Cleveland Travel Guide

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Best Things To Do in Cleveland

Although not nearly as big as NYC, Los Angeles or Chicago, Cleveland's 78 square miles are jam-packed with things to do for visitors of all ages and interests. Foodies, adventure-seekers, nature-lovers, sports fanatics and history buffs alike will find plenty of things to enjoy in Cleveland. If you're planning to visit in the warmer months, consider spending a few days exploring the Cleveland Botanical Garden, the Cleveland Metroparks and the Cleveland Zoo for some outdoor fun for the whole family. If you're looking to escape the heat or snow, you definitely do not want to miss the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum or the Cleveland Museum of Art, both local and visitor favorites. And when you get hungry, make sure to stop by the historic West Side Market for some international grub — the baked goods come highly recommended. 

How we rank Things to Do

Updated May 2, 2017

  • #1
    Cleveland Metroparks
    View all Photos
    #1 in Cleveland
    Hiking, Parks and Gardens, Recreation, Swimming/Pools, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Hiking, Parks and Gardens, Recreation, Swimming/Pools, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    More than 21,000 acres of nature preserves make up Cleveland's extensive metropolitan park system. There are 18 parks and reservations throughout the Cleveland area that offer a variety of outdoor activities, such as hiking, biking, fishing, boating, horseback riding and more. Visitors can learn about the reservations at any of the 10 nature visitors centers or partake in group programs like animal tracking and nature explorers. Bring lunch and rest your legs in the picnic areas located throughout the parks.

    ...Read More »
  • #2
    Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum
    View all Photos
    #2 in Cleveland
    Museums, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Museums, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Beating out NYC for the location of choice, The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum is one of Cleveland's most popular attractions. In fact, since its opening in 1995, more than 9 million visitors, musicians and celebrities alike have walked through its doors. The museum houses a number of permanent and temporary exhibits, as well as special collections and artifacts from some of the best rock 'n' roll musicians of all time, such as The Beatles, Metallica, Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones and many more. The museum also offers lectures, films, panel discussions and, of course, live rock music performances. But perhaps the museum's most famous event is the annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony that takes place every April.

    ...Read More »
  • #3
    West Side Market
    View all Photos
    #3 in Cleveland
    Shopping, Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Shopping, Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    Dating all the way back to 1840, Cleveland's oldest publicly owned open-air market began on a simple tract of land. After undergoing intense renovations and repairs, the West Side Market reopened to the public in 1912, unveiling its indoor yellow brick markethouse and its iconic 137-foot-tall clock tower. Over the years it has continued to grow, and the market is now home to more than 100 different vendors selling items from all over the world. And you don't have to be a foodie to appreciate the wide array of fresh produce, baked goods, dairy and cheese products, meats and even fresh flowers sold here. This historic market also houses food stalls selling ready-to-eat items, candies and nuts. Having been featured on the Travel Channel and Food Network, West Side Market is an original must-see Cleveland attraction luring more than 1 million visitors each year.

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  • #4
    Cleveland Museum of Art
    View all Photos
    #4 in Cleveland
    Museums, Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Museums, Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    This art museum may be small, but it competes with the best of them, drawing more than 550,000 visitors from around the world each year. Founded in 1913 "for the benefit of all the people forever," The Cleveland Museum of Art currently houses nearly 45,000 pieces of artwork spanning 6,000 years. The exhibits are arranged in chronological order and include photographs, paintings, sculptures, objects and installations by world-renowned artists, including Vincent van Gogh, Claude Monet, Salvador Dalí and Pablo Picasso. There are also special exhibits and events, such as Parade the Circle and the Solstice summer music festival, hosted by the museum annually.    

    ...Read More »
  • #5
    Cleveland Botanical Garden
    View all Photos
    #5 in Cleveland
    Parks and Gardens, Zoos and Aquariums
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Parks and Gardens, Zoos and Aquariums
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    The Cleveland Botanical Garden offers a natural oasis located within the concrete jungle. Founded in 1930, the property features 10 acres of outdoor gardens and an 18,000-square-foot Glasshouse. Visitors can spend the day strolling through 11 different gardens, such as the Japanese Garden and Inspiration Garden, before grabbing a bite at the on-site cafe and heading indoors to the Glasshouse. The greenhouse features everything from butterfly-filled rainforests of Costa Rica to deserts reminiscent of Madagascar, as well as 350 species of exotic plants and 50 species of birds, reptiles, amphibians and more. Children will especially love running around the Hershey Children's Garden, which features a fountain and a treehouse. The gardens also offer a variety of adult, family and children's programs like arts and crafts, butterfly releases and yoga.

