Most kids like animals. Here are NEO animal encounters perfect for both grandkids and grandparents.
Greater Cleveland Aquarium, greaterclevelandaquarium.com. Stingrays, sharks, tortoises. What’s not to like about a visit to the aquarium? And if you can get wet, all the better.
F.A. Seiberling Nature Realm, summitmetroparks.org. The facility in Akron has live native animals, wetlands and opportunities to hand-feed chickadees.
Lake Metroparks Farmpark, lakemetroparks.com. The Kirtland park is a working farm with year-round programming where kids can meet cows, watch dogs herd sheep and learn about agriculture.
Cleveland Museum of Natural History, perkins.cmnh.org. Forget the stuffy displays and hands-off approach of other museums. The Perkins Wildlife Center & Woods Garden at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History has mammals, birds, reptiles and fish no longer able to survive in the wild but perfectly suited to interact with visitors. Wildlife programs are daily at 1:30 p.m weekdays and at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. weekends.
Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, clevelandmetroparks.com. You haven’t lived until you’ve been eye-to-eye with a giraffe. The zoo is great. Visit it.
Stearns Homestead, stearnshomestead.com. This Parma farm — yes, Parma — has 75 animals including chickens, goats, potbelly pigs and sheep. It’s open Saturdays and Sundays, May through October. Check the website before you go.
Hale Farm and Village, wrhs.org. The facility near Akron has interesting demonstrations and events year-round, but its Sow and Grow Farm Festival & Plant Sale on June 9 and 10 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. will have draft horse demonstrations, oxen talks, wheel plowing and beekeeping.
Akron Zoo, akronzoo.org. If your grandchild needs accommodations for sensory processing, the Akron Zoo is a good place to visit. The zoo has sensory bags containing fidget tools, noise-canceling headphones and other resources, available for checkout (at no cost by leaving a form of collateral). A bag is available for use during the Wild World Animal Show as well. They also have weighted lap pads available upon request (at no cost by leaving an ID) for the Wild World Animal Show and designed Quiet Zones throughout the park. These areas typically have less activity and spaces to sit and regroup after becoming overstimulated.