Our night’s stay in Indiana was pleasant and comfortable, but we were ready to get the show on the road! Five hours later, we were FINALLY in Cleveland!

DAY ONE

Our first stop was the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. Since our fave zoos, Brookfield Zoo and Lincoln Park Zoo lacked elephant animal exhibits, we were particularly excited to find out that the Metroparks Zoo had just opened a new African Elephant Crossing last May.

Cleveland Metroparks Zoo

Nitty Gritty:
We were here on a Thursday afternoon and didn’t find it crowded. Admission is $12.25 for adults and $8.25 for kids 2 – 11. There is plenty of free parking. There is a food court with a Pizza Hut and McDonalds, plus plenty of other places to eat around the zoo. You’re allowed coolers and picnic baskets if you choose to have a picnic instead. It is very stroller friendly and you can even rent strollers.You have the option of using the tram where you could stow away your stroller.

The Fun:
With only 2 hours until closing, we immediately zipped to the exhibit only to find none of the elephants were out. Thinking the elephants were done for the day, we started heading elsewhere until we spotted an elephant at the corner of our eyes. My son’s eyes lit up as he kept saying “e-phant! e-phant! e-phant!” I think my husband and I’s eyes lit up as well as we’ve never seen an elephant so close. They were literally a few feet from us. We walked into the neighboring building and we were in for real treat when we saw 5 more elephants!!

We had a similar experience when checking out other animal exhibits. We were awed at how close we could get to the animals. From the sleeping koala bears an arm’s length away to the bears frolicking in the water to the polar bear trying to catch some shade in the summer’s heat, we were always so close that it felt as if we were actually there with them.

Koala Bears napping


Since the zoo is sprawling with hilly sections, we took advantage of the free trams to rest our weary feet. There are 2 tram routes – the blue tram to the Northern Trek and the red tram to the Primate, Cat & Aquatics. We enjoyed the short tram ride to the Northern Trek to see tigers, bears and wolves. The trams itself were clean and spacious with even room to stow away your stroller. Having been our first time at the zoo, I do wish they offered a narrative tram that gave you an overview of the zoo itself. Or maybe I’m just spoiled with our Brookfield Zoo!

When glancing at the map, we saw that there was a train ride by the Australian Adventure. How could we not take the train ride? For a $2 train ticket around the Australian Adventure, we saw kangaroos and even camels. Unless you have a train obsessed kid (like we do), I would suggest skipping the train ride as it was too short and not very informative with the narration a recording.

Mom’s favorite moment: Seeing an elephant and my son “eyeing” each other.

Dad’s favorite moment:  Watching the bears wrestle and play with each other in the water.

Sons’ favorite moment: Seeing the “e-phants” up close

Bottom line: Yes, oh yes!! We could have easily spent half the day or day here. The zoo is clean; the animals well cared for; and makes for the perfect opportunity to get up close and personal with the animals. We absolutely LOVED this zoo! My only regret is not being able to see the entire zoo including the Rainforest, a structure that holds reptiles, amphibians, orangutans and more. I wish I knew that the Rainforest was actually separate from the main zoo and located right across the entrance. It closes 15 minutes before the zoo closes.

After the zoo, we were ready for our next stop – the waterpark! Since the temps scorching, we thought it would be perfect place to cool off.

Geauga Lake’s Wildwater Kingdom

Nitty Gritty: Admission is $30.46 per adult and kids 2 and under are free. If you buy the tickets online, there may be a package that you can purchase to save you more money. There is a close parking lot across the entrance for $7. We were lucky enough to score parking here, but if this lot filled up, the other llots looked like a far walk.  If you want to splurge, there are Cabana Rentals available which includes lounge chairs, a dining table with chairs, two inner tubes and a locker rental. We were interested in using a locker until we found out it was $10! Outside food and beverages aren’t allowed in the park, but I did see picnic tables in our parking lot. Or if you’d rather eat inside the park, there are plenty of places to choose from. You can bring a stroller if you want, but in my opinion it is not necessary since the park is small enough to walk around.

The Fun: There are six different areas to enjoy. There were plenty of lounge chairs available and there were no lines for any of the other attractions. Since we had a 2 year old and a 7 month old, and all of the attractions had height restrictions, we decided to stick with the tot-friendly splash areas. Since it was getting late, we were concerned that the water would be too cold. Rest assured, we found out that the water was heated.

Splash Landingss – perfect for younger kids!

We spent the majority of our time at the Splash Landing area which included a play structure where you could climb, play with water guns, and more. The highlight for all seemed to be the huuuge bucket tipping over water every 15 minutes and splashing everyone underneath it. My two year old tot wanted nothing to do with it and would head in the other direction. He preferred going down the mini water slides or just standing in the water. When it comes to water, he is not hard to please and usually content just being in the water splashing around.

I was excited to hear that they had a Little Tikes Kids Town where kids could play with Little Tikes toys such as the cars and the playhouses. The area seemed a bit sad looking and the toys seemed worn out. I wonder if it felt like that because no one was there? If the thunder hadn’t shortened our visit, we would have loved to check out the Beach Family Activity Center with a giant chess board, the beach area and more.

There are plenty of lifeguards around, but it would have been nice if we could see smiles on the lifeguards’ faces. At first my son was hesitant going down the mini slide, and since the lifeguard was right next to him, we thought she would help him down the slide.  He eventually went down on his own, but it would have been nice to have that extra encouragement. Or maybe it isn’t part of their job description?

Though we only spent a couple hours here, a family with older kids could easily spend the day here. There is a nice long lazy river, a funnel shaped attraction that scares the bejesus out of me and other fun thrilling slides.

Bottom Line:  To really enjoy what the waterpark has to offer, I think it is better suited to tweens and teens. For just “splashing” around, I don’t think it would have been worth the admission price. My toddler would have just been happy at a splash pad. Maybe it was just late in the day, but I wish the park’s lifeguards would have been friendlier.

Want more Cleveland fun? Check out what we did on our second day and third day in Cleveland. And see what we ate here.

Disclosure: Though we were given complimentary tickets to the Metroparks Zoo and the Geuga Lakes Waterpark, the opinions are, of course, my own.