5) Penitentiary Glen Reservation in Kirtland, Ohio: This is one of those parks that has everything: forest, wetlands, hiking trails, a nature center and the Kevin P. Clinton Wildlife Center, which helps rehabilitate wild animals until they are able to return to the wild. One of the coolest features of this park is this rehabilitation center because there’s a roustabout with all the animals that are currently being cared for, which means children can see endangered species such as the peregrine falcon and the bald eagle. There’s also miniature steam-powered engines that pull passengers through the woodlands of Penitentiary Glen Reservation to the rim of the gorge. Look up train times on the Lake Metroparks Website.
4) Hinckley Reservation in Hinckley Township in Medina, Ohio: The reservation is dominated by the 90-acre Hinckley Lake, and if you go during the winter months, you may even see an ice fisherman. It’s great to have parks with activities for the winter because we know how Ohio is. Another cool attraction at the reservation is Whipp’s Ledges and Worden’s Ledges. Most people warmly refer to this reservation as “The Ledges”. One of my favorite activities to do here is walk around and read all of the unique carvings on the ledges. These ledges were formed more than 250 million years ago! Go get a taste of history.
3) Punderson State Park in Newbury, Ohio: Punderson State Park has something for everybody. There’s a 150-acre lake, golf course, campgrounds, disc golf, the list goes on. There are tons of recreational activities for you to do as well such as sledding, snowmobiling and cross-country skiing. Again, another great park for winters in Ohio, but there’s plenty to do during the other three seasons too. Lots of people have family reunions here and some people even get married here. Did I mention there’s a manor house with 31 guestrooms and meeting space? It has quite the history too.
2) Headlands Beach State Park in Mentor, Ohio: Headlands Beach is the largest natural sand beach in the state, which means you must visit it at least once if you’re a Northeast Ohio native. I go here quite often, and while it can get crowded during the summer months, it’s never been too crowded to enjoy. This would be a great place to have a picnic, birthday party or family reunion as well. Take a walk through the sand dunes and you’ll find lots of plant species that are common to the Atlantic coastal plain region such as sea rocket, beach pea and purple sand grass. If you don’t feel like lounging near Lake Erie, head down the 1.5-mile Buckeye Trail. It’s easy and also handicap accessible.
1) Rocky River Reservation: Located in Berea, Brook Park, Cleveland, Fairview Park, Lakewood, North Olmsted, Olmsted Township and Rocky River, it’s almost silly to not include these massive shale cliffs that were carved out by the Rocky River. I like to head to this reservation during the fall because of all the different tree species found throughout the valley’s deep floodplain forests, meadows and wetlands. If you’re into bird watching, this is also a great park to visit. There’s also a 15-mile long all-purpose trail for you to bike, hike and walk.