15 Things to Do in Cleveland, Ohio + Free Attractions

View of downtown Cleveland, Ohio, and the Cuyahoga River from a park on the west bank of the river
Image Credit: Kenneth Sponsler/ Shutterstock.

Cleveland, Ohio, offers a mix of urban charm, cultural treasures, and outdoor adventures, making it a great place to vacation. Found along the shores of Lake Erie, the city has a vibrant energy that is inviting and infectious.

Is Cleveland worth visiting? Absolutely! There is so much to do in this Ohio city. You can visit world-famous museums, explore a national park, kayak Celveland’s beautiful lakes, or enjoy a day at Edgewater Beach. With its fun neighborhoods, culinary scene, arts culture, and events year-round, things to do in Cleveland are endless.

Below we’ll explore things to do in Cleveland, including free attractions for those looking to vacation in “The Rock and Roll Capital of the World.”

When Is the Best Time To Visit Cleveland?

If you don’t like the freezing cold, according to the National Weather Service, temperatures reach the 60s in May, climbing to the 80s in July and falling below the 60s in November. The rest of the year ranges from 30 to 50 degrees.

Things To Do in Cleveland While on Vacation

1. Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

Cleveland is home to the well-known Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which celebrates the history and impact of rock music and honors legendary musicians. The museum’s iconic building is considered an architectural masterpiece and resembles a record player with a stylus on the top.

A trip to the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame is easily one of the top things to do in Cleveland and is an exciting experience for anyone passionate about music. You can see exhibits like Elvis Presley’s custom motorcycle, David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust suit, and ZZ Top’s bearded drums. From the original instruments that shaped rock ‘n’ roll’s sound to the iconic costumes that defined its image, every corner holds a treasure trove of memorabilia.

2. Edgewater Park & Beach

Edgewater Park is a beloved destination for locals and vacationers, especially in the warmer months. Located along the shores of Lake Erie, just minutes from downtown, the park offers a welcome retreat from the busy city. Families can enjoy picnics in the shade while beachgoers enjoy the sand, sun, and surf. Yes, you can surf Lake Erie!

Amenities like bathrooms, changing rooms, event rooms, and a concession stand can be found at the Edgewater Beachouse. The park’s trails are perfect for hikers and bikers looking to explore. Head to the Edgewater Fishing Pier for panoramic lake views, fishing, and gorgeous sunsets.

3. Cleveland Metroparks Zoo

If you’re looking for things to do in Cleveland with your family, visiting the Cleveland Zoo should be at the top of your list! The park is a fantastic experience that combines nature, wildlife, and conservation. From majestic big cats and playful primates to fascinating reptiles and colorful birds, the Cleveland Zoo showcases over 3,000 animals across its grounds. Kids will love the giraffe encounter, where they can hand-feed the tallest mammals on earth.

Take a train ride on the Boomerang Line through the park, or head to the Eagle Zip Adventure and view the park from 150 feet above. And if you want an insider’s view of the park, opt for a group or private golf cart tour of the grounds. There are some amazing zoos in the world, and no matter how you decide to venture through the Cleveland Zoo, your little ones will be overjoyed by the experience.

4. Greater Cleveland Aquarium

Another one of the great things to do in Cleveland with your family is an afternoon at the aquarium. You can see over 2,700 animals at the Cleveland Aquarium, including an 11,000-gallon pool filled with cownose and Atlantic stingrays you can touch. Some cool finds at the aquarium include the Giant Pacific Octopus, the Green Moray Eel, and the Sand Tiger Shark. Check out the Ohio Lakes and Rivers exhibit to learn more about the area’s marine life.

5. Cleveland Botanical Garden

The Cleveland Botanical Garden is a wonderful place to spend an afternoon outdoors. You can wander through themed gardens like the vibrant Rose Garden or the serene Japanese Garden. The Glasshouse, a stunning centerpiece, takes you through tropical rainforests, where you can see exotic plants and beautiful butterflies. And if you’re traveling with little ones, check out the hands-on activities in the Hershey Children’s Garden, where they can search for frogs and fish or meet the resident tortoises.

6. Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Cuyahoga Valley National Park, located between Cleveland and Akron, is a beautiful natural area of over 33,000 acres. The national park uniquely blends valleys, waterfalls, and dense forests. Be sure to check out the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad, which offers a scenic journey through the heart of the park. History buffs will love exploring historic landmarks like the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail and the Hale Farm and Village. Cuyahoga Valley National Park is a sanctuary for outdoor lovers, offering hiking, biking, birdwatching, and camping.

