Cleveland summer day trips to keep you busy, tan, and not (too) broke

Summer fun in C-Town! family fun! Put-in-Bay The Shawshank Redemption Cedar Point
Soak City
Soak City

Sure, you'd love to take the fam to Disney World. But with the price of gasoline set to exceed the cost of a martini, we've got to prioritize. So Scene's summer-fun experts have put together 12 day trips guaranteed to give you and your family — or you and the homies — plenty of Kodak moments. And you won't even have to dip into your martini budget.

The Tractor Pull

For the kid: Parenting truth #234: If it shoots flames, makes more noise than a steam engine, and sends mud shooting in every direction, your kid is guaranteed to love it. That's the tractor pull in a nutshell. When your hearing returns to normal, you can bond with junior over elephant ears and Polish sausage — a truly American experience.

For the kid in you: You never get too old to appreciate a sport that exists for no other reason than to see how much horsepower you can load onto a John Deere without leaving Earth's orbit. Only unlike your kid, you get to experience it all with the added bonus of a hardy beer buzz!

The Damage: Tickets to the National Tractor Pulling Championships range from $20 to $100. The event happens at the Wood County Fairground in Bowling Green, August 15 through 17. Visit for a complete summer pull schedule.

The Wilds

For the kid: This wildlife refuge is to the zoo what Jurassic Park is to the natural history museum. Giraffes, rhinos, and cheetahs roam — sans cages — much the way they would back in the Kalahari, instead of a 10,000-acre patch of reclaimed strip-mine land.

For the kid in you: Unlike a hectic day at the zoo (think screaming kids with ice-cream faces), the Wilds offers a more serene ambience, especially on one of their romantic Sunset Safari Tours, which include dinner. Stay inside the bus, however, or you might be the main course.

The Damage: The basic safari tour is $18 for adults, $13 for kids ages 4 through 12, and free for kids under 4. Located at 14000 International Road in Cumberland. Call740-638-5030 or visit

African Safari Wildlife Park

For the kid: Perhaps viewing wild animals from the safety of an open-air bus is a bit too hands-off for you. At this drive-through zoo, the kids can feed giraffes and zebras from the back seat of the family minivan, ride on a camel, or pet a warthog. Just watch where you're driving. Nothing spoils a family vacation like running over Pumba.

For the kid in you: Finally, someone figured out how to capture the magic of the zoo without the hassle of all that walking. Unfortunately, you'll probably still get a good workout trying to scrub giraffe drool off the side of your Windstar.

The Damage: Admission is $13.95 for adults and kids 7 years and up, $7.95 for kids ages 3 through 6, and free for kids 2 and under. Located at 267 Lightner Road in Port Clinton. Call 800-521-2660 or visit for more details.


For the kid: Put-in-Bay might not seem family-friendly at first glance, unless you condone your children guzzling Natty Light from a garden hose. On the contrary, the island is actually jam-packed with G-rated fun. Check out Perry's Cave Family Fun Center, where the little ones can mine for semiprecious stones, race through a maze, and marvel at a rare underground lake.

For the kid in you: After the kiddies wear out, you can throw them in the back of your rented golf cart and cruise into town for a hot perch sandwich and an ice-cold bucket-o-beer. Just be sure you don't get too wasted away in the Margaritaville of the North to drive home.

The Damage: Family fun packs, which include ferry to the island, Perry's Cave admission, putt-putt, a winery tour, and more, start at $47 for adults, $20 for children ages 6 through 12. Visit for more details.

Cedar Point

For the kid: Cedar Point packs more ways to get your adrenaline pumping and your clothes soaked than any other amusement park in the world. No matter how bad your kid's ADD is, he's guaranteed to be fast asleep during the ride home.

For the kid in you: Cedar Point may be a child's paradise, but the biggest coasters here ain't no kiddie rides. Strap into the Millennium Force, which towers 310 feet and cruises at 93 mph. Or take a ride on the new Wild West-themed coaster, Maverick, which takes you from 0 to 70 faster than you can say, "Oh, sh —"

The Damage: A day pass will set you back $42.95. Kids 2 and under ride for free. Located at One Cedar Point Drive in Sandusky. Call 419-627-2350, or visit for more details.

Maui Sands Resort

For your kid: Once the youngsters catch a glimpse of the SurfRider — sort of like a treadmill that churns out a continuous 150,000-gallon wave — you probably won't see them again until the park closes. But if your kid isn't willing to go big, he or she will no doubt have a ball floating down the lazy river through a 30-foot-tall volcano, or spinning around the massive bowl slide like a load of whites.

