Free things to do in Northeast Ohio on MLK Jr. Day

Posted in children, Family traditions, Free, fun, fun stuff, kids, lists, Things to do
by Jennifer

Are you wondering what you can do with your children on Monday, when they are off from school to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day?

There are a lot of fun and interesting things to do in and around Cleveland — many of which usually cost a lot of money, but which are open free on Monday. There’s even a free shuttle around the University Circle area between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Cleveland’s not that far — what, about half an hour from Medina — and there is a plethora of activities geared for families.

In years past, we have seized the opportunity to take the children to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, the Great Lakes Science Center and the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. Last year, we visited the Western Reserve Historical Society, which had a fascinating exhibit (and, for the kids, a scavenger hunt) on Carl and Louis Stokes. It was a great way to not only do something productive with the day, but also commemorate the man for whom the children should give thanks for a day off school.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum
A celebration of the life and legacy of the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr., is the focus on this glorious day of song and dance. This special day is highlighted by performances from national and local artists. Free admission. www.rockhall.com

House of Blues
The Cleveland 5th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration:  “Everyone Can Be Great” hosted by the International House of Blues Foundation is free and open to the public with live performances and an art exhibition. Event begins at 1pm at the House of Blues Music Hall. www.hob.com/cleveland

The Rink at Wade Oval 
Admission to ice skate is always free and skate rental is $3. Open from noon-5pm on MLK day. Call 216.707.5033 for daily skating conditions. www.universitycircle.org

Cleveland Public Library, Martin Luther King Jr. Branch 
The annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Commemorative Celebration at the Cleveland Public Library begins at 1pm and is free and open to the public. A panel of community leaders discuss the impact of King’s legacy in 2010. www.cpl.org

The Cleveland Orchestra – Severance Hall 
Enjoy a free day of activities and performances celebrating the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. from noon-5:15pm at Severance Hall. Hear performances by the Cleveland Metropolitan School District All-City Choir and Drum Line, Opera Per Tutti, Gabriel’s Horns and the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra and Youth Chorus. www.clevelandorchestra.com

The Cleveland Museum of Art
Celebrate Martin Luther King Jr.’s vision of understanding and acceptance with a free festival of music and art at the Cleveland Museum of Art.

  • 1-4pm (Prayers of Hope), Hands-on art activities (classrooms E/F) and gallery tours (Museum Gallery)
  • 1:30pm, Cleveland Metropolitan School District Jazz Trio (North Lobby)
  • 1:30-2:30pm, Music Settlement String Duet (Rodin Gallery)
  • 3-3:30pm, Music by Motivation Through Excellence (Café)
  • 3-3:45pm, Cleveland Metropolitan School District String Quartet (Key Bank Lobby)
  • 3:30pm, Cleveland Metropolitan School District vocal ensemble (Rotunda)

Great Lakes Science Center
Free general admission on MLK Day. OMNIMAX films regular price, with the exception of the 5pm showing of Sea Monsters: A Prehistoric Adventure, which is discounted by $2. The Water: H2O=Life exhibition is also discounted to $5 for the holiday Monday. www.glsc.org

The Western Reserve Historical Society   
Museum open free to the public 10am-4pm. Exhibits include Do You Know Your Lincoln, Under the Covers: Quilts from the WRHS Collection and the Crawford Auto-Aviation Collection. Enjoy Lincoln Family Activities all day and Lincoln Story Hour at 1pm. www.wrhs.org

Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage 
A tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. with guided tours of the American Story Gallery and special musical performance from 2-3pm of Unchained: From Slavery to Civil Rights featuring vocalist Evelyn Wright and a trio of some of Cleveland’s finest musicians from Roots of American Music. Bring an adult coat – new or near new – to support “Operation Warm-Up” and receive a Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage stained glass star. The museum is open free 11am-5pm. www.maltzjewishmuseum.org

Cleveland Museum of Natural History 
Cleveland Museum of Natural History is celebrating with a Winter Discovery Day. Kids of all ages can explore the Smead Discovery Center, make a craft project to take home, examine the nature’s material with scientists and students from Case Western Reserve University and more. Free (but parking is $5 for the entire day). www.cmnh.org

Lake Metroparks: Penitentiary Glen Reservation
Come to the Lake Metroparks Penitentiary Glen Reservation in Kirtland for a “Fun Day,” complete with new indoor and outdoor activities for the whole family, all at your own pace. Activities include a challenging scavenger hunt, hiking, a nature craft, a campfire marshmallow roast and snowshoeing (rental fees apply, as weather permits). Admission is free for all ages. No registration required. Mon., Jan. 18 (and Mon., Feb. 15, 10am-4pm). For more information about Fun Day Mondays, visit lakemetroparks.com or call 440.256.1404.

The Children’s Musem of Cleveland 
Join hands for peace on Martin Luther King Day by decorating your hand print to be placed on the museum’s “peace collage.” Half-price admission for ($3.50) for ages 1 year and older. The museum is open 10am-4:30pm. www.clevelandchildrensmuseum.org

Mt. Zion Congregational Church 
Martin Luther King Day celebration starts at 10am. Free and open to the public. www.mtzionucc.com

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