20 Must-See Attractions and Things to Do in Cleveland

Best Things to Do in Cleveland, Ohio

Seeking the essential Cleveland experience? Luckily, Cleveland's best neighborhoods are filled with top activities and destinations, from the electrifying Rock & Roll Hall of Fame to the tranquil shores of Lake Erie at Edgewater Park. Find your next adventure in Cleveland—there's sure to be something that perfectly aligns with your curiosity and interests.

Popular Highlights

  • The city of Cleveland offers diverse cultural and historical attractions, including the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, the Cleveland Museum of Art, and the historic West Side Market.
  • The city provides unique experiences with interactive museums like the Greater Cleveland Aquarium, outdoor spaces like Edgewater Park, and vibrant neighborhoods such as Ohio City and University Circle.
  • From thrilling roller coasters at Cedar Point to the tranquility of the Cleveland Botanical Garden, visitors can find activities for every interest, alongside a variety of accommodations and a rich craft beer scene.

Cleveland's Iconic Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

Situated on the shore of Lake Erie in downtown Cleveland, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is much more than just a museum. It’s a mecca for music fans, a world-class museum that celebrates the history and cultural significance of rock music. The museum is housed in a stunning building with a modern, angular design that stands out on Cleveland’s skyline.

As you explore the museum, you’ll encounter exhibits like the Ahmet Ertegun Main Exhibit Hall, the Legends of Rock, and the Hall of Fame section. These exhibits display rare artifacts like handwritten lyrics, iconic outfits, and instruments from various musical genres and inductees such as The Rolling Stones, ABBA, and Eddie Van Halen. Each piece tells a story, offering a glimpse into the world of the legendary artists who left their mark on the world of rock music.

Besides observation, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame offers engaging experiences:

  • Interactive educational programs and events
  • Interviews with inductees
  • Concerts on the Klipsch Main Stage
  • Creating music in The Garage exhibit

Special themed events like the Rock Hall Nights series and celebrations during Black History Month provide visitors with unique opportunities to learn about the rich cultural heritage of rock and roll.

Discover the Cleveland Museum of Art

Cleveland Museum of Art Building in Cleveland, Ohio

The Cleveland Museum of Art, a treasure trove of extraordinary art pieces from around the world, is conveniently situated at the midpoint between the University Heights neighborhood and downtown Cleveland. Located in the vibrant University Circle, this world-class museum houses over 61,000 works of art, showcasing a wide variety of pieces that span centuries and continents.

The museum’s expansive collection includes:

  • American masterpieces like Church Street El by Charles Sheeler
  • Medieval and Renaissance works like the Spitzer Cross
  • Asian artworks such as Cloudy Mountains
  • Ancient artifacts like the Wade Cup

Every corner of the museum offers a new discovery, a new insight into the world of art and the artists who have shaped it.

The Cleveland Museum of Art offers more than just art appreciation; it delivers immersive experiences. The museum has become a leader in interactive technology under the leadership of Jane Alexander. Features like the ArtLens Wall and its companion app enhance visitor engagement and personalize experiences.

The museum’s strong commitment to accessibility is also evident with free general admission.

Experience the West Side Market

West Side Market in Cleveland, Ohio

Whether you’re living in Cleveland or just visiting, a trip to the historic West Side Market is a must. Dating back to 1840, this bustling market is a culinary haven. With over 60 vendors, the market offers a wide variety of regional and ethnic foods, including:

  • pierogies
  • savory crepes
  • fresh vegetables
  • carefully selected cheeses
  • seafood
  • poultry
  • homemade sausages

The market is a feast for the senses. But it isn’t solely about food: it serves as a crucial community center, cherished by locals and acknowledged nationwide for its iconic clock tower and remarkable architecture.

After indulging in the market’s culinary delights, you can continue your local experience by savoring craft beers at nearby breweries. One such place is Collision Bend Brewing, known for its crisp beers, including an American wheat brewed with blood oranges. This combination of delicious food and local brews makes the West Side Market a must-visit spot for foodies and beer enthusiasts alike.

Dive into the Greater Cleveland Aquarium

If you’re fascinated by marine life, the Greater Cleveland Aquarium is a must-visit. This aquatic wonderland offers:

  • Educational experiences that meet the Common Core and 2018 Ohio Revised Science Standards
  • Hands-on and inquiry-based learning
  • An engaging, interactive experience
  • Suitable for students, families, or anyone passionate about marine life.

