For families looking to reconnect, to find joy in shared experiences and to understand the tapestry of history and nature, Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Ohio stands as a testament to the beauty of family trips centered around our nation’s amazing national parks.
Glamping is an especially great way to enjoy it. My family recently took the trip so I can provide you with some recommendations for your own nature escape.
Where to Stay
Set amidst the natural beauty of Cuyahoga National Park, Valley Overlook offers a glamping experience that marries comfort with nature.
Whether you’re a nature enthusiast yearning for a cozy, critter-free outdoor stay, or you’re someone seeking a peaceful retreat, Valley Overlook is the only place in this national park that can ensure both.
Upon arrival, you will undoubtedly be greeted by one of the family members who owns and runs this campsite. While helping you carry your luggage to your tent, they’ll share the history of the campsite.
As you step into your upscale canvas tent, you’re greeted by plush bedding, streamlined furnishings and the soft glow of lantern light. What truly sets this experience apart? The panoramic view right outside your canvas door. Overlooking the serene valley, mornings here begin with golden sunrises while evenings are full of the chorus of nighttime critters.
Beyond the comforts of the tent, Valley Overlook ensures a seamless glamping experience with private outdoor restrooms and showers that are all shiny and new. It’s a place that allows visitors an opportunity to enjoy Cuyahoga’s wilderness without compromising on comfort.
What to Do
With rolling hills, winding rivers and scenic pathways, Cuyahoga Valley National Park isn’t just another destination on America’s vast map of parks, it’s a haven for families seeking a blend of adventure and tranquility.
Tucked away between the bustling cities of Cleveland and Akron, this national treasure overflows with diverse landscapes and immersive experiences.
Do check the park’s website for programming that rangers offer, including star-gazing hikes and kayaking trips.
Your child can receive their Jr. Park Ranger badge by completing tasks outlined in the free workbook available at the Boston Mill Visitor Center.
On Foot: Trails and Treks
Our first stop, along with many other visitors, was the Towpath Trail. This trail is a historic path full of the history of the Ohio & Erie Canal. Interpretive signs dotting the trail provide snippets of history, making it a delightful educational excursion, not to mention a great workout.
The showstopper, however, is Brandywine Falls. Cascading waters against a rugged backdrop serve as a refreshing respite after all that hiking.
Bicycling the Park
I don’t think I would be wrong to say that Cuyahoga Valley National Park is meant for bicycling. The Towpath Trail spans 20 miles within the park. This well-maintained trail offers relatively flat surfaces perfect for cyclists of all levels.
As you pedal along, you’re treated to views of meandering rivers full of turtles, dense forests and remnants of the canal’s bygone era.
To get started, consider renting a bike from Century Cycles in Peninsula, a nearby village. They provide a range of rental options, from hybrid bikes to those tailored for kids, as well as bicycle helmets.
Before setting off, talk to your kids about how to be a courteous rider; the trail is popular and often shared with pedestrians. It’s important to ring the bike’s bell or shout “To Your Left” upon passing.
Additionally, pack some water and snacks or money to buy some. There are plenty of stops along the way for refreshments.
Be sure to respect the park’s guidelines — give way to pedestrians and remember that the park closes at dusk.
Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad
The heart of Cuyahoga beats along its historic railway line. Trading hiking boots for comfy train seats, my family hopped onto the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad.
The excursion provided not just rest, but panoramic views of the park’s beauty.
Where to Eat
All that exploration builds quite the appetite! Fortunately, Cuyahoga Valley brims with eateries that offer hearty meals for hikers and bikers.
The Trail Mix in Peninsula turned out to be a family favorite. With its convenient location right off the Towpath Trail, it offered a range of sandwiches, salads, and most importantly, a variety of cool treats to refuel.
For a more immersive dining experience, Szalay’s Sweet Corn Farm was a hit. Nestled in the heart of the valley, this seasonal spot offers the freshest produce. The sweet corn, picked straight from the fields, is the star. (Pro Tip: You will LOVE the sweet corn in the late summer, but you will get tired of the loud cannon they use to keep the birds at bay, which you can easily hear at Valley Overlook.)
For those sweet cravings, the family headed to Grandpa Joe’s Candy Shop. This place is a candy lover’s dream. You can take a box and fill it to the brim with all your favorites for only $5, even if it doesn’t shut.
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published 2023-09-04 22:00:57