We’re always looking for doable, family-friendly day trips from the Cleveland area. When Remarkable Lake County reached out together, I was so excited. Lake County is the perfect day trip from Cleveland, so I’ve put together our day trip itinerary to Lake County, OH.
Tucked in the Northeast Ohio region of the state, Lake County is known for it’s wineries, Lake Erie destinations and incredible hiking and outdoors scene, it has a little something for everyone. This is why we love visiting — every time we go we find something new to do, and it’s incredibly family-friendly. It also is a great scene for romantic getaways and girls trips!
I’ve broken down our day trip itinerary to Lake County by time of day however, you could always switch things up to make it work with your schedule.
Our first stop was to Arabica Coffee House in downtown Willoughby.
This staple has been around since 1996, and it’s easy to see why they’re still thriving. The drinks and food were exactly what we needed to get our day started. I love trying the seasonal drinks at local coffee shops, so I had the Night Before Christmas latte — yum! We also grabbed some sandwiches before heading to our next destination. Downtown Willoughby is a fun area to explore, so if you have extra time in your day or want to add an additional stop, I’d suggest about an hour to walk through the shops here.
After we fueled up, we headed to Gully Brook Park, part of the Lake Metroparks system. This is a perfect park if you have small kids and don’t want to be walking too far. It has a little over a mile of trails that are flat and easy to walk on. If needed, you could even use a stroller here. There are a lot of opportunities to listen and see wildlife here, which makes for a fun game of iSpy. There are bathroom facilities here and a playground, which was an added bonus.
We wanted to head inside for a bit to warm up, so we made our way to another Lake Metroparks destination, Penitentiary Glen Reservation. During the winter season, they have the Candy Land Gone to the Birds exhibit. This activity is completely free and takes you on a fun birding adventure through an enchanted display of feathered friends and colorful habitats. They have scavenger hunts both indoor and outdoor, a craft for the littles to do and the regular exhibits throughout. There is also hot chocolate, coffee and tea available! We were lucky and happened to be there when they were hosting a live animal Q&A. Did you know crows have the minds of a five year old?
When it’s extra snowy, they also offer snowshoe rentals for the entire family.
We couldn’t leave here without stopping at the Nature Play area, one of toddlers favorite spots. This area is perfect for all the builders, climbers and sensory seeking kids.
We all worked up quite an appetite, so we made our way to the casual restaurant, Firehouse Grille & Pub in Willoughby Hills. We enjoyed some hearty soups and salads. There is a kids menu available here as well. This is also a unique venue due to its history. Before becoming a restaurant, it was an operating Willoughby Hills Fire Department that served the greater community from the 1950s to the 1980s!
Late Afternoon/Evening Activity
Before heading back to the city (or wherever you’re coming from!) check out this bonus activity. It doesn’t feel like a trip to Lake County without visiting Lake Erie. Head to Painesville Township Park and walk along the pier. If you have the time and energy, be sure to stay for a stunning Lake Erie sunset.
If you want to use this itinerary, be sure to download a copy here!
We can’t wait to make another trip here soon to explore more of what Lake County has to offer. What’s your favorite thing to do here?