The aquarium’s range of virtual learning programs allows students to participate online, broadening access to education. But nothing beats an in-person visit. The aquarium’s exhibits allow students to directly engage with marine environments. You can:

  • touch aquatic animals like stingrays in petting tanks
  • watch sharks in the spacious Shark Gallery
  • feel like you’re scuba diving alongside sharks and other sea creatures in the 175-foot SeaTube.

The Greater Cleveland Aquarium offers:

  • An extensive array of aquatic life, from colorful tropical fish to majestic sharks
  • The opportunity to immerse yourself in the marine habitat
  • A chance to gain a deeper understanding of the diverse species that inhabit the world’s waters.

Unwind at Edgewater Park

Edgewater Park and Beach in Cleveland, Ohio

If you’re craving a break from the hustle and bustle of city life, head to Edgewater Park. This peaceful oasis, managed by Cleveland Metroparks, is the perfect place to unwind and enjoy the great outdoors. The park offers a myriad of leisure activities for visitors of all ages, including:

  • Swimming
  • Boating
  • Fishing
  • Playing sports

So pack a picnic, grab your sunscreen, and spend a day at Edgewater Park.

The park boasts a range of amenities to enhance your visit, including:

  • One of the best beaches in Ohio
  • ADA beach wheelchairs
  • Picnic areas with grills
  • A dog-friendly beach
  • A fishing pier
  • Boat ramps
  • Volleyball courts
  • Cabana rentals
  • Fishing opportunities for species such as perch, walleye, and smallmouth bass
  • Kayaking

For those seeking a bit of adventure, the park offers plenty of options to keep you entertained.

Edgewater Park offers a safe and enjoyable experience for visitors. Here are some important guidelines to follow:

  • Lifeguards are actively on duty, and it is important to adhere to their directives.
  • Swimming is prohibited during red flag warnings.
  • Fires are not allowed on the beach.

So, whether you’re looking to relax on the beach, enjoy a picnic, or engage in some water sports, Edgewater Park has you covered.

Explore the Cleveland Museum of Natural History

The Cleveland Museum of Natural History is a treasure trove of knowledge and discovery. The Visitor Hall, spanning 14,650 square feet, features a timeline with iconic attractions that mark milestones in the universe’s history.

The museum takes visitors on a fascinating journey through the natural world.

The museum’s exhibits showcase a range of natural wonders. Highlights include:

  • A Haplocanthosaurus delfsi known as Happy
  • The partial fossil skeleton of Lucy, the Australopithecus afarensis
  • Dunkleosteus terrelli, Ohio’s state fossil fish
  • Balto, the famous sled dog
  • A Moon Rock on loan from NASA

These exhibits not only offer a glimpse into the earth’s past but also inspire a sense of wonder about our world.

Interactive experiences at the museum elevate the learning process. The museum offers a variety of interactive programming, including:

  • ‘Flight of the Butterflies’ in 3D at the Nathan and Fannye Shafran Planetarium
  • The ‘Titanosaur 3D’ experience at the planetarium
  • The Smead Discovery Center
  • The Ralph Perkins II Wildlife Center & Woods Garden

The museum also showcases its conservation efforts, including a model of a Bald Eagle, representing the institution’s role in protecting native Ohio species.

Embrace Nature at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo

Elephant at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo in Cleveland, Ohio

The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is a haven for animal lovers. With an array of animal exhibits, from the Australian Adventure with year-round koala viewing to the Primate, Cat and Aquatics Building with gorillas and rare snow leopards, the zoo offers visitors a chance to connect with wildlife from around the globe.

The zoo extends beyond mere observation of animals, promoting direct engagement with them. Visitors can enjoy numerous outdoor activities and attractions, such as the Ben Gogolick Giraffe Encounter and the Circle of Wildlife Carousel. Attractions like the Eagle Zip Adventure and Waterfowl Lake merge nature with guest leisure, enhancing the visitor experience.

Whether you’re a fan of the big cats, fascinated by primates, or charmed by the penguins, the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo offers a memorable experience for all ages. So grab your binoculars and your curiosity, and embark on a wild adventure!

