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12 Things to Do in Cleveland at Christmas With Kids

We have a whole blog post rounding up our very favorite things to do in Cleveland at Christmas. And while some of the things on that list are kid-friendly (like ice skating and going to a drive-through lights show), others really aren’t (ahem, Christmas bars).

But we know how much Clevelanders love Christmas, and we also know that Christmas is generally a family-focused holiday. So in this post we’re going to round up the best Christmas things to do in Cleveland that are also kid-friendly.

This list will overlap a little bit with our main Christmas guide, but also include some things that are really designed just for the kiddos to enjoy.

Tower City Christmas tree

Best Kid-Friendly Christmas Experiences in Cleveland

1. Have breakfast with Santa in Cleveland

What could be more exciting than having breakfast with Santa and his elves? Sip hot cocoa and take photos of Old Saint Nick with the kid while also enjoying an unforgettable and delicious brunch. 

Luckily, there are plenty of places to have breakfast (and more) with Santa around the city. Here are the places to dine with Santa in Cleveland:

  1. Breakfast With Mr. Kringle: Have a delightful breakfast with Santa and friends at the Burnham Restaurant at the Hilton Cleveland Downtown. Breakfast takes place on December 4th, 5th, 11th, 12th, and 19th with time slots at 8:30 am, 9 am, 10:30 am, and 11 am. The price for breakfast is $49 for ages 13+, $35 for children ages 2-12, and free for infants under 2. Breakfast includes a buffet, a meet and greet with Mr. Kringle himself, cookie decorating, letter writing, hot cocoa by the fire pit, and free parking. Be sure to wear pajamas or festive gear! 
  2. Breakfast With Black Santa: Enjoy breakfast with Black Santa and friends at Edwin’s Too in Shaker Square. This takes place on December 4th and 18th with time slots at 10 am, 10:30 am, 12:30 pm, and 1 pm. The price for breakfast is $49 for ages 13+, $35 for children ages 2-12, and free for infants under 2. Breakfast includes a buffet, a meet and greet with Mr. Kringle himself, a craft making activity, letter writing, coloring activities, and prizes. Be sure to wear pajamas or festive gear! 
  3. Brunch With Mrs. Claus: Who says Santa has all the fun? Join Mrs. Kringle for brunch at the Headliner Bar & Eatery at the Hotel Indigo in Downtown Cleveland. Brunch takes place on November 27th and December 4th and has time slots at 1 pm, 1:30 pm, 3 pm, and 3:30 pm. The price for breakfast is $45 for ages 13+, $32 for children ages 2-12, and free for infants under 2. Brunch includes a buffet, a meet and greet with Mrs. Kringle, a craft making activity, letter writing, coloring activity, and prizes. Be sure to wear pajamas or festive gear! 
  4. Breakfast With Santa At Market: Take the kids to Market in Rocky River to have breakfast with Santa and characters this holiday season. This takes place on December 11th, 12th, 18th, and 19th with time slots at 10 am and 12:30 pm. The price for breakfast is $38 for adults, $12 for children, and free for infants 2 and under.
  5. Breakfast With Santa At The Cleveland Botanical Garden: Enjoy breakfast with Santa at the Cleveland Botanical Garden including breakfast pastries, waffles, eggs, and a hot cocoa bar. This takes place on December 12th and 19th from 10 am-12 pm. Prices are $40 for adults and $25 for children 3 and up. For members, the price is $28 for adults and $22.50 for children 3 and up. Infants are free. 
  6. Tea Party With Santa: Have macarons, finger sandwiches, and tea with Santa and Mrs. Claus at the Macaron Tea Room in Broadview Heights. Reservations can be made by texting 440-781-0892. Tea parties take place on December 8th, 15th, 17th, and 22nd at 4 pm. The price is $45 per person. Don’t forget to dress up!
  7. Cocoa with Santa: Join Santa and his elf Yule Tide for hot cocoa and photos in Public Square weekends in December. (December 4-5, 11-12, and 18-19, near the Moses Cleaveland Statue)

2. Meet Scuba Claus

Scuba Claus
Scuba Claus! (Photo credit: Greater Cleveland Aquarium)

When: Timed arrivals on December 18-19 from 8:30 am-10 am and December 20-22 from 4:30-7 pm.

