By Jacqueline L. Gerling
Cleveland Metroparks has your ticket to winter fun all season long and there’s truly something for everybody.
Winter RiverFest presented by MTD
A brand-new event, Winter RiverFest presented by MTD, comes to Rivergate Park and Merwin’s Wharf along the Cuyahoga River beginning November 27. The new holiday event will feature synthetic ice skating, festive light displays, a beer garden and firepits, a retail shop and igloo village at Merwin’s Wharf. Winter RiverFest will run Wednesdays to Sundays from 11 am – 8 pm until January 18.
To allow for social distancing, reservations are recommended and capacity on the rink will be limited. The cost to skate is $7 for adults and $5 for children (12 and under). Ice skates will be available to rent for $3. Walk-ups will be accepted based on availability.
“We are excited to offer our guests a new way to explore the park district and stay active this winter with Winter RiverFest,” said Cleveland Metroparks CEO Brian Zimmerman. “Rivergate Park is a hidden gem that’s quickly transformed into a recreational hub and the nexus of our evolving urban trail network.”
Hours, full details, and reservations can be found at clevelandmetroparks.com/WinterRiverFest.
Tobogganing at the Chalet
A winter tradition also returns when the twin toboggan chutes open at the Chalet in Mill Stream Run Reservation. Adventure-seekers can plunge down a 70-foot drop and travel along 700 feet of ice, reaching speeds up to 50 miles per hour. New this year, advanced reservations and facial coverings will be required. Reservations can be made online or by phone.
The toboggan chutes will be open through the first weekend in March during the following hours: Fridays 6 pm – 9 pm, Saturdays noon – 9 pm, and Sundays noon – 5 pm. For more information about hours, admission and requirements to ride, visit clevelandmetroparks.com/tchutes.
Winter at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
The winter season is the perfect time to experience Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. As one of Northeast Ohio’s most popular year-round attractions, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo offers different and compelling experiences for each season.
If you’re visiting this winter, be sure to check out the Zoo’s Asian Highlands destination. Located in the Wilderness Trek area of the Zoo, the immersive habitat is home to Amur and snow leopards, red pandas, and takin.
At Asian Highlands, like many other areas in Wilderness Trek, winter can be one of the best times to visit. The animals have unique adaptations to the winter months such as the Amur leopard’s long legs to help trudge through deep snow. The snow leopard’s large paws act as snow shoes and, of course, their pale gray coat helps camouflage them in the snow.
The Zoo’s Wilderness Trek destination includes many additional cold-climate animals such as reindeer, sea lions, a harbor seal and five different bear species. Wolf Wilderness also offers an indoor cabin where you can warm by the fire while visiting the Zoo’s pack of Mexican gray wolves.
At Rosebrough Tiger Passage four interconnected habitats offer the Zoo’s winter-hardy Amur Tigers the ability to climb and explore spaces that include climbing opportunities, shallow pools and streams and more. Heated rocks offer a place for tigers to warm up during winter. Two overhead pathways offer unique views of the tigers and important vertical climbing space for the large cats.
During the cooler winter months, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo activates its heating areas for animals inclined for warmer weather such as radiant floor heating in the lion cave, heated rocks in the cheetah exhibit, overhead heating for the African elephants and more.
The Zoo offers a world of opportunities for guests to enjoy the outdoors this winter season, while maintaining social distancing. As a reminder, facial coverings are required for guests over 6 years of age. Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is open from 10 am – 4 pm. For more information visit futureforwildlife.org.
In addition to this year’s special and seasonal events taking place throughout the Park District, Cleveland Metroparks naturalists and outdoor recreation specialists are leading in-person programming all season. Programs range from hikes suited to every skill level, to birding and history-centric adventures and recreational ‘try-its.’ All programming is outdoors and limited to fewer than 10 people. Advanced online registration is required; visit clevelandmetroparks.com/oe.
Winter Fun in Cleveland Metroparks