The best part of summer is that it isn't winter. After a seemingly endless snow season that kept Clevelanders barricaded indoors, it's finally safe to go outside again. Here are some suggestions to help you make the most of it.
The Cleveland Metroparks include hundreds of miles of hiking trails. To find out where they are, visit www.clemetparks.com and follow the links to download trail maps. The Metroparks also contains 60 miles of paved paths for running, bike-riding, and rollerblading, as well as five different fitness trails, each of which offers 18 exercise stations. Outside the Metroparks ring, each county in Northern Ohio boasts its own park system, many of which include trails of varying lengths and difficulties. Lorain County, for instance, contains Cascade and Elywood parks, while in Summit County, you can hike 2.5 miles on three trails around the Adell Durbin Park and Arboretum. For maps and phone numbers, visit www.hikingohioparks.com.
If you'd like to see the city from a new angle, commune with nature, and get a workout at the same time, kayaking is the way to go. Forty-One Degrees North (5305 Bridge Avenue) offers a wide range of summer kayaking options. If you just want to get your feet wet, try an easy sunset paddle or a tour of Lakewood's cliffs and coves. Both trips last a mere three hours and cost $35, including equipment rental. Those looking for something a little more substantial can sign up for daylong journeys to various points along the waterway, including Kelley's Island, Presque Isle, and Isle St. George. Prices range from $50 to $150, depending on the trip. Advanced kayakers can sign up for longer and more rigorous trips that extend into Canada. The summer schedule is already underway, and reservations are required. To find out more, visit www.kayak41north.com.
Adventures in Diving, located in Strongsville (14397 Pearl Road, 440-572-2005, www.adventuresindiving.com), is one of the foremost accredited scuba-diving schools in Northeast Ohio. The school offers accelerated weekend or monthlong open-water dive courses through the summer, which will take swimmers of all ages from novice status to certification. Once you've mastered the basic skills, you're eligible to travel with Adventures in Diving on one of its exotic diving trips to Mexico, the Caribbean, or Canada. Prospective divers might want to do some comparative shopping for similar courses and related equipment at the other major diving schools in the area, Buckeye Diving School (46 Warrensville Center Road in Bedford, 440-439-3677, www.buckeyediving.com) and Cleveland Scuba West (17025 Lorain Avenue, 216-476-3483, www.clevelandscuba.com).
Geocaching is the perfect way to combine your technological savvy with actual physical activity. It's the sport of tracking down hidden items in remote locations, using handheld GPS (global positioning system) devices. Several caches are hidden within the borders of the Cleveland Metroparks system, and many more have been planted outside the parks. A list of caches is available online at www.geocaching.com or by request at 440-247-7075. The Metroparks also organizes various special geocaching activities. Beyond the GPS device, it doesn't cost anything to go geocaching. All the parks ask is that you leave nature -- and the cache -- the way you found it.