As someone who calls Cleveland home, I’m the first to admit: stargazing here sucks. The light pollution – and general air pollution – make it really tough to see any but the brightest stars in the night sky, and it’s almost a guarantee that if there’s an important astronomical event, it will be cloud. (Both of our recent eclipses were clouded out!)
Nevertheless, Cleveland isn’t all bad – and there are some decent spots for stargazing in Cleveland, surrounding Cuyahoga County, and greater Northeast Ohio. Based on my own experience and with the sage wisdom of fellow astronomers, below you’ll find a list of the best spots for stargazing in The Land.
Whether you call Cleveland home too or are passing through for work or fun, here’s where to go if you feel the call to get out and spend time under the night sky.
In this post, I promote traveling to a destination that is the traditional lands of the Erie, Kaskaskia, and Mississauga peoples, among many others. With respect, I make a formal land acknowledgment, extending my appreciation and respect to the past and present people of these lands. To learn more about the peoples who call these lands home, I invite you to explore Native Land.
The Best Places for Stargazing in Cleveland
Stargazing in cities is never easy. But, let’s be honest, we can’t always get out of the city on a road trip to find the best skies. Here are two great spots for stargazing in Cleveland.
Case Western Reserve University Observatory
Observatories never let you down; In Cleveland, you have the Case Western Reserve University Observatory. This place offers a prime stargazing experience due to its advanced telescopes. It not only hosts public events and educational programs but also telescope training to learn how to use rooftop telescopes!
Situated along Lake Erie, Edgewater Park is truly the best place for stargazing in Cleveland. It’s still close to the city, yes, but the park’s wooded areas and lake manages to minimize light pollution.
The best views of the night sky are near the lake – the sound of the waves crashing against the rocks and the sight of sailboats is a lovely complement to the experience. There are also picnic areas that may work for your stargazing experience
The Best Places for Stargazing Within 1 Hour of Cleveland
If you’re willing to drive even an hour or so in the greater Cleveland area to improve your stargazing experience, you’ll be well rewarded. Away from the city lights, there are pockets of darkness that are perfect for seeing the stars – if you know where to go. Many folks in Northeast Ohio guard their favorite spots carefully, but here are a few to inspire you.
Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Cuyahoga Valley National Park is the perfect destination for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life and reconnect with nature.
It has practically something for everyone: waterfalls, scenic railroad, caves, rock formations, ledges, and the list goes on. The park’s diverse landscapes and relatively low light pollution provide a playground for stargazers.
Mueller Observatory is housed within the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, along with the Shafran Planetarium. It’s one of my favorite museums in Cleveland, though – as you might expect for a building in such an urban setting – the dark sky quality isn’t the best. Don’t let that deter you though!
The observatory houses a 10 1/2-inch refracting telescope and is open to the public on clear Wednesday evenings from September through the end of May from 8:30 to 11 pm. It also hosts a program in the planetarium on cloudy evenings.
Note: The Mueller Observatory is currently closed for construction; it’s expected to open in 2024. The Shafran Planetarium is open!
Located within the Geauga Park District, Observatory Park promises a real treat for suburban stargazers. Whether you come here to shoot the stars, for a date night stroll, or just to enjoy the view, your eyes will thank you.
The park has nice level walking trails that vary from a meadow setting, a marshy area, and a wooded area. The trails have interesting themes related to astronomy and many educational signs to read with information about the planets.
Portage Lakes State Park
Small but mighty, Portage Lakes State Park is only 411 acres. It’s the perfect Cleveland stargazing spot to relax in nature and take in fresh air while watching the stars.
Away from the city lights, it offers relatively clear views of the night sky. You’ll find the best stargazing spots near the lakeshores, but there are many open areas that will work as well.
The Best Places for Stargazing Within 2.5 Hours of Cleveland
As is always the case for urban stargazing – and it’s especially true for Cleveland –, the further you’re willing to drive away from the city, the better your stargazing experience will be. If you’re up for a longer drive and possibly spending an overnight to really make the most of it, here’s where to go.
Dillon State Park
About a little over an hour away from Columbus, Dillon State Park is worth the drive. Beautiful scenery, hills, lakes, and pretty much every amenity you might want. Dillon State Park offers darker skies due to its rural location.
With its expansive grounds, it provides numerous open areas for stargazing away from urban lights. The campgrounds are pretty roomy if you want to set up your telescope there.
Maumee Bay State Park
Nestled along the shores of Lake Erie, Maumee Bay State Park offers an unforgettable experience for nature lovers, outdoor enthusiasts, and families alike. This park is a dream for watching sunsets and stars, of course. Its coastal location along Lake Erie creates a wonderful setting for astrophotography.
The park has miles and miles of hiking trails plus an amazing boardwalk to find your ideal place for stargazing.
Mohican State Park
Last but not least, Mohican State Park is another Cleveland stargazing spot worth considering. It has many interesting features like the gorge, covered bridge, river and waterfall, hiking trails and the campground and lodge give you many ways to stay in a way that fits you.
The park’s secluded setting within forests provides a naturally darker environment for stargazing. For the best views, head to the primitive camping sites that have less light pollution.
Have any questions about these spots for stargazing in Cleveland, or do you know of others I should add to this list? Let me know in the comments below!