Ohio is never one to lack the cities to visit and experiences to try out. We’ve been to Ohio time and time again for good reason, and that’s because there’s just a lot to do in the state. For our trip this time, let’s talk about the major city of Cleveland and why people can’t help but sing that catchy song, “Cleveland Rocks!” This city also serves as the county seat of Cuyahoga County and it is the 52nd-largest city in the U.S. and the second-largest city in the state of Ohio. Also known as the forest city, Ohio is a mix of natural wonders and man-made marvels that all travelers should explore at least once in their lives.
The city is located on the southern shore of Lake Erie, right across the U.S. maritime border with Canada. According to historians, the area the city no lies on was discovered in 1796 near the mouth of the Cuyahoga River because of people from the Connecticut Land Company. The city was later on named by General Moses Cleveland who was the leader of the group that discovered the area.
After the American Civil War, the small town that is now Ohio was turned into a manufacturing center because of its strategic location near the river and the lakeshore. Moreover, Ohio also served as a transportation hub on major railroad lines that were connected from the East Coast to Chicago.
The city’s population started to rise during the 1930s. At the same time, the city dedicated itself in establishing the now-iconic Terminal Tower skyscraper which stands strong to this day. By 1950, the population grew even further even though the city dropped productivity in its various industries. Currently, the city of Cleveland is still growing strong. Its economy is driven by various industries such as healthcare, biomedical, financial services and higher education.
Tourism is also a major source of income for the city. There are various key locations that are a major driver of Cleveland’s economy. Five miles away from downtown is the University Circle – a renowned area that features high-end cultural, medical, and educational institutions such as the Cleveland Botanical Garden, the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, the Case Western Reserve University, and more.
Other than these key locations, Cleveland is also renowned for key events annually. The Fashion Week Cleveland is the city’s annual fashion event and it is also the third-largest fashion show in the U.S. Aside from this, the city also hosts the CMJ Rock Hall Music Fest, Ingenuity Fest, and the Cleveland International Film Festival which has been going on since 1977.
Cleveland is easily one of the most popular states in the U.S. and once you’ve visited this place, you’ll see why people can’t help but sing the iconic Cleveland Rocks song. Before we get to the juicy details of this city, let’s talk about some important details for the trip ahead.
- 1 How to Get Around Cleveland, Ohio
- 2 Best Time to Visit Cleveland
- 3 Recommended Things to Do in Cleveland for the Whole Family
- 3.1 Bargain at the West Side Market
- 3.2 Hear the stories that shaped the city at the Cleveland Cultural Gardens
- 3.3 Explore the sea at the Greater Cleveland Aquarium
- 3.4 Celebrate the women in the field of aviation at the International Women’s Air and Space Museum
- 3.5 See what’s on the Museum of Contemporary Art
- 3.6 Experience Italy
- 3.7 Visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum
- 3.8 Marvel at the James A. Garfield Monument at the Lake View Cemetery
- 3.9 Watch a performance at the Playhouse Square
- 3.10 Feel like a movie cast in the Christmas Story House and Museum
- 3.11 Explore the ship that built Cleveland
- 3.12 See the USS Cod Submarine Memorial
1How to Get to Cleveland, Ohio
The major airport hub in Cleveland is the Cleveland Hopkins International Airport which is around 12 miles away from Downtown Cleveland. This airport can be easily accessible via a multitude of transportation options such as cabs, car rentals, ridesharing apps, and the Regional Transit Authority Red Line which is always available every 15 minutes.
As the major airport serving Cleveland, the airport has 50 nonstop markets along with 155 daily nonstop departures from international and U.S. cities. It accommodates 9 airlines and it has over 7,000 parking spaces available. Most importantly, the airport has cheap rates because of a new ultra-low cost and low-cost airlines.
Cleveland is also easily accessible via interstate highways. The city is located at the intersection of three major interstate highways which are I-77, I-90, and I-71. If you are hoping to explore the rest of Ohio, these highways make the city of Cleveland, as well as other Ohio states, very accessible via car.
How to Get Around Cleveland, Ohio
If you want to explore the city and the urban areas easily and in the cheapest way possible, we recommend renting a car ahead of the trip. You can have that car waiting for you upon your arrival at the airport. However, since the airport and most major areas in Ohio are accessible via other options, renting a car isn’t your only choice.
Cleveland’s Regional Transit Authority makes it easy to get around the city on free trolleybuses on weekdays. Other than that, the RTA also operates a line between the airport and the Tower City Center. The city is abundant with buses and trains so there every key area in Cleveland is easily accessible.
Alternatively, you can also walk or bike around the city. Cleveland is notorious for being friendly to bikers and walkers, regardless of whether or not you are a local or a tourist.
Best Time to Visit Cleveland
A great time to visit Cleveland would be from April to May which is the city’s perfect weather conditions. By that season, majority of the snow should’ve been melted already but the heat is still yet to set in. However, avoid visiting mid-May as this is where other tourists flock the city and the hotel prices begin to rise.
