Things To Do In Cleveland
Located on the shores of Lake Erie, Cleveland is a vibrant city that’s jammed packed with things to do. From abundant outdoor spaces to world-class museums, there are no shortages of attractions here.
To help you decide, here are our picks for the 15 best things to do in Cleveland.
1. Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Museum
Learn all about the history of rock & roll, and its greatest musicians, at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.
It’s one of the best things to do in Cleveland for music fans. Designed by I.M. Pei, the museum offers six floors of displays, exhibits and experiences. In addition to a huge collection of memorabilia, the museum also has a big library and archives.
The museum also offers lectures, discussions, films and live music shows. A well-stocked shop, cafe and patio round out this interesting museum. Every April, the annual Rock & Rock Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony takes place here.
Book your ticket ahead of time to guarantee your entry.
2. A Christmas Story House and Museum
See the house where Ralphie Parker lived in the class movie, A Christmas Story. Located in the Tremont area of Cleveland, the 19th-century Victorian house used in the movie has been restored to its movie glory.
Take a tour of the house and learn behind-the-scenes details from expert guides. Then, pay a visit to the official museum across the street, where you’ll find plenty of memorabilia, costumes, props, photos and more.
There’s also a gift shop if you want to pick up some souvenirs. The house and museum are open year-round, but it’s extra special to visit around the holidays.
3. Lake Erie
Enjoying time on or by Lake Erie is one of the best things to do in Cleveland. Given Cleveland’s location, there are many places where you can enjoy the lake.
Edgewater Park offers a nice swimming beach, playground and great views of downtown Cleveland. Head to Cleveland Lakefront Nature Reserve if you want to see birds and other wildlife. Other good options include Euclid Beach Park, Lakewood Park, Lakefront Reservation and Huntington Reservation.
Or better yet, get out on the lake. Go for a sightseeing or dinner cruise on the Goodtime III. More active visitors can go kayaking, standup paddle boarding and jet skiing.
4. Cleveland Metroparks
Cleveland has a large park system that offers residents and visitors a great way to enjoy the outdoors.
Together, there are 18 different metroparks and reservations covering more than 23,000 acres and 300 miles of trails. Five parks are in the downtown area, while eight parks provide lake access. There are also eight golf courses and the Zoo.
You can enjoy all sorts of activities here, such as hiking, biking, horseback riding, boating, fishing and more. There is also a lot of wildlife and 10 nature visitors centers with a variety of programs for the public.
In the summer, enjoy a live concert series along the lakefront.
5. Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
The Cleveland Zoo is one of the best things to do in Cleveland for families with kids and animal lovers. The popular zoo is home to more than 3,000 animals across 600 different species.
It’s known for having one of the largest numbers of primate species in North America. The zoo is divided into different sections, such as the Rainforest, African Savannah and Australian Adventure. Explore the zoo on foot, or by riding one of two trams.
There’s also a popular carousel that kids love. The zoo also offers different programs and experiences. You can feed certain animals, go on a night hike and eat s’mores around a campfire, or even stay overnight in a safari tent.
6. West Side Market
The West Side Market is one of the best things to do in Cleveland for foodies. Built in 1912, it’s the oldest public market in Cleveland, with historic architecture and an iconic 137-foot clock tower.
There are more than 100 vendors here, selling goods from all over the world. Find everything here from fresh produce, meat and dairy products to flowers, candies, baked goods and ready-to-eat items and meals. Many vendors offer free samples so you can try before you buy.
Even if you don’t buy anything, it’s nice just to walk around the market. To experience the best the market has to offer, join a guided food tour of the market.
7. Cleveland Museum of Art
The Cleveland Museum of Art is one of the top art museums in the country. The museum has more than 60,000 works of art spanning 6,000 years.
Its collection of medieval European, Asian art and American art is particularly impressive. In addition to a great permanent collection, the museum also hosts regular special exhibitions. Engage with art in a different way and create your own works of art at the ArtLens Studio.
The museum’s calendar of events is also filled with special lectures, films, adnd musical, community and other performing arts programs. It’s also free to visit the museum.
8. Cleveland Museum of Natural History
Explore millions of years of history and the natural world at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. One of the top museums in the city, there’s plenty here to interest adults and kids alike.
See a variety of dinosaurs and a model of “Lucy,” the oldest human in the world. Don’t miss the museum’s collection of more than 1,500 gems and 4,000 skeletons. The museum offers a good mix of traditional and interactive exhibits. Learn about local flora and fauna at the Perkins Wildlife Center.
