Swimmers, sunbathers, picnickers and those looking to relax head to Cleveland’s North Coast. For what you ask? Beaches of courses. The Cleveland Plus region extends 100 miles along the shores of Lake Erie where sandy beaches are the place to be during the warm summer months.
We visited three of Cleveland’s most popular beaches to get the facts. Here’s what we found…
The closest beach to downtown Cleveland, Edgewater Park offers more than a sandy spot to land. Visitors enjoy a 900-foot wide swimming beach, nearby fishing pier, paved bicycle path and fitness course, two picnic shelters, boat launch ramps, ice-cream and concession stands and one heck of a view.
Location: 6700 Memorial Shoreway, Cleveland
Activities: swimming, sunbathing, fishing, cycling, picnicking, boating, kite-flying
Nearby Attractions: Rock and Roll Hall of Fame & Museum, Great Lakes Science Center, Progressive Field, Whiskey Island, North Coast Harbor, Improv Comedy Club, Lolly the Trolley, Nautica Queen
Mentor Headland’s mile-long natural sand beach, the largest in the state, attracts more than two million visitors a year. Located 45 minutes east of downtown Cleveland, the area is home to many plant species typically found only along the Atlantic Coast.
Location: 9601 Headlands Road, Mentor
Activities: picnicking, swimming, trails, fishing, playground, beach volleyball
Nearby Attractions: Headlands Dunes State Nature Preserve, Mentor Marsh State Nature Preserve, Holden Arboretum, Lawnfield, the restored home of President James A. Garfield, Lake Metroparks Farmpark, Debonne Vineyards, Ferrante Winery, Kirtland Temple, Lake County Captains
Huntington Beach, located in the city of Bay Village, just west of Cleveland is part of the Cleveland Metroparks Huntington Reservation and the first beach in Ohio and on Lake Erie to meet the standards of a Blue Wave Beach. Grab a scoop of ice-cream, bask in the sun, fire up the grill or just relax as the sun sets into Cleveland’s great lake.
Location: 28649 Lake Road, Bay Village
Activities: picknicking, swimming, swings, Mitchell’s Ice Cream
For more information visit www.positivelycleveland.com.
– CA & FC
For generations, the surroundings and residents of the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo have wowed visitors from around the world and cultivated a reputation for jaw-dropping exhibits and impactful wildlife education programs.
And yet, this spring the Zoo has managed to create amazement in ways previously unimagined, bringing distant savannas and their breathtaking inhabitants to Northeast Ohio with the African Elephant Crossing. Just a few minutes from the skyscrapers of downtown, this five-acre habitat feels a half a world away.
Although the Zoo’s elephant care experience dates back more than a century, its new African Elephant Crossing is a modern marvel of engineering that recreates lightly-wooded grasslands complete with roaming yards, swimming ponds and a heated outdoor range—all capable of supporting as many as ten elephants at a time.
With more than 21,000 acres, the Cleveland Metroparks’ 16 reservations provide a gorgeous backdrop for the many recreational activities enjoyed here throughout the year. Whether you’re looking to hit the golf course, hike or ride the trails, swim, fish or just experience an oasis of beautiful wildlife minutes from downtown Cleveland, the Cleveland Metroparks are the perfect place for year-round recreation.
It all began in 1917 when a young, self-taught engineer put into motion his plan for an outer chain of parks with connecting boulevards, that would soon be known as the “Emerald Necklace.” William Stinchcomb’s genius was to anticipate the future need for open space at a time when Cuyahoga County outside of Cleveland was still largely rural. From a few scattered donations of land in the Rocky River Valley, the Park District grew to embrace some of the most scenic areas of Greater Cleveland.
Today the network of reservations nearly form a circle around Cleveland and include hundreds of miles of walking, bike and horse trails, parks, picnic areas, five nature centers, seven golf courses and plenty of fishing spots. The Cleveland Metroparks also manages the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and Rainforest, a favorite amongst locals and tourists.
Visit www.clevelandmetroparks.com for more information about special events and programming, picnic areas, recreational activities and more.
– Submitted by C.A.
During winter, the natural beauty of Cleveland Metroparks provides the perfect backdrop for a toboggan adventure at The Chalet in Mill Stream Run Reservation. The two refrigerated ice toboggan chutes operate with or without snow from the Friday after Thanksgiving through the first weekend of March, weather permitting.
What many first-time riders don’t realize is that the warmer the temperature, the faster the chutes. For an ideal experience temperatures should remain below 55 degrees, however the chutes have operated in weather as warm as 70 degrees. All riders must be at least 42” and gloves or mittens are required.
The chutes are open Thursdays 6-10pm, Fridays 6-10:30pm, Saturdays noon-10:30pm and Sunday noon-5pm. Check for holiday hours.