Where: Greater Cleveland Aquarium, 2000 Sycamore Street, Cleveland

Santa travels the world to bring toys for the good girls and boys using his magic sleigh. But did you know that Santa dives, too? You can join Santa in training as he goes for a dive at the Greater Cleveland Aquarium. 

Participate with the family on a seek-and-find activity before meeting Santa while he’s underwater. 

Don’t worry! Santa knows these sharks and fish are on the “nice” list! 

How Much: $24.95 for ages 13+, $18.95 for children ages 2-12, and free for children under 2. Passholder adults and children are $5. More info here.

3. Admire the Best Holiday Light Displays

Public Square holiday lights
Public Square lights

We have a whole post all about the best Christmas lights, but here are some great places to take kids to see holiday lights around Cleveland:

  • Public Square: Public Square always has incredible light displays during the holiday season. There is a giant tree, ice rink, and thousands upon thousands of lights dangling overhead after Thanksgiving. There are even light tunnels and a light show on Terminal Tower that occurs three times per hour from 4-10 pm every night through early January. You can also check out the decorations and big Christmas tree inside Tower City while you’re there.
  • The Arcade: The Arcade is a Cleveland holiday staple to enjoy with its giant Christmas tree, twinkling garland, and overall timeless holiday feels. Enjoy a free display of lights and decorations here. 
  • Wild Winter Lights at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo: With hundreds of light displays and holiday-themed spots like Candyland, Santa’s Workshop, Enchanted Forest, and Conservation Trail, the whole family will be mesmerized. There are two options for visiting the Wild Winter Lights: walk-through or drive-through. Walk-through tickets cost $18 per person for members and $20 for non-members if purchased in advance. Drive-through tickets are $54 per car for members and $60 per car for non-members. It is highly recommended to purchase tickets in advance
Wild Winter Lights 2020
Wild Winter Lights
  • Magic of Lights: At the Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds, you’ll find over 1 million LED lights creating incredible light displays and digital animations. This is a drive-through light show, but there is a small “Jolly Holiday Village” along the route with concessions, crafts, and Santa. This runs from November 24, 2021-January 2, 2022 from 5:30-10 pm. Prices start at $21 per car if purchased online. Tickets at the gate are $30 for Monday-Thursday and $35 for Friday-Sunday. Purchase tickets here.
  • Bethlehem Hills Christmas Light Park: With 60 different light displays to witness along a 1.5-mile path, you’ll be enchanted by the 2 million LED lights on display at the Geauga County Fairgrounds. This drive-through is open from November 26, 2021-January 2, 2022 from 5-10 pm. Prices are $25 for vehicles with less than 8 people and $39 for vehicles with more than 8 people. Purchase tickets here
  • Holiday Lights Cruise-Thru: The Lorain County Metroparks’ Carlisle Reservation is hosting its annual twinkling lights and holiday displays from November 26-December 23, 2021 on Wednesday-Sunday nights and Sunday-Thursday nights from December 26-30, 2021. This is free, but they are requesting at least one non-perishable food item to donate to the Second Harvest Food Bank. 
  • Drive-Thru Holiday Lights: The Medina County Fairgrounds has one of the biggest holiday light displays around with over 85+ exhibits! This runs from November 26-28 and December 3-5 and 10-26 from 6-10 pm on Friday and Saturday nights and 6-9 pm on weeknights. It costs $10 per vehicle or $20 per van/small bus. Payments are made by cash or check only. 

RELATED: Where to See the Best Christmas Light Displays Near Cleveland

4. Stay in the Kringle Suite

When: November 12, 2021-January 9, 2022.  

Where: Hilton Cleveland Downtown, 100 Lakeside Ave E, Cleveland, and Hotel Indigo Cleveland Downtown, 651 Huron Rd E, Cleveland

Nestle your children all snug in their beds as visions of sugar plums dance in their heads at the Mr. Kringle Suite at the Hilton Cleveland Downtown or the Mrs. Kringle Suite at the Hotel Indigo Cleveland Downtown.

