When the calendar turns to late October, we all know it's coming. Winter, the cruelest of seasons.
The good news is that it's not quite here yet. There's still time to enjoy the outdoors and bask in the sun's warm glow, fading though it might be. Here is your essential collection of awesome autumn outdoor activities. From wine tasting tours and German beer gardens to zip lines and cycling, we've got you covered. But, time is of the essence, so get out there and live!
Welcome to the roller coaster capital of the world. In my experience, thrill rides are not as enjoyable when the temperature dips below 40 degrees or so. Cedar Point's dizzying array of death-defying coasters (18 of them!) are harrowing enough without worrying about frostbite setting in. Gaze in awe at the Wicked Twister coaster below, what kind of crazy person designed this? I'll be on the tea cups, thank you.
Where: 8765 Mulberry Road, Chesterland
In Autumn, the time is ripe (see what we did there?) for a visit to the Patterson Fruit Farm in Chesterland. Their Halloween Family Fun Fest is open through the end of October, but the Farm Market is open year round, as are their hay rides. Pro tip: Remember to twist and not pull when you pick your own apples. After a visit to the Patterson Farm, you will surely be looking at the brighter cider of life. Sorry, not sorry.
Where: 24719 Miller Rd, Rockbridge, Ohio 43149
Fall is a beautiful time to year to glide through the tree tops like a bird. Soaring Cliffs Zipline is one of the best in Ohio, with 10 different zips including the tallest in the state (don't look down!). The 2.5 hour Hocking Hills zipline adventure also includes cave exploration, plus a cookout with hot dogs and s'mores. Yum.
Where: Rocky Fork Creek Park
Looking for a little peace and quiet? Why meditate when you can just go kayaking. The creeks and lakes of Ohio won't freeze over for at least another 2 months or so (hopefully). And one of the best places for kayaking is Rocky Fork Creek (pictured below). It has some challenging white water rapids, seven caves to explore and beautiful scenery. Just don't caught up the creek without a paddle.
Where: 5033 Broadway Ave., Cleveland
You really haven't lived until you've felt the sheer adrenaline rush of the velodrome. As you bike around the inclined walls gaining speed, you will swear that you can feel G-forces. Open for lessons and to cyclists of all skill levels, this is a unique way to spend an afternoon or evening - there are only 15 velodromes open to the public in the United States.
Where: First Energy Stadium, Cleveland (obviously)
Sure, you could concievably tailgate a football game in the dead of winter, but that's madness. If you haven't noticed, the Cleveland Browns are actually winning games this year and have several more home games this fall! Whether the team is good or bad though, the Browns tailgate is always fun. Die-hard fans with a talent for barbecue and fried foods are the best friends a person can have. Take a stroll through the stadium parking lot and witness the elaborate food on display and games like beer pong, shuffleboard and cornhole. It's honestly amazing anyone stops tailgating and goes to the actual game.
Have you ever wanted to be a contestant on The Amazing Race? Here's perhaps the next best thing, without all the stress and judgement. Created by Puzzling Adventures, this carefully crafted hunt offers a cool way to explore and learn about the city as you travel to a series of locations discovering clues and competing against other teams. These hunts are also offered in Cleveland and Columbus.
Where: 1550 Chester Ave., Cleveland
A little slice of Bavaria right in the heart of Cleveland. Nothing beats a tall stein of Hefeweizen and some bratwurst, pretzels and potato pancakes in the beautiful beer garden at the Hofbrauhaus. We highly recommend trying the ski shots, since it builds teamwork skills. Wearing lederhosen is optional. Prost!
Where: 6395 Russell Drive, Oak Harbor
Believe it or not, autumn is the best time of the year to fish Lake Erie. Steelhead trout, perch and walleye are at their most plentiful as they swim towards the warmer waters of the lake's coastline. If you don't have your own boat (hey, we're not all Rockefellers), try a 3-hour tour with Seabreeze Charters, which is Lake Erie's largest outfitter. Congrats, look at you, you're now on a boat.
Where: 4888 North Broadway (State Route 534), Geneva-on-the-Lake
Leave the driving to someone else as you sample the finest wines Ohio has to offer. Guests visit up to four different vineyards on this 5-hour tour. The Ohio Wine Shuttle operates year-round and leaves from the Lodge at Geneva Lake. Gorgeous countryside, fruity whites and robust reds await your exploration and your palate.
Where: 50 Public Square, Cleveland
Enjoy a self-guided tour of this historic skyscraper. The 52-story Terminal Tower was the tallest building in North America (caveat alert: not including New York City) from 1930 to 1964 til the Prudential Building in Massachussetts knocked it from its lofty perch. It still offers tremendous views of the city. On a clear day, visitors can see for 30 miles from the observation deck.
Where: Larry's Riding Stables, 315 Johnson Road, Kent
Home to 200 horses, Larry's Riding Stables offers lessons and rides for ages 6 and up. Larry's been training horses and giving riding lessons for over 45 years, so he's basically the horse whisperer of Ohio. No matter what skill level rider you are, you're in good hands.
Where: W. 14th St. & Quigley Road, Cleveland
At just over 85 miles, this scenic multi-use trail runs south from Cleveland through Cuyahoga National Park to Akron and all the way to the town of Zoar. The trail can be accessed at many different points along the way. Whether you're hiking, jogging or biking, it makes for an invigorating outdoor excursion. In the winter, portions of the trail are used for cross-country skiing.
Where: Whipps Ledges, Cleveland Metroparks
If you are looking for a little more exertion in your autumn excursion, do not miss out on climbing the Whipps Ledges on the Hinkley Reservation. Fear not, all your gear and instructions are provided by professional guides. It's not like you're climbing with these guys. Though the trek up the ledges is a challenge, rapelling down is fun as heck. When you reach the top, be sure to gaze with scorn at those below you. Amateurs. Pro tip: Reserve several weeks in advance, as this fills up quickly. You can do this!
What kind of outdoor bucket list would this be if we did not mention sky diving? If you've never tried it, try to think of one good reason to not do it. Okay, there are several, we'll grant that. But really, why not take the plunge? It's not that expensive, and it's a story you'll have to tell for the rest of your life. AerOhio has an experienced staff of divers and an excellent training center that will get you fully prepared before you enter the drop zone.
Where: 3850 OH-73, Peebles
Though it might look like an elaborate golf course fairway, the Great Serpent Mound was built thousands of years ago by some of the earliest native inhabitants of the area, known as the Adena Culture. Built for religious purposes, these effigy mounds honored the great serpent god and are now a National Historic Landmark. It's a great place to spend a couple of hours of exploration, just don't bring your pitching wedge and putter.
Where: 9445 Brecksville Rd, Brecksville
Speaking of golf...surprisingly, there are more golf courses per square mile in Ohio than any state in the union except for Hawaii. During autumn you will also find the best rates and tee times before the courses close for the winter. Our course recommendation: try Sleepy Hollow Golf Course in Brecksville. There's no headless horseman here, just a lovely, well-groomed course in a picturesque, country setting.
Where: West Bank of the Flats, Cleveland
Perfect for a romantic evening or a get together with friends and family, The Nautica Queen is the premier cruise dining ship on Lake Erie. Reservations are available for brunch, lunch or dinner. You can even rent it out for private events or tie the knot in front of the captain. Just don't request that they play any Celine Dion.