Cleveland at Christmas time is truly something spectacular, something we believe any Christmas light chaser, holiday festival lover, or Cleveland fan for life should experience at least once during the holiday season!
Day 1 -
A Christmas Story House - What better way to start your holiday-themed trip to Cleveland than with a stop by one of the most popular Ohio Christmas-y gems, the A Christmas Story House and Museum. This movie-inspired home was fully restored to its exact cinematic splendor from the 1983 classic holiday film about a decade ago, today hosting regular tours and holiday guests. You will be able to see authentic props, costumes, and tons of great behind-the-scenes memorabilia in the A Christmas Story Museum, across the street from the actual house. Explore movie props such as toys from the Higbee window, Randy’s snowsuit, Randy’s bunny suit, the classroom chalkboard, and the family car from the film in the home itself. While here be sure to keep your eyes peeled for celebrity visits and famous leg lamp gifts, the owner of this museum also the owner of the ‘Red Rider Leg Lamp’ Company. And ‘for God sake’s Ralphie don’t shoot your eye out!’
Tower City Center - If you still have some last-minute Christmas shopping to do then you are going to love this next stop at Tower City Center, a premier Cleveland shopping mall located in the heart of dazzling downtown. This huge complex holds over one hundred stores inside, sure to show you everything you may need, plus so much more! Enjoy an onsite movie theater, food court, and more than six full restaurants while here. Stop for a delicious lunch at Tower 730 or Morton’s Steakhouse, or perhaps grab something quick from Subway or the Cookie Store while searching for that perfect gift at Brooks Brothers, English Oak Room, or the Sweet Factory. There are several different special events and seasonal festivals held within this large mixed-use facility as well, so be on the lookout for more Christmas cheer amid all those gorgeously decorated storefront halls during your visit!
Wade Oval - Welcome to Wade Oval, one of northeast Ohio’s most popular public spaces, home to several iconic annual festivals popular to both locals and tourists. This is your chance to get out some energy and get deeper into local holiday traditions, the Rink at Wade Oval waiting in the midst of University Circle for you to get your fill of ice skating. This is a seasonal tradition in Cleveland, the Rink open each late November to late February or early March. The picturesque outdoor ice rink comes complete with cozy lights, fire pits, and plenty of holiday greenery. There are several different events throughout the holiday season that take place here, so be sure to check out if the Skate with Santa, live music nights, ice carving, or free skating lessons happen to be going on during your visit! Also keep in mind that you may want to plan ahead to attend the annual CircleFest here, an absolute blast full of Christmas fun taking place at different times each December!
Cleveland Botanical Garden - Your next stop at the Cleveland Botanical Garden will provide your group with breathtaking gardens and an exotic Glasshouse full of international blooms, a setting that only gets better during the Christmas season. Each holiday season (December 21st-28th) the garden opens its doors for Glow, the winter spectacular that is actually one of Cleveland’s most city-wide celebrated holiday traditions. This winter wonderland will allow you to take a ride aboard the Garden Express, see the two-story Christmas tree, visit an onsite town square filled with carolers, decorate a gingerbread house, shop at the Treetop or Mrs. Claus’s Sweet Shoppe, and, of course, admire all of those spectacular lights. This is really the warmest welcome into the city of Cleveland you can get, plus you will feel right at home with a cup of hot chocolate in your hand and seasonal delights all around you! Don’t forget to leave your wish on the Wish Tree before you go!
Nela Park - End your charming Cleveland evening with a stop at a local landmark putting on a landmark-sized Christmas display, Nela Park. Nela Park was established in 1901, originally known as the longer name National Electric Lamp Association. The entire 90-acre complex was soon used as the headquarters for General Electric, the absolute perfect spot to establish a Lighting Institute, as well as a massively traditional Christmas light display yearly. Each year (this year being the 92nd year) this company puts up over 500,000 LED Christmas Lights for the public to enjoy, boasting different themes, such as local landmarks, each year. It takes 12 workers 75 days to fully prepare this display on average, with around 1000 people flocking to the display on opening night alone. GE also decorates the White House’s Christmas tree each year, oftentimes putting up a replica here on-site for the public!
Day 2 -
Cleveland’s Rockefeller Park Greenhouse - Enjoy a crisp Ohio morning at Cleveland’s very own Rockefeller Park Greenhouse, the natural wonderland located near University Circle on MLK Boulevard. Here you can see all types of exotic and native plants, the entire 270 acres of manicured gardens donated in 1903 by John D Rockefeller himself. At first, this spot was used as a spot to cultivate plants for local parks, then slowly evolved into a beloved garden display center, iconic internationally for its extensive orchid and tropical plant exhibits, as well as its bulbs and holiday poinsettia collections. You will love strolling around the outdoor and indoor gardens featuring favorites such as the Japanese Garden, Latin American desert, and an outdoor Peace Garden. During the winter, in particular, you and your group can see an impressively decorated Christmas tree, amazing variety of poinsettia plants, and extravagant winter scenes complete with such features as snow and reindeer. The official Annual Poinsettia Show happens all throughout the month of December.
Wild Days of Winter - Next stop, Lake Metroparks, the winter time host of one of the ‘sweetest holiday events’ in Cleveland. At this popular park, you and your group can find a real life-sized Candy Land game board, free to play each late November to early January. This iconic board game holds a more ‘natural twist’ here at the park, an opportunity for children, tourists, or holiday fanatics to discover more local and natural flavors of Christmas, as well as travel through the seasons of Cleveland amid the board. Just as in the game, you will get the chance to draw a card and move to the corresponding spaces, landing somewhere new with something new to learn or experience each time. This isn’t just fun for the kids, though, with several different shops sales and activities happening regularly here at the park. Enjoy free activities each Saturday 1-3pm, such as campfire with smores, holiday train ride, maple syrup and peppermint hot cocoa tastings, and even lessons on local bees and berries. You will also be able to take part in crafts, scavenger hunts, snack tasting, and shopping at the Nature Store while here, as well as renting snowshoes if the weather is permitting.
The Christmas Story - End your Christmas-filled Cleveland trip right where you started, with The Christmas Story. Instead of seeing the house inspired by the movie, now you’ll see the play! At the Allen Theater (1921) on Euclid Avenue, downtown, you will get the opportunity to see the Cleveland Play House put on The Christmas Story, the perfect family holiday tradition for both locals and tourists. From November 25th to December 23rd you will be able to enjoy the ‘one boy, one holiday wish’ record-breaking show each Friday through Sunday at 6 or 7:30, depending on the day. After getting into the spirits with the great live entertainment you can enjoy onsite fine dining, admire the Festival of Trees lining the hallways of the Play House, or head outside to see the world’s largest outdoor chandelier (GE) with sparkling city of Cleveland in the background.