There are also several key events to enjoy during this time such as the I-X Indoor Amusement Park, Cleveland International Film Festival, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, and many more!
Another great time to visit would be from September to October. During fall, Cleveland is amazing with its orange and red leaves, as well as autumn air. This will be a great time to enjoy the natural wonders of the state. You can even catch some baseball or football games to enjoy the nice weather.
Recommended Things to Do in Cleveland for the Whole Family
When hearing the word Cleveland, many of us probably think of the popular basketball team, the Cavs (also known as the Cleveland Cavaliers) as it is where they are based. But Cleveland, Ohio should not just be known for that as it has a lot to offer for everyone, especially travelers who want to get to know the city more. It has countless attractions and activities waiting for people of all ages. And in case you’re traveling to this vibrant and culturally diverse city, here are some of the best things to do in Cleveland for the whole family. We’re sure that even the oldest members of the family will love it.
2Bargain at the West Side Market
The West Side Market is one of the oldest public markets in Cleveland. It is also where you can find more than 100 artisans, vendors, and producers who sell their wares and seeing and/or buying from them is one of the best things to do in Cleveland for the family. This is because this place is filled to the brim with freshly picked fruits and vegetables, dairy products, charcuterie and meats, succulent seafood, spices and nuts, and even fresh flowers. There are also bakers who sell homemade baked pastries, bread, and other baked goods. There artisan chefs who sell delicious ready-to-eat meals as well that everyone in the family will surely love. What’s even better is that it offers a more authentic and culturally diverse shopping experience to the city’s locals and tourists alike. It’s a place that’s not to be missed, especially if everyone in the family is a foodie.
3Hear the stories that shaped the city at the Cleveland Cultural Gardens
Another one of the most interesting things to do in Cleveland for the whole family is to get to the Cleveland Cultural Gardens. You might wonder what’s in the Cleveland Cultural Gardens that’s worth seeing aside from the flowers and tranquil Instagram worthy atmosphere that it has to offer; what will the members of the family enjoy in this place?
Apparently, this place is created by students and locals at Cleveland State University as a peace garden and as a living monument to the rich history of twentieth-century America. It has nearly 30 gardens that will not just give you the most beautiful sights of nature but the gardens were also designed to reveal several stories of the major conflicts that shaped the city’s history, especially during World War I, World War II, and the Cold War.
Cleveland Cultural Gardens also provides insights into the economic, political, social, and cultural revolutions that impacted the nation during the last century. That said, it is not to be missed, especially if you’re traveling with kids. You’ll definitely be filled with knowledge with the guided tours being offered in this place.
4Explore the sea at the Greater Cleveland Aquarium
Speaking of kids in the family, you might want to add visiting the Greater Cleveland Aquarium to your list of things to do in Cleveland for the whole family. This is because, here, you have more than 70,000 square feet of exhibition space that will not just entertain you with the views of marine life and make you feel what it’s like under the sea but it will also educate, inspire, and encourage you to take interest in the marine environment.
Some of the highlights in this place are the newly built exhibition areas that it has such as the 230,000-gallon tank with a unique walk-through acrylic shark tunnel and exhibits featuring local and exotic species of fish. It also has a Discovery Zone, Coastal and Coral Reef, and Lakes and Rivers of the World exhibits that will entertain and educate you at the same time.
5Celebrate the women in the field of aviation at the International Women’s Air and Space Museum
If you’re traveling with kids, it is also a must that you explore the International Women’s Air and Space Museum. What makes visiting this place one of the best things to do in Cleveland for the whole family is that it is where you can open the eyes of the kids on the women empowerment and equality as the International Women’s Air and Space Museum aims to celebrate the women in the fields of aviation and space exploration. This place pays homage to the successes, accomplishments, and contributions that women have made to the industry over the past decades. And who knows, this activity might even inspire them to do better for their future. This place is one of the very inspiring spots in Cleveland so don’t miss it.
6See what’s on the Museum of Contemporary Art
Probably one of the most recommended things to do in Cleveland for the whole family that we highly suggest is to visit the Museum of Contemporary Art. At first glance, you might just find it a mere art museum but what makes it worth visiting is that it is the region’s only contemporary art museum dedicated. And the best part is that you’ll always be in for a surprise. This is because the museum’s exhibits frequently evolve that challengers to inspire, teach, and challenge its audience about modern art. The best part of it is that the Museum of Contemporary Art offers several programs and activities to encourage collaboration and interaction. See what’s on display and don’t miss a chance on this museum if ever you’re traveling to Cleveland, Ohio.
