I lived in Cleveland, Ohio for 10 years and today I’ll be sharing my favorite things to do in Cleveland as well as unique attractions I think you should know about.
Some people may think of Cleveland as an obscure city in the Midwest, but the truth is that the city is home to a variety of fun attractions, areas, and sports activities to enjoy in Cleveland. There’s something in C-land for you no matter what your interests are.
Before we dive in, if you need accommodation, be sure to bookmark my guide to where to stay in Cleveland.
Table of Contents
- 27 Best Things to Do in Cleveland
- Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
- Progressive Field
- “A Christmas Story” House
- West Side Market
- Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
- Playhouse Square
- Cleveland Public Square
- Cuyahoga Valley National Park
- Cleveland Museum of Art
- Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland
- Cleveland History Center / Crawford Auto Aviation Museum
- Severance Hall
- Gordon Square Arts District
- Superelectric Pinball Parlor
- Little Italy
- Tower City Center
- Edgewater Park
- Rocky River Reservation
- Lake View Cemetery
- Cleveland Botanical Garden
- Cleveland Cultural Gardens
- Cleveland Natural History Museum
- Great Lakes Science Center
- International Women’s Air & Space Museum
- Willard Park
- Greater Cleveland Aquarium
- Voinovich Bicentennial Park
- FAQs About What to Do in Cleveland
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27 Best Things to Do in Cleveland
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Visit Cleveland’s extensive collection of Rock n’ roll memorabilia.
📍 Google Maps | Phone: (216) 781-2625 | Website | Hours: 10 am – 5 pm daily, 10 am – 9 pm on select Thursdays | Entrance: $35 for adults 13+, $25 for ages 6-12, free for ages 5 and under | 👉 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Tickets
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ranks among the best things to do in Cleveland.
Lectures, film screenings, and live performances will educate you on the history of rock and roll at this Cleveland museum. The temporary and permanent exhibits feature some of the most iconic figures in the industry. These include artists, producers, DJs, and more. The Beatles exhibit is a favorite!
The Ahmet M. Ertegun Exhibition Hall is the museum’s main gallery, located on the bottom of seven floors. Here, you’ll find interactive exhibits on the origins of rock and roll and many prominent artists. The actual Hall of Fame is on the third floor.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame building itself is iconic, with an arrangement of geometric shapes structured by I. M. Pei.
Watch one of Cleveland’s most popular teams play (and hopefully win) a baseball game!
Progressive Field is home to the Cleveland Guardians baseball team, formerly known as the Cleveland Indians baseball team.
Progressive Field is considered to be one of the best Major League Baseball ballparks because of its sight lines. The stadium has an old-style design, fitting right in with the industrial buildings for which Cleveland is known.
Get caught up in the excitement of a baseball game, or take a tour. Tours will allow you to see the batting cages, dugout, Club Lounge, and the Heritage Park Guardians Hall of Fame. You can also learn about the history of the stadium and the team. There are kid-friendly programs as well!
“A Christmas Story” House
Experience the setting of the popular Christmas film in the Tremont neighborhood.
📍 Google Maps | Phone: (216) 298-4919 | Website | Hours: 10 am – 5 pm daily | Entrance: $18 for adults, $16 for seniors ages 60+, $13 for children ages 3-12, free for children under 3 | 👉 A Christmas Story House Tours and Tickets
The famed movie, A Christmas Story (1983), was set in a house in Cleveland, Ohio. The old-fashioned house was chosen because of its plain appearance.
Today, the A Christmas Story house has become iconic. The interior still looks exactly like it did in the movie, with details fans are sure to notice! There are many interactive exhibits at the A Christmas Story house. So, you can experience some parts of the movie for yourself!
The A Christmas Story house is decked out with Christmas decorations. The gift shop sells cool souvenirs like replicas of the movie’s infamous leg lamp. There’s also a museum dedicated to A Christmas Story right across the street, featuring memorabilia from the movie.
Lastly, there’s even an option to stay overnight in the house!