These holiday-themed suites have room for up to 4 guests, and include milk and cookies, a personalized note from Mr. or Mrs. Kringle, and free parking. 

The rooms are decorated with holiday decor and multiple Christmas trees, plus have a large TV so you can watch your favorite Christmas movies with the family. 

How Much: Prices start at $450 per night for the suite. 

5. Go Ice Skating

Public Square ice rink
Ice skating at Public Square

Dance around the ice together among enchanting light displays around the city. Here are some great places to go ice skating during the holiday season: 

  • Cleveland Foundation Skating Rink in Public Square: From November 26, 2021-January 17 2022, you can enjoy skating in Public Square with the family. Admission is $12 per person, which includes skate rentals. 
  • Merwin’s Wharf Rink: At Merwin’s Wharf there will be an ice rink from November 26, 2021-January 2, 2022. The winter village will be open from 4-8 p.m. on weekdays, with extended hours on weekends. Prices for skating are $15 for people ages 6+ and include skate rentals. Advance reservations are recommended and can be made here.
  • The Rink at Wade Oval: This rink is open December 3, 2021-February 22, 2022, and is a fun place to go skating at University Circle, near all the city’s best museums. Admissions to this rink is just $2, with skate rentals costing an additional $3. More info and hours can be found here

6. Try a Christmas-Themed Escape Room

For families with slightly older kids, why not test out your skills with a holiday-themed escape room? There are plenty of awesome escape rooms in Cleveland, but these have special Christmas-themed rooms:

  • Perplexity Games: The Naughty List Christmas Escape Room is a fight against time as you break into Santa’s house to take your name off the Naughty List and add it to the Nice List. Price is $33 per person. This room can be solved by up to 10 people, and is suitable for kids 8 and up. Book here.
  • Trapped! Escape Room: Operation: Candy Cane is a room where you’re helping Santa on the night before Christmas find the forgotten child who is meant to receive his present – all before the sleigh departs! Prices are $28 per person. This room is for 2-8 people. Book here.

7. Visit the Toy Soldier at Crocker Park

When: Practices starting November 28, 2021 every Sunday at 12 pm and 3 pm. The full shows take place at 7 pm on December 8th, 9th, 15th, 16th, 22nd, and 23rd. 

Where: Santa’s Village, Crocker Park, 172 Crocker Park Blvd, Westlake

The Toy Soldier is back in Santa’s Village in Crocker Park! Starting on November 20, 2021, there is the annual tree lighting, live performances, and a free performance of the Toy Soldier. 

Then, starting on November 28th, you can watch free mini-performances from the Toy Soldier at 12 pm and 3 pm on Sundays. You can also get photos with him at 12:30 pm and 3:30 pm those days. 

Then, it leads up to the live performances on Market Square! 

Crocker Park also has other lovely things to see including Santa’s Village and the holiday market. Check out all the current events here

How Much: Practices are free. The shows start at $25 per person. Purchase tickets here

NOTE: The Toy Soldier will also be performing twice during Cleveland’s Winterfest event on November 27. He’ll be doing two shows at 5 pm and 6 pm in the Louis Stokes Wing Auditorium at the Cleveland Library Main Branch.

8. Take a Train Ride to the North Pole

When: November 5-December 19, 2021. Departs Akron Station at 7 pm and Rockside Road at 7:30 pm. 

Where: Cuyahoga Valley National Park Scenic Railroad, Akron and Rockside Road Stations. Akron Station is located at 27 Ridge St, Akron and the Rockside Road Station is located at 7900 Old Rockside Rd, Independence. 

The North Pole Adventure train is back, and you and your child can travel to the North Pole in style! They will get cookies and cocoa, write letters to Santa, dance and sing, and visit with Santa as they ride along the Cuyahoga Valley National Park Scenic Railroad. 

Kids are encouraged to wear their pajamas or festive attire.  

How Much: Starting at $45 for a weekday ticket or $47 for a weekend ticket. 

9. Visit Castle Noel

NYC display window at Castle Noel
NYC holiday winter display at Castle Noel

When: Hours vary by time of year, but they are always closed on Mondays. They typically are open between 12:30-3 pm outside of the holidays, and are open pretty late during the month of December.

