Set in the heart of the mid-west, Cleveland offers a myriad of varied attractions, from the well known, such as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, to the lesser known, such as the Crawford Automobile and Aviation Museum. The second-largest city in Ohio makes it convenient to catch all the best attractions as most are located within a 10- to 30-minute drive downtown. Visitors and residents alike will enjoy visiting one or more of these Cleveland museums, parks, and other historic sites.
Cleveland's premier tourist attraction lives up to the hype. Since 1995 music fans have paid homage to the greatest artists in the genre by exploring exhibits dedicated to legends like the Rolling Stones, The Who, and Bruce Springsteen. From handwritten lyrics, original touring costumes, and documentaries, the multi-leveled museum highlights the major moments and artists in rock history.
See everything from armadillos to zebras, the Australian Wilderness exhibit, and the Rain Forest habitat with over 10,000 different plants and animals. An extra bonus: The Cleveland Zoo is free to Cuyahoga County residents on Mondays (except holidays).
Tour the Western Reserve Historical Society
Discover how Cleveland's benefactors lived during the Gilded Age of the late 1880s and learn about Cleveland's history from Moses Cleaveland to the present day. The Chisholm Halle Costume Wing houses over 30,000 fashion items from the late 1700s to the present.
The Cleveland Museum of Natural History, located in Cleveland's University Circle area, is a treasure trove of over 4 million specimens. Exhibits include Dinosaur bones, natural gemstones and fossils, and a huge section on Ohio birds, plant life, insects, and archaeology. A planetarium teaches kids and adults all about the moon, the stars, and the galaxy.
The Cleveland Botanical Garden, located in the city's University Circle neighborhood, is a combination of indoor exhibits. The plants and flowers are kept in a magnificent glasshouse and ten acres of diverse outdoor gardens, including a special children's garden, a rose garden, a woodland garden, and a formal Japanese garden.
The Great Lakes Science Center, at Cleveland's Northcoast Harbor, just down the road from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, invites visitors of all ages to "learn by doing" with their 400 hands-on exhibits. You'll find features on technology, the environment, the body, and the Great Lakes. There's an adjacent OMNI-MAX theater, too.
The home of the Cleveland Orchestra, Severance Hall is an architectural gem. The neoclassical façade and the fanciful Art Deco interior never fail to delight. Concerts are performed all year and range from the classics of Beethoven's Sixth to themed performances like a medley of Mozart's most romantic compositions for Valentine's Day.
The William G. Mather Museum, located just north of the Great Lakes Science Center in downtown Cleveland, is set inside a retired 1925 Great Lakes bulk freighter, permanently docked and open to visitors between early May and late October. Touring this historic ship is a wonderful way to learn more about life and commerce on the Great Lakes.
The Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum formed in 1963 with the private collection of Mr. Crawford's company Thompson Products at its core. (Thompson Products later diversified and became TRW, Inc.) The museum showcases 200 classic automobiles, among them 80 cars manufactured in Cleveland, 21 motorcycles, bicycles, and boats, 12 aircraft, and three carriages and sleighs.
"A Christmas Story House," located in Cleveland's Tremont neighborhood, was the main set for the well-loved 1983 Christmas movie, "A Christmas Story." The house is newly restored and opened as a tourist attraction and museum in 2006.
Cleveland's Rockefeller Park Greenhouse, found just off of Martin Luther King Blvd near University Circle, is a beautiful collection of exotic and native plants. Admission to the greenhouse is free, and highlights include an extensive orchid and tropical plant exhibit, as well as the spring bulb and December holiday plants displays.
The U.S.S. Cod is a retired World War II SS-224 submarine, moored at Cleveland's North Coast Harbor, near the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The vessel, a National Historic Site, is the only such submarine to be kept intact and open to the public. Visitors will climb the vertical ladders through its hatches, just as the sailors did during active duty.
The West Side Market, at the edge of Ohio City in Cleveland, is a cultural and culinary gem. Opened in 1912, the market combines elegant Neo-Classical/Byzantine architecture with vibrant produce and meat, poultry, and dairy sections. You can pick up the makings for a picnic and take them to nearby Edgewater Park or just stroll the market and watch the people.
Dunham Tavern is the oldest building in Cleveland still on its original site. The clapboard structure, built in 1824, was an essential stop along the stagecoach route between Buffalo and Detroit. Located on Euclid Avenue between downtown Cleveland and University Circle, the museum houses period art and furnishings and hosts periodic temporary exhibits.
The Cleveland Museum of Contemporary Art hosts a full schedule of temporary exhibitions each year in addition to the museum's permanent collection. Of particular note are the regular presentations featuring emerging international artists as well as notable artists, in all genres, from Northeast Ohio.
The Greater Cleveland Aquarium, located in the Powerhouse on the west bank of the Flats, opened in 2012. This Cleveland attraction features more than one million gallons of water and marine life. The aquatic life featured ranges from local Lake Erie fishes to exotic fish from around the globe.
The Children's Museum of Cleveland is an interactive place for kids and adults to learn and have fun together. The museum, established in 1981, has a set series of programs for children including science, art, and nature labs. A highlight is Adventure City, a two-story mini-metropolis for kids to pretend they are citizens while working, constructing, and climbing in various locations.
Hale Farm and Village, a part of the Western Reserve Historical Society, is a working museum, adjacent to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Once the home of early Western Reserve settler, Jonathan Hale, the museum features livestock, 19th-century working artisans, and the original red brick farmhouse. The Farm is a great location to grab a unique souvenir with over 40 local artisans selling handcrafted wares made from glass, pottery, and iron.
The Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage is a beautiful, 24,000-square foot building made of Jerusalem limestone. Inside visitors learn the story of the Jewish community in Cleveland and Northeast Ohio—from the 18th century to the present—with exhibits, interactive computer displays, and recorded oral histories.
Located in the former Higbee's Department Store space, Horseshoe Casino Cleveland features 300,000 square feet of gaming space, three restaurants and excellent people-watching, all in the heart of downtown.
Lake View Cemetery, founded in 1869 by wealthy Clevelanders, was modeled after Boston's Mount Auburn Cemetery as well as the historic cemeteries of France and England.
The 285-acre scenic park is home to over 102,000 graves and still hosts an average of 700 burials annually. Among its many illustrious "residents" are John D. Rockefeller Jr.; Garrett Morgan, the inventor of the gas mask; former Cleveland Mayor, Carl B. Stokes; and Jeptha Wade, and early University Circle benefactor and one of the cemetery's first trustees.