7. West Side Market

Cleveland’s West Side Market is a culinary landmark that has been serving the community since 1912. Inside, you will find produce stalls overflowing with fresh fruits and vegetables, competing for attention with butchers selling top-quality meats and seafood. Local artisans and bakers proudly display their homemade bread, pastries, and cheeses while other vendors offer a host of other authentic delicacies.

8. Playhouse Square

One of the largest theater districts in the United States, Playhouse Square, consists of 10 performance halls that host over a thousand events a year, including Broadway titles, comedies, concerts, dance performances, and programming for kids. Five theatres, built in the 1920s, have undergone major restorations. After a performance, you can enjoy fine dining or other nightlife entertainment in the area. When visiting, don’t forget to grab your selfies underneath the gorgeous GE Chandelier on East 14th Street.

9. Breweries in Cleveland

If you’re a beer lover, you’re in luck. The Cleveland craft beer scene is one of the best in the nation. Connoisseurs will want to download the Cleveland Brewery Passport app, where you can find deals and win prizes for checking in to participating breweries. Currently, there are over 40 participating breweries across Cleveland to choose from.

10. Festivals and Events in Cleveland

One of the great things about Cleveland is that there is always something fun going on. The city hosts tons of events and festivals throughout the year. Here are a few of the annual events you can plan your trip around:

  • Winterland (Nov – Jan)
  • St. Patrick’s Day (March)
  • Cleveland International Film Fest (Mar-Apr)
  • Berea’s National Rib Cook-Off (May)
  • Summer Solstice (June)
  • Tri-C Jazz Fest (June)
  • Taste of Tremont (Jul)
  • Cleveland Garlic Festival (Aug)
  • Cleveland National Air Show (Sept)
  • Cleveland Oktoberfest (Sept)

Check out the Cleveland events calendar to see what’s happening while you’re in town.

11. Catch A Game in Cleveland

Calling all sports fans! Cleveland is a treasure trove of professional sporting events. Attend a Cleveland Browns NFL game at FirstEnergy Stadium and witness the intense action up close and personal, surrounded by a sea of orange and brown. Catching a Cleveland Cavaliers NBA game at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse is a must for basketball enthusiasts.

Baseball lovers can head to Progressive Field to support the Cleveland Guardians, formerly the Indians, and enjoy the timeless traditions of America’s pastime. Lastly, for hockey fans, the Cleveland Monsters, an American Hockey League team, compete at the Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, providing an exciting experience on the ice.

12. Cleveland Museum of Natural History

Focusing on science, nature, and human health, the Cleveland Museum of Natural History offers engaging educational opportunities for all ages. Exhibits cover everything from anthropology and archaeology to botany and zoology. While general admission ranges from $7-10, residents can visit the museum for free on Sundays.

Free Things to do in Cleveland

13. moCa Cleveland (Free)

If you’re looking for free things to do in Cleveland, head to the Museum of Contemporary Arts (moCa). moCa Cleveland is a collection of rotating contemporary exhibits that focuses on issues and artists of our time. The museum also offers workshops, performances, and conversations with the artist. With free daily admission and seasonal exhibits, there is always a reason to visit moCa Cleveland.

14. The Cleveland Museum of Art (Free)

The Cleveland Museum of Art features a large collection of artwork spanning thousands of years and cultures. Rotating and permanent exhibits fill the museum, perfect for any art lover. The museum offers guided tours and events like summer camps, Family FUNdays, and more. The museum’s collection is free to visit; however, remember that special events may require tickets.

15. The Money Museum (Free)

Tucked away within the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, this hidden gem offers a great opportunity to learn about money’s history, production, and significance. You’ll find rare artifacts, ancient coins, and banknote designs from different eras and learn all about the barter system and the evolution of currency. The Money Museum offers a captivating view of the world’s financial systems in an educational and entertaining way.

Final Thoughts: Things to Do in Cleveland, Ohio

From fun local events and world-class museums to Broadway shows and breweries, Cleveland captures the essence of a great city. Beyond its iconic landmarks and charming neighborhoods, Cleveland’s warm and welcoming atmosphere creates a sense of belonging that resonates with visitors. Whether you’re hopping on a plane or hitting the road, adventures await in Cleveland!

This article originally appeared on Savoteur.

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