Winter in Cleveland can be a great time to get outdoors and enjoy some unique cold-weather activities, or an equally great time to stay indoors where it’s cozy and warm. No matter what your preference is, there are plenty of things to do in Cleveland in winter.
Use the list below to inspire your own winter adventures this year.
Note: I’m not including any holiday-related activities here, because I have a whole separate post all about Christmas in Cleveland! This post is about all the OTHER things to do in Cleveland during the winter months.
Things to Do in Cleveland in Winter
1. Go ice skating
If it’s outdoor ice skating you’re after, Cleveland has two outdoor rinks that pop up during the winter months.
There’s the Cleveland Foundation Ice Rink at Public Square, which opens up at Winterfest (usually the weekend after Thanksgiving) and stays open through mid-February. Skating here costs $10 with skate rental, or $7 if you bring your own skates.
There’s also the Rink at Wade Oval in University Circle, which usually opens in early December (often coinciding with Wade Oval’s Holiday Circle Fest) and runs through mid-February. Skating here costs $2, and it’s an additional $3 for skate rentals.
There’s also a seasonal ice rink at Halloran Park west of the city, and additional outdoor rinks at Crocker Park in Westlake and at Pinecrest in Orange.
For indoor ice skating in the Cleveland area, you can check for open skate hours at the Serpentini Winterhurst Arena in Lakewood, the C.E. Orr Ice Arena in Euclid, the Cleveland Heights Community Center Ice Rink, and the Michael A. Ries Ice Rink inParma.
2. Ride the toboggan chutes
The toboggan chutes at Mill Stream Run Reservation in Strongsville are a winter tradition in northeast Ohio. The chutes open the weekend after Thanksgiving (no snow is necessary for them to run!), and stay open on weekends through the beginning of March.
The toboggan chutes are 70- feet tall and roughly 700 feet long, and you can reach speeds upwards of 40 miles per hour. It’s incredibly fun!
You can fit up to 4 people on each toboggan, too, so it’s a very family-friendly activity. And while you do have to walk up 108 stairs to reach the top of the chutes every time you want to ride, you don’t have to carry a toboggan up with you – that part is all automated now!
3. Take a winter hike
The Cleveland Metroparks, Lake Metroparks, Lorain County Metro Parks, and Cuyahoga Valley National Park are all open year-round, even in the winter months. You can go for a winter hike in any of these; some even offer outdoor winter programs like interpretive hikes, cross-country skiing lessons, snowshoeing, and more.
You can also take to the trails on your own by renting snowshoes or skis. Chapin Forest Reservation (Lake Metroparks) rents both of these and maintains groomed trails during the winter that are even lighted after dark. You can also rent snowshoes at Penitentiary Glen Reservation (Lake Metroparks), and the North Chagrin Nature Center (Cleveland Metroparks).
Cuyahoga Valley National Park also leases out snowshoes and skis (for FREE!) to use within the park. You can rent both from the Winter Sports Center at M.D. Garage on weekends, and snowshoes from the Boston Mill Visitor Center during the week.
4. Go skiing/tubing/sledding
Northeast Ohio isn’t exactly a great geographic fit for skiing or snowboarding (that whole lack of hills thing…), but we do still have Boston Mills/Brandywine and Alpine Valley Ski Resort just a short drive from Cleveland.
Both of these ski resorts rent equipment, offer lessons, and also have dedicated lifts and runs just for snow tubing. Tubing is definitely the more affordable and family-friendly option, starting at $25 for a 3-hour session.
You can check hours and snow conditions at each resort’s website:
5. Check out a winter festival
There are plenty of winter festivals and events happening in and around Cleveland.
For the holidays, many neighborhoods have their own Christmas/tree-lighting celebrations, including Winterfest downtown, Light Up Lakewood, Holiday Circlefest n University Circle, and Wintertide in Gordon Square.
Beyond holiday-specific festivities, you can also check out events like Brite Winter (a winter music festival), Winter Beerfest, the North Coast Harbor Ice Fest, and the Cleveland Kurentovanje (a Slovenian cultural festival that’s supposed to herald the coming of spring).
Not far from Cleveland, you’ll find the annual Medina Ice Festival in February. And those who are brave enough could even join in on the Cleveland Polar Plunge into Lake Erie at the end of February.
Looking for more info about these festivals and events? Check out our Cleveland Calendar!
6. Keep cozy indoors
Of course, winter doesn’t HAVE to be about being outdoors at all. If you’d prefer to stay cozy indoors during the dark months of winter in Cleveland, there’s more than enough to do.
Some of my favorite indoor activities in Cleveland include:
- Visiting a museum like the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame or the Cleveland Museum of Art
- Cuddling up with adoptable cats at AffoGATO cat cafe
- Taking a food tour of the West Side Market
- Spending some time getting to know Cleveland’s coffee shops
- See a show at Playhouse Square
- Building your own DIY craft brewery crawl
READ MORE: 10 Indoor Things to Do in Cleveland
Bonus: Chase (frozen) waterfalls
IF it gets cold enough (we’re talking Arctic Blast or Polar Vortex cold), then you might get lucky enough to see some of northeast Ohio’s waterfalls turned into frozen cascades of ice.
You can find snowy, icy weaterfalls in places like Cuyahoga Valley National Park, as well as in some of the area metroparks. For a full guide, check out this post: Where to See Frozen Waterfalls near Cleveland This Winter.
What’s YOUR favorite thing to do in Cleveland during the winter months?
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