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10 Fall Fun Things to Do

Now through Jan. 3, visitors to the Cleveland Museum of Natural History can check out the American Museum of Natural History’s World's Largest Dinosaurs exhibit, which includes a full-scale replica of a 60-foot long sauropod that once roamed what is now China. Also through Jan. 3 is the Amazing Planet exhibition of select works by photographer and explorer Filip Kulisev, who traveled the world, capturing landscape photography from every continent. Images include glaciers, mountain lakes, deserts, oceans, canyons and nearly inaccessible places found in national parks throughout the world. And don’t forget the permanent indoor exhibits featuring Audobon’s Birds of America, Balto: Hero Dog of Nome, Alaska, and the museum’s extensive collection of dinosaur skeletons. Open Mon.-Sat., 10am-5pm; Wed., 10am-10pm; Sun., noon-5pm. Closed most major holidays. (1 Wade Oval; 216.231.4600Tip: The planetarium shows are well worth your time. Each one includes a live star show presented by a museum astronomer.

The Western Reserve Historical Society is a treasure trove of unusual finds from the area’s past. The Setting the World in Motion exhibit features 140 antique automobiles, plus vintage motorcycles, bicycles, aircraft, and boats. A must-see is the gondola from the Spirit of Goodyear blimp, listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the “longest continuous uses for a blimp ever.” For some summertime nostalgia, take a ride (or two) on the beautifully restored Euclid Beach Grand Carousel, now 105 years old. And be sure to explore the In Grand Style exhibit, featuring fashions from the late 1800s through the 1930s. Open Tues.-Sat., 10am-5pm; Sun., Noon-5pm. Closed most major holidays. (10825 East Boulevard; 216.721.5722Tip: New this fall is “History on Tap,” which combines libations, hors d’oeuvres, and historical themes. Second Thursdays, 5pm-8pm. For more on this and other fall events,  216.721.5722, ext. 1502 

A visit to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum is always a hit. Current exhibits include Herb Ritts: The Rock Portraits, which includes 30 never-before-seen photographs and original video footage from the photographer/filmmaker's collection; Never Give Up: Alternative Press Magazine at 30, commemorating 30 years of championing underground music; and the 2015 Inductee Exhibit with never-before-seen interviews and performance highlights from this year's Inductees. (1100 Rock and Roll Boulevard; 888.764.ROCKTip: Street parking is limited, but the E. 9th St. Pier at $8 is a good option. It’s just steps away from the Rock Hall, but you must be out by 9pm. The North Point Garage ($12) stays open until midnight. As for places to eat there are several within a half-mile, but none in the immediate vicinity.  

Animal enthusiasts will love spending a day at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, where they can feed giraffes at African Savanna, observe elephants at Elephant Crossing, and enjoy penguins at Penguins Shores. Family fun can be had at The Circle of Life Carousel ride, which features 64 carved animals. And if you want to explore the tropics in the great indoors, the zoo’s Rainforest can be added to the zoo’s regular admission prices. The zoo is about 5 minutes from downtown. Open Mon.-Sun., 10am -5pm. (3900 Wildlife Way; 216.661.6500Tip: If you must park far from the gate on a busy day, that’s OK. Just find a convenient tram stop for a ride to the gate. There are also trams stops inside the zoo. As for where to eat, there are concessions and tables throughout the grounds. Or, pack a picnic. 

Great shopping around can be found at Aurora Farms Premium Outlets. Located about 30 minutes from downtown Cleveland, the beautifully landscaped grounds and New England-style structures are aesthetically pleasing and offer shoppers the opportunity to select from more than 70 designer and name-brand outlets at savings of 25 to 65 percent every day. Store include Adidas, Ann Taylor, Banana Republic, Brooks Brothers Factory Store, Calvin Klein, Coach, Gap Factory Store, Levi’s, Loft Outlet, Michael Kors, Nautica, Nike, The North Face, Polo Ralph Lauren, Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th, Tommy Hilfiger, and more. Open Mon.-Sat., 10am-9pm; Sun., 10am-7pm. Holiday hours differ. (549 South Chillicothe Road, Aurora; 330.562.2000) TIP: Bring a bag filled with stale bread pieces. The ducks in the pond near the front of the complex will be glad you did. In fact, they’ll probably ‘quack’ you up. 

