Family road trip with just one tank of gas: Next stop, Cleveland!

Photo above by Wil Lindsey courtesy of Destination Cleveland.

Flying with children at this time can be difficult, given the frequent flight cancellations and delays. But at the same time, gas prices are exorbitant. So if a long family trip means filling up the gas tank multiple times, those long-distance driving vacations can be nearly as expensive as ones involving flights.

Fortunately, Pittsburgh is located near many incredible destinations. So this summer, Kidsburgh took our readers to some great places accessible with just one tank of gas. Our first stop was Columbus, Ohio – if you missed it last month, check it out here. This month, we are going to a new destination.

Our second stop: Cleveland, Ohio!

Photo by Wil Lindsey courtesy of Destination Cleveland.

While most Pittsburgh residents grew up referring to Ohio’s second-largest city as The Mistake on the Lake, the truth is this: Cleveland is actually pretty awesome (except when it comes to relates to football, of course). This lakeside location is packed with great restaurants, water sports, and culture for the family.

What to do once there?

Get wet! There are a ton of water sports options in Cleveland, which is located where the Cuyahoga River empties into Lake Erie. The downtown public square includes a wading pool during the warm months. This is where families can enjoy for free Summer splash in the square from June 1 to August 14. Summer Splash offers daily activities including fountain games, chalk art, water tables, jump ropes, waffle blocks, and mini-basketball.

Photo by airline agents courtesy of Destination Cleveland.

If your crew enjoys kayaking or boating, both are available for charter on the Cuyahoga at Great Lakes Water Sports. Cruise the “Scorching River” and regale your children with when the Cuyahoga was so polluted it was actually inflamed. (Another thing Pittsburgh and Cleveland have in common right now is their efforts to clean up the dirty industrial pasts that have trashed our waterways and darkened our skies.)

Edgewater Beach is one of the most popular places for locals and tourists. This wide stretch of sand has a concession stand, a pet-friendly section and is home to the iconic “Cleveland” script sign – the perfect photo opp.

Sailing ship charters are also available to catch that iconic Lake Erie sunset.

Pins Mechanical, photo by Meg St.-Esprit.

Take a bite. Cleveland has a vibrant dining scene, with options ranging from fast casual family meals to upscale gourmet dining. If you’re already down by the river – which Cleveland locals call “the flats” – take a look Lindy’s Lake House. The cottage vibe is reminiscent of the owners’ childhood lake house. Family photos of summer fun adorn the walls and the menu has options for everyone. Tabletop board game cafe has nearly 1,000 board games available to play, as well as a light menu.

Proximity Pins Mechanical Co. has free bowling, tons of games, pétanque and more. They also have a bar, but don’t serve food. Guests can bring awhatever they want, however. So stop at West side market to stock up on goodies for your gaming afternoon. Cleveland is famous for its bagel pizzawhich can be bought at the market.

Kid-friendly treats at the West Side Market in Cleveland. Photo by Meg St.-Esprit.

If you are staying downtown, India is a great fast and casual option for families. The mac and cheese, hand-cut fries, and pub pretzel are classic kid-friendly dishes, while their lobster roll is one of the best you can get outside of New England.

The food at Jade New Asian and Sushi Bar is also delicious. The first floor space hosts a more casual sushi bar, while the second floor is a Japanese steakhouse. This second floor is surrounded by garage doors that open to a beautiful sunset over Lake Erie. It’s a great place for kids to watch the bustling riverside while dining (which might give parents a chance to finish their meal).

Of course, no family road trip is complete without ice cream. Mitchell’s Ice Cream allows children to see the production line unfold behind a glass wall. They even have dairy free/vegan options.

Cleveland road trip
This beautiful former bank building now houses Heinen’s. Photo by Meg St.-Esprit.

For snacks to take back to your hotel, stop by by Heinen. This grocery store, located in a former bank, will impress any child. There’s even a speakeasy (for adults) in the old basement safe.

To learn something. Along the shore stands a glass pyramid, which houses the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame. From the food trucks and concerts out front to the interactive exhibits everywhere, this museum is actually perfect for little kids all the way up to adults. There is something that arouses the curiosity of anyone.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Photo by Meg St.-Esprit.

Next to it, the Great Lakes Science Center can easily fill a full day for families. Since Ohio is the home of famous NASA astronaut John Glenn, the Space Center at the Science Center is perfect for aspiring astronauts. The steamboat in the harbor can be explored as can the submarine at our Carnegie Science Center. Since the Great Lakes Science Center is part of Carnegie’s reciprocal programbring your Carnegie membership card to get up to six family members into the Great Lakes Science Center for free.

The Cleveland Children’s Museum has everything Pittsburgh locals expect in a great space for kids, growing up in the town of Mister Roger. They participate in Museums for All, so if your family receives government assistance, please check their website for up-to-date admission information.

Cleveland road trip
Photo courtesy of Destination Cleveland.

To rest. Cleveland is the perfect city for a downtown stay. Most major attractions are within walking distance or an affordable Uber ride from hotels such as the Westin Cleveland Downtown by Marriottwhich offers waterfront views and a glimpse of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

The Hyatt Regency Cleveland at the Arcarde is located inside a historic mall and steps away from a ton of dining and entertainment options. For large families, Perch offers apartments in the historic May building. There are also a variety of lovely rentals available on Airbnb.

Extend your stay. Since you’re already on Lake Erie, consider adding another short trip. Cleveland is a stone’s throw from a host of adorable lakeside towns. Geneva-sur-le-Lac is only an hour away, and it’s lovely. Billed as “Ohio’s first beach resort,” it has a 1950s vibe with burger shacks like Eddie’s Grill, a historic Ferris wheel and numerous mini-golf courses. Will stay Abigail Lakeside Cottagesa gathering of historic summer homes along the shore, or at the Lodge in Geneva – which has a splashpad, pool, zip line, and more.

Cozy cottages at Abigail in Geneva-sur-le-Lac. Photo by Meg St.-Esprit.

Here’s another option: Just an hour in the opposite direction from Cleveland, there’s Sandusky – home to the Cedar Point amusement park. You can even take a day ferry to Put-in-Bay, a quaint Ohio village on South Bass Island in Lake Erie.

Stay tuned for more one-tank road trips from Kidsburgh in the coming months!


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