16 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Cleveland, OH

Written by Anietra Hamper
Updated Dec 28, 2023
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Anietra Hamper is an Ohio native and has traveled the state extensively seeking out some of the best experiences in cities like Cleveland that have so many diverse offerings for visitors.

Cleveland is the second largest city in Ohio and represents modernization with a rustic flare. The city has a strong cultural side, with theaters, museums, and a thriving social scene in the Flats East Bank, where the Cuyahoga River and Lake Erie converge. Tourists will find no shortage of things to do and interesting places to visit.

View of Cleveland in the evening
View of Cleveland in the evening

In the 1800s, Cleveland was one of the most important canal ports in the eastern United States and an industrial center where some of the richest American entrepreneurs made their fortunes. Among those who lived here around the turn of the 19th century were John D. Rockefeller and Samuel Mather.

Today, the remnants of Cleveland's historical railway and canal notoriety serve as an eclectic backdrop for a vibrant city that is turning warehouses into boutique hotels and is a prominent destination for world-class sporting events and concerts near the waterfront.

Take a stroll along Cleveland's popular Historic Warehouse District, spend an evening enjoying some of the city's major sports complexes in the Historic Gateway District, or explore some of Cleveland's spectacular museums.

For more ideas, see our list of the top attractions in Cleveland.

See also: Where to Stay in Cleveland

1. Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

Rock & Roll Hall of Fame
Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

One of the most popular things to do in Ohio is to visit the Rock & 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. It is here that the rock and 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. This eye-catching, state-of-the-art building sits on the shores of Lake Erie.

The best way to experience the museum is to start on Level 0, where you find the Hall of Fame Inductees, and work your way to the top.

Address: 1100 Rock and Roll Boulevard, Cleveland, Ohio

2. Cleveland Museum of Art

Cleveland Museum of Art
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 by North American Indians as well as Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Indian, and Southeast Asian art.

The museum was founded in 1913 and remains one of the most respected cultural entities in the state, with an international reputation for its fine collections. Step into the ARTLENS Gallery to see how art and technology merge as you create your own works of art.

If you are interested in the history of specific art pieces you can also access the Ingalls Library and Museum Archives. A convenient way to explore the art museum is by downloading the free ArtLens app and using it as a guide to make your way through the galleries.

In addition to the permanent collection, the Cleveland Museum of Art hosts special exhibitions and events.

Address: 11150 East Boulevard, University Circle, Cleveland, Ohio

3. Go Shopping at the West Side Market

Pasta at Cleveland's West Side Market
Pasta at Cleveland's 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 market house with a 137-foot-tall clock tower that has stood for more than a century.

In total, the market accommodates more than 100 vendors selling vegetables, fine meats, baked goods, cheese, flowers, and other specialty items. The products and people are ethnically diverse, and the market is a fun place to visit and stroll, even if you do not buy anything.

Address: 1979 West 25th Street, Cleveland, Ohio

4. Cleveland Museum of Natural History

Cleveland Museum of Natural History
Cleveland Museum of Natural History | Kenneth Sponsler / Shutterstock.com

The Cleveland Museum of Natural History is home to some outstanding exhibits showcasing collections and research in areas from paleontology to botany.

Chief among these is that of a three-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 that tower over visitors as they walk through the Kirtland Hall of Prehistoric Life.

There are also many other exhibits, from geology and astronomy to gems and minerals. Children will enjoy the many interactive displays, like the "living galleries" in the Perkins Wildlife Center.

Address: 1 Wade Oval Drive, University Circle, Cleveland, Ohio

5. Great Lakes Science Center

Great Lakes Science Center
Great Lakes Science Center | Eric Glenn / Shutterstock.com

A visit to the Great Lakes Science Center is an educational experience that will spark your curiosity about the science behind things like space travel and wind. 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. One of the main features at the center is the Cleveland Clinic DOME Theater, a movie experience beneath a six-story domed screen that is a multi-media experience of sound and visuals.

The center has an active event calendar, be sure to check out their website prior to visiting.

Address: 601 Erieside Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio

6. Soak up a Bit of Nature at the Cleveland Botanical Garden

Tulips blooming at the Cleveland Botanical Garden
Tulips blooming at the Cleveland Botanical Garden

The Cleveland Botanical Garden features 20 unique gardens showcasing flora and fauna from around the world. Take a walk through the rainforest and desert, or get up close to rare orchids.

Among the attractions here are the Hershey Children's Garden, a Japanese Garden featuring a dry rock stream, the Mary Ann Sears Swetland Rose Garden, the Western Reserve Herb Society Garden, the Woodland Garden, the Elizabeth and Nona Evans Restorative Garden, the Campsey-Stauffer Gateway Garden, and the CK Patrick Perennial Garden.

There are always public events happening at the botanical gardens, or you can take one of the day-visit classes offered on topics like mindfulness in nature, bee pollinators, and culinary herbs.

Address: 11030 East Boulevard, Cleveland, Ohio

7. Progressive Field

Progressive Field
Progressive Field | Photo Copyright: Anietra Hamper

Cleveland is big on sports, so you better believe a night of baseball at Progressive Field will be an unforgettable experience. The baseball field is home to the Cleveland Guardians Major League Baseball Team.

The ballpark sits right in the center of downtown Cleveland, so it is easy to plan an afternoon lunch or evening dinner downtown and walk to the gates when there are games.

There is never a dull moment with fan-friendly events and fireworks on game nights. Get some Guardian gear from the vendors outside the ballpark and cheer on the home team!

