“Nature” is probably not the first word that comes to mind when you think of Cleveland. You’re more likely to think of a rust-belt, industrial city. Or maybe LeBron James. But if you spend a little time here, you’ll learn that there’s a lot of ways to get outside within 60 minutes of downtown. So here’s a short – and by no means all-inclusive – list of a few places to get your nature fix near Cleveland. Most of these deserve more in-depth treatment, so check back for more!
- Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Probably the most quintessential way to get outside, the Cuyahoga Valley National Park (CVNP) offers over 125 miles of hiking trails through beautiful rock formations, across grassy meadows, and along scenic rivers. Best known for scenic Brandywine Falls, CVNP also offers skiing, picnicing, and biking. A trip on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad is also a lot of fun and a way to experience an overview of the park.
- Marblehead Lighthouse. One of my childhood favorites, the Marblehead Lighthouse State Park is about an hour west of Cleveland and is the gateway to Lake Erie’s western basin. While it’s by no means back-country, an afternoon at the lighthouse is a great way to step away and take in the calming beauty of Lake Erie.
- Put-in-Bay. Best-known for its summer night-life, once you get out of downtown, South Bass Island provides a tranquil backdrop for walks, bike rides, beautiful views of Lake Erie, and the opportunity to go to the top of Perry’s Monument to look out over the islands of Lake Erie’s western basin.
- Kelley’s Island. More rustic than South Bass, Kelley’s has a State Park on its north side that overlooks a beautiful bay. Once you’re there, take a short hike around the glacial grooves to learn about the geological process that formed the islands in Lake Erie’s western basin.
- Whiskey Island. Just a short trip from downtown (you can see the downtown skyline from the shore), Wendy Park at Whiskey Island is a quick way to get outside, a little oasis nestled just north of Route 2.