When we were looking for another park that we could easily drive to, we had a couple of different options, but we chose Ohio’s Cuyahoga Valley National Park because we had never visited Ohio, and there were some other things we were interested in doing there.
We certainly got some funny looks from our friends when we told them we were vacationing in Cleveland, Ohio because people from around here must not think of it as a vacation destination, but we hope to change that view! This short road trip was so fun, and we just scratched the surface of all there is to do there. There is a huge variety of things to do in Cleveland with kids, so if you’re looking for history, natural beauty, and a little adrenaline, you’re in the right place. Cleveland definitely rocks!
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Exploring Cleveland and Northern Ohio with Kids
Turn your vacation up to 11 at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame
We only had one full day in Cleveland, but we packed a lot into our short time there. From our hotel, we were able to walk to the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame. This is a must-see attraction in Cleveland, and music lovers of all ages will fall in love with this place. We could have spent a lot longer than we did if we had taken more time for reading every plaque and tidbit of information, but knowing how many other things we had on our schedule for the day, we made it a point to just read some of the highlights. We still spent nearly three hours looking at all of the amazing memorabilia though.
The first floor is full of items from many of our favorite rock groups. The tour begins with a look at the latest inductees, and Carrick was excited that Pearl Jam got in, as did another favorite of ours, Journey.
After seeing the inductees, we made our way through the museum which showcases memorabilia from the earliest performers and influential blues, gospel, and jazz musicians all the way to modern pop and hip-hop. As we journeyed through the decades, we saw so many important musicians who shaped what we listen to today, and we learned how the next generation has been influenced by those who came before.
You’ll get to see all kinds of great stuff from hand written lyrics to instruments to clothing in this museum. Andrew loved the drums, and Cadence loved the wild sparkly costumes.
One of my very favorite pieces in the collection was Michael Jackson’s famous glove. It doesn’t get much cooler than that for this 80’s kid! It is just so iconic.
The first floor is where you will spend most of your time, but be sure you check out the other floors as well. There’s a room dedicated to the history of recording music, and other special exhibits featuring artists like John Mellencamp and Johnny Cash. This is definitely one of the coolest museums we have ever visited (and we’ve seen a few).
Celebrating 50 Years of Rolling Stone Magazine
This year the Rock Hall and Rolling Stone magazine are celebrating 50 years of this iconic publication. The exhibit occupies the top three floors of the Rock Hall, and it’s really something to see. Many of the magazine’s unforgettable covers are on display, and it drives home how influential this publication has become, not only for the music and interviews, but also for the political narrative. To get a quick pulse of America, look no further than Rolling Stone.
Even the kids, who didn’t know all of the personalities or artists, still enjoyed the exhibit. It’s full of interviews, special memorabilia, and (of course) music. The kids really liked checking out the live broadcast booth for SirusXM radio and watching the DJ work. Too cool!
You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out, Kid!
Speaking of museums that will make you nostalgic, we also got to take a peek at Ralphie’s house. That’s right, the place with the leg lamp and the famous Red Rider BB gun is open to the public. If you watch A Christmas Story every year like we do, and if you have most of the lines memorized, you’ll love the Christmas Story House and Museum.
“Fra-gee-lay. It must be Italian!”
Completely refurbished and brought back to its movie glory, the house itself has replica props that you can play with during your tour that will really make you feel like you’re in the the movie. The kids had a blast picking up the “major award” from its crate, using the secret decoder pen in the bathroom, and recreating that scene in the kitchen where Randy fears for his brother’s life.
After your tour and brief history lesson about the house, you will have time to visit the museum across the street that houses the actual props and costumes. And of course, you can get your Christmas shopping done early at the gift shop.
“I triple dog dare ya!”
The house is just minutes from downtown Cleveland, OH and is easy to find. Bring some cash if you would like to park close to the house. The friendly locals will let you park in their yards and will gladly point you in the right direction to get your tour started. This was such a fun stop, and we are so glad we went. They told us that they get around 80,000 visitors a year, 40,000 of which come in December, so plan ahead if you are visiting during the holiday season.
Retreat to Cuyahoga Valley National Park
After visiting the Christmas Story house, we made our way to Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Not far outside of Cleveland, this national park was unlike any we have visited so far. It’s remarkably close to the city, but you’ll feel miles away once you’re there. The highlight of this park is definitely Brandywine Falls. In addition, you will find a train, many hiking and biking trails, and lots of history in this park. Be sure to read more about it here.
Other National Parks in the area.
On road trips where we're flexible, we always like to see what other National Parks we can find along the way. Here is a map of all 419 of our National Parks. I'll bet there is one within a days drive of you!
From our area, St. Louis is on the way, and Abe Lincoln's Home in Illinois wouldn't be too far off the path. Located between Cincinnati and Cleveland, the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historic Park is another park to consider.
Get Your Adrenaline Pumping at Cedar Point Amusement Park
Our final stop on this journey before heading home was Cedar Point in Sandusky. If your family is full of roller coaster enthusiasts and adrenaline junkies, then this is the place for you! This theme park is roller coaster Mecca, and it did not disappoint. The Cedar Point roller coasters are legend and I think I’ll let the kids tell you about it in their own words.
