized cornerstones of the Great Pyramid of Giza, earthen mounds and henge stones. Catch a planetarium show, attend an event or just explore with your family. 10610 Clay St., Montville Township, geaugaparkdistrict.org
Event: Nights Out in the Parks
Enjoy a movie under the stars as part of the “Nights Out” summer series. See an outdoor screening of “Mary Poppins” on Aug. 7 from 8:30-11:30 p.m. at Observatory Park. Bring your own blankets, lawn chairs and refreshments. Free ice cream treats will be available while supplies last. 10610 Clay St., Montville Township, geaugaparkdistrict.org
Activity: Beach Day
Pack your towels, sunscreen and a picnic lunch, then head to Fairport Harbor Lakefront Park, voted one of the best beaches in Ohio. The 21-acre park features ample space on Lake Erie’s shoreline, as well as paved trails, a playground and a picnic shelter. Relax in the sand, splash in the waves or get in a workout with a kayak or stand-up paddleboard rental. 301 Huntington Beach Drive, Fairport Harbor, lakemetroparks.com
Event: Best of the Bluffs
Celebrate amazing pollinators at Lake Erie Bluffs on Aug. 29 from 1-4 p.m. Bees, birds, butterflies and beetles may be tiny, but they play a gigantic role in the ecosystem. All ages can explore the activities that help plants reproduce through information stations, hands-on activities, guided walks and trail cart tours. Register online at goto.lakemetroparks.com/best-of-bluffs or call 440-358-7275. 3301 Lane Road, Perry Twp.
Lorain County Metro Parks
Activity: Paddle Away the Day
Wellington Reservation’s 21-acre reservoir lake is ideal for boating and fishing. Visit the kayak livery Friday through Monday, from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. until the end of September, to rent single and tandem kayaks, as well as four-person pontoon paddle boats. Stay for the whole day and trek some of the park’s four-plus miles of hiking trails. 535 Jones Road, Wellington, loraincountymetroparks.com
Event: Meet a Fairy
A fairy is coming to visit French Creek Nature Center on Aug. 31 from 10:30-11:30 a.m. Join the fun and enjoy music, glitter tattoos, a self-guided tour of the fairy village, and a chance to meet and take a photo with a real fairy. 4530 Colorado Ave., Sheffield Village, loraincountymetroparks.com
Medina County Park District
Activity: Take a StoryWalk
Sharpen your kids’ reading skills at the StoryWalk trail at Carolyn Ludwig Mugrage Park. Along the paved, wooded path, a series of platforms holds the pages of a children’s book that families can read as they stroll along. The project, a cooperative effort with Medina County District Library, features a new book each season. Afterward, enjoy the park’s all-abilities playground and fenced-in dog park. 4985 Windfall Road, Medina, medinacountyparks.com
Event: Summer BUGket List Challenge Visit Medina County parks through Aug. 31 and cross off species on the BUGket list! To complete this scavenger hunt-type challenge, visit listed parks to look for large, wooden artistic representations of common bugs. Find all 10 wooden bugs, record the park where each bug was found on the challenge list, and submit your form to be entered into a prize raffle. medinacountyparks.com
Portage Park District
Activity: Go Geocaching
Geocaching — a real-world, outdoor treasure-hunting game using GPS-enabled devices — is a great family activity for children of all ages. Just navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates using an app on your phone or tablet, then attempt to find the container hidden at that location. Some even contain tiny trinkets your kids will love to collect. Track down several caches located within Portage Park District for a day of adventure. portageparkdistrict.org
Event: Wild Hikes Challenge As part of its 30th anniversary celebration, Portage Park District has issued a challenge to complete either 30 hikes or 30 miles in the parks. Not up for a full 30? Hikers can also turn in eight hikes as part of this annual challenge. Completed challenges earn a 2021 medallion, and first-year hikers also earn a hiking staff. portageparkdistrict.org
Activity: Take a Bike Ride
Stark Parks offers more than 100 miles of scenic trails paved with crushed limestone, making it easy to plan a family bike ride. Find a trail close to home or explore far-flung paths, with options including Iron Horse Trail, Mahoning Valley Trail, Sippo Valley Trail, a portion of the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail, and many more. starkparks.com/biking
Event: Bug Out!
Swinging, catching, spying and flying: How many bugs can you discover? Drop in Aug. 29 between 1-3 p.m. at the Lock 4 Trailhead in Congressman Ralph Regula Towpath Trail Park, and your family can catch and release amazing creatures throughout the park. 6575 Erie Ave. NW, Canal Fulton, starkparks.com
Summit Metro Parks
Activity: Try Disc Golf
Head to Silver Creek Metro Park to try your hand at this variation of golf, in which players throw flying discs at elevated baskets. The course offers 18 holes of varying lengths and difficulty levels. Find details, rules and a course map on the park district’s website. 4579 Medina Line Road, Norton, summitmetroparks.org
Event: Bumblebees and Friends
What exactly is a bee? Children ages 3 to 6 and their adult companions can discover why these amazing, often-misunderstood insects are so important to the world. This Kinderealm series, which features a hike and craft, offers three in-person events (Aug. 5 and 14), as well as one virtual option (Aug. 28), so families can fit the fun into their summer schedules. summitmetroparks.org