Even after living in Northeast Ohio for my entire life, I still love taking part in all of the tourist-y activities the region has to offer.
When you’re a student in Northeast Ohio, you don’t need to travel far to have an amazing break. Below I’ve included just a sampling of the fun that should be on every Northeast Ohio student’s winter break to-do list.
1. Take in Some Cleveland History.
Even after living in Northeast Ohio for my entire life, I still love taking part in all of the tourist-y activities the region has to offer. Start in Tremont with a stop at the A Christmas Story House & Museum, and then head to Downtown Cleveland in the evening to check out the classic window displays at the Higbee Building (now home to Jack Casino) and a stroll down the beautifully lit Euclid Avenue. A trip to the Terminal Tower Observation Deck, a beautifully renovated rotunda at the very top of the tower, is another perfect opportunity to take in the sights of the city and learn about what it used to look like. If you find yourself on winter break a bit early in the season, take advantage of the winter extension of the Take a Hike free Downtown Cleveland tours. Take a Hike’s extremely knowledgeable tour guides give both the history of the landmark buildings in Downtown Cleveland, and all of the updates on the new developments downtown.
2. Relax In the Circle.
Wintertime in University Circle is perfect. The neighborhood becomes visibly more cheerful as students complete their exams for the semester, and the cultural institutions in the area explode with fun seasonal happenings. The Rink at Wade Oval is a must, as is a trip to Severance Hall to see the Cleveland Orchestra with a student ticket. The Cleveland Botanical Garden will be glowing with gorgeous holiday lights for the season, and the Cleveland Museum of Art will host the Winter Lights Lantern Festival. Warm up and wrap up your evening in University Circle with some comfort food and drinks at the new Happy Dog at the Euclid Tavern, or stop for some a first-class bowling experience at the Corner Alley.
3. Learn Something New.
A break from academics is the perfect time to learn something new—and with so many amazing artists and arts organizations in the region, Northeast Ohio is the perfect place to do it. Plus, you might just walk away with the perfect handmade holiday gift. Check out the artists at the Screw Factory Artists’ Studios in Lakewood for ceramics classes with awesome local artists like Gina DeSantis and Lauren Herzak-Bauman. Both teach basic courses out of their studios in the converted warehouse space. Or, head to Avon to learn about glass fusion at Verite Stained Glass or take a printing primer at Zygote Press.
4. Shop Local.
If art classes aren’t your style, you can still snag unique, handmade holiday gifts for everyone on your list—even on a student budget. With the variety of holiday markets around the region this season, you will be able to find something for everyone on your list. Some of my favorites are the Cleveland Flea Holiday Market; the Last Minute Market, and the Cleveland Bazaar Holiday Show. The 5th Street Arcades are open year-round with local chocolates, teas, fashions, housewares, and more. You also must take a trip to see the new Small Box shops in the Warehouse District in Downtown Cleveland for a unique shopping experience—local favorites like Banyan Tree have set up shop in repurposed shipping containers.
5. Take Advantage of Student Discounts.
I know in the blur of classes, exams, and papers, it can be difficult to take advantage of all of the generous discounts provided by the many area cultural institutions to students in the region. Now’s your chance! Winter break is the perfect time to visit the Kent State University Museum, which has an unbelievable collection of fashion spanning the decades. The museum is free for KSU students, and general admission is only $5. Students also save with their IDs at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, the Great Lakes Science Center, and the Museum of Contemporary Art (another great stop when you visit University Circle!).