West Side Market
Shop for food and souvenirs from unique and local Cleveland vendors.
Taking a stroll through West Side Market is one of the best things to do in Cleveland. The sights and sounds of this market are a unique Cleveland experience. You can shop for things like produce, meat, dairy, candies, spices, unique baked goods, and much more.
There are over 100 vendors at West Side Market. Some are local and some are international. The market is home to great restaurants and bars in addition to the vendors.
West Side Market is located in the Ohio City neighborhood and has been renovated many times since its inception in 1840. The building itself is a Byzantine-style clock tower and a landmark of Cleveland, OH. You can also take a tour of West Side Market to sample local fare and learn about its history. On some days, a food tour is available.
Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
Hang out with animals from all over the world.
The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is home to around 3,000 animals, representing 600 species from all over the world. You’ll have the opportunity to feed some of them, go on fun rides, and experience a cool 4D theater! A trip to the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is no doubt one of the best things to do in Cleveland.
The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo houses monkeys, gorillas, lemurs, and more in one of the largest groupings of primates in a United States zoo. The Asian highland creature habitat is also worth seeing, as it’s home to a red panda and snow leopard. The Amazon rainforest and the African savannah are also great habitats to visit.
Marvel at live performances close to downtown Cleveland.
Playhouse Square is the second-largest performing arts center in America and is one of the best things to do in Cleveland.
More than 1,000 events are hosted every year at Playhouse Square. These include many touring Broadway shows as well as local productions. There are 10 theaters, ensuring that there is always something to see.
Enjoy film festivals, Cleveland Ballet performances, and more! A trademark feature of the area is the world’s largest outdoor chandelier, containing 4,200 crystals. It hangs in the middle of Playhouse Square.
Cleveland Public Square
Enjoy fun events, relaxation, and some people watching at this popular downtown Cleveland square.
Public Square has been the centerpiece of downtown Cleveland, Ohio since the late 1700s. Today, it’s home to an amphitheater, grassy lawn, and café.
One of the best parts of Public Square is the number of outdoor activities that take place throughout the year. The pop-up farmer’s market that takes place on the weekends is one of my favorite events. In the winter, Public Square transforms into an ice rink.
Public Square is right across the street from Tower City. Many boutiques, restaurants, and attractions are nearby. A notable Public Square monument includes the statue of Moses Cleaveland, the founder of Cleveland. There’s also a war memorial fountain titled Fountain of Eternal Life.
Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Escape the city bustle with relaxing walking trails and a gorgeous waterfall.
Cuyahoga Valley National Park is one of eight national parks in Ohio. Cuyahoga Valley National Park lies along the shores of its namesake, the Cuyahoga River. It is located between Cleveland and Akron.
Cuyahoga Valley National Park encompasses 32,000 acres of land. There are a variety of hiking and mountain biking trails here, as well as the beautiful Brandywine Falls. Cuyahoga Valley National Park is great to visit year-round, but you can also have fun in the winter snow, with sledding, snowshoeing, and other activities!
Overall, this is also a great place to see diverse wildlife, particularly at the Beaver Marsh wetlands. The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad also runs through this area.
Cleveland Museum of Art
Admire thousands of diverse artworks from throughout history.
The Cleveland Museum of Art in University Circle has over 61,000 works of art inside a Gregorian marble building. The exhibits are arranged chronologically. I love this because it allows you to see the development of art over about 6,000 years.
Whether you’re interested in ancient works or contemporary art, it’s all here. There are paintings by well-known artists like Matisse and Picasso. There’s also an impressive collection of Egyptian and Asian artifacts. You can admire other works of art, like carvings, textiles, and photography, too.
The Ingalls Library is one of the country’s largest art libraries. And the ArtLens Studio contains interactive activities. This outstanding Cleveland museum hosts special exhibits and events as well, such as the Parade the Circle event in the summer.
Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland
Think outside the box at this cool Museum of Contemporary Art.
The Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland (moCa) is located in the University Circle neighborhood. MoCa is unique because it features the work of current contemporary artists.