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  • #6
    Cleveland Orchestra at Severance Hall
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    #6 in Cleveland
    Entertainment and Nightlife, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Entertainment and Nightlife, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Originally opened in 1931, Severance Hall is home to The Cleveland Orchestra and regarded as one of the world's most beautiful concert halls. If you happen to be in town when there is a concert, you should consider shelling out the money for a ticket to see the world-renowned orchestra play pieces by Mozart and Beethoven, among other composers. But if you're on a tight budget, you can still tour Severance Hall and revel in its impressive architecture. There is also an on-site restaurant for those who want to grab a bite to eat.

    ...Read More »
  • #7
    Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
    View all Photos
    #7 in Cleveland
    Parks and Gardens, Tours, Zoos and Aquariums
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Parks and Gardens, Tours, Zoos and Aquariums
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    With more than 3,000 animals representing 600 different species, you'll find plenty to do at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. Beyond regular zoo amenities, such as animal viewing, gift shops and dining, this zoo introduces animal lovers to more educational experiences, allowing visitors to participate in a variety of hands-on activities like giraffe and lorikeet feedings, camel rides and overnight programs where guests spend the night at the zoo in safari tents and partake in night hikes, s'mores making and behind-the-scenes tours.

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  • #8
    USS Cod Submarine Memorial
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    #8 in Cleveland
    Monuments and Memorials, Museums, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Monuments and Memorials, Museums, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    Located next to The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, this National Historic Landmark is a must-see. The World War II sub was placed in commission on June 21, 1943, under the leadership of Cmdr. James Dempsey and is famous for performing the only international submarine-to-submarine rescue in history. It still stands exactly how it did years ago during wartime, with no alterations. Visitors can enjoy a self-guided or guided tour of the submarine, as well as the Mark 14 steam-driven torpedo, a five-bladed bronze submarine propeller and a search periscope. Make sure to stop by the memorial and pay your respects to the nearly 4,000 men and women who lost their lives aboard U.S. submarines.

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  • #9
    Cleveland Museum of Natural History
    View all Photos
    #9 in Cleveland
    Museums, Zoos and Aquariums
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Museums, Zoos and Aquariums
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Learn all about the natural world and millions of years of history at Cleveland's Museum of Natural History. With a variety of permanent exhibits, such as dinosaurs from different prehistoric eras, Balto the Alaskan sled dog and Ohio's first planetarium, museumgoers are bound to find something that suits their interests. Visitors can even experience what a 5.5 magnitude earthquake feels like or put their paleontology skills to the test and dig up faux dinosaur bones. After visiting the museum, head to the Smead Discovery Center, Perkins Wildlife Center and the Shafran Planetarium & Mueller Observatory, all on the same property. The museum has a ton of temporary exhibits and events, so be sure to check out the schedule before visiting.

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  • #10
    "A Christmas Story" House and Museum
    View all Photos
    #10 in Cleveland
    Museums, Sightseeing, Tours
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Museums, Sightseeing, Tours
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    Cleveland was the primary site for the filming of Bob Clark's classic 1983 movie, "A Christmas Story." If you're a fan of the movie, you won't want to miss visiting Ralphie's house now, would you? The Parker house used in the film has been restored to its original cinematic glory. Visitors can go on a guided tour as well as visit the official "A Christmas Story" Museum, which features costumes, props and lots of movie memorabilia. There's even a gift shop if you want to take some of the movie magic home with you.

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  • #11
    Progressive Field
    View all Photos
    #11 in Cleveland
    Sports, Tours, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Sports, Tours, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Home of Major League Baseball's Cleveland Indians, Progressive Field promises sports fans a good time whether it be for an actual game or just a tour. If you're in town for game, you should consider going as you'll get the most authentic Progressive Field experience. However if there's not a game, you can still visit the facility via a guided tour. The one-hour tours cover the entire premises, so visitors will be able to see the batting cages, FanCave, the party suite, the club lounge, the bullpen and the Heritage Park Indians Hall of Fame Museum.

    ...Read More »

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