Holiday Educational Family Friendly Fun in Cleveland

Published by


Disclaimer: This is an overview of the events happening at the Cleveland Botanical Gardens, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, Great Lakes Science Center and the Greater Cleveland Aquarium.  Events are subject to change.  I will do my best to update this post as events change, but it may not be possible in all circumstances.  Please confirm dates, times and possible pre-registration that may be required at each location on their website prior to making your plans. 

Do you live in Cleveland or travel to, through or near Cleveland over the holidays?  The kids may be out of school, but that doesn’t mean the learning has to stop!  I’ve highlighted some Cleveland area locations below with educational fun for the whole family!  


Cleveland Botanical Gardens:


Glow is one of our families favorite traditions.  Each year, the Botanical Gardens hosts a Gingerbread contest.  Families, friends and organizations submit their very best Gingerbread houses and awards are given to the best in several categories.  The incredible imagination, engineering and creativity that goes into each one leaves us amazed every single year.  If you would like to submit your own Gingerbread house, click here for more information!

In addition to the annual gingerbread houses, you and your family can take a stroll through the gardens, admire the beautifully decorated themed Christmas trees, do crafts with the kids, listen to festive music and ride on the Garden trains.  Santa will be available for Glow Members Night on December 2.

Glow runs from November 23 – December 4.  They are closed on Mondays (with the exception of member night on Dec. 2), Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.  Check out their website for more information on times and dates.  There are special days listed like one for sensory and mobility day (December 1) and also special events on Saturdays like ‘Hot Chocolate Storytime’ and ‘Roasting Marshmallows’ in the Hershey Children’s Garden.  

Check out the ‘Glow’ link above for more information!  

Breakfast with Santa: 

Enjoy a breakfast with Santa at the Botanical Gardens on December 15 and December 22 from 10am -12pm.  Breakfast includes a buffet, cookie decorating, train ride through the gardens and get a glimpse of Glow before it opens to the public for the day.  Register here!


Cleveland Metroparks Zoo:

The zoo offers FREE admission for all visitors on Thanksgiving Day from 10am – 5pm.  The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and The Rainforest are open year round except for January 1 and December 25.

Wild Winter Lights:

The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo will be hosting Wild Winter Lights hosted by NOPEC.  It runs on select days and times from November 22 – January 5.  Purchase tickets here –

According to their website, “Wild Winter Lights will feature more than a dozen diverse and interactive zones including, Snow Safari, Glacier Glade and Santa’s North Pole Lodge. Each area features unique twists on holiday festivities – from a 16-foot-tall teddy bear and giant sugar cookies to the awe of the A-Roar-A Borealis, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo’s version of the Northern Lights. Visitors will get a chance to participate in interactive games like snowball toss, enjoy a light show on Waterfowl Lake, take photographs with Santa and more.”

Below is a map and entertainment schedule that was posted on the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo social media sites on November 19!

Career Day for Students:

If your child is interested in a career in animal care, education or veterinary medicine, check out the Career Days available coming up.

  • High School: Career Day held on December 8.  Pre-registration and fees are required.
  • 5th through 8th grade: Career Day held on December 30. Pre-registration and fees are required.

Homeschool Days for Kindergarten through 8th Grade:

On the second Tuesday of the month from January through April and September through December the zoo hosts programs for homeschool children.  

On December 10 from 10:30-noon, they will be providing educational programming on the topic of “Enrichment for our animals“.  You must pre-register for this program at least one week in advance.  Register here!


Great Lakes Science Center:

The Great Lakes Science Center is a fun place to visit if you are looking for some good quality family friendly fun!  And their brand new exhibit will be on display at the museum over the holidays – Curiosity Carnival.  

While you are there, check out the rest of the museum which includes: the NASA Glenn Visitor Center, the Cleveland Creates Zone , Biomedtech (all about engineering your body), Polymer Funhouse & Port Polymer,  William G. Mather and the Cleveland Clinic DOME Theater (see showings below).

The center shares a garage right next to the Cleveland Browns stadium.  It is not open during home games so be sure to the check the Cleveland Browns home game schedule before you plan your trip!

Curiosity Carnival:

Have you ever wondered about the science behind carnival games?  Have you ever wondered how tightrope walkers keep their balance or what’s the best strategy for winning some common carnival games?  If so, then Curiosity Carnival is for you!

The newest exhibit opened on Friday, November 15 and it is included with general admission.

Turkey Tech Weekend:

Will you still have relatives in town or in town the weekend after Thanksgiving and looking for something to do?  Head over to the science center to experience hands-on, holiday-themed scientific fun for the whole family to enjoy!  Turkey Tech Weekend runs November 29, 30 and December 1.


Do your kids love the Polar Express?  Put the kids in their pajamas and hop on over to the science center on December 14 or December 21 to watch the Polar Express inside the DOME Theater.  Tickets will include a hot cocoa bar and hands on activities.  More details to come!  Continue to check their website for information!

Winter Wonder Days:

More details will be announced soon, but this annual event will run from December 26-29!  There will be lots of wintery scientific fun!  Here is the link to last years event!

Cleveland Clinic DOME Theater:

There are several movies playing in the DOME theater over the holidays. Check their website for show times.  These movies include:

Winter Camps:

If you are looking for some educational opportunities for your children while they are out of school, check out the winter camps!  These camps run December 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31 and January 2-3.  There are several camp themes and dates available.


Greater Cleveland Aquarium:

Scuba Claus:

Scuba Claus will be returning to the house on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from Nov. 29 through Dec. 22 and on Monday, Dec. 23 and Tuesday, Dec. 24.  Go to the Aquarium’s Scuba Claus page for more information!

Homeschool Wednesday:

This event is for children in grades K-8 and the next one is December 4 from 10am-12pm.  Check this link for details.

Passholder Appreciation Week:

If you are a pass holder, check out the events during the week of December 2-8, 2019!  

Contests are running for Season Passes and Tickets:

Be sure to follow the Greater Cleveland Aquarium on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook and / or sign up for their e-news letter for Black Friday codes to save on tickets or passes.

Enter via the link below for your chance to win an annual pass.  The contest is open through December 20, 2019:

Enjoy your holidays!



3 responses to “Holiday Educational Family Friendly Fun in Cleveland”

  1. Eat Dessert First Avatar

    Great post, amazng and funny photos! If you want read our new article about lake Plastira, a beautiful lake in Greece with mountains all around, waterfall nearby and forests, you may find it interesting!! If you like our blog follow us and we will follow you back! 🙂♥️🤝
    instagram @eatdessertfirstgreece

    1. momgineeringthefuture Avatar

      Thanks! I love dessert! Excited to follow along! Following on IG!

      1. Eat Dessert First Avatar

        Thank you very much! We follow your insta too!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.