To date, the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland has showcased the work of over 2,000 local and international contemporary artists! The exhibits here rotate each season, so there’s always something new to experience.
Some of the work here can be quite shocking, so be prepared to see unique works of art. Unique programs are also hosted at moCa. There are studio sessions, poetry open mic events, and more.
Cleveland History Center / Crawford Auto Aviation Museum
Learn about the industrial history and technological progress that shaped Cleveland.
📍 Google Maps | Phone: (216) 721-5722 | Website | Hours: 12 pm – 8 pm Thursdays, 10 am – 4 pm Friday – Sunday | Entrance: $15 for adults ages 13-61, $13 for seniors ages 62+, $8 for children ages 3-12, free for children under 3
The Cleveland History Center is part of the Western Reserve Historical Society and is home to many great exhibits.
Many local documents and artifacts teach you about the history of Cleveland, Ohio. Furniture, photographs, and maps paint an amazing picture of Cleveland’s history. You can also do your own research in the fantastic library of this Cleveland museum.
The Cleveland History Center also includes the Crawford Auto Aviation Museum. This is a great area for car enthusiasts because it provides a ton of information about the history of transportation. You can look at 170 antique automobiles in varying stages of the development process.
Treat your ears to the beautiful sounds of the Cleveland Orchestra.
Severance Hall is the home of the Cleveland Orchestra. You can enjoy the musical masterpieces of composers like Tchaikovsky, Mozart, and Beethoven. The Cleveland Orchestra also plays popular music such as Disney theme songs. Acoustics here are amazing, enhancing the quality of these performances.
The Cleveland Orchestra also hosts family concerts that are geared toward children. A goal of these programs is to help engage children and get them interested in music.
Even if the Cleveland Orchestra is not playing, you can still take a tour of this hauntingly beautiful concert hall. The design of this building blends multiple styles, including Art Deco and Egyptian architecture. You’ll be in awe of the picturesque marble columns and flower motifs around the grand foyer.
Gordon Square Arts District
Step into a culturally rich Cleveland neighborhood full of art.
The Gordon Square Arts District is a great place to experience local arts and culture in Cleveland. Gordon Square Arts District is full of public artwork, shows, and exhibitions. There’s a mural pretty much everywhere you look, making this a great area to walk around. There are also great theaters like the Talespinner Children’s Theater and Near West Theatre.
78th Street Studios is a huge art and design complex that offers free activities in Gordon Square Arts District. On the third Friday of every month, more than 50 venues from the studio present their exhibits, art, food, and more to the public. Fans of pinball will love the Superelectric Pinball Parlor in Gordon Square, with 20 games from different eras in pinball.
Superelectric Pinball Parlor
Enjoy unlimited play at this affordable bar arcade, found in the heart of Gordon Square.
Budget travelers and gamers of all ages will love Superelectric Pinball Parlor! This bar arcade features a wide selection of modern and retro pinball machines, some dating back to the 1950s. Unlimited play is priced at just $6 per person and bottles of good ol’ Coors are only $3 per. The bar also offers a range of craft beer and tasty cocktails served up by a friendly staff.
Food isn’t available, but visitors are welcome to order in. Enjoy several nearby eateries, as this fun, nostalgic attraction is set in the center of the Gordon Square Arts District.
Discover a more local side of Cleveland, with an Italian twist.
Little Italy is a great place to spend a day or weekend in Cleveland, Ohio. There are 20 great Italian restaurants to choose from as well as 25 cool galleries. There are lovely shops and boutiques to explore as well.
You can really satisfy your palette here, with the trattorias, pizzerias, and bakeries full of luscious treats. You can also have a lot of fun just by exploring the streets of this charming neighborhood on Mayfield Road. Many special events and Italian festivals take place in Little Italy as well.
Tower City Center
Visit a uniquely located downtown mall with an observation deck!
