The Ultimate Northeast Ohio Bucket List

Northeast Ohio is occasionally dismissed as fly-over country, and that couldn’t be further from the truth! Time for an instant fact-check! We’re lucky to live here on the North Coast for so many reasons including Lake Erie, our cultural institutions and museums, one of the Midwest’s few national parks, and a friendly disposition we could all use a little more of these days.

Born and bred in Northeast Ohio, I’ve moved around the region quite a bit from Cleveland to Dover, from Kent to Ashland, and a few points in between. During my 25 years here, I’ve made it my mission to find our hidden gems and show the world just what they’re missing.

I’m a fitness buff, so I’ve been writing down my goals for the summer – a bucket list, if you will! If you’re new to the area, looking to discover your home region a little more, or just want to get fit, check out my official Warm Weather 2017 Bucket List.

Hampton Hills Collins

1. Metroparks!

Northeast Ohio is chock-full of ‘em. Cleveland Metroparks, Summit MetroParks, Lake Metroparks, and beyond: it’s time to see them all. Take the task in stride by going county to county. I started with the Cleveland Metroparks by seeking out hidden waterfalls at Brecksville Reservation, pretending I was in Middle-Earth at Squaw Rock in South Chagrin Reservation, and taking a dip in Lake Erie at Lakefront Reservation’s Edgewater Park. Check! This summer, I plan on completing the Summit MetroParks (Hampton Hills is my favorite so far) and all the Lake Metroparks (if you’ve never been to Chapin Forest, you’re missing out).

2. Lake Erie and the Cuyahoga River.

As Clevelanders, we’re spoiled with a lake and a river. Some cities have just one, and others (alas) have none. I’m lucky enough to live just a few blocks from Edgewater Park, and I take advantage of seeing a gorgeous sunset almost every warm evening. On Saturdays and Sundays, I wake up early to walk the beach at dawn before few others arrive. It’s absolutely sublime, and this year, I plan to kayak in the lake and river. I plan to go boating on the lake. I plan to ride the Goodtime. Time to get on the water!


Chapin Forest Collins


3. Towpath Trail.

Here’s another regional gem: an eighty-mile trail that’s almost entirely uninterrupted and parallel to historical and beautiful canals and rivers… yes, we’ve really got that! Running from Tuscarawas County to Stark County to Summit County and Cuyahoga Valley National Park to Cleveland and Lake Erie (phew!), the Towpath Trail is like no other. In less than a day, cyclists can ride on a floating bridge, breeze through ancient forests, and gaze in awe at a thriving city skyline. This summer, I plan to see the whole thing from the wheels of a bike.

4. The islands.

Yes, we really do have islands, and they are beautiful! No summer in the region is complete without a ferry ride to Put-In-Bay – a little town that seems far, far away from the mainland. Complete with shopping, wineries, camping, and more, it’s literally perfect for anyone’s tastes. But there’s even more to see! Middle Bass Island is a lesser known spot for nature-lovers, and that’s my destination.

Edgewater Collins

 5. Go “hiking” in every college town in NEO.

Last but not least, you can’t go more than a few miles in Northeast Ohio without stumbling on a college campus. I can think of at least twelve right off the top of my head, and I want to explore them all this summer! Photogenic to a fault and churning out top talent every year, our colleges and universities are some of the best. (Author’s note: I work at Baldwin Wallace University in Berea.) From Kent to Cleveland to Oberlin to Wooster to Berea and beyond, I’ll be taking a class in sightseeing!

What would you add to your own bucket list? Happy travels!


Ryan Collins
Ryan Collins

Ryan Collins is a writer and traveler. Currently based in Lakewood, he has lived all across Northeast Ohio. A Kent State University alum, today, Ryan works in admission at Baldwin Wallace University. His work has been published by Cleveland Plus, Belt Magazine and in conjunction with Destination Cleveland. Learn more at