Get Cultured at Playhouse Square

Playhouse Square is a beacon of the performing arts in Cleveland. As the largest performing arts center in the United States outside of New York, it’s one of the best attractions in Ohio it offers an array of performances, including:

  • Broadway shows
  • Comedy acts
  • Dance performances
  • Opera
  • Concerts
  • Family-friendly productions

The Playhouse Square complex comprises multiple theaters, each with its unique slate of shows. From the majestic Keybank State Theatre, known for its Broadway productions, to the intimate Kennedy’s Cabaret, each theater offers a unique experience. The restoration of Playhouse Square in the 1980s and 1990s stands as one of Cleveland’s most significant urban renewal triumphs, and the cultural vibrancy it brings to the city is unmatched.

Whether you’re a fan of musicals, comedy, or opera, Playhouse Square offers something for everyone. With numerous dining and lodging choices in the vicinity, you can schedule a culturally enriching weekend featuring stellar performances at Playhouse Square.

Visit the Historic Lake View Cemetery

Daffodil Hill at Lake View Cemetery in Cleveland, Ohio

Lake View Cemetery is more than just a final resting place—it’s a place of historical and cultural significance on the western edge of the Cleveland Heights community. The cemetery is home to the James A. Garfield Memorial, which serves as its centerpiece, and many notable individuals, such as John D. Rockefeller, are interred here.

The natural beauty of Lake View Cemetery is accentuated by over 150,000 blooming daffodils in Daffodil Hill and a serene pond outside the Wade Memorial Chapel. These serene landscapes provide a peaceful retreat and a place for reflection.

Lake View Cemetery welcomes visitors to partake in an array of tours and events, including twilight tours, garden explorations, and trolley tours. These experiences shed light on the lives of the famous residents and the cemetery’s art and architecture, making the cemetery not just a place of rest but also a place of learning and discovery.

Step Back in Time at A Christmas Story House

In the heart of Cleveland’s Tremont neighborhood stands a piece of cinematic history—the A Christmas Story House. This iconic house, made famous by the classic film “A Christmas Story,” offers visitors a chance to step back in time and relive the magic of the movie.

The house offers tours where visitors can behold:

  • iconic scenes and props such as Randy’s snowsuit and the family car
  • a museum and gift shop
  • special events throughout the year, including the Official 40th Anniversary event

Beyond the regular tours, A Christmas Story House offers a variety of experiences for visitors to enjoy.

The experience, however, doesn’t conclude there. Visitors can take home memorable souvenirs from the gift shop, like the leg lamp or the Red Ryder Range 200 BB gun. And for a truly immersive experience, visitors have the option to stay overnight at the A Christmas Story House.

Relax at Cleveland Public Square

Downtown Public Square in Cleveland, Ohio

In the heart of downtown Cleveland lies Public Square, a vibrant urban park that offers a serene space for residents and visitors to relax and enjoy the city’s downtown area. Whether you wish to relax after a day of sightseeing or join friends for a picnic, the square caters to diverse preferences with its array of activities.

One of the most popular events at Cleveland Public Square is Food Truck Tuesday. Running from May to September, this event offers a variety of local food truck options. And it’s not just about the food—this gastronomic gathering is further enhanced by live music performances.

Apart from dining, Cleveland Public Square offers an array of regular activities such as leisurely strolls, a splash pad, a weekly farmer’s market, and concerts. Whether you’re a local or a visitor, there’s always something to do and see at Cleveland Public Square.

Admire the Beauty of the Cleveland Botanical Garden

The Cleveland Botanical Garden is a sanctuary of natural beauty and tranquility. Spanning over 10 acres, the garden is a visual feast of diverse outdoor gardens and green spaces, complemented by a conservatory that showcases a stunning range of plants from Madagascar and Costa Rica.

The garden allows visitors to:

  • Marvel at nature’s beauty
  • Engage in educational programs
  • Participate in hands-on workshops
  • Enjoy family-friendly activities

Throughout the year, the botanical garden provides learning opportunities for all.

One of the garden’s standout features is the Japanese Garden. Designed by David Slawson, this garden fosters cultural harmony with its classic elements like rocks, weathered beach stones, and clipped evergreen azaleas. Authentic Japanese stone lanterns adorn the space, symbolizing enlightenment and often utilized in ceremonies including weddings, adding to the garden’s spiritual tranquility for visitors.

Enjoy Outdoor Activities at Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Cuyahoga National Park Near Cleveland, Ohio

If you’re a nature enthusiast, a visit to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park is a must. Offering a rich variety of over 125 miles of hiking trails, the park is a paradise for outdoor lovers. From easy trails for beginners to challenging routes for experienced hikers, the park has something for everyone.

