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AAA World Article

Four Seasons: Cleveland

Music, history and the arts make this underrated Midwest gem shine.

By Erin Gifford

AAA World Article

Apollo Command Module from a 1973 Skylab mission
All photos courtesy of Destination Cleveland

Cleveland, Ohio’s ever-popular Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is a must-experience any time of year, but there’s more to see and do on the shores of Lake Erie. From lunar landing celebrations to tobogganing for the ages, here are the seasonal favorites that make Cleveland a destination worthy of your “go” list.

SUMMER: Space Spectacles
Mark the 50th anniversary of the historic moon landing at the Great Lakes Science Center, home to the NASA Glenn Visitor Center, one of 11 NASA visitor centers that educate the public on space flight. Snap a photo in a real-life space suit, and scrutinize out-of-this-world artifacts, including an actual moon rock and a space capsule. On July 19–20, a lunar landing celebration will commemorate this milestone with special hands-on space activities and programs.

Celebrate the awe-inspiring nature of flight and space with To the Moon and Back, a new eight-stop road trip created by TourismOhio. The itinerary includes stops at space and aviation museums, observatories, and the former homes of aeronautical Ohioans Neil Armstrong and John Glenn (

Mapleside Farm, Cleveland, Ohio
Mapleside Farms

FALL: Festival Fun
Kick off the season at IngenuityFest at the Hamilton Collaborative, September 27–29. This festival sparks imagination with interactive exhibits, digital arts displays,
 and creatives of all kinds, including acrobats, fire dancers, makers and musicians. Originality and innovation unfold around every corner.

Celebrate all things fall at the Hale Harvest Festival, October 5–6 and 12–13. This annual festival at the historic Hale Farm & Village in Northeast Ohio is a longstanding fall tradition complete with apple cider, kettle corn, pumpkin painting and wagon rides. Early American trade demonstrations, such as glassblowing and blacksmithing, are highlighted.

Mapleside Farms Pumpkin Village is another fall favorite on September and October weekends thanks to colorful foliage, an apple orchard and a seven-acre corn maze, one of the largest in the Midwest. Another way to experience vibrant fall colors is on board the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad’s two-hour Fall Flyer excursion, which runs on weekends in October.

Cleveland, Ohio
Brite Winter

WINTER: Going Outside to Play
Light up the holiday season at GLOW, a massive outdoor light spectacular at the Cleveland Botanical Garden November 29, 2019–January 5, 2020. In its ninth year, GLOW wows more than 50,000 visitors annually with magical displays and decorations. Warm up in the Glasshouse, home to 350 varieties of plants and 50 species of butterflies.

In nearby Strongsville, an exhilarating toboggan ride may lead you to forget about the winter cold. Just don’t look down as you prepare to drop 70 feet as you hurtle along a 700-foot refrigerated ice chute at Mill Stream Run Reservation. Tobogganing season runs from the day after Thanksgiving through early March.

On February 22, bundle up for Brite Winter, a midwinter celebration known for live music, ice carvings, food trucks and fire pits. More than 40 bands are expected to rock out on indoor and outdoor stages. Dance troupes and improv groups will also roam the grounds to entertain Brite-goers.

Cleveland, Ohio
Dyngus Day

SPRING: Films and Food
Forget Park City, Utah; Cleveland is the place for lovers of cinema. Each spring, the Cleveland International Film Festival attracts more than 100,000 film buffs to Tower City Cinemas (March 25–April 5, 2020). More than 400 feature films, shorts and documentaries from 70 countries are screened throughout the 12-day festival.

Come to Cleveland’s west side neighborhoods on April 13, 2020, for Dyngus Day. This annual Polish tradition celebrating the end of Lent falls on the Monday after Easter. More than 40,000 people attend for lively polka music, plenty of beer, and all kinds of Polish foods, including pierogis, kielbasas and sauerkraut.

Don’t miss the beloved Miss Dyngus Day Pageant, which is followed by the evening Dyngus Day Parade. Gear up for pierogi floats, marching accordionists and even a few llamas.



This article originally appeared in the July/August 2019 edition of AAA World.

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