11 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions & Things to Do in Cleveland
Cleveland, the second largest city in the state of Ohio, lies at the outflow of the Cuyahoga River into Lake Erie. Immediately south begins the long Appalachian Plateau and to the west are the Central Lowlands. The city has a strong cultural side, with theaters and museums, and the highly regarded Cleveland Orchestra.History
The newly acquired territory of New Connecticut, an area of 770 sq. mi., was mapped by Moses Cleveland in 1796 for the Connecticut Land Company, but the settlement that he founded (on the site of the present city center) was soon abandoned. Three years later Lorenzo Carter established a permanent community, in whose harbor the first cargoes were discharged in 1813. With the completion of the system of canals between the Ohio River and Lake Erie and the coming of the railroad the town developed into one of the most important ports in the eastern United States and an industrial center in which some of the biggest American entrepreneurs made their fortunes. The luxury residences on Euclid Avenue, known as Millionaires' Row, are a testament to their wealth. Among those who lived here around the turn of the 19th c. were John D. Rockefeller, founder of the Standard Oil Company, and Samuel Mather, who made his fortune in steel production and transport - though almost nothing is left to show for it. After the Second World War Cleveland suffered an economic decline, which even the efforts of Carl B. Stokes, the first black to be elected mayor of a major American city, were unable to stem. In the 1980s, however, a restructuring of the economy produced positive results, and in recent decades the city has been largely modernized.
One modern day popular area is the Historic Warehouse District where People line the street any night of the week. Nearby is the Historic Gateway District, the center of basketball and big-league fun.
See also: Where to Stay in Cleveland
1 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum
Cleveland's most famous attractions is the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Designed by I.M. Pei, it is more of an experience than a museum. The history of popular music is spread over six floors in an atmosphere of multimedia exuberance, with such rarities as the manuscript of "Purple Haze" written by Jimi Hendrix or "The Psychedilic Porsche", as sung by Janis Joplin. It is here that the Rock n Roll music industry honors its finest entertainers.
Music enthusiasts could spend days going through all the museum has to offer, with permanent exhibitions and traveling national and international shows. The eye catching, state-of-the-art building sits on the shores of Lake Erie.
Address: 1100 Rock and Roll Boulevard, Cleveland, OH 44114, United States
2 Cleveland Museum of Art
The Cleveland Museum of Art features a variety of art from around the world. It has a particularly strong collection of American art and medieval art from Europe and Asia. Visitors will also find art of North American Indians. Recent expansions at the museum include galleries on Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Indian, and Southeast Asian art. In addition to the permanent collection the Cleveland Museum of Art also hosts special exhibitions and events.
Address: 11150 East Boulevard, University Circle, Cleveland, OH 44106-1797, United States
3 Cleveland Museum of Natural History
The Cleveland Natural History Museum is home to some outstanding exhibits. Chief among these is that of a 3 million-year-old human ancestor, Australopithecus afarensis, known as "Lucy", which was a key discovery in the field of anthropology. Perhaps more dramatic in a visual sense are the dinosaur skeletons which tower over visitors as they walk through the Kirtland Hall of Prehistoric Life. There are also many other exhibits, from geology to astronomy and gems and minerals. Young people will enjoy the many interactive displays.
Address: 1 Wade Oval Drive, University Circle, Cleveland, OH 44106-1767, United States
4 Great Lakes Science Center
A visit to the Great Lakes Science Center in Cleveland is an educational experience. The center offers hundreds of interactive displays designed to engage visitors of all ages. From spring until fall visitors can tour the 1925 steamship, William G. Mather to learn about life on the ship and the history of the great lakes. Also on site is a six-story OMNIMAX theater showing interesting non-fiction films. The center has an active event calendar, be sure to check out their website prior to visiting.
Address: 601 Erieside Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44114, United States
5 West Side Market
West Side Market is the longest running public market in Cleveland. It was renovated in the early 2000s and has been gaining in popularity over the years with both locals and tourists. The central feature is the 1912 markethouse. In total the market accommodates more than 100 vendors selling all kinds of foods and specialty items. This is an interesting place to visit and a fun place to shop.
Address: 1979 West 25th Street, Cleveland, OH 44113, United States
6 Cleveland Botanical Garden
The Cleveland Botanical Garden features a number of gardens showcasing all kinds of plants with awesome displays of color during the spring, summer, and fall. Among the attractions are the Hershey Children's Garden, a Japanese Garden featuring a dry rock stream, the Mary Ann Sears Swetland Rose Garden, Western Reserve Herb Society Garden, Woodland Garden, Elizabeth and Nona Evans Restorative Garden, Campsey-Stauffer Gateway Garden, and the CK Patrick Perennial Garden.
