Spring can be a bit of an elusive season here in Cleveland – some years it shows up right on time in late March, while other years it takes its good old time and doesn’t turn up until early May.
But when spring DOES arrive in Cleveland, it’s definitely one of the more beautiful seasons! Cleveland is quite a green city, with lots of tree-lined streets, parks, and gardens that really come to life once the temperatures start warming up.
To round out our guides to Cleveland in every season, here are some of the unique things to see and do in Cleveland during the spring.
11 things to do in Cleveland in spring
1. Go maple sugaring
One of the first things you can do each year in Ohio in the first days of “official” spring is to go maple sugaring!
Maple sugaring events and festivals take place across northeast Ohio during the month of March, allowing people to learn all about how maple syrup is made.
Some popular maple sugaring events in the Cleveland area include:
- Maple Sugaring at Cleveland Metroparks – Self-guided hikes through the sugarbush in 2021 allowed visitors to learn about the history of maple sugaring, and then they could watch sap being made into syrup at the sugar house. Dates for this free event at Rocky River Nature Center were March 6-7 and 13-14 in 2021.
- Maple Sugar Days at Hale Farm & Village – Hale Farm in Summit County has its own maple sugar days at its replica 19th-century village. Families can watch demonstrations on tree tapping and the process of boiling sap into syrup, and end the day with a pancake breakfast. Dates in 2021 were March 13-14 and 20-21.
In Geauga County, lots of local farms offer maple sugaring events throughout March, too, including Butternut Maple Farm, Messenger Century Farm, and Pleasant Valley View Farm. There’s also the annual Geauga County Maple Festival, usually held the last full weekend in April. The festival won’t be happening in 2021, but is on the calendar for April 21-24, 2022.
2. Spot spring blooms in the Metroparks
The best part about spring is arguably the new blooms and fresh green foliage that starts appearing everywhere. And in Cleveland, we are lucky to be surrounded by lots of beautiful metroparks that really come alive this time of year!
Some of our favorite spots to look for spring flowers and new leaves within the Cleveland Metroparks system include:
- Brookside Reservation – More than 100 Yoshino cherry trees burst into bloom usually in April/early May, creating a very pretty “Blossom Lane” you can stroll down.
- Bedford Reservation – Come early May, you can find thousands of Virginia bluebells blanketing the forest floor in the Hemlock Creek Picnic area and along Tinkers Creek.
- Rocky River Reservation – Visit the Hauser Wildflower Garden near the Rocky River Nature Center, which blooms with wildflowers like violets, bloodroot, and trout lily in the spring.
- Breacksville Reservation – The whole family can enjoy the .75-mile Wildflower Loop trail, where various wildflowers are labeled as they bloom from March-June.
- North Chagrin Reservation – The Scenic Loop Trail (1.6 miles) is a great spot to see lots of native wildflowers blooming.
3. Visit the Cleveland Botanical Garden or Holden Arboretum
Cleveland’s Botanical Garden (in University Circle) and Holden Arboretum (in Kirtland) are open year-round, but spring is one of the best times to visit as the outdoor garden spaces start to come alive once more.
At the Botanical Garden, they also have an annual springtime event called Orchids Forever; this year, it’s happening through April 11, 2021.
At Holden Arboretum, look out for early spring flowers like snowdrops in March, and then look forward to the Myrtle S. Holden Wildflower Garden and rhododendron gardens starting to bloom in April and May. The Murch Canopy Walk and Kalberer Emergent Tower (the two most popular spots at the Arboretum) usually re-open for the season each year around April 1, too.
4. Pay a visit to Lake View Cemetery
It’s no secret that we view Lake View Cemetery as much more than just a cemetery here in Cleveland. The historic 150+ year-old cemetery was built to resemble the great Victorian cemeteries of Europe, and is a beautiful and peaceful place to take a stroll any time of year.
In the springtime, though, Lake View Cemetery bursts into life with flowering trees like magnolias and a locally famous spot known as Daffodil Hill.
Spring is also when two of the most architecturally interesting spots in the cemetery re-open to the public: both Wade Chapel and the James A. Garfield Memorial usually re-open on April 1 after being closed for the winter. (No word yet on when these might open in 2021, but hopefully it will be soon!)
5. See baby animals
Spring is the time for birthdays in much of the animal kingdom, so if cute baby animals are your jam, then you’ll definitely want to plan some outings during the spring months!
The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo keeps track of all its zoo babies online, but your best bet for seeing baby animals is actually at local farms and farmparks. The Lake Metroparks Farmpark in Kirtland is a working farm and educational center where you’re sure to find some newborn animals in the spring. They’re open Friday-Sunday.
Slightly further away but still worth visit is Majestic Meadows, an alpaca farm and boutique in Medina. Here they raise alpacas, but also have sheep, pigs, mini horses, mini cows, goats, and more. You can hand-feed many of the animals on the farm, and you’re very likely to spot babies in the spring. Reservations are required to visit Majestic Meadows, which is open 7 days a week.
6. Stroll through the Cultural Gardens
I’ve said it many times before, but I’ll say it again: I think the Cleveland Cultural Gardens are truly a hidden gem in Cleveland. This collection of more than 30 small gardens runs along East Boulevard and Martin Luther King Jr. Drive for 1.5 miles between Wade Oval and the Rockefeller Greenhouse.