Address: 2401 Ontario Street, Cleveland, Ohio

8. Visit the Animals at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo

Cheetahs at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
Cheetahs at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo

The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is one of the oldest zoos in the United States. Located near Brookside Metropolitan Park, the zoo has domestic and exotic animals from around the world, including the largest collection of primate species in North America.

Besides enjoying the many renovated animal exhibits, you can spend time at the 4D Theater or take part in one of the many behind-the-scenes experiences and seasonal programs.

Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is also a botanic garden with beautiful year-round foliage.

Address: 3900 Wildlife Way, Cleveland, Ohio

9. Greater Cleveland Aquarium

Stingrays in a petting tank
Stingrays in a petting tank

The Cleveland Aquarium is housed in one of the city's premier historical buildings, the First Energy Powerhouse. But the real attraction is inside, where you will be treated to colorful and unusual creatures from the deep.

The aquarium has eight different galleries with over 50 exhibits and 2,500 animals spread across 300 species. Learn about aquatic life in categories like tropical reefs or in Ohio's lakes and Rivers.

Animal interactions are available, including the ability to get up close and personal with stingrays and touch a blue-tongued skink at the petting tank.

Address: 2000 Sycamore Street, Cleveland, Ohio

10. Tour the Graves at the Lake View Cemetery

Lake View Cemetery
Lake View Cemetery

The 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 and designed as a peaceful park, the 285-acre cemetery features elegant gardens and horticulture.

The cemetery was established in 1869 and contains more than 100,000 graves, including some famous names. James Abram Garfield, 20th President of the United States; John Davison Rockefeller; and Eliot Ness are among the few who made Lake View Cemetery their final resting place.

The cemetery is a popular place for photography in Ohio, and its park-like setting makes it easy to just wander and be curious about the many unique gravesites. Lake View Cemetery holds history walking tours and even concerts on the lawn during the year.

Address: 12316 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio

11. Enjoy a Performance at the Playhouse Square

Playhouse Square
Playhouse Square | Kenneth Sponsler / Shutterstock.com

Playhouse Square is in the heart of Cleveland's Theater District. There are multiple theaters that operate separately in the district, bringing in Broadway performances, comedy, dance, opera, concerts, and family shows.

The theaters are The Allen Theatre, Hanna Theatre, Mimi Ohio Theatre, Keybank State Theatre, Connor Place, Westfield Studio Theatre, and Kennedy's Cabaret.

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 the project was one of Cleveland's greatest urban renewal success stories.

You can plan an arts weekend out of just this area with plenty of dining and lodging options right near the square. Have a look at the Playhouse Square events schedule to see what's happening during your visit.

Address: 1501 Euclid Avenue, Suite 200, Cleveland, Ohio

12. Museum of Contemporary Art

Museum of Contemporary Art
Museum of Contemporary Art | YUKiO_CLE / Shutterstock.com

The Museum of Contemporary Art, more commonly referred to as the MOCA, features rotating 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 a 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.

MOCA has public programs throughout the year, including artist talks and gallery tours.

Address: 11400 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio

13. Have a Night Out in the Flats District

Aerial view of the Flats District in Cleveland
Aerial view of the Flats District in Cleveland

A night out in the Flats District in Cleveland is a must-experience at least once. The Flats is the entertainment district on the banks of the Cuyahoga River. The area is filled with a variety of casual to fine dining options, live music, and entertainment like comedy shows.

The urban vibe of the area is one generated by the district's rebirth over the years, becoming the heart of Cleveland's social scene. It is a great spot to spend an entire evening, or to wrap up the day on the riverfront enjoying the city lights and the skyline.

14. A Christmas Story House

A Christmas Story House
A Christmas Story House | Juli Scalzi / Shutterstock.com

One of the most admired attractions in Cleveland is the A Christmas Story House that was the hallmark of the famous 1983 holiday movie. This movie-set home is open to visitors for tours, and it has remained just like it appears in scenes from the nostalgic movie classic.

You will recognize the interior of the home, especially the famous leg lamp. You can even buy your own replica of it in the gift shop across the street. There are a couple of buildings to see including the museum that has preserved some of the costumes from the movie and props like the family's car.

The home and tourist attraction are tucked away in a residential neighborhood, making it even more charming. True movie fans can even book an overnight at the A Christmas Story House or the Bumpus house next door, which was home to the fictional neighbors.

Address: 3159 W 11th Street, Cleveland, Ohio

15. Cleveland Metroparks

Waterfall in the South Chagrin Reservation Cleveland Metroparks
Waterfall in the South Chagrin Reservation Cleveland Metroparks

While Cleveland is a thriving metro city, it maintains a spectacular interconnected Metroparks system. There are 18 parks to visit with many types of hiking and biking trails, golf courses, outdoor adventures, water sports, fishing and other attractions.

There are so many types of green spaces and recreational activities available at the parks that it should be on the top of your list to explore. You can even try toboggining in the winter.

If you prefer to just enjoy the views, you can take in the waterfalls and wildlife like the birds and butterflies that are regular residents in the Metroparks system.

16. USS Cod Submarine Memorial

USS Cod Submarine Memorial
USS Cod Submarine Memorial | cliff1066(TM) / photo modified

The USS Cod Submarine Memorial, a National Historic Landmark, is located on the shores of Lake Erie. This World War II submarine has a storied history of battles and rescues. It was responsible for the first submarine-to-submarine rescue, which occurred in 1945.

You 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 wartime.

Address: 1089 East 9th Street, Cleveland, Ohio

Official site: http://www.usscod.org

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:

Mid-Range Hotels:

Budget Hotels:

Map of Tourist Attractions in Cleveland

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Cleveland Map - Attractions (Historical)
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