If you're not careful at this time of year, winter's icy grip can lull you to sleep. Boredom creeps in like an arctic wind and the days all become the same... it can get bleak. As Jack Nicholson famously said, "all work and no play ... makes for a mundane winter." Or something like that.
This is why it's an excellent idea to create a winter bucket list of activities. Fortunately for you, we've already done the leg work! Here are 20 awesome activities to chase away the winter madness!
WinterFest At Public Square
Where: Public Square, Downtown
For a true taste of the Cleveland holiday spirit, head over to Public Square, where each November it transforms into a Winter Wonderland. This year it begins November 24 with the Christmas Tree lighting.
Visitors can enjoy free ice skating, horse drawn carriage rides, live music and gourmet food trucks. Kids can also meet jolly old St. Nick.
Strongsville Toboggan Chutes
Where: Strongsville Metroparks
If you think basic sled riding is for children, try a thrilling toboggan ride in nearby Strongsville this winter. These daunting, twin 700-foot chutes at The Chalet on the Mill Stream Reservation are not for the faint of heart.
The best part is you don't need snow to enjoy the chutes, they operate through early March with or without it.
Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad
Where: Rockside Station, Independence
All aboard for an enchanting winter journey. This 3.5-hour train tour will take you through the beautiful Ohio countryside, allowing ample time for exploration at different stops along the way.
In addition to the basic scenic tour, you can also choose to ride on one of their special event train tours, like a beer or wine tasting train and the popular Polar Express.
Cleveland Carriage Ride
Where: Public Square, Cleveland
If you're looking to impress your S/O this winter with a little romance, a carriage ride is the way to go. Sip on a little bubbly or a hot toddy as you tour the sites of downtown Cleveland. The freezing temps will make snuggling a priority. You must cuddle to survive! Just don't feed your horse any Beefarino.
Where: Huntington Convention Center (Jan 25-26, 2019)
Nothing cures the winter doldrums faster than a pint of beer with friends. And by this logic, sampling many different beers from around the state equals maximum good times. Why should Octoberfest have all the fun? January has needs too.
Choose from hundreds of craft beers from more than 120 breweries, plus enjoy live music at this 2-night event.
Skate the Rink at Wade Oval
Where: 10820 East Blvd., Cleveland
You don't have to visit New York's Rockefeller Center for an epic outdoor skating experience. The Rink at Wade Oval is open Nov 23, 2018 thru Feb 18, 2019. Admission is only $2 with $3 for skate rentals ($2 for students). Just be careful attempting your triple axel near the little ones.
Cut Down Your Own Christmas Tree
Where: Sugar Pines Farm, Chesterland
Rather than heading down to the Home Depot lot for a Christmas tree this year, why not try something a little more traditional? That's right, chop one down yourself like a real mountain man (or woman). The folks at Sugar Pine Farms will give you the proper tools and instructions before you find a tree that's right for you.
Screw Factory Holiday Market
Where: Lakewood (Dec 14 & 15)
You won't need to shop for gifts last minute if you check out the Screw Factory's Holiday Market. Featuring the works of more than 60 artists, you can peruse collections of photography, pottery, leatherwork, paintings and more for that perfect gift that says "I didn't go on Amazon for this."
Murder Mystery Dinner
Where: Hilton Garden Inn
Consider this your formal invitation...to a homicide. If you're the one who always figures out the ending to police procedurals beforehand (thereby annoying everyone watching it with you), this may be the event for you. Everyone's a suspect at the Dinner Detective Murder Mystery Dinner, even you! Guests enjoy a delicious 3-course meal as the show is performed. Is the killer the waiter that just gave you your martini? Keep your head on a swivel for clues! Pro tip: if they ask you to play the victim, make sure to get your body inside the chalk outline.
