Midwest Living Review
Whether you're looking to go for a walk, take a hike, ride horseback, go kayaking, golf a round, try mountain biking, see zoo animals, glide on ice skates or zip down refrigerated ice chutes in a toboggan, the Cleveland Metroparks has a place for you to play. Established in 1917, the park district includes 16 reservations (park areas), the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and more than 21,000 acres of green space. A drivable parkway connects nearly all of the reservations, beginning at Lakewood on Cleveland's Upper West Side and stretching for nearly 150 miles; nearly 100 public programs each month entice visitors to spend time in the parks. Since the national recession took hold of the country in 2009, attendance at the parks has soared, with families finding the value of rediscovering these natural treasures so close to home. The scenery is particularly dramatic when you consider how close you are to an urban center. Huge shale cliffs frame the Rocky River at the Rocky River Reservation, a heavily wooded area known for its willows, sycamores and cottonwood trees, as well as wildflower fields, birding and three golf courses. The Lake-to-Lake Trail at Big Creek Reservation offers visitors a 2.4-mile journey through dramatic glacial pothole wetlands in Cuyahoga County. A brochure offers self-guided driving tours of the Metroparks' most spectacular fall color drives. And every year, on the day after Thanksgiving, the tobogganing season opens at Chalet Recreation Area. The 700-foot-long chute has a 70-foot initial drop and sends visitors zooming 55 mph ($8 admission per adult).