Great Lakes Science Center, home of the NASA Glenn Visitor Center, makes science, technology, engineering, and math come alive for more than 300,000 visitors a year.  Experiment, create, and play with hundreds of hands-on exhibits, daily science demonstrations and traveling exhibitions that satisfy and delight the curious scientist in everyone. Tinker and build in the new Cleveland Creates Zone. Enjoy an unforgettable cinematic experience in the six-story-high OMNIMAX Theater. See what life was like aboard a working Great Lakes freighter, the 618-foot Steamship William G. Mather.  Younger guests will delight in the Polymer Funhouse. (601 Erieside Avenue; 216.694.2000Tip: Conveniently located next door to the Rock Hall, discounted parking is available in the 500-car attached garage.

Hale Farm and Village is a working museum halfway between Cleveland and Akron that helps re-create everyday life as it was in the early 1800s. It was originally settled in 1810 by Connecticut businessman Jonathan Hale, who purchased the 500-acre tract for just $1,250. He built the red brick farmhouse that still stands today and his family worked the farm for three generations. Today, the attraction is part of the Western Reserve Historical Society and features the farmhouse, livestock, and 19th century artisan workshops, including candlemaking, glassblowing, pottery making, spinning, weaving, and blacksmithing. Artists are in period dress and musicians play period music. (2686 Oak Hill Rd, Bath; 330.666.3711Tip: Here the first two weekends in October are set aside for the Harvest Festival and November events include Escape on the Underground Railroad on Nov. 14 and Thanksgiving Dinner with Abraham Lincoln on Nov. 21. For more, visit www.wrhs.org/events

West Side Market opened in 1912 and features a spectacular vaulted brick ceiling, a large clock tower, and a large interior concourse with nearly 100 stalls for vendors selling meats, cheeses, pastries, and ethnic foods. An 85-stall outdoor area that wraps around the side and rear of the main building is where you’ll find fresh produce. Open Mon. and Wed., 7am-4pm; Fri. and Sat., 7am-6pm. (1979 W. 25th St. at Lorain Ave.; 216.664.3387Tip: The Café here is an old-fashioned diner with food from WSM vendors and walls filled with newspaper clippings. For breakfast, try the cornbread waffles with Ohio maple syrup and perhaps a mimosa. For lunch, you can’t go wrong with a Lake Erie walleye sandwich and a Great Lakes microbrew. Unlike the Market, the Café is open Tues. and Thurs., 7am-2pm and Sun., 8am.-3pm, as well as Mon., Wed., Fri., and Sat. (Market hours). 216.579.8600. 

Playhouse Square is Cleveland’s theater district. The five beautifully restored theaters here were built in the early 1920s and have between them 10 stages and 9,000 seats, making Playhouse Square the nation’s second larges unified theater complex after New York’s Lincoln center. The district’s dynamic lights, video signage, and outdoor chandelier—the world’s largest—make Playhouse Square a must-see, even if you don’t have tickets for one of the many events held here (though you should). (Located at Euclid Avenue and E. 14th StreetTip: The C-Line and E-line downtown bus trollies provide free rides to Playhouse Square from most downtown hotels until 11pm. 

With more than 3,600 acres, the Holden Arboretum is among the largest arboreta in the United States and well worth the 30-minute drive from downtown Cleveland. More than 20 miles of hiking trails allow access to themed collections of trees and shrubs accompanied by groundcovers and perennials. More than 120,000 documented plants include rhododendrons, magnolias, maples, conifers, nut trees, wildflowers, lilacs, and viburnums, and they’re all sustainable choices for Northeast Ohio’s soils and climatic extremes. The attraction was also named an Important Bird Area by the Audubon Society. Open daily 9am-5pm. (9500 Sperry Rd., Kirtland; 440.946.4400Tip: Sandwiches and snacks are available for purchase, or you may want to pack a picnic. There are plenty of tables, benches and scenic spots to choose from. 

A Christmas Story House and Museum pays homage to the film classic, A Christmas Story, much of which was filmed in Cleveland. Now restored, the house is open year-round for public tours. The museum is across the street and is filled with behind-the-scenes photos and documents, costumes, and original props, including Randy’s snowsuit and toy zeppelin and the chalkboard from Miss Shields’s classroom. If you’re want your own Leg Lamp, you’ll find it here inside the museum gift shop. Open Thurs.-Sat., 10am-5pm and Sun., 12pm-5pm. Tours run every half hour starting at 10:15 (12:15 on Sundays). The last tour is at 4:30pm. (3159 West 11th Street in Cleveland’s Tremont neighborhood; 216.298.4919Tip: Tours provide lots of photo opportunities, but you have to be quick because the guides like to keep things moving along and there’s little time for retakes. Tour times vary and tickets must be purchased before the last tour.)