Terminal Tower is one of the tallest buildings in Cleveland, OH. Terminal Tower is home to Tower City, a premier shopping center full of stores and restaurants. There is an observation deck on the 42nd floor of Terminal Tower. You can see great views of Cleveland and Lake Erie from here. Just be sure to reserve a ticket in advance.
Tower City is also home to JACK Cleveland Casino. Here, you can try your hand at electronic games, table games, tons of slot machines, and many poker tables. You can enjoy regular live entertainment as well, and kick back at one of the three bars.
The Terminal Tower is often lit up at night, in honor of certain holidays, events, or sports teams.
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Spend a sunny day filled with beach activities on the shores of Lake Erie.
Edgewater Park is a relaxing lakefront area of 147 acres. It’s home to Edgewater Beach and Perkins Beach on the shores of Lake Erie.
You can go kayaking or just take a relaxing walk along the sandy shoreline of this Cleveland beach area. Then, enjoy a brew or cocktail at the Edgewater Beach House.
Edgewater Park has grills for a barbecue or picnic. The park is also dog-friendly! Lastly, the Cleveland script sign provides a great selfie opportunity.
Rocky River Reservation
Indulge in a relaxing forest and along a peaceful river at this park outside of Cleveland.
The Rocky River Reservation is one of the best things to do in Cleveland for nature lovers. The rocky terrain contains stunning gorges and cliffs. You may spot the natural fauna of the wetlands, meadows, and vegetation-filled forests here. Rocky River Reservation is a great location for bird watching, too.
Many walking trails are sprinkled throughout the nature reservation, so you can get lost in nature. There’s also Berea Falls and the three lovely stone bridges that surround it. You can go boating and paddleboarding at Rocky River Reservation as well.
Lake View Cemetery
Pay tribute to famous figures at this ornate and historic cemetery.
Lake View Cemetery is home to more than 100,000 graves. The tall tower honoring President James Garfield is probably the most well-known monument here. Other notable monuments include a large obelisk honoring John D. Rockefeller and a jukebox-shaped headstone honoring Alan Freed. He coined the term “rock and roll” in Cleveland.
This 285-acre cemetery has been referred to as the Outdoor Museum of Cleveland. There are many interesting monuments that you can appreciate for the architecture alone. You can also appreciate the serenity of the beautiful gardens close to the Wade Chapel. This chapel itself is worth a look, with stained glass windows and lovely mosaic patterns.
Cleveland Botanical Garden
Stroll through lush indoor and outdoor gardens, and observe wildlife.
The Cleveland Botanical Gardens consists of 10 acres filled with beautiful plants. You can see all sorts of exotic plants from Madagascar and Costa Rica in the glasshouses. Tortoises and plated lizards complete the picture.
There are 11 outdoor gardens at which you can marvel here, including the famous Hershey’s Children’s Garden and Japanese Garden. The amazing Butterfly Gardens are reminiscent of tropical rainforests.
There’s even an inspiration area, where you can get ideas for your own gardens. Check out hundreds of plant species as well as 50 different types of birds flying around. There is an art gallery as well so that you can enjoy visual art on top of the gardens’ natural beauty.
Cleveland Cultural Gardens
Walk around landscaped gardens and greenhouses that tell a story.
The Cleveland Cultural Gardens are composed of 33 smaller gardens with activities and stories about American history. Each garden features philosophers, writers, and others who contributed to knowledge and culture throughout the world.
The Cleveland Cultural Gardens were designed and put together by alumni of Cleveland State University. The first of these gardens was put together in 1916.
There are cultural gardens dedicated to different countries around the world. These include Ukraine, Columbia, and many others. You can also see representations of different events in world history, including the Cold War, World War I, and World War II. The idea is to pay homage to the different cultures and events that have shaped today’s world.
Cleveland Natural History Museum
Marvel at natural history artifacts and displays.
The Cleveland Museum of Natural History contains displays of local animals and specimens from around the world. There are millions of artifacts here!
The Shafran Planetarium is also a great attraction, allowing you to see Polaris on the rooftop. Additionally, The Perkins Wildlife Center features live animals and plants to observe, and the Smead Discovery Center is worth a stop in.
