Things to Do With a Kid Downtown

Don’t get me wrong – I love our new house in the ‘burbs and all that our new little city has to offer – but I do miss our lives downtown. There was always something to do, always something going on, and it was great walking everywhere (especially to work). And even after we got married and had kids – yes, there was still kid-friendly stuff to do!

Are you thinking of living in downtown CLE with kids? Or just looking for stuff to do with kids downtown? Here are some of the ways we had fun and the things I loved to do downtown with FW:

1. Take advantage of all the free attractions

When you’re a kid, there are so many things that are exciting — and the best part is, so many of these things are free! For example, FW, loves just watching trains, trolleys, buses, boats, etc. These are all things you can see— and ride— downtown. There are several trolleys that ride around downtown for free and you can hop on and hop off whenever you want. Also, FW LOVES looking at pretty much any vehicle, especially trains and boats and airplanes. The best place to do this? Walk down to Voinovich Park. On the walk, you’ll cross over train tracks. At the park you’ll see planes landing into Burke airport as well as boats in the water. If you walk down to the Flats, you’ll also get a glimpse of boats and trains. Walk along the waterfront path near FWD Night Club and you may even be able to catch not only a boat along the water, but also a train cross the bridge. Public Square is also a great, free place for kids. Not only can you watch the buses, but there’s also green space to run around, a splash pad in the summer, ice skating in the winter and plenty of year-round events.

2. Be willing to spend some money

In addition to the free attractions, there are other things to see and do right downtown. Some of the attractions that cater to children include:

3. Know the child-friendly restaurants

My husband and I lived in two apartments downtown, one near East 4th Street and one in Playhouse Square. Both areas had restaurants we’d frequent with our baby and toddler. Some of them include Winking Lizard (they have a kids menu AND a lizard that kids may enjoy checking out), Masthead Brewing Co. (they have high chairs and quick food, which is perfect for kids; it’s also loud, which is great for blending in with your loud baby), Corner Alley (they have games for older kids) and Hofbrauhaus (they have a giant enclosed patio with a playscape and live music). During sporting events or at night, these places can become not as friendly, so we stuck to them mostly during the day. Around the Flats, there also were so many places great for kids because they’re near the water (see above: cool views of boats and trains and bridges) and casual. Some of our favorites include Coastal Taco and Dante’s Inferno. Both are casual, have games for the older kids to play, and are on the louder side, so a screaming child may not get noticed.

There are so many great places to eat downtown, and the best part is, so many of them are child-friendly, especially if you go earlier in the day. If you’re not sure, definitely call ahead and ask.


4. Frequent the family-friendly events

All year long, Cleveland is home to child-friendly events. Most of these are events that people from all over Northeast Ohio attend. Some include:

Whether you’re looking to spend money or not, there’s so much to do in downtown Cleveland year-round. We loved our time living there with our toddler and hope you are able to enjoy some of the fun activities we loved, as well.

Do you live downtown with your baby or small child? OR do you spend a lot of time downtown with your kids? How do you keep them entertained?

A version of this post was shared on NortheastOhioParent.com.

Tips for Living Downtown With a Young Child

It’s been about a year since we moved our then family of three from downtown Cleveland to the suburbs. And while I love how family-friendly our neighborhood is in the ‘burbs, there are so many things I miss about living downtown. When we announced we were expecting, one of the first things people often asked was if we were leaving downtown Cleveland. Many people could not fathom how we could live downtown and have kids. Well, we not only made it work but we LOVED it! If you’re thinking of moving downtown or living downtown with babies or young kids, here are some tips.

1) Find a child-friendly place to live

When I lived downtown, there weren’t many self-proclaimed “child-friendly apartments.” That being said, we made our place child-friendly — we were lucky enough to have a 2-bedroom apartment in a relatively quiet downtown neighborhood before we even brought our son home from the hospital. Some other things to look for in a place to live include:

  • Working elevators — Can you survive with a walk-up apartment? Absolutely; people do it. But you’ll be happy you have an elevator when you’re lugging a stroller and groceries (and diapers!).
  • Lowish level — Bonus points if you’re not too high up in case said elevator breaks down (it’s bound to happen sometime!).
  • In-unit washer/dryer — Kids make a lot of laundry at all hours of the day. Depending on their age, there is spit up, diaper blowouts, other bodily fluids, finger foods, etc. Having an in-unit washer and dryer will make your life so much easier.
  • Close parking — In my apartment, we parked across the street, and sometimes that seemed far — especially in Cleveland winters! When you’re carrying a carseat (and aforementioned diapers and groceries), it will be really nice to have a parking spot that is close to your destination.
  • Thick walls — In our first apartment that we lived (sans baby), one of the interior walls was so thin, you could hear every single conversation that the couple next to us was having. This is NOT something you want when you have kids. You’ll not only be paranoid that your baby’s crying is bothering your neighbors, but you’ll worry that every little sound will wake him/her up.
  • Bonus: Friendly management — Yes, this is important whether or not you have kids, but I personally found myself needing to talk to building management after having kids. Have your parents visiting and need an extra key? Diaper delivery running late and you need to get into the office to retrieve it ASAP? Need to park in a special spot for a day or so as you’re recovering from giving birth? Having an understanding building management — as well as one that loves kids — is a plus.

2) Get used to living with less

Babies and kids themselves don’t take up a lot of space. But there’s so so much stuff that they often come with – bouncers, endless diapers, changing tables, cribs, bassinets, playpens, bottles, etc. Since we had such a small place, we only registered and purchased the essentials. What does that mean? Our baby’s bedroom had a crib and a comfy chair (that had previously been in our living room). We did not have room for the traditional dresser or changing table. So instead, my husband made some drawers that would fit underneath the crib. He also built a changing table that would open up and close back into the wall. We didn’t have a bouncer or many toys. And, it worked out! Most of the time, we simply told family and friends to not get us stuff outside the essentials, and instead donate to our son’s education fund.

3) Be prepared to leave downtown for some necessities

One of the best things about living downtown is being able to walk everywhere — the grocery store (hooray for the downtown Heinen’s!), the mall (GREAT for AC in the summer and warmth in the winter), restaurants, entertainment like a splash pad, etc. But, while living downtown Cleveland is great, it does lack some essentials that you’ll need more of as you have kids. So, be ready to hop in a car and leave downtown for some things. For example, we found great childcare just outside downtown, in Tremont. Our pediatrician was in Lakewood. And, the urgent care that was walking distance from our apartment was unable to see babies, so we needed to seek emergency care elsewhere. Also, I love running with the stroller, but I found many of the sidewalks downtown a little bumpy for running with a baby. So, I typically headed to the Metroparks or Towpath when seeking a longer stroller run.

Some questions for you:

  • When you had kids, did you move? Or if you are thinking of having kids – would you move?
  • Have you lived in a major city with a child or baby?

Please note: I’m now blogging with Northeast Ohio Parent magazine! And, the original version of this post was on their site.