Adults – $8
Children – $6
One-time ride ticket – $3
*Season passes, group rates and semi-private rentals available. –Submitted by CA and FC
Saturday I made my first trip to Whipp’s Ledges in the Cleveland Metroparks. It was 70 degrees, an abnormally warm November afternoon, when my friends and I headed out to the Hinckley Reservation (just about a 40-minute drive from downtown Cleveland) where the buzzards return each year. The area is named after the land’s former owner, Robert Whipp, a successful sheep and “cattle baron” who came to America from England in the 1800s to make his fortune.
While I am really glad we made the trip and everything was beautiful, an abundance of fallen leaves obfuscated the trail and made our descent a bit slick. By no means am I either a coordinated individual or an outdoorsy person, so I think I’d like to trek back to the park in the spring when the tree roots and loose stones one which I will inevitably trip and sprain something are a bit more visible to me.
In addition to 350 feet high Whipp’s Ledges, the reservation includes Hinckley Lake. The diverse landscape and offerings of the reservation makes it a good spot to ice skate, sled, kayak, hike, fish, bird, cycle or rock climb (with advance permission from park officers).
We fully intended to head to nearby Worden’s Ledges after our brief climb, but the youngest member of our trio had participated in his elementary school’s charitable “turkey trot” earlier that day and was completely hiked out. I’m pretty eager to go back and check it out because Worden is known for its sandstone relief carvings and sculptures made in the 1940s by Noble Stuart. –Submitted by SF
Springtime in Cleveland Plus can be absolutely gorgeous . . . and last Saturday was certainly no exception. With clear skies and temperatures in the 70s, my friends and I picked the perfect day for our 10am tee-time at Shawnee Hills Golf Course—our first outing of the season.
It’s been well over a year since I last hit the links and I’m going into this summer with a brand spankin’ new set of clubs, so suffice it to say I wasn’t at the top of my game. All excuses aside though, shooting 59 on the front nine isn’t too terrible for me and I had the time of my life doing it.
Shawnee Hills is fantastic to play. Located in Bedford, it’s one of the many gems of the Cleveland Metroparks’ golf courses that dot the Emerald Necklace. There’s a nice ebb and flow to the course’s design—long par fives, challenging obstacles and quick par threes that provide variety and excitement. The greens are fast, really fast actually, and made for a worthy adversary for this duffer’s new putter.
It was my friend’s son’s birthday this weekend. She had his party with friends and family in the Cleveland Metroparks near Brecksville. We tossed the Frisbee. Some of us played a little baseball. A few of the kids went “toad hunting.” And some water balloons were definitely tossed.
It was a beautiful day and, I have to tell you, the homemade cupcakes were completely amazing. But the best part of the afternoon for me was the appearance of the Rocket Car.
The Rocket Car was once part of a ride at the legendary Euclid Beach Park in Cleveland. This former amusement park and the memories of its rides (and taffy, soft serve ice cream and popcorn balls) are cherished by Clevelanders. The rocket car from a swing ride has been converted by Ron Heitman into an actual open-air road-worthy vehicle. If you want (and boy did I want), you can pay to have Ron come drive you around town.
A few words of warning though:
- Get ready to stop traffic. Everyone is amused by this 28-foot stainless steel sci-fi roadster.
- Don’t let the kid in front of you spit to see how far and/or fast it drops in a speeding spaceship. It’s fast enough to peg you in the eye, guaranteed.
- Hold on to your sunglasses and your baseball caps. While no long an amusement park ride, it’s just thrilling enough to send your personal items flying out into space.
This weekend we were looking for somewhere to go that would get our two year old out of the house. We’d already worn out the playground this week, so I decided we should go to Huntington Beach in Bay Village for the beach party. The place was packed.
The Cleveland Metroparks and Lake Erie Nature and Science Center were both there down on the beach with displays. Our son was excited to see a hawk up close, but he was afraid to pet a chincilla. Plus, there was a woman creating a large, very cool sand sculpture. So, when my husband wasn’t taking our son into the water, we made a sand sculpture of our own–a sand crab.
I can’t believe we live less than a mile away from the beach and this is the first time we’ve taken our son there. He’s been on beaches in California, Hawaii and Hilton Head, but he’d never been to the one only ten minutes away. There were many kids playing in the water and overall I think it was less intimidating for him to be there because the waves were smaller than other beaches we’ve visited.
There were a couple of added bonuses to our outing. First, there is a Honey Hut Ice Cream shop at Huntington Beach, so I was able to indulge in my favorite Peanut Butter Cup sundae while we were there. Talk about a great place to catch a sunset–ice cream and the beach! The other perk? There is a full-sized red train caboose across the street that our son was able to climb into and “drive.” He couldn’t have been happier.
We enjoyed ourselves at the lake so much on Saturday that we went back on Sunday. Our neighbors were taking their twin girls to Edgewater Park for a Sunday stroll, so we met them up there. We didn’t get very far at all before the kids decided to run around on the big lawn. They watched watched people flying kites and then headed down the pier to see people fishing. Our son wore himself out while I enjoyed the view of downtown and the breeze off the lake.
Our son had so much fun this weekend that he slept very well last night! And today he was asking to go back to the beach. I think we may have found our regular weekend activity . . . at least until it starts to snow. –LS