My favorite ride in Cedar Point was Top Thrill Dragster. It is my favorite because it goes 120 mph, which makes it the fastest coaster that I have been on. It only takes 17 seconds from start to finish. It is also 400+ feet tall, making it the tallest coaster I have been on.
Other things I liked about Cedar Point are that it has multiple roller coasters that hold world records, and it has a golden ticket coaster. It also has more roller coasters than any other amusement park in the world. This makes it “the roller coaster capital of the world.” Some other coasters that I liked are Valravn, the longest and fastest dive coaster in the world, Millennium Force, voted as the best steel coaster ever (it has earned the golden ticket award), and Rougarou, the weirdest roller coaster that I have been on. Once you are strapped into your seat, the floor drops out making it look like a suspended coaster, but it is still above the tracks. Then, you go up 145 feet, turn around, go down 137 feet, make a big loop, and go just about all over the place.
Most of the roller coasters at Cedar Point have height requirements of 48 inches, 52 inches, and 54 inches. For families with kids under 48 inches, there is a kids’ area with carnival-type rides near the front entrance. There is also a place called Camp Snoopy for little kids who want to ride roller coasters near Top Thrill Dragster. Taller riders will need to eat small meals to keep from getting sick. If you are going to do Cedar Point in one day, make sure your stomach can handle a lot of twisting and turning. The souvenirs are really great at Cedar Point especially for Peanuts fans. Also, don’t be surprised if you see Snoopy wandering around, he probably will be. If you do go, be prepared to laugh a lot, be dizzy, have a little nausea, and have fun at Cedar Point, the roller coaster capital of the world.
My favorite ride was Maverick. I liked it because of how fast it was, and I liked the 95 degree drop at the beginning. I really liked everything about Cedar Point, especially how the theme was Peanuts because I like Charlie Brown. There are a lot of great rides and shops at Cedar Point, and I want people to keep going there so that Cedar Point can keep adding more great rides in the future.
Our visit coincided with Father’s Day, and Carrick concluded there was no better gift than riding roller coasters with the family. When you get to ride some of the best in the world, it’s hard to argue. Honestly, it was a challenge just to keep up with the kids (even with a super-light breakfast).
*Sigh* I guess we’re not as young as we used to be.
The park itself has a charming family vibe to it with nicely themed areas for the younger ones in Camp Snoopy and plenty of shade to sit to catch your breath. The rides are not as immersive as Universal Orlando Resort or as intricately themed as Walt Disney World Resort, but you’ll find no better place for non-stop, all-day thrills than Cedar Point. We absolutely loved it!
The intensity of these rides is no joke, so know your limitations (chuckle). It would be a gamble to eat a big breakfast before riding these coasters all day – just sayin’.
Our favorites were the old-school Blue Streak, and the Millennium Force, a steel giant designed to do one thing, go really fast. If you can handle it, give the Top Thrill Dragster a go. We’ve never been on anything like it, and you can brag to all your friends about it when you get home.
Click here for Cedar Point Tickets. If you’re staying at one of the hotels at Cedar Point, there is a discount for purchasing your tickets at the hotel.
Does your family like roller coasters? Check out Six Flags Fiesta Texas in San Antonio. It’s a fun park with some great coasters!
Stay near the fun at Hotel Breakers
As you can tell, our family had a blast spending the day at Cedar Point. To maximize your family’s time in the park, try to stay at one of the hotels near Cedar Point. We stayed onsite at Hotel Breakers which was ideal. We definitely took advantage of the extra hour the park was open to hotel guests, but there is plenty to do in addition to the park. They offer several dining options, plus two pools, and beach access right on Lake Erie. The beach offered up lots of family fun, such as giant games of Connect Four and Jenga, and also a movie on the inflatable screen at night. For families staying longer, you can also experience the new Cedar Point water park, Cedar Point Shores.
We loved dinner at the hibachi grill Tomo, but they also have a Perkins and a T.G.I. Friday’s for less adventurous eaters. The ice cream was cold, and the fire pits at night were warm, which made for a fun day. With roller coasters and a sandy beach, there’s not much more you could ask for.
The hotel has recently undergone an extensive renovation, and we found it to be clean and comfortable. We thought that the front desk staff was a bit young and the check in wasn’t exactly smooth as several staff were being trained it seemed. There was a certain level of inexperience with the staff, and they lacked some maturity and professionalism.
However, they were perfectly nice and courteous. I suspect they were getting up to speed since it was the beginning of summer, and I’m sure they’re getting better as the busy summer season gets going. We’d certainly stay again, but we always want to give you our honest opinion.
Other Cleveland Area Attractions
Had we stayed longer in the Cleveland area, these are some other things we would have liked to do:
Beat the heat with a trip to the aquarium! Kids will love experiencing the animal encounters and daily feedings. Oh, and the sharks!
Situated right on the lake shore, the Great Lakes Science Center is full of cool things for families and it’s right next door the the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame so it’s easy to make a day of it.
Cleveland Absolutely Rocks!
We found Cleveland and northern Ohio to be a great place for families of all ages with lots of things to do to keep everyone happy. Beaches, museums, parks – it’s all here and so much fun!
Have you been to Cleveland? What was your favorite part?
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