Cleveland offers the opportunity to see David Bowie's stage costumes, get up close to sharks and rays, view thousands of years of art history, and see a haunted house. This blue-collar city is steeped in history and offers a bit of everything, such as swimming in Lake Erie, visiting a vast aquarium, seeing a quirky bit of roadside Americana, and even the chance to walk the grounds of a real movie location.

    The city has plenty to thrill adults and kids whether you're on a family vacation or a romantic getaway with someone special. Learn about the 10 best things to do in Cleveland, from rock and roll history to fishing in the Great Lakes.

    What are the best things to do in Cleveland?


    Museum of Contemporary Art

    Visit new-age exhibits from important contemporary creators

    • History
    • Families

    The Museum of Contemporary Art offers a wide range of new-age, rotating exhibitions featuring modern art from some of the most important creators over the past 50 years. The museum was founded in 1968 and has played a vital role in Cleveland's cultural soul ever since. The exhibits, both permanent and temporary, feature over 2,000 artists.

    The museum also offers a unique, dynamic gallery space and hosts shows from important new artists, many of whom are on display for the first time. It also features a range of speakers, collaborative activities, and educational programs. It's just 15 minutes from the center of downtown to the east.

    Location: 11400 Euclid Ave, Cleveland, OH 44106, USA

    Open: Thursday–Saturday from 11 am to 5 pm (closed Sunday–Wednesday, New Year's Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day)

    Phone: +1 216-421-8671


    photo by Erik Drost (CC BY 2.0) modified


    Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

    See Jimi's guitar, John's bed, and Michael's Grammy

    • History
    • Families

    The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame lets you see Jimi Hendrix's guitar, John Lennon's bed, and artifacts from famed and important musicians and creators throughout history. This museum offers exhibits dedicated to everyone from Pink Floyd to the Beastie Boys, and while it's been controversial at times, it’s a legendary locale that draws tens of thousands of visitors every year.

    Besides musicians, the exhibits pay tribute to rock portrait artists, music producers, and the entire history of the music industry and rock and roll specifically. It's located right in the heart of downtown Cleveland on the shores of the lake.

    Location: 1100 E 9th St, Cleveland, OH 44114, USA

    Open: Daily from 11 am to 5 pm

    Phone: +1 216-781-7625


    photo by GordonMakryllos (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified


    Cleveland Botanical Garden

    Get lost in a serene urban oasis

    • Couples
    • Families

    The Cleveland Botanical Garden offers a serene oasis of beauty and peace in the middle of the busy city with ongoing events, presentations, and seasonal festivals. The gardens are spread over 10 acres of land and also incorporate the Eleanor Armstrong Smith Glasshouse, an 18,000-square-foot adventure that guides you through a Costa Rican rainforest and the deserts of Madagascar.

    The gardens offer activities all year long, such as February's Orchid Mania event, the Annual Egg Hunt each spring, summertime Gourmets in the Garden celebrations, Hoppy Hour in the fall, and the famed winter lights tradition, Glow. It's just 13 minutes east of the city in the University Circle neighborhood.

    Location: 11030 East Blvd, Cleveland, OH 44106, USA

    Open: Tuesday–Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm, Sunday from noon to 5 pm (closed on Mondays)

    Phone: +1 216-721-1600


    Cleveland Museum of Art

    View over 5 millennia of artwork and creativity

    • History
    • Couples
    • Families

    The Cleveland Museum of Art showcases over 30,000 works of art spanning more than 5,000 years of history from Ancient Egypt, Europe, Asia, Africa, and the world over. The institution is historic unto itself and was founded in 1913. It is considered among the most distinguished cultural institutions in the country, and tens of thousands of people flock to Cleveland just to visit this place. The building is a gorgeous, stark-white neoclassical architecture building and, in addition to paintings, photography, drawings, crafts, and sculpture, the museum offers lectures, films, musical programs, and public speaking engagements. It's about 15 minutes from the center of downtown to the east.