For biking enthusiasts, the park also offers excellent cycling routes, including:

  • The multi-use Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail, perfect for a leisurely ride
  • The East Rim Trail System, which caters to mountain bikers with its challenging terrain and obstacles
  • Additional paved routes for cycling

Seasonal cyclist shuttle services by the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad complement the biking adventure by facilitating point-to-point rides.

If you’re looking to extend your stay within the splendor of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, consider staying at the Stanford House Bed and Breakfast. With its charming accommodations and convenient location, it’s the perfect base for exploring the park.

Experience the Flats District

If you’re looking for a lively atmosphere, look no further than Cleveland’s Flats District. Known for its bars, nightlife, and fun, youthful vibe, the district attracts locals and visitors alike. From live music and comedy shows to iconic bars and eateries, there’s always something happening in The Flats.

A standout feature of The Flats is its culinary offerings. Some of the dining options include:

  • Shooters on the Water: An outdoor lunch spot where guests can enjoy watching boats navigate the Cuyahoga River
  • Casual dining options
  • Fine dining options

These options satisfy various tastes and preferences.

But the fun doesn’t stop when the sun goes down. The Funny Bone Comedy Club & Restaurant is among the best comedy clubs in The Flats, offering a variety of humorous performances. Or if you prefer a night of dancing, head to one of the many bars and clubs in the area. For a panoramic view of Cleveland, head to Bar 32, located on the top floor of the Hilton Cleveland Downtown.

Take a Thrilling Trip to Cedar Point

Cedar Point Amusement Park in Cleveland, Ohio

For a dose of adrenaline, be sure to head to Cedar Point, one of America’s most renowned amusement parks. Dubbed ‘America’s Roller Coast’, Cedar Point boasts 18 roller coasters, making it a magnet for thrill-seekers. It should be noted that Cedar Point is more of a day trip for Cleveland residents and visitors, as it's located approximately an hour's drive away in the city of Sandusky.

Home to five roller coasters exceeding 200 feet, including Magnum XL-200 and Millennium Force, Cedar Point offers unmatched thrills for coaster enthusiasts. However, the park’s offerings aren’t limited to roller coasters. Visitors can also enjoy aquatic fun at Cedar Point Shores water park and relax on a mile-long beach.

Cedar Point’s reputation for excellence is solidified by its 16 consecutive Golden Ticket Awards for ‘Best Amusement Park in the World’. The park welcomes guests seasonally from early May through Labor Day and extends fun through Halloween with weekend operations. For an expedited experience, Cedar Point offers a Fast Lane system, allowing for quicker access to its most popular rides.

Experience Cleveland's Craft Beer Scene

Beer enthusiasts will be delighted by Cleveland’s craft beer scene. The city presents a spectrum of choices for beer lovers, from esteemed breweries to distinct brewpubs. Great Lakes Brewing Company is one of the city’s original craft breweries, renowned for its Dortmunder Gold Lager and TropiCoastal Tropical IPA.

Other prominent breweries like Market Garden Brewery, Hansa Brewery, and Collision Bend Brewing Company also contribute to Cleveland’s robust beer scene. Whether you’re a fan of crisp IPAs or rich stouts, you’ll find a brew to suit your palate. And it’s not just about the beer—many breweries offer food menus, allowing you to pair your pint with delicious eats.

For those seeking a unique beer experience, consider joining a Cleveland Brew Tour. These tours offer VIP access to local breweries, craft beer tastings, and insights into the city’s iconic history and culture. It’s a great way to explore the city and its craft beer scene in one fell swoop.

Explore the Unique Neighborhoods of Ohio City and University Circle

University Circle Fine Arts Garden in Cleveland, Ohio

A trip to Cleveland wouldn’t be complete without exploring its unique neighborhoods. Ohio City and University Circle are two neighborhoods that offer a rich blend of history, culture, and charm. These neighborhoods, brimming with vibrant street art and historic sites, offer ample opportunities for discovery.

Ohio City is home to the historic West Side Market, as well as a range of cafes, restaurants, and art galleries. Whether you’re a foodie, an art lover, or a history buff, you’ll find something to love in this neighborhood.

University Circle is another neighborhood to explore. Known for its cultural institutions, including the Cleveland Museum of Art and Severance Hall, University Circle is a hub of academia and culture. Case Western Reserve University is located in this area, adding to its vibrant atmosphere. Wander through its charming streets, visit its art galleries, and soak in its vibrant atmosphere.

