Free things you can to do outside in Cleveland this spring


By: Jennifer McMillen Smith, MSSA, LISW-S, Division of Infectious Disease and medically reviewed by Ann Avery, Infectious Disease Physician at Metrohealth Medical Center

Springtime’s coming to Cleveland! That means, longer, warmer days with trees and grass greening up. How about getting outdoors and enjoying some free stuff?

It’s good for your health, scientists say. Getting outdoors:

  • Reduces inflammation (especially helpful for people living with HIV).
  • Strengthens your immune system (even better).
  • Improves your short-term memory and concentration.
  • Relieves stress and improves mental health.

(Here’s a list of 11 reasons to get out and enjoy nature).

There’s plenty to do in northeast Ohio. Check out these ideas for free outdoor activities:


Cleveland Metro Parks

Our fair city has some of the country’s most amazing parks, with:

  • 18 reservations. Stroll along the historic Ohio & Erie Canal or Euclid Creek. And don’t miss the county’s largest waterfall at Garfield Park.
  • 100-plus hiking trails. See all the way downtown from the top of the Lucky Stone Loop Trail at Chapin Forest Reservation (this is a tough mile and a half, but you can handle it. And the view’s worth it.) If you’re sociable, you’ll have plenty of fellow fun-seekers at Black River Reservation.
  • Eight lakefront parks. Frolic along the waterfront, enjoying Lake Erie’s breezes (bring a jacket. It’s still windy out there, and it’s not that warm yet, especially in the mornings and evenings). Don’t miss the new Beach House at Edgewater Park.

Biking, fishing, swimming, sports, games, and old-school walking on dirt — what’s not to like?

Click here for a list of all free events in Cleveland’s park system. The park department’s calendar page is an excellent tool for finding activities you like. You can sort by age group, keyword, activity category, cost, and distance to find just what you’re looking for. Find out about birds, bugs, gardening…there’s something for everybody.

Learn more:


Exercise and fitness

You don’t have to join a gym or pay a trainer to get some guidance on staying fit. Cleveland has several free fitness-related activities and groups.

Check out this blog post we wrote last year on free fitness activities in Cleveland. The events have come and gone, but you can get an idea of the stuff you can do this year when the weather warms up. Think yoga, running, bicycling, and hiking.


The Cleveland Flea

This popular flea market returns April 21 in the parking lot behind 3615 Superior Ave. More dates: May 12, June 9, July 14, August 11, September 8, October 13.

Cleveland Flea gives you a chance to shop for stuff you won’t see in the stores — a bunch of it made by the people selling it. Or you can just wander around and chat with the vendors. There’s always a great selection of food trucks, too. It’s free, but they’d appreciate a $2 donation. Find out more at Cleveland Flea’s website.


Cuyahoga Valley National Park

There’s no fee to enter Cuyahoga National Park, which makes it worth your while to stop in and see the sights. It’s about 20 miles south of Cleveland, so you’ll have to drive or find a friend who has a car if you don't.

Cuyahoga River is the main attraction in the park. It has walking trails, bridges, and attractions that help you understand its role as one of the most important rivers in the history of Ohio.

There’s always room to walk along the Towpath Trail. Back before there were any trains or cars, horses towed barges along this route.

Be sure to check out Brandywine Falls — just be careful and don’t get too close to the water. If you fall in, that would not be a good day.

One excellent way to see the park is to take the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad, though that’s not exactly free.

Stop by the park’s Trip Planner’s Page.


Coming up this summer

Keep an eye out for these outdoor events in metro Cleveland:

Cleveland’s a big city; we’ve barely scratched the surface of what’s coming up as the weather warms up. Once you make up your mind to get outside, finding fun stuff to do is the easy part.

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