The Great Outdoors: Greenspace & Parks in Cleveland & Akron/Canton

by | Apr 28, 2014 | Family Friendly Stuff, Public Spaces, Parks & Recreation

photo courtesy

photo courtesy of Cody York for

NE Ohio has thousands of acres of green space for residents to enjoy year round. Although most of us save the outdoor activities for warmer months (that’s Edgewater Beach just west of downtown Cleveland in the photo to the left), the parks stay open all year to encourage those who want to stay fit and health to skip the boring gym and go outside! 
Most people who live in Cleveland, Akron or Canton can leave work on a Friday on a sunny day and be playing golf, riding a bike, sailing a boat or walking the dog in a public park 30 minutes later! Here are just a few ways to get back in touch with nature, even during the winter months.  Our favorites:

Cuyahoga Valley National Park’s Beaver Marsh – photo courtesy Cody York,

Cuyahoga Valley National Park, consistently ranked in the top 10 most visited of all the National Parks in the entire US! Why? Because it is located just 30 minutes from two major cities (Cleveland & Akron) while most National Parks are a day’s drive from civilization. And with 3 million NE Ohio residents nearby to enjoy the park year round, it stays busy! The park was carved out by the Cuyahoga River (Indian word meaning crooked), which twists & turns for 90 miles, many of that in the National Park. The TowPath is a crushed gravel path that is the central spine of the park and it follows the very flat topography of the Ohio & Erie Canalway 100 miles from Cleveland south to Zoar, Ohio. Walkers, joggers, bikers, families with dogs all use this path that now has many connectors even into city neighborhoods such as the Cleveland Foundation Centennial Trail that links Tremont & Ohio City to Lake Erie and the Cuyahoga River. But if you’d rather sit back and watch the scenery go by, the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad, has stations in Independence, Peninsula and Akron, and beginning each May they offer Bike Aboard several days a week where you can cycle one leg of the trip and take the train back with your bike on board.  
photo courtesy Cody York for

photo courtesy Cody York for

Cleveland MetroParks is an extensive system of nature preserves which form a giant green ring around the city and is lovingly referred to by locals as The Emerald Necklace. Made up of 18 different reservations (parks) and more than 23,000 acres, there are eight golf courses, a nationally renowned zoo and seven nature/visitor centers. Eight of the parks are in the city of Cleveland and the rest are located in the suburbs surrounding and they roughly follow the flow of the rivers and creeks in the region. There are miles of walking and bike paths, horse trails, dozens of picnic areas, 3 beaches, several natural lakes, swimming pools and countless fishing spots.  The parks are used all four seasons, with toboggan chutes, cross country skiing, kayaking, archery, paddleboarding and more. In addition, the MetroParks includes lakefront beaches (Huntington Park in Bay Village and Edgewater Park on Cleveland’s near westside) as well as the the Cleveland Zoo, is one of the 10 largest zoos in the country and has over 100,000 visitors a year.
Summit MetroParks – with 11,500 acres, including 14 parks, several conservation areas and more than 125 miles of trails, Summit MetroParks provides Akron residents with the best kind of backyard – one that somone else takes care of!  The Summit MetroParks includes over 20 miles of the Ohio & Erie Canalway towpath and just recently the park added 66 additional acres in Twinsburg.
Lorain County MetroParks – formed in the 1950’s this park system now has over 6,500 acres under management including Schoepfle Gardens (70 acres of botanical gardens). 
Geauga Park District – 20 unique parks make up this system east of Cleveland including unique sites such as Observatory Park one of just a handful of locations in the US designated by the International Dark Sky Association (man, there is an association for EVERYTHING isn’t there?) as dark enough to observe the Milky Way. 
Lake MetroParks  – smack dab in the middle of the snowbelt, Lake County offers the best cross country skiing and snowshoeing in the region, but also has great green space the other 3 seasons of the year!
Ohio State Parks – the state has more than a dozen public parks within an hours drive either Cleveland & Akron including the very popular Headlands Beach State Park in Mentor and the parks in the Sandusky Islands area;
Cleveland Lakefront Nature Preserve – talk about great reuse of a resource, this 88 acre site overlooking Cleveland’s skyline was created by the Port
Lakefront Nature Preserve

Lakefront Nature Preserve

Authority to dump the clean dredgings from the Cuyahoga River to keep the channel open for deep water ships. Several dozen years later, it is a nature preserve with trails, great bird watching and a darling park that was created in part by one of our co-workers (Claudia Fulton) and her fellow Garden Club members!

Lake View Cemetery – Northern Virginia has Arlington Cemetery, filled with so much history and beautiful gardens that it attracts tourist, and that is what Lake View Cemetery is for Cleveland. The final resting place for icons like John D. Rockefeller, 20th US President Garfield and many others.
Nature Center at Shaker Lakes – created in the 1960’s as a grassroots effort to prevent a freeway from cutting through the middle of the Cleveland suburbs of Shaker Heights and Cleveland Heights, this nature center now welcomes more than 10,000 school children every year, and thousands of hikers, ecologists and birders to has free admission as do most of the parks in NE Ohio
Cleveland Cultural Gardens – drive from University Circle to I-90 along Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive (or up top on East Blvd.) and you will drive past more than 20 gardens celebrating the ethnic diversity of NE Ohio (which boasts more than 100 nationalities among it’s residents)
photo courtesy The Holden Arboretum

photo courtesy The Holden Arboretum

Holden Arboretum – at 3,600 acres, this is one of the largest arboretums in the US and features the trees, plants and flowers indigenous to Ohio
And virtually every suburb has a public park within its own boundaries for residents to fish, listen to concerts, walk trails, splash in pools or ponds, picnic, hike & explore.
Here’s a fun way to explore nature in your new town….a company called NatureVation curates outdoor experiences that pair an activity (hiking, biking, kayaking, snow shoeing with a local expert Guide who leads the way and provides all the special touches (when you are done with your hike, there’s a gourmet picnic or wine tasting waiting for you). No matter what season, you don’t have to sit inside and be a couch potato, sign up for one of their outings (or find a dozen friends and customize one for yourselves!) and stay active!
For more information on how Executive Arrangements can help your company showcase the positives of Cleveland, Akron or Canton to your out-of-town recruit, or new employee, and their family, call us at 216.231.9311.