Cuyahoga National Park is an amazing place full of nature and adventure. It turns out, it’s also a great destination for family glamping! Nestled amidst the Ohio cities of Cleveland and Akron, this national park has a lot to discover, and offers something for everyone, from campers to glampers and hikers to train lovers, and lots more.
Where to Stay in Cuyahoga National Park
Set amidst the natural beauty of Cuyahoga National Park, Valley Overlook offers a glamping experience that marries comfort with nature.
Upon arrival, you will undoubtedly be greeted by one of the family members that owns and runs this campsite. They will probably help you carry your luggage to your tent, and provide you with the history of the campsite.
As you step into your upscale canvas tent, you’re greeted by plush bedding, streamlined furnishings, and the soft glow of lantern light. What truly sets this experience apart? The panoramic view right outside your canvas door. Overlooking the serene valley, mornings here begin with golden sunrises while evenings are full of the melodic chorus of nighttime critters.
Beyond the comforts of the tent, Valley Overlook ensures a seamless glamping experience with private outdoor restrooms and showers that are all shiny and new. It’s a place that allows visitors an opportunity to enjoy Cuyahoga’s wilderness without compromising on comfort.
Whether you’re a nature enthusiast yearning for a cozy, critter-free outdoor stay, or you’re someone seeking a peaceful retreat, Valley Overlook is the only place in this National Park that can ensure both.
What to Do in Cuyahoga National Park
Rolling hills, winding rivers, and scenic pathways — Cuyahoga Valley National Park isn’t just another destination on America’s vast map of parks; it’s a haven for families seeking a blend of adventure and tranquility.
Do check the park’s website for programming that rangers offer — everything from star-gazing hikes to kayaking trips.
Your child can receive their Jr. Park Ranger badge by completing various tasks outlined in the free workbook that you can be picked up at The Boston Mill Visitor Center.
On Foot: Trails and Treks
Our first stop, along with many other visitors, was the Towpath Trail. This trail is a historic path that whispers its visitors the history of the Ohio & Erie Canal. Interpretive signs dotting the trail provided snippets of history, making it a delightful educational excursion not to mention a great workout.
The showstopper, however, is Brandywine Falls. Cascading waters against a rugged backdrop serve as a refreshing respite after all that hiking.
Bicycling the Park
I don’t think I would be wrong to say that Cuyahoga Valley National Park is meant for bicycling. The Towpath Trail spans 20 miles within the park. This well-maintained trail offers relatively flat surfaces perfect for cyclists of all levels.
As you pedal along, you’re treated to views of meandering rivers chock full of sunning turtles, dense forests, and remnants of the canal’s bygone era.
To get started, consider renting a bike from Century Cycles in Peninsula, a nearby village. Century Cycles provides a range of options, from hybrid bikes to bikes especially tailored for kids. They offer bicycle helmets along with your rental, too.
Before setting off, talk to your children about how to be a courteous bike rider. The trail is very popular and is often shared with pedestrians. It’s important to ring the bike’s bell or shout “On your left” upon passing people — just make sure no one is coming the other direction while passing.
Additionally, pack some water and snacks or money to purchase some. There are plenty of stops along the way for refreshments.
Be sure to respect the park’s guidelines, and give way to pedestrians. And remember, the park closes at dusk!
Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad
The heart of Cuyahoga beats along its historic railway line. Trading hiking boots for comfy train seats, my family hopped onto the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad. The excursion provided not just rest, but panoramic views of the park’s beauty.
The train’s rhythmic chugging in combination with nature’s gorgeous vistas, made for a truly meditative experience.
Where to Eat in Cuyahoga National Park
All that exploration builds quite the appetite! Fortunately, Cuyahoga Valley brims with eateries that offer hearty meals for hikers and bikers.
The Trail Mix in Peninsula turned out to be a family favorite. With its convenient location right off the Towpath Trail, it offered a range of sandwiches, salads, and most importantly, a variety of cool treats to refuel tired family members who needed to rest their weary legs.
For a more immersive dining experience, the Szalay’s Sweet Corn Farm was a hit. Nestled in the heart of the valley, this seasonal spot offers the freshest produce. Their sweet corn, picked straight from the fields, is the star. (Pro-tip- you will LOVE the sweet corn in the late summer, but you will get tired of the loud cannon they use to keep the birds at bay which you can easily hear at Valley Overlook.)
For those sweet cravings, the family headed to Grandpa Joe’s Candy Shop. This place is a candy-lover’s dream. You can take a box and fill it to the brim with all your favorites for only $5 — even if it doesn’t shut.
For families looking to reconnect, to find joy in shared experiences, and to understand the tapestry of history and nature, Cuyahoga Valley National Park stands as a testament to the beauty of family trips centered around our nation’s amazing National Parks.