"Dark Universe" at the Museum of Natural History
Where: Shafran Planetarium
This 24-minute show at the Planetarium takes viewers on an extraordinary journey through the solar system, exploring cosmic phenomena and unlocking some fascinating mysteries along the way. Narrated by Neil deGrasse Tyson, you will walk away afterwards with more knowledge of the universe than you know what to do with.
Medina Ice Festival
Where: Main Street, Medina
When cabin fever really starts to set in during February, this 3-day event arrives just in time. Stroll through the historic town square to witness the works of talented ice carvers. You may never look at an ice cube the same way again.
Cleveland Botanical Garden
Where: 11030 East Blvd.
If you're looking for a warm escape, the Glasshouse at the Cleveland Botanical Garden is home to gorgeous flora year-round and much more. The cold confines of the city will be but a distant memory as you stroll past 350 species of exotic plants, waterfalls, 50 different types of butterflies, as well as reptiles and insects in their natural habitat.
Rock & Pinball
Where: Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's newest exhibit features playable rock-themed pinball machines. Kiss, Guns N' Roses, Elton John, Michael Jackson, The Who, Metallica...test your skills on these vintage machines and see if you are the true pinball wizard. Tokens for the games are provided with admission to the museum.
Attend a Cleveland Monsters Hockey Game
Where: Quicken Loans Arena
Though Cleveland doesn't have an NHL franchise, it does have action-packed pro hockey at a great price. The Cleveland Monsters are off to a fine start this year, currently in second place in the North Division of the AHL. They also have some fun promotional nights to choose from, including 1-2-3 Fridays, where beers are $3, hot dogs are $2 and sodas are $1. Every Saturday or Sunday home game is also Family Day, with special deals for the kids. Plus, there's the always entertaining Ice Girls.
Co-ed Indoor Sports
Where: Mulberry's (West Bank of The Flats)
One of the best places in the city for indoor sports, Mulberry's features 5,500 square feet of space to run, jump and play. Be sure to check out the Volleyball Glow tournamet (pictured above) for an enlightening experience. In addition to volleyball, winter leagues are offered for dodgeball, floor hockey and kickball.
Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
Where: 3900 Wildlife Way
Locals know that the holiday season is one of the best times of year to visit the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. There are fewer crowds and the admission is cheaper, only $12.25 per adult (Mondays are free). If you're searching for ways to keep the kids busy during the holiday break, the Zoo offers Decembers Days (Dec 26-30). Each day features fun activities, arts & crafts, meet-the-zoo keeper experiences and live music.
16-Bit Bar & Arcade
Cool cocktails and classic video games make for a young hipster's paradise in this Lakewood establishment. From NBA Jams and Donkey Kong to Asteroids and Centipede, the best games are all here ... and they're free (with the purchase of drinks, of course).
Frosty 5K and Mistletoe Run
Where: Hudson, Ohio
Enjoy the holidays with a crisp, refreshing winter run. The Frosty 5k and Mistletoe Mile in Hudson is held on Christmas Eve. You'll need all the hot chocolate you can drink and all the candy canes you can eat to run this race! On top of that, you can wear your ugliest Christmas sweater while you walk, run or trot to the finish line! Also, check out the Christmas Story 5k & 10k, where runners wear their best bunny suit onesies and pay tribute to the classic movie.
Where: The Flats
Bundle up for 2019's Brite Winter Art and Music Festival. From the live music to the food trucks, ice carvings and fire pits, Brite Festival is a unique Cleveland experience. Last year's lineup included Atlas Genius, Seafair, Falling Stars, Herzog, Tom Adams & The Last Resort and The Whiskey Hollow.
Potted Potter: The Unauthorized Harry Potter Experience
Where: Crocker Park, Westlake
This Olivier Award winning Harry Potter parody show comes to Crocker Park this December. Watch all 7 of J.K. Rowling's famous books condensed into one hilarious show. This "gloriously goofy" show was created by British funnymen Daniel Clarkson and Jefferson Turner, known in Britain as Dan and Jeff. Whether you're a Muggle or a wizard, you won't want to miss this Potter parody.