We’re famous for three things here in Cleveland: our sad Cleveland Browns football team, our almost-2016-World-Series-Champion Cleveland Indians baseball team, and our 2016 NBA Finals Champion Cleveland Cavaliers basketball team. However, while our sports teams are definitely part of our identity, sporting events are not the only things to do in Cleveland.
In fact, there are loads of things to do in Cleveland! Here’s our top ten list.
Top 10 things to do in Cleveland for families
1. Visit Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and explore the world.
The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is one of my favorite places Cleveland. Watch the elephants at the African Elephant Crossing. Get up close and personal with the giraffes at the Ben Gogolick Giraffe Encounter. Kids can take a ride on the Boomerang Express and the Circle of Wildlife Carousel, which features all different kinds of animals! Here, visitors can explore the African Savanna, Australia, Asia, and the Rainforest, all without leaving Cleveland!
Pro Tip: Take the tram up to the Primates, Cats, and Aquatics exhibit, no matter how long the wait is.
2. Explore the music scene at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Do you know why the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is located in Cleveland?
Visit to find out!
I know… You could also Google it, but wouldn’t it be more fun to discover why in an actual visit on your family vacation in Cleveland?
Explore the journey of Rock and Roll, from its roots to its pinnacle, from Elvis to the modern times. Interactive technologies allow visitors to get a hands-on learning experience to explore how Rock and Roll evolved. See memorabilia from some of your favorite bands.
Tip: While everyone will enjoy the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, it’s better suited to families with tweens and teens. The museum is huge, and younger kids might get tired before you’re done. Also, looking at memorabilia for artists and bands they don’t know might not be all that exciting. (I’m speaking from personal experience, as I did not enjoy this museum until I was a teenager.)
Budget Tip: College students get discounts with their college IDs! (Because even the R&R HOF knows how broke we are.)
3. Satiate your thirst for learning at the Great Lakes Science Center.
The Great Lakes Science Center was designed with families in mind, so it’s a perfect stop on your Cleveland family vacation!
Explore nanotechnology through hands-on learning. Play in the sand with the Augmented Reality Sandbox to discover how watersheds work. Learn about biomedtech through interactive exhibits and educational displays. Create, design, and explore engineering through STEM at Cleveland Creates Zone.
A separate exhibit designed specifically for young children gives little ones a chance to discover science on their level.
4. Learn about the natural world at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.
Turn your vacation into a learning experience with a visit to the Cleveland Museum of Natural History!
The Cleveland Museum of Natural History is “one of the top 10 natural history museums in the United States.” Discover the outer reaches of our universe at the Nathan and Fannye Shafran Planetarium & Ralph Mueller Observatory. Get a hands-on learning experience to learn about science and natural history at Smead Discovery Center. Explore the great outdoors at the Perkins Wildlife Center.
Other things to do include exploring Sears Hall of Human Ecology, Reinberger Hall of Astronomy, Ohio Archaeology, the Wade Gallery of Gems & Jewels, Kirtland Hall of Prehistoric Life and the Human Origins Gallery.
This is one of the best things to do with kids! They’ll have so much fun, they won’t even realize it’s educational.
5. Get into the Christmas spirit at A Christmas Story House and Museum.
This Victorian house located in Cleveland’s Tremont neighborhood was used for external shots of Ralphie’s house in the classic Christmas movie, A Christmas Story.
The house is open all year long for tours, so you can get into the Christmas spirit even in the middle of July! Though, they are closed on major holidays — so plan accordingly!
A Christmas Story Museum is located across the street and features “original props, costumes and memorabilia from the film, as well as hundreds of rare behind-the-scenes photos.” Bring this Christmas tradition to life on your vacation and plan your visit by clicking here.
6. Explore the underwater world at the Greater Cleveland Aquarium.
The Greater Cleveland Aquarium is a great place to explore the underwater world.
Since the aquarium is located on the shores of Lake Erie, most exhibits feature wildlife from lakes and rivers, but there are ocean exhibits, too. Visitors can get up close and personal with several fish and rays at the touch pool.
Tip: This location is small, so it’s one of the best things to do with kids — especially young kids.
7. Discover food from around the world at West Side Market.
Is it really a vacation if you don’t get some good eats during your trip?
West Side Market allows visitors to explore the world without ever leaving Cleveland! One of the most popular destinations in Cleveland, you can even take a food tour of the market! Your guided food tour will include stops for tastings at 15 different vendors within the market.
AND, if you really enjoy food tours, add the Ohio City food tour to your itinerary! This tour begins at West Side Market and takes you to one of the coolest neighborhoods in Cleveland to taste the best local cuisine!
8. Explore the great outdoors at Cuyahoga National Park.
Adventurers, one of the best things to do in Cleveland is a visit the Cuyahoga National Park!
The Cuyahoga National Park is Ohio’s only national park and spans 32,572 acres (that’s almost 51 square miles).
The park follows the Cuyahoga River between Akron, Ohio and Cleveland. Visitors can bike or hike at the park while exploring the beautiful wildlife.
Hop aboard the Cuyahoga Scenic Railroad for a 3 hour train ride that allows visitors to explore the beautiful park without having to hike it all themselves (tickets available for purchase). The train stops at passenger stations so visitors can get out and explore the park themselves.
9. Get cultured at Playhouse Square.
For the arts and culture crowd, Playhouse Square should top the list of things to do in Cleveland on vacation!
Playhouse Square, “Cleveland’s indisputable gem,” is one of the largest performing arts center in the United States, second only to New York’s Lincoln Center. Did that surprise you?
Composed of nine theaters, visitors to Playhouse Square can enjoy “touring Broadway shows, concerts, comedy, opera, dance and children’s programming.” You’ll know you’ve arrived when you see the giant chandelier.
Check out their website to find out what’s playing and to purchase tickets.
10. Make sure you check out our sports scene.
Of course, no list of Cleveland activities is complete without mention of our sports teams!
The Cleveland Cavaliers “reversed the curse” by winning the NBA Finals in 2016 and bringing a championship title home to Cleveland. Our sporting events really are worth the experience.
- Stop by Quicken Loans Arena, home to the Cleveland Cavaliers and Lake Erie Monsters (our hockey team). The Q also hosts many other fun events, including Disney on Ice and various concerts.
- Stop by Progressive Field to watch our 2016 ALCS champions, the Cleveland Guardians, make their way to another championship (I still have hope, okay! Don’t ruin this for me). Progressive Field also hosts various concerts, like Luke Bryan.
- FirstEnergy Stadium is home to the Cleveland Browns, and although you’ll be going to watch them lose, it’s still something to consider on your Cleveland vacation.
While Cleveland may not have been on your radar for family vacation, we really think Cleveland is one of the very best places to go on vacation! We hope this list of ten things to do in Cleveland has convinced you to give it a try!
There’s lots more to see in Ohio — some of it near Cleveland! So check out these resources to plan your getaway to Ohio!
- Discover Ohio on a roadtrip from Cincinnati to Columbus to Cleveland!
- Ohio has a lot of history — including presidential history! Check out some of these presidential museums and monuments, some are near Cleveland!
- Head to Cedar Point — just a short drive away, it’s worth adding to your Cleveland vacation!