Summit County's animal kingdom shows off its prime hillside real estate at the annual Parade of Homes. The one-mile hike takes place on a semi-steep incline that leads to an observatory deck overlooking the Cuyahoga Valley. Along the way, hikers identify the homes of the area's furry and feathered residents. "I'm expecting to find some woodpecker homes, chipmunk burrows, moles, and probably a lot of birds' nests," says Metro Parks naturalist Danusia Casteel, who leads the hike.
And maybe, just maybe, a mystery will be solved. "Someone will see a home, and they've seen it before in their yard, and they didn't know who it belonged to," Casteel says. The hike happens from 1 to 2 p.m. Saturday at Oxbow Trail (at Cascade Valley Metro Park, 837 Cuyahoga Street in Akron). Admission is free; call 330-865-8065. -- Cris Glaser
Light Side of the Moon
Schuele Planetarium's Twinkle Tots program sounds an awful lot like those midnight Pink Floyd shows that used to play every weekend in the late '70s. Lasers shimmy and shake to the music, making patterns on the planetarium's sky. The tunes here, though, are family-friendly, which makes it highly doubtful that you'll be hearing "The Great Gig in the Sky" or "Brain Damage." It happens at 11 a.m. Thursday and Saturday through November 29 at Schuele Planetarium at the Lake Erie Nature & Science Center (28728 Wolf Road in Bay Village). Admission is $1. Call 440-871-2900 for more information. -- Michael Gallucci
Santa rides the rails.
Following the literary path laid out in the book The Polar Express, the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad's Polar Express is a North Pole train ride that comes complete with a story, hot chocolate, cookies, and a visit from Santa Claus. "He gives each of the children the first gift of Christmas, per the story," says railroad President Doug Cooper. Santa will hand out jingle bells and autograph copies of the book -- don't worry if you don't have a copy; the Scenic Railroad will have some available for purchase. The Polar Express boards at 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, starting November 17 (and running through December 19) at the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad (on Ridge Street in Akron or 1630 West Mill Street in Peninsula). Admission is $19, $14 for kids; call 800-468-4070 for reservations. -- Allen Miller