For the kid in you: While the little ones are off perfecting their aerials, Mom and Dad can unwind with a couple's hot stone massage at the Spa Wailea, followed by a round of frozen cocktails at one of the resort's Hawaiian-themed restaurants. Who would have thought you could get to paradise on one tank?

The Damage: Day passes are $39, free for kids two and younger. Located at 5513 Milan Road in Sandusky. To book reservations or for more info, call 1-888-STAY-MSR, or visit

Hocking Hills Canopy Tours

For the kid: Hiking with kids can be a hassle. Luckily, now you can explore the lush Appalachian forests of southeast Ohio without ever taking a step. Traverse 43 acres of gullies, gorges, and ravines by zip-line, soaring along a steel cable as high as 70 feet above the ground at speeds of up to 35 mph. One phrase you're guaranteed not to hear: "Are we there yet?"

For the kid in you: The sport of zip-lining delivers the adrenaline without making you work for it. Anyone over 10 years old can do it, as long as you weigh between 70 and 250 pounds. Now, if only the harnesses came fitted with a beer cozy . . .

The Damage: Enjoy three hours of zip-lining for $75 per person. Located at 10714 Jackson Street in Rockbridge. Call 740-385-9477 or visit for more details.

Loudonville Canoe Livery

For the kid: Expose junior to the wonders of the natural world by canoeing the Mohican River — hawks flying overhead, trees swaying in the warm summer breeze, country girls in short shorts tanning on the shore. You can't play this on the Wii.

For the kid in you: Use your time drifting down the river to do some quality male bonding with your son. Or, if communicating isn't your bag, crack open a Miller High Life, sit back, and tell him to put some elbow grease into that paddle. On Saturdays, make sure to end your trip with live music and a mouthwatering plate of barbecue at the shoreside River Room Lounge.

The Damage: Trips range from 30 minutes to several days. A two-hour, seven-mile trip will cost you $35 per canoe. Located at 424 West Main Street in Loudonville. Visit or call 888-226-6356 for more info.


For the kid: This classic Lake Erie hot spot is like a little slice of Myrtle Beach. Your kids' eyes will dance as they pass the Strip's multitude of go-kart tracks, batting cages, waterslides, miniature golf courses, and arcades. This would be a good trip to clear out the change jar.

For the kid in you: If getting rear-ended by screaming 8-year-olds powered by lawn-mower engines isn't your thing, check out one of the area's several wineries, cast your reel off a charter boat, or spread a blanket on the grass and catch a ragtime concert.

The Damage: Prices vary. Visit or call 440-466-8600 for more info.

Soak City

For the kid: While technically part of Cedar Point, this mega-waterpark can easily be a trip in itself. Highlights include a pitch-dark tube slide, a wild river ride that's anything but lazy, and a 500,000-gallon wave pool. For the little ones, there's the Splash Zone, a playground that dumps 1,000 gallons of water every 10 minutes from a tipping bucket.

For the kid in you: While the kids splash away, drown yourself in a frozen margarita at Bubbles Swim-Up bar, or catch some z's under the shade of a poolside cabana.

The Damage: Admission is $29. Located at One Cedar Point Drive in Sandusky. Call 419-627-2350 or visit for more details.


For the kid: Show the youngsters the joy of sleeping under the stars with all the convenience of checking into the Embassy Suites. This program — in place at several of Ohio's state parks — does all the work for you, providing a family-size tent, cots, a lantern, cookstove, and a picnic table. All you have to bring are the s'mores.

For the kid in you: Here's your chance to scare the living hell out of your kids with campfire stories of crazed, homicidal lunatics with hooks for hands. Or to get some fresh air. Whichever.

The Damage: Tents are $20 per night. Visit or call 1-800-AT-A-PARK to reserve a campsite.

The Mansfield Reformatory

For the kid: OK, so tours like these are normally reserved for juvenile delinquents on The Maury Povich Show. But maybe after a trip down to the hole, your kid will think twice next time before mouthing off when you tell him to turn off the cell phone.

For the kid in you: If crumbling gothic buildings are your thing, this place has your number. Fans of the movie The Shawshank Redemption will especially enjoy touring real film sets, including Andy Dufresne's escape tunnel and the office of the corrupt prison warden.

The Damage: Tours are $8 for adults, $6 for children ages 7-17. Located at 100 Reformatory Road in Mansfield. Call 419-522-2644 or visit for more details.

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