Address: 11030 East Boulevard, Cleveland, OH 44106, United States
7 USS Cod Submarine Memorial
The USS COD Submarine Memorial, a National Historic Landmark, is located on the shores of Lake Erie. This World War II submarine has an interesting history of battles and rescues. It was responsible for the first submarine-to-submarine rescue, which occurred in 1945. Visitors can visit the USS COD during the summer months and are invited to board the vessel. Entrance is through the original hatchways as it has not been modified since war time.
Address: 1089 East 9th Street, Cleveland, OH 44114-1003, United States
8 Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
5 miles south of the Cleveland city center, to the east of Brookside Metropolitan Park, is the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, one of the oldest in the United States. The zoo maintains a collection of domestic and exotic animals from around the world, including the largest collection of primate species in North America. Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is also a botanic garden with beautiful year round foliage.
Address: 3900 Wildlife Way, Cleveland, OH 44109, United States
9 Lake View Cemetery
Lake View Cemetery was created in the style of those found in Victorian England and France, as a garden with monuments. Referred to as Cleveland's Outdoor Museum, the grounds are huge and feature beautiful gardens. The cemetery was established in 1869 and contains over 100,000 graves of people from all backgrounds. Some of the more famous people buried here include James Abram Garfield, 20th President of the United States, John Davison Rockefeller, and Eliot Ness.
Address: 12316 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44106-4313, United States
10 Playhouse Square Center
PlayhouseSquare Center lies at the heart of Cleveland's theater scene. Located in the city's Theater District, the center operates nine main individual theaters that include, The Allen Theatre, The State Theatre, The Ohio Theatre, The Palace Theatre, The Hanna Theatre, The 14th Street Theatre, Kennedy's Cabaret, Westfield Insurance Studio Theatre, and Star Plaza. These theaters, primarily built in the 1920s, were saved from demolition in the 1970s by local community organizations and individual people who undertook a gradual restoration of the properties. Most of the restoration took place in the 1980s and 1990s and can only be regarded as one of Cleveland's greatest success stories.
Address: 1501 Euclid Avenue, Suite 200, Cleveland, OH 44115, United States
11 Cleveland Museum of Contemporary Art
The Museum of Contemporary Art in Cleveland, more commonly referred to as the MOCA features temporary exhibits by national and international artists as well as local artists in the Cleveland area. The museum's new building, which opened in 2012 is an unique and impressive structure designed by Farshid Moussavi. This mirror finished structure begins from the ground as a hexagon and rises to become a square at the top, creating all kinds of angles.
Address: 11400 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44106, United States
Where to Stay in Cleveland for Sightseeing
For fun and sightseeing the best place to stay in Cleveland is right downtown. On the waterfront are the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Great Lakes Science Center. A few blocks off the water are the East 4th Street Entertainment District and sports venues, as well as shopping and dining. The hotels listed below are popular choices in good locations:
- Luxury Hotels: In a great position near the waterfront, and just a short stroll from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Convention Center, is The Westin Cleveland Downtown. A few blocks inland from here and frequently rated as one of the top hotels in the city, the Metropolitan at The 9, near Playhouse Square, is a new luxury hotel, opened in 2014, with an indoor dog park. The Hyatt Regency at the Arcade, in a historic building downtown, is conveniently located near the East 4th Street Entertainment District, with good restaurants and shopping.
- Mid-Range Hotels: Within walking distance to the major downtown attractions, the recently renovated Holiday Inn Express is in a late 19th-century historic bank building, and nearby is the Hampton Inn. Both of these are upper end mid-range options serving a free hot breakfast. Just a little further out from the action is the Hilton Garden Inn, near Progressive Field.
- Budget Hotels: Quality budget hotels are few and far between in the city center, and travelers may want to look further afield for better deals. The Comfort Inn Downtown offers comfortable rooms and a good location at a reasonable price for a downtown hotel. Near the airport, the La Quinta Inn Cleveland Airport North is a 15- to 20-minute drive from the city center. Five minutes further out is the Value Place, with basic but sufficient rooms.
- Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum - official site
- Cleveland Museum of Art - official site
- Cleveland Museum of Natural History - official site
- Great Lakes Science Center - official site
- West Side Market - official site
- Cleveland Botanical Garden - official site
- USS Cod Submarine Memorial - official site
- Cleveland Metroparks Zoo - official site
- Lake View Cemetery - official site
- Playhouse Square Center - official site
- Cleveland Museum of Contemporary Art - official site