    Location: 11150 East Blvd, Cleveland, OH 44106, USA

    Open: Tuesday–Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm (closed on Mondays)

    Phone: +1 216-421-7350


    USS Cod Submarine Memorial

    Walk the decks of a real World War II submarine

    • History

    The USS Cod Submarine Memorial offers the opportunity to visit an actual submarine that dates to World War II and was in service until 1971. The Cod is credited with sinking 12 enemy vessels throughout its service and was awarded 7 battle stars for her service in World War II.

    Today, she represents one of the finest restored submarines on display in the US and the only one still in its original condition, having not been modified for public access. Visitors can tour the submarine to see the original Mark IV Torpedo Data Computer and even rotate the deck gun, which is regularly mock-fired by the volunteer crew. The Cod is located on the shores of the lake downtown.

    Location: 1201 N Marginal Rd, Cleveland, OH 44114, USA

    Open: Daily from 10 am to 5 pm

    Phone: +1 216-566-8770


    A Christmas Story House

    See the famous Parker family house and car

    • History
    • Families

    The famed and beloved A Christmas Story House allows you to tour the location of the iconic family holiday movie and view original memorabilia, props, and costumes from the film. It's open to the public and has been restored to its filming condition. Some of the artifacts include Randy's snowsuit, the toys from the department store window, and the family's car.

    You can view behind-the-scenes photos and documents and even visit the gift shop to find that perfect souvenir gift to take with you. The house is just 10 minutes south of the downtown area.

    Location: 3159 W 11th St, Cleveland, OH 44109, USA

    Open: Daily from 10 am to 5 pm

    Phone: +1 216-298-4919


    photo by Famartin (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified


    Edgewater Park

    Go swimming, visit a yacht club, or catch a fish from Lake Erie

    • Families
    • Adventure

    Edgewater Park offers an entire world of adventure and relaxation, from swimming and a yacht club to fishing and picnics right on the shore of Lake Erie. This public park offers a number of gold-sand beaches right on the freshwater shores of the lake where you can go swimming or catch a prize fish from the local pier.

    Not far off is a vast green space with picnic areas and open grounds for the kids to run and play all day long. The park is right at the heart of downtown, so it provides easy access to all the local attractions, shopping, and dining.

    Open: Daily from 6 am to 11 pm

    Phone: +1 216-635-3200


    Franklin Castle

    See one of the most haunted places in Ohio

    • History
    • Couples
    • Families

    Franklin Castle is a 4-story Victorian Mansion that holds a creepy past, has over 20 rooms, and is known as one of the most haunted places in Ohio. Tales of the atrocities and tragedies that have occurred at Franklin Castle are broad and varied and mostly entirely invented, including stories about fictional tunnels below the house.

    Still, it's a fun and thrilling place to see. Although tours aren't available, you can walk up to the gates and take photos of the turrets, gate, and more than 80 windows that gaze out at you. It's only a 6-minute drive from central downtown to the southwest.

    Location: 4308 Franklin Blvd, Cleveland, OH 44113, USA


    photo by Cricchetti (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified


    The Free Stamp

    Experience a genuine roadside Americana attraction

    • History
    • Families

    The Free Stamp is an outdoor sculpture in Willard Park that is known as the world's largest rubber stamp and offers a quirky introduction to the city's historic district. It's located in Willard Park in the heart of downtown and depicts a gigantic rubber stamp with the word "FREE" on it. Originally, the stamp was commissioned as part of the headquarters of what is now BP tower, and it was supposed to have the lettering hidden.

    The word "FREE" was eventually exposed and is supposedly in reference to the emancipation of slaves at the beginning of the Civil War. It's a popular attraction to this day among park-goers in the city.

    Location: 601 Lakeside Ave E, Cleveland, OH 44114, USA

    Open: 24/7

    Phone: +1 216-664-2485


    photo by stu_spivack (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

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