In Cleveland, you can also get to experience what it’s like in Italy and it is one of the most interesting things to do in Cleveland for the whole family. Yes, in Cleveland, you won’t need to spend hundreds of dollars and a passport to experience Italy because the city already has Little Italy, a culturally rich area located around Mayfield Road. Here, you’ll find a number of authentic Italian restaurants, cafes, delis, and even art galleries. You’ll also enjoy various lively festivals and other special occasions such as the Feast of the Assumption. There’s a lot of attractions and activities for everyone in the family. In addition to that, it is also the best place to be in Cleveland if you want to witness the city’s famous Art walks, bocce tournaments, and fun-filled alfresco summer nights. But the setting of the place isn’t just what makes you feel as if you’re in Italy. The place is filled up with Italian Families as well. Hence, it really feels like you’re in Bel Paese. It’s a unique experience that you and your family shouldn’t miss, especially if you’re fascinated with the Italian culture.
8Visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum
Another one of the recommended things to do in Cleveland for the whole family is to visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. You might wonder why this place is fit for the whole family when it’s all about rock and roll. Apparently, this place is dedicated to showcasing some of the greatest performers and contributors in the field of rock and roll. Like the usual museums, it has a vast collection, exhibits, and displays that tell stories about the music genre, as well as the notable persons in the field. There are portraits by Herb Ritts, Legends of Rock, The Pink Floyd Wall, and The Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll too.
But what sets the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum apart from others is that it has The Garage where kids and even kids at heart can just pick up an instrument and even make your own music inside the museum. There classes and workshops for people of all ages as well that aim to foster a deeper understanding of the music genre and the influence that it has had.
9Marvel at the James A. Garfield Monument at the Lake View Cemetery
At first, you might probably wonder what makes visiting a monument in a cemetery as one of the options for the best things to do in Cleveland for the whole family. It is kind of an odd activity but hear us out on this first. Apparently, if you’ll pay this place a visit, you’ll be treated with some of the most beautiful architectural structures in the city. This is because the monument, designed architect George Keller and constructed with Berea Sandstone boasts of 180 feet height and contains elements of Gothic, Byzantine, and Romanesque styles of architecture plus five terracotta panels made by Casper Bubel, which is definitely a sight to see. If you’ll explore it more, you’ll see granite, marble, and gold mosaics with stained glass windows that represent the original 13 colonies and War and Peace. Apart from that, you’ll also be treated with breathtaking views of Lake Erie from the upper balcony. Its beauty is really not to be missed.
10Watch a performance at the Playhouse Square
The Playhouse Square is one of the places in Cleveland that will give you the highest level of entertainment as well. Known as the second-largest performing arts center, the Playhouse Square is the best place to be if you’re looking to watch a range of performances, shows, entertainment, and other special events that will dazzle you, as well as the other visitors from around the world. You can get to watch the best plays, dance performances, operas, and even readings for the betterment of the country. Needless to say, visiting it and seeing what’s on is one of the most interesting and entertaining things to do in Cleveland for the whole family that we can recommend. The best part is that Playhouse Square offers educational classes, programs, and workshops as well that aim to inspire everyone to take an interest in the performing arts and even develop skills related to fine arts.
11Feel like a movie cast in the Christmas Story House and Museum
During its early years, there’s nothing really remarkable or whatnot about this house that makes visiting it one of the best things to do in Cleveland for the whole family until it was used developed in 2004. Apparently, this house became known as the residence of Ralphie Parker in the 1983 film A Christmas Story. But it got even more popular to locals and tourists alike when it was developed in 2004 to appear as it did in the film, both inside and outside. Here, you’ll find a range of costumes, memorabilia, and even the original props that were used in the film, such as Randy’s snowsuit, the iconic family car, and the Higbee’s window. There are rare behind-the-scene photos on display as well that will surely take you a step back in time. There is a museum gift shop too that’s perfect for when you want to take home some memorabilia.
Because of this, if you’re a fan of that movie, it’s really an attraction that’s not to be missed. Re-enact and reminisce about your favorite scenes and even introduce this movie to your family, especially the younger ones; they’ll surely love the place.
12Explore the ship that built Cleveland
There’s nothing more ideal for a family activity than diving deeper into a place’s history. Through this, you’ll not just be fascinated by exhibits and stories related to the city’s past but it is also a way to bring home some knowledge with you. Luckily, Cleveland has plenty of such places where you can learn and be entertained at the same time. One of which is the Steamship William G. Mather. This historical ship has actually witnessed a lot through its frequent voyages back in the day. And so today, you can expect that it has a lot of stories to tell as you explore it from stem to stern. Walk the decks and marvel at some of the said 618-foot ship’s engineering feats that made it all the more famous. You also have a huge cargo, four-story engine room, an age-old pilot house, and a well-preserved guest quarters to explore.
13See the USS Cod Submarine Memorial
Speaking of the city’s history, another attraction that you need to add to your list of things to do in Cleveland for the whole family is to see the USS Cod Submarine Memorial in person. Like the Steamship William G. Mather, this World War II submarine also has some stories, particularly of battles and rescues, to tell. In fact, the USS Cod Submarine Memorial was responsible for the first submarine-to-submarine rescue that happened in 1945. See a glimpse of the city’s past here and don’t forget to bring the whole family with you; you’ll definitely love it.