The gardens are designed and maintained by different cultural groups in Cleveland, and each represents a different country or culture from around the world.
These gardens are particularly beautiful in the spring, when flowers and flowering trees add a pop of color to the area.
My favorite garden is the Hungarian Cultural Garden, but you can check out our full guide for visiting these gardens here.
7. Go in search of waterfalls
Spring tends to be a fairly wet season in northeast Ohio, and this fact coupled with the last of the winter snow melting usually means it’s one of the best seasons to go looking for waterfalls.
We have a whole guide to the best waterfalls in the Cleveland area, and most will be at peak flow during the spring months.
Some of our favorites not far from the city include:
- Great Falls of Tinker’s Creek in Bedford Reservation
- Brandywine Falls in Cuyahoga Valley National Park
- Mill Creek Falls in Garfield Park Reservation
- Chagrin Falls in downtown Chagrin Falls
- East and West Falls in Cascade Park in Elyria
8. Plan a picnic
As the weather warms up and the grass turns green again, planning an outdoor picnic can be a great springtime activity that the whole family can enjoy.
Most local parks have dedicated picnic areas with tables and easy access to trash cans (our favorites include Edgewater Park, Wendy Park, Lakewood Park, and Euclid Beach Park), but you can also always bring your own blanket and spread out in any public park with a grassy area (Voinovich Park, Public Square, Wade Lagoon, and Lincoln Park in Tremont are some great spots for this).
If you want to really up your picnic game, though, there are a couple event-planning companies in Cleveland that now offer luxury picnics that include cozy set-ups in any outdoor spot of your choosing. Check out Picnics by the Lake and Emily Nicole Events for these – we think they look perfect for celebrating a special day, and will be trying these out ourselves this spring!
9. Break out the bike again
Spring means it’s time to dust off those bikes that have been neglected all winter and hit the trails again. Temperatures in April and May are usually perfect for a long or leisurely bike ride, and Cleveland has a growing number of bike paths that the whole family can enjoy.
Some favorite bike paths in Cleveland (and these are dedicated bike trails, not just bike lanes on roads) include:
- Cleveland Lakefront Bikeway – This 17-mile-long paved trail runs along the Lake Erie shoreline, connecting Euclid and Lakewood via Cleveland.
- Cleveland Foundation Centennial Lake Link Trail – This trail is still in the works, but will eventually connect Tremont and The Flats with the lake shore. Currently, it’s a great place for a short urban ride, like on the Scranton Flats section of trail above.
- Ohio to Erie Trail – This trail will eventually run the length of Ohio, connecting Cleveland and Cincinnati. Right now, it connects Cleveland to Akron via the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail, which takes you through the beautiful Cuyahoga Valley National Park.
10. Celebrate Dyngus Day
Just as Cleveland celebrates the Polish holiday of Pączki Day in February, we also celebrate the Eastern European holiday of Dyngus Day (Śmigus-dyngus), which is a celebration held every year on Easter Monday.
While Dyngus Day does have roots in the Roman Catholic Church and the celebration of the ending of Lent, local celebrations in Cleveland have long been open to anyone and focus more on the Polish-American traditions of good food and Polka music than anything religious.
The official Dyngus Day celebrations in Cleveland usually take place in the Gordon Square Arts District. In 2021, however, the event will be a ticketed affair at Forest City Brewing Company in order to comply with COVID-19 restrictions. But plan to party it out in the streets again in 2022!
11. Attend a spring festival
While summer is really “festival season” in Cleveland, there are still some notable events that take place in the springtime, too.
Some spring festivals to know about include:
- Cleveland International Film Festival – The CIFF takes place each year from March-April, with hundreds of movies being shown at Tower City Cinemas. This year, the festival runs from April 7-20, 2021, and will take place entirely online. You can purchase tickets here.
- Tremont Greek Fest – This festival celebrates Greek food and culture. In 2021, the event will be a drive-through food festival May 28-30. More info here.
- Cleveland Thyagaraja Festival – This is the largest Indian classical music festival outside of India, and usually takes place over 12 days around Easter. It does not appear as though this festival will happen in 2021.
- Cleveland Asian Festival – Each May, this festival takes place in AsiaTown and celebrates Asian cultures and food. No word yet on whether there will be a festival in 2021.
Bonus: Celebrate a holiday locally
Spring is filled with all sorts of holidays, and many local restaurants and businesses offer special meals and deals throughout the season.
Some holidays to look out for include:
- Easter (April 4, 2021) – There are always Easter egg hunts and other events this weekend, along with of course church services.
- Cinco de Mayo (May 5, 2021) – Last year most of the local Latin/Mexican/taco restaurants did food and drink specials. Barrio sold awesome taco kits!
- Mother’s Day (May 9, 2021) – Plenty of local restaurants and shops will run specials to celebrate Mom. Our picks? Build your own bouquet at the flower bar at Blossom Cleveland, or maybe take Mom out for afternoon tea at the Macaron Tea Room!
- Memorial Day (May 31, 2021) – Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of summer in Cleveland, and is a popular day to head to the lake or otherwise spend outdoors.
What’s YOUR favorite thing to do in Cleveland during the spring?
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Amanda was born and raised in northeast Ohio, and has always been a fangirl of the state. Now, she wants to share her love of Cleveland with the world, highlighting all the best things to do, see, and eat in the CLE. She’s been running Cleveland Traveler since January 2019.