Or catch a show at the planetarium. Experience what an earthquake feels like, or dig up replica dinosaur bones. There are even special adults only evenings with adult beverages.
9. Cleveland Botanical Garden
Enjoy the beauty of nature at the Cleveland Botanical Garden. The property features 10 acres of outdoor gardens and an 18,000-square-foot glasshouse with plants and animals from around the world.
Highlights include the Japanese Garden, Hershey Children’s Garden and Inspiration Garden. The glasshouse features more than 350 species of exotic plants and 50 species of birds, reptiles and more. It also showcases two extreme and different environments.
You can explore both the butterfly-filled rainforests of Costa Rica and the deserts of Madagascar. The garden also offers a variety of programs for adults, families and kids.
10. Lakeview Cemetery
See the final burial site of famous Cleveland residents at the Lakeview Cemetery. Built in 1969, the cemetery has more than 100,000 graves.
Famous names laid to rest here include President James Garfield, John D. Rockefeller and Elliott Ness. Referred to as Cleveland’s Outdoor Museum, the cemetery has beautiful landscaping, elegant gardens and many sculpture-like headstones and monuments.
Don’t miss the Wade Memorial Chapel. Set alongside a pretty lake, the chapel features beautiful stained glass windows, ornate mosaics and a Tiffany-designed interior. Also worth seeing are the James A.
Garfield Memorial and the 70-foot obelisk for John D. Rockefeller. Maps are available at the cemetery office and Wade Chapel.
11. University Circle
No visit to Cleveland would be complete without a stop at University Circle. Considered the most concentrated square mile of arts and culture in the country, University Circle is home to many museums, galleries, and other cultural venues.
Highlights include the Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Cleveland History Center, Cleveland Botanical Garden and Severance Hall. Also nearby atre the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), Cleveland Institute of Art and the Dittrick Medical History Center & Museum.
The area also hosts many popular outdoor events, such as Wade Oval Wednesdays, Parade the Circle and Summer Solstice. There are also plenty of dining options, whatever your tastes run to.
12. USS Cod Submarine Memorial
A National Historic Landmark, the USS Cod Submarine Memorial is a hidden gem. Commissioned in 1943, it saw action during World War II.
It’s also known for the only international submarine to submarine rescue ever. Explore the submarine as it existed during wartime. Climb through the original hatchway and explore its hallways on a self-guided or fully-guided tour. Highlights include its Mark 14 steam-driven torpedo, the search periscope and the propellers.
Volunteers are available to provide more information. Afterwards, be sure to pay your respects to the thousands of men and women who have lost their lives on US submarines.
13. Playhouse Square
Playhouse Square is the second-largest performing arts center in the country. There are 10 different spaces here, including five theaters that have been restored to their former historic glory.
One of the best ways to experience it is to catch a live show here. With over 1,000 events a year, you’re bound to find something to your liking. Options include Broadway shows, opera, comedy, music, dance and live readings. Arts Center also hosts many classes and workshops for the public to learn about the performing arts.
You can also find the world’s largest outdoor chandelier here. The GE Chandelier is 20 feet high and features 4,200 LEDs and crystal pendants.
14. Greater Cleveland Aquarium
See all sorts of marine creatures at the Greater Cleveland Aquarium. Located in a converted 19th century power plant, the aquarium is home to thousands of freshwater and sea creatures.
Learn about the different animals that live in rivers, lakes, coral reefs and oceans. The highlight is the 230,000-gallon tank with a clear shark tunnel that you can walk through. A popular touch pool allows you to touch stingrays as they glide past.
The aquarium also offers a number of educational and other special programs. Sleep overnight at the aquarium. Or visit during adults-only evenings accompanied by drinks.
15. Cedar Point
For a day of fun rides and entertainment, head to Cedar Point. Located just 60 miles away from Cleveland, Cedar Point is a must for thrill seekers and families.
Spanning more than 360 acres, the massive theme park is known as the roller coaster capital of the world. There are18 different roller coasters here. In addition, there are many other rides and attractions, suitable for kids, families and thrill seekers.
There’s also a fun adventure park inside the theme park. Cedar Point also offers unique experiences such as a wine tour and a petting zoo. You’ll want to spend the entire day here.
And when you’re ready to explore outside the city, check out our guide on the best day trips from Cleveland.