Bound for Fun

Jennifer Stoffel discusses and signs Cleveland Family Fun

Good-time Stoffels.
Good-time Stoffels.
Don't know what to do with the kids this summer? Jennifer Stoffel has an idea or two. Or 441. In the third edition of Cleveland Family Fun (formerly The Cleveland Discovery Guide), the Bay Villager offers plenty of tips on how to keep the gang busy throughout the year without leaving Northeast Ohio. Want to climb aboard a 618-foot-long freighter or take the kids on a mini-archaeological dig? Stoffel tells you where to go, who to call, and how to get there.

Divided into categories such as "Fun and Games," "History, Science, and Technology," and "Nature and Outdoors," Cleveland Family Fun rates each item according to age-appropriateness (from one and a half to fifteen years old) and lists addresses, phone numbers, and prices. Ideas literally run the gamut from A (the African American Museum on Cleveland's Near East Side) to Z (historic Zoar Village south of Canton).

The book (Gray & Company Publishers, $13.95) also has a year-long calendar of events, just in case you were wondering when Vermilion's Festival of the Fish celebration or Kirtland's Annual Bug Day is taking place.

An index breaks up items according to geography, activity, and age (in addition to a standard alphabetical listing), but best is the new "Instant Adventures" feature. Sixteen one-day trips — none lasts longer than eight hours — are detailed by area, season, and cost (Stoffel even adds a convenient "Don't Forget" checklist to help make the day relatively stress-free). The "Critters and Coasters" adventure, for instance, has you taking in the Lake Erie Nature and Science Center, Huntington Reservation, and the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and RainForest (the "critters" part) and the Memphis Kiddie Park ("coasters").

The book can be used as a jumping-off point to find treasures that Stoffel may have overlooked in her research. For example, she lists the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, but somehow fails to mention its shrunken-head collection. "They're a little creepy," admits Jonathan Wilhelm, family programming coordinator at the museum, "but kids are really fascinated by them.

"By the way," he adds, "the shrinking of heads has been outlawed, but there's still a big market for them." Sadly, the museum no longer offers the recipe on how to shrink a head or the shrunken-head shampoo that was once for sale in the museum gift shop. — Michael Gallucci

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