The annual Northeast Ohio Parent Choice Awards seeks to gather the opinions of local parents on everything family-friendly in the region. Our readers and online followers voted for their favorite businesses, attractions, family services and more.
Here are the winner and finalists in the “best park or place to explore nature” category.
Click here to view winners and finalists in all 30 categories.
Winner: Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Cuyahoga Valley National Park lies along the Cuyahoga River between Cleveland and Akron. The Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trail is a restored section of the canal’s original towpath. In the park’s north, the Canal Exploration Center details the 19th-century waterway’s history. Brandywine Falls is one of several waterfalls and the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad runs through the park. Be sure to immerse yourself in the nature and history of the only national park in Ohio. 6947 Riverview Road, Peninsula
440 717-3890, nps.gov/cuva
Lake Erie Nature & Science Center
Lake Erie Nature & Science Center honors Elberta Fleming’s vision by continuing to offer free admission to indoor and outdoor exhibits, operating one of two public-access planetariums in Cuyahoga County, providing wildlife rehabilitation services at no charge to the public, and educating thousands of people each year through nature-based programming for all ages. 28728 Wolf Rd., Bay Village, 440-871-2900, lensc.org
Rocky River Reservation
Rocky River Reservation is located in Berea, Brook Park, Cleveland, Fairview Park, Lakewood, North Olmsted, Olmsted Township, and Rocky River. Massive shale cliffs rise above the willows, sycamores and cottonwoods, and many trails wind through the valley’s deep floodplain forests, meadows and wetlands. Wildlife is common in the valley, and visitors can expect to see numerous bird species and some common Ohio mammals year-round, including the white-tailed deer. Valley Pkwy., North Olmsted (8940 is of Fort Hill Stairs, and 7365 is the bridge and dipping deck near Rocky River Nature Center), 440-734-6660, clevelandmetroparks.com
Nature Center at Shaker Lakes
Since 1966, the Nature Center at Shaker Lakes has taught environmental education and preserved the area’s important natural habitats. Each year, more than 17,000 children participate in 40,000 hours of school programs and camps, including a strong early childhood program for several East Side school districts and the Cleveland Public Schools. More than 140,000+ visitors spend time with the nature center each year, using the trails and grounds to learn more about and connect with nature.
2600 S. Park Blvd., 216-321-5935, shakerlakes.org