👉 Note: Parts of the Museum of Natural History are under construction until 2024. Take a look at their website to know which exhibits are open before going.
Great Lakes Science Center
Spend a science-filled afternoon learning about the Great Lakes region and beyond.
The Great Lakes Science Center is home to hundreds of interactive exhibits. The primary focus is natural life science around the Great Lakes region. However, it features amazing exhibits targeting all branches of science. There’s even a fully restored steamship that shows what life was like on a Great Lakes freighter.
The Cleveland Creates Zone is great for hands-on experimentation. Tornado Alley drops you right into the middle of a storm. The IMAX Dome Theater thrusts you into the middle of virtual action!
The Great Lakes Science Center is also home to the NASA Glenn Visitor Center, which is all about space travel. You can see space suits from throughout time, as well as learn about daily life on a spacecraft.
International Women’s Air & Space Museum
Learn about women who influenced the world of aviation and astronomy.
The International Women’s Air & Space Museum is a free museum at the Burke Lakefront Airport. It celebrates women who have made substantial contributions to these fields. This is notable, as the fields of aviation and space exploration have been historically male-dominated.
You can see all sorts of cool artifacts at the International Women’s Air & Space Museum. Examples include Ruby Wine Sheldon’s helmet and old-style stewardess uniforms. Learn about Amelia Earhart, the Mercury 13, and much more.
Kids will love all the model airplanes. Exploring these permanent and rotating exhibits is one of the more unique things to do in Cleveland, Ohio.
Stand at the foot of the world’s largest rubber stamp!
Go to Willard Park if you want to see a truly cool work of art in Cleveland, Ohio. Willard Park is home to an incredible 49-foot rubber stamp. A famous sculptor couple created this gigantic stamp to add color to the Sohio Building in downtown Cleveland. However, this is not where it ended up because the CEO of the company that owned the building did not like it.
The stamp sculpture has “FREE” on the bottom in red letters. This is meant to symbolize the freedom acquired by American enslaved people during the Civil War.
Greater Cleveland Aquarium
Venture under the sea in this aquarium inside a historic smokestack building.
The Greater Cleveland Aquarium occupies a restored powerhouse right on the Cuyahoga River. Learn about rivers, lakes, coral reefs, and much more! The aquarium contains re-creations of many habitats, including a tropical reef, forest, and the Ohio River. A touch pool gives you contact with coral, seahorses, stingrays, and other aquatic creatures.
The most memorable part of the Greater Cleveland Aquarium is the shark tunnel. You can walk through a tunnel within a 230,000-gallon tank full of sharks and other aquatic wildlife. You may also see moray eels and stingrays here. It’s almost like swimming with them!
Voinovich Bicentennial Park
Enjoy a waterfront stroll at this downtown Cleveland park.
The Voinovich Bicentennial Park encompasses four and a half acres along the shores of Lake Erie. This is a great place to catch a lovely view of both the lake and the Cleveland skyline. There are many cool landmarks worth seeing at Voinovich Bicentennial Park, like the iconic white Cleveland script signs and the Cleveland Lighthouse.
You can get a good workout with the bocce and volleyball courts in Voinovich Bicentennial Park. It is also the site of many fun summer concerts.
FAQs About What to Do in Cleveland
Is it worth visiting Cleveland?
It is worth visiting Cleveland. Cleveland has unique museums and landmarks, forested and lakefront nature areas, and a lively sports scene. There are activities for a variety of interests and ages in Cleveland.
What is Cleveland known for?
Cleveland is known for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and its sports teams (particularly the Cleveland Cavaliers). Additionally, Cleveland is known for its Lake Erie beaches, museums, and local foods like the Polish Boy sausage sandwich.
I hope you found my list of things to do in Cleveland helpful! There truly are some unique activities available in C-land. Before you go, check out my list of interesting facts about Cleveland!
Abigail Bliss contributed to this article.
(Featured Image Credit: Checubus / Shutterstock)
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