From October to May, Cleveland is ‘blessed’ with numerous frosty days. Many people don’t even think about going out. Don’t be one of them! Turn off your TV and visit this fantastic northern Ohio metropolis which has so much to offer during cold, somber days. The best thing is that most of the activities won’t cost you a cent, including concerts, national parks, and museums. Let’s see!
1 – Brite Winter
Every year, citizens of Cleveland beat the sharp winter by hosting fantastic, non-profit Brite Winter Music & Arts Festival. The idea is to gather people of all ages, backgrounds, and incomes and to forget cold and grayish days. They celebrate art and music with fire and light while dancing under the snowflakes all day and night long. Ten years ago, Emily and Jimmy started this beautiful tradition. These days, this premier event is unavoidable for everybody who visits Cleveland between New Year and St. Patrick’s Day.
Become one of approximately 20,000 visitors attending the festival each year and reserve February 23, 2019, in your calendar for Cleveland. Prepare yourself for Smallpools, an incredibly good indie LA pop band, as well as various regional and local bands who will participate in the event. Come with your family or friends and spend wonderful time for free or reserve one of two VIP package options: ‘Let it Snow’ or ‘Heat Me Up’. Keep in mind that the second option includes a hotel room for two guests.
2 – A Christmas Story House
After a long search for a filming locality, producers of the ‘Christmas Story’ movie from the early ’80s, found a beautiful house built in 1895 in Tremont, Cleveland. They immediately concluded that it was an ideal location for them. A quarter-century later, Brian Jones, a true fan of this lovely film, bought and renovated the home at Playhouse Square, so it matches with the original movie scenes. Since that moment, ‘A Christmas Story House’ has become an integral part of the city and a top-notch visitor attraction.
Come here to see Randy’s puffy snowsuit and the famous ‘leg lamp’ in the window, or just take a bunch of selfies while walking through the Parker family’s home. Hold the famous Red Ryder BB gun, wear a bunny suit, or stash under their kitchen sink. If you come during December, join a crowd of hundreds of runners and enjoy the funny winter fun-run route from Public Square to ‘A Christmas Story House’ dressed up in clothes inspired by the characters from this memorable film.
3 – Cleveland Botanical Garden
Cleveland is a city of snow and cold that offers enjoyment in the heat of the tropics in the middle of winter. You think I’m joking? No! Stop by the balmy Glasshouse in their magnificent Botanical Garden established in 1930 and see for yourself. Enjoy the company of fifty different types of butterflies, amphibians, reptiles, and birds from around the globe, and discover more than 350 species of unique, exotic plants living there. Attend the extraordinary experience of butterfly release or chameleon feedings.
Also, you shouldn’t miss Glow in this peaceful urban sanctuary throughout December, when you can admire ‘Gingerbread Houses’ or even decorate your own one. See decorated trees, ride on the garden express train, and experience your own winter fantasy while Christmas music is playing. If you are one of those, who haven’t yet decided what to buy for their loved ones for Christmas, visit the colorful Garden shop and pick out some unique holiday gift items.
4 – Cleveland Metroparks
If you are a fan of sledding, take a tour to Metroparks and enjoy an epic winter slide in their prime sledding hills. Cleveland Metroparks is a part of a larger area which extends to approximately 8,800 ha (it is about 22,000 acres). The entire region is called the ‘Emerald Necklace’ includes the sparkle creeks, beautiful rivers, lovely parks, and a few hundreds of miles of various trails for riding, cycling, and walking. There is something for everybody, including golf courses, picnic areas, fishing spots, nature training centers, and the city’s ZOO, which is among the first ever opened in the US. Take your kids to spend unforgettable toboggan rides in the Metroparks Toboggan from Thursdays to Sundays in any period between November and March, regardless of whether there is snow or not. For just $12 per person, make your children’s day!
If you are an adventurer, don’t miss out on visiting nearby Cuyahoga Valley National Park with all these fantastic wildlife and native plants. Plus, thanks to the usual massive amount of snow in the area, there are various options for cross-country skiing, downhill skiing, sledding, and snowshoeing. Come here using Polar Express and enjoy the incredible Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railway, the ‘must to experience’ thing in Cleveland. Choose a classic train seat and imagine that you are one of the passengers from the period when the railway was constructed. Or just book a luxury car and feel all the advantages of living in the 21st century. One more thing! They often organize themed trips. Come to solve a murder mystery on board while sipping local beer.
5 – Ice Skating in Public Square
Become one of the participants of traditional ice skating which has been organizing in downtown for decades. For just $10, come here with your family or friends and be a part of a happy crowd until the end of February. Also, they organize so-called WinterFest at the square the weekend after Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, you are late this year, but don’t be sad. It is an annual event, and you can come the next year as well.
If it is possible, find a way to participate this fantastic evening of dance and music with a cup of hot chocolate in your hand. A large holiday tree fully covered in thousands of twinkling lights will put you in a very festive Christmas mood throughout the holiday season. It is a real privilege being one of approximately 50,000 people who attend this unique event each year. Come to enjoy the light display until after New Year’s night.
When you get hungry, go to the Cleveland Bagel Co. to begin a day with their outstanding bagels. For lunch, I highly recommend Thirsty Dog where you can get a drink with a breathtaking view of the Cuyahoga River. Grab a delicious sausage sandwich and find out why it is always crowded here. In the end, spend a romantic evening in the 100-year-old Rowley Inn and try some Buffalo pierogies in a great atmosphere.
Useful Tips for International Travelers
Since January 12, 2009, when the US government established ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization), citizens of 38 ‘Visa Waiver Countries’ can visit the US without visa and bureaucracy complications. You will quickly conclude that ESTA travel is entirely relaxed and comfortable because you need only a passport (with a digital chip) and a valid credit card. You just need to check your ESTA application status on time and secure the right to stay in the US up to 90 days regardless of the reason for the trip. Don’t worry if the authorities require additional specific security features. It is a standard procedure. Welcome to the United States of America!
Image Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/timevanson/43389486752