The world is a beautiful place in the glow of Christmas lights. In Cleveland, you can also enjoy the holidays by lantern light, or surrounded by aquatic wonders, or with a thousand flowers blooming. Pack the family in the car and pace yourself over the next month, and you can enjoy them all.— Sam Mendez Winter Waterland
For its first holiday season, the Greater Cleveland Aquarium is decked out in lights and larger-than-life decorations, and filled with the sounds of live music and caroling. Every Wednesday evening in December, there will be a special family program featuring live music and holiday crafts. On weekends, kids can visit King Neptune's Workshop to make their own gifts. And on two Saturdays — Dec. 8 & 15, starting at 8:30 a.m. — King Neptune himself will preside over a family breakfast. For hours and ticket information, check the website below.
2000 Sycamore St., Cleveland, 216-862-8803, greaterclevelandaquarium.com
December Days at the Zoo
There will be special seasonal activities at the zoo from from 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. every day from Dec. 17 – 30 (except Christmas). Children can visit Santa and get their picture taken inside Wolf Wilderness (Dec. 17 – 24 only). After warming up by the fireplace, the whole family can see reindeer, bears, tigers, and other cold weather-loving animals in Northern Trek, then ride the heated shuttle to see gorillas, snow leopards, and sharks in the Primate, Cats & Aquatics building. All the other indoor animal houses are open as well, including the RainForest, where it's always a balmy 80 degrees. For up-to-date schedule information, check clemetzoo.com.
Rockefeller Park Greenhouse
A blissful retreat from the urban noise and grit, the city greenhouse is in its full holiday glory with hundreds of poinsettias and other Christmas flowering plants on display. Stop by on Friday, Dec. 7 or Saturday, Dec. 8 between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., and you can pick up a poinsettia to take home.
750 East 88th St., Cleveland, 216-664-3103
Hale Farm and Village
Decorated for the holiday season (circa 1862), the village looks even more charming after dark, when you can see it by lantern light on special tours beginning Dec. 1. Starting at 6 p.m., the 90-minute tours end with Victorian-era treats at the Jonathan Hale house. For more information, follow the Hale Farm link on the website below.
2686 Oak Hill Rd., Bath, 330-666-3711, wrhs.org
Every year, the General Electric campus in East Cleveland mounts one of the area's most spectacular holiday light shows. For best viewing, take a ride along the Noble Rd. side.
1901 Noble Rd., East Cleveland