Attend a Performance at Severance Hall

For a unique cultural experience, consider attending a performance at Severance Hall. As the prestigious home of the Cleveland Orchestra, Severance Hall is revered for its exceptional acoustics and stunning architecture. It’s a place where music comes to life, and every performance is an unforgettable experience.

The Severance Season offers a diverse range of concerts, from exciting premieres and rediscovered gems to beloved classical masterpieces. Whether you’re a fan of classical music or new to the genre, you’re sure to find a performance that speaks to your soul.

Yet, the musical journey extends beyond the fall of the curtain. Severance Hall also offers a range of educational and interactive experiences. From the In Community Chamber Concert Series, which explores collaborations with Cleveland community partners, to the Music in Depth webinar series, which delves into the repertoire of upcoming concerts, there’s always something new to learn and discover at Severance Hall.

Stroll through the Charming Little Italy Neighborhood

For a taste of Italy in Cleveland, head to the Little Italy neighborhood. Founded in the late 19th century by Italian immigrants, this area offers a walkable environment filled with:

  • Cafes
  • Restaurants
  • Shops
  • Art galleries

A stroll through the neighborhood immerses visitors in the warmth of Italian culture and the allure of old-world architecture.

Little Italy hosts significant annual events such as the Feast of the Assumption festival and the crowning of Miss Italia of Ohio. These events honor Italian culture and religious traditions and contribute to the vibrant community atmosphere. Whether you’re a local or a visitor, these events offer a chance to experience the rich heritage and traditions of Italian culture.

But it’s not just the events that make Little Italy a must-visit. The neighborhood itself is a cultural gem, with its charming streets, colorful murals, and an array of authentic Italian restaurants. From sampling cannoli at a local bakery to shopping for Italian goods at a local boutique, there’s no shortage of things to see and do in Little Italy.

Best Places to Stay in Cleveland for Sightseeing

You can also experience the city's best activities and attractions without moving to Cleveland! The city caters to all budgets and preferences with a diverse array of accommodation options. From luxury hotels to budget-friendly hostels, there’s a place to stay for everyone. If you’re planning to do a lot of sightseeing, consider staying in downtown Cleveland, Ohio City, or University Circle.

Downtown Cleveland offers a range of hotels close to the city center. Options include:

  • Renaissance Cleveland Hotel
  • Crowne Plaza Cleveland at Playhouse Square
  • Residence Inn Cleveland Downtown
  • Hampton Inn Cleveland-Downtown

These hotels put you in close proximity to must-see attractions, making them highly attractive to tourists.

Budget-friendly areas like Ohio City and University Circle are also great options for accommodations. These neighborhoods are economical yet conveniently located for sightseeing. And with a range of services, including free Wi-Fi and complimentary breakfasts, you’re sure to find a place that feels like home.

Have Fun in Cleveland, Ohio

From the historic West Side Market to the serene landscapes of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, the adrenaline-pumping rides at Cedar Point to the charming streets of Little Italy, Cleveland offers a rich variety of experiences for every visitor. So whether you’re a history buff, a nature lover, a foodie, or an art enthusiast, Cleveland has something for you. Start planning your visit today and discover the many wonders this vibrant city has to offer!

Frequently Asked Questions

How should I spend a weekend in Cleveland?

A good way to spend a weekend in Cleveland is by visiting the West Side Market, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Cleveland Script Sign, Cleveland Arcade, East 4th Street, Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Free Stamp Sculpture, Public Square, and Playhouse Square for a memorable experience. Enjoy your trip to Cleveland!

What is Cleveland most noted for?

Cleveland is most noted for its cultural institutions, including the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland Botanical Garden, and more. These attractions showcase the city's rich artistic and cultural landscape.

Why is Cleveland so popular?

Cleveland is popular for many reasons! In addition to factors like affordability, it’s home to major cultural institutions like the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Rock and Roll Museum, and the Cleveland Orchestra, making it a global city for arts and culture.

What are the must-see attractions in Cleveland?

It’s a tough choice, but if you only have time to hit the highlights, visit the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Cleveland Museum of Art, West Side Market, Edgewater Park, Greater Cleveland Aquarium, and Cedar Point if you're in Cleveland. Enjoy your trip!

Where should I stay in Cleveland for sightseeing?

You should stay in downtown Cleveland, Ohio City, or University Circle for easy access to major attractions. Enjoy your sightseeing!

Ready to start looking for your new home in Cleveland? Call The Young Team at (216) 402-4774 today to get in touch with a local real estate expert who can help you start your homebuying journey.

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