Have you ever been on a family vacation and taken a quick detour that turns out to be pure gold? Me neither…until this summer when the stars aligned and led me to A Christmas Story House in Cleveland, Ohio. My family was making a trek across the Midwest to attend a family reunion. When it comes to road trips, my motto is this: If there is anything remotely interesting reasonably near my route, I’m stopping. So, when I discovered that THE actual house where they shot my all-time favorite holiday movie, A Christmas Story (you know the one with Ralphie and his seemingly futile quest for a Red Ryder bb gun), was a mere 30 minutes from our destination, it was a no-brainer.
If you don’t happen to be in northern Ohio for a family reunion, the house is a bit of a hike from Indy (roughly a 5-hour drive), but I am here to say – totally worth it!
I’ll be honest, I did very little research on the house, other than the fact that it was used for the exterior and some interior shots of the movie. That was enough for me. My plan was to make a quick stop, take a few Instagram-worthy photos and move on. Little did I know A Christmas Story House is a true destination, complete with fully restored movie house, a museum chock-full of movie memorabilia and a gift shop.
It all began when founder Brian Jones, a die-hard Christmas Story fan, bought the house on eBay. He then proceeded to completely gut the inside of the structure to restore it to its movie splendor. A ticket is required to enter the house, but with that you get a full-blown tour complete with fun movie facts. Then you have free reign to walk in the footsteps of Ralphie and the entire Parker clan. Get your hands on that coveted bb gun, caress the leg lamp, try out the Little Orphan Annie decoder pin, and even hide from the Old Man under the kitchen sink. They have thought of everything – right down to a can of Simoniz under the Christmas tree and a bar of Lifebuoy soap in the upstairs bathroom (complete with teeth marks!)
Next stop is A Christmas Story House Museum, located just across the street from the house. Here your tour continues with fun movie tidbits (did you know the movie was a box office dud?) and a glimpse at authentic movie props, including gems like Randy’s snow suit (“I can’t put my arms down!”), the chalkboard from the school room (A +++++++) and, of course, one of the original Red Ryder bb guns with a compass in the stock and a thing that tells time. (Sorry, the one in the house is a knock off, but it is still fun to hold!)
The Gift Shop
Of course any tourist stop worth its salt has a gift shop, and this one is brimming with fun. This is actually the first stop you will make when you arrive, to buy your tour tickets. Once the tour is complete, you can return to grab your very own Red Ryder bb gun, a full size leg lamp, an honest-to-goodness decoder pin or a deluxe bunny suit that rivals the one made by Aunt Clara. There is also a large collection of Christmas collectibles.
The Overnight Stay
That is right. Now, you can spend the night at A Christmas Story House – for a price. Overnight guests have use of A Christmas Story House’s private third floor loft for the entirety of their stay and use of the whole house from an hour after closing until 9 am the following day. (Note: extended tour hours are offerered during the Christmas season.) The house can accommodate up to 6 guests per night. The loft area is equipped with a bedroom, living room, full kitchen and full bath. Sleeping arrangements include a queen bed, queen sleeper sofa and Ralphie and Randy’s twin beds (I mean, how cool is that?) But this overnight stay will cost you. The rate for bookings begins at $395 per night and varies with the season. Included with a stay is a free tour for all guest of A Christmas Story House & Museum, as well as dining and beverage discounts at The Rowley Inn directly across the street. Find a complete rate list here.
Know before you go
Location: A Christmas Story House and Museum is located near downtown Cleveland at 3159 W. 11th St.
Hours: The house is open 10 am to 5 pm daily except major holidays, with extended hours some days during November and December. Guided tours begin every half hour starting at 10:15 am
Admission: Stop by the Gift Shop when you first arrive to purchase tickets, which cost $11 for adults and $7 for children ages 3 to 12. Younger children are admitted free.
Parking: A Christmas Story House has a FREE parking lot (6 spots) and FREE street parking on the streets in front of and directly adjacent to the property. Click here for a map. (Note: Several residents adjoining A Christmas Story House run PAID parking on their property. They will often try to wave you into their lots even though there is still plenty of free parking. A Christmas Story House is not affiliated with either of these operations.)
For more information: call 216-298-4919 or visit AChristmasStoryHouse.com
Things to do nearby: Cleveland is a bit of a drive from Indy, so it makes sense to make a weekend out of it. Here are a few ideas for kid-friendly fun in and around Cleveland:
- Delve into the underwater world at the Greater Cleveland Aquarium
- Expand your knowledge of the world around us at the Great Lakes Science Center
- Rock out at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame
- Splash around in Lake Erie. The Cleveland Lakefront Nature Preserve and Edgewater Park are great spots for enjoying the beach, boating and watching the sunset.
- Explore nature at Cuyahoga National Park
- Ride the coasters at Cedar Point (roughly 45 minutes West of Cleveland, this is a perfect stop on your way home).