Where: 260 S Court St, Medina

Castle Noel is America’s largest indoor year-round Christmas entertainment attraction all thanks to founder Mark Klaus (yes that is his real name)! 

Enjoy some of the best things to see at Castle Noel, including Christmas movie memorabilia, New York holiday storefront displays, vintage toys, and more. There are some interactive elements, too, like the Blizzard Vortex, Santa’s Chimney Squeeze, and getting a photo with Santa before going down the Santa Slide! 

This has been a family favorite Christmas activity in Cleveland for years, and the kiddos will enjoy all the displays as well as meeting Santa himself. 

How Much: Admission for adults is $24.50 and children 12 and under is $19.50. Seniors, military, and group tours are $23.50 per person. Also, you’ll need to book your tour tickets in advance. This can be done online here. Tours last between 1.5 and 2 hours, and are guided.

RELATED: Your Complete Guide to Visiting Castle Noel

10. Invent Toys at Kringle’s Inventionasium

When: November 19-December 24, 2022. 

Where: Terminal Tower, 50 Public Square, Cleveland

Move over, traditional mall Santas. Kringle’s Inventionasium is a completely unique Santa experience that encourages kids to be creative in Mr. Kringle’s top secret inventing laboratory and help invent toys.

This isn’t just the usual “stand in line and take photos with Santa” routine; the Inventionasium experience can last up to an hour, and gives families the chance to be silly (pajamas or festive outfits are encouraged) and creative together. Kids’ tickets include an Invent-A-Toy Kit, and every family gets some time (and photos) with Mr. Kringle at the end.

And parents, you might like to know that this is a STEM-accredited educational experience!

Unfortunately, the Inventionasium has been on hiatus due to the pandemic, and won’t be open in 2021. BUT, you can still book virtual e-visits with Mr. Kringle this holiday season.

How Much: Starting at $32 per guest depending on the experience for Kringle’s Inventionasium. E-visits are $48 per household for classic streaming that lasts 6-8 minutes or $58 for the deluxe streaming that lasts for 8-10 minutes and includes a personalized conversation. These can be booked here

11. A Garden Holiday at Cleveland Botanical Gardens

Gingerbread house at GLOW
Gingerbread house at Cleveland Botanical Gardens

When: November 20, 2021-January 2, 2022 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. every day except Mondays.

Where: Cleveland Botanical Gardens, 11030 East Blvd, Cleveland

Take the family to A Garden Holiday at the Cleveland Botanical Gardens where they can enjoy the decorated trees, gingerbread house displays, a kid’s play area, and more! 

There are even fun activities like marshmallow roasting and crafting on the weekends. The garden will also be hosting Krampusnacht with music, drinks, and crafts on December 4, and, of course, breakfast with Santa (as mentioned above). 

How much: You’re encouraged to purchase timed tickets for A Garden Holiday in advance. Admission to the gardens is $16 per adult and $12 per child. Purchase tickets (up to 2 weeks in advance) here.

12. Deck the Halls at Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens

Stan Hywet Christmas

When: November 26-28, and December 2-5, 9-23, and 26-30 from 5-8 pm (the estate is open until 9 pm). 

Where: 714 N Portage Path, Akron

Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens hosts its annual Deck the Halls event in Akron where there are over 1 million holiday lights to enjoy! Plus, the house is decorated completely with a new holiday theme each year. In 2021, the theme is “Lights, Cameras, Christmas,” and will feature decorations inspired by classic Christmas movies.

Then, there are the stunning greenhouses and decorated gardens, a chance to visit with Santa, and hot cocoa and gingerbread to enjoy. 

This is a can’t miss Northeast Ohio holiday attraction for the whole family! 

How much: $14 for members on Monday-Thursday and $6 for children ages 6-17. For non-members it is $18 per adult and $7 for children ages 6-17. On Friday-Sunday members pay $16 for adults and $7 for children ages 6-17. Non-members pay $22 for adults and $9 for children ages 6-17. Children under 6 are free. Purchase tickets here

From breakfast with Santa to jaw-dropping light displays, there are so many amazing things to do during Christmas in Cleveland that the kids are sure to love!

Which activity are you most looking forward to with the kids?

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