Downtown Cleveland is packed with things to do, making it a great destination for people of all ages, all budgets, and all interests. If you're a music fan, there's the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum to check out. If your idea of heaven involves shops, shops, and more shops, Tower City Center has your name written all over it. On top of that, there are museums, galleries, casinos, cultural centers, parks, and 101 other attractions to check out. Whether you're a visitor from out of town or a Cleveland native, these are the 20 best things to do in Downtown Cleveland.
20. Check out the Public Library
Bibliophiles and architect buffs shouldn't miss a visit to the Cleveland Public Library. Built in 1925 and renovated in 1999, it's a stunning building, with historic ceiling finishes, decorative metalwork, leather doors, and marble accents. Once you've finished lapping up all the historic spaces and architectural details, there's original artwork from a selection of 13 artists of local and national significance to admire, a gorgeous garden to stroll around, and over a million books to browse.
19. Dig into brunch at House of Blues Cleveland
If you're in the mood for some made from scratch, southern-inspired cuisine and great music, take the advice of The Crazy Tourist and head for House of Blues Cleveland. With a fabulous selection of wines, cocktails, beers, and spirits, a tempting menu of comfort foods like shrimp and grits, jambalaya, and fried chicken, and the best entertainment for miles around, it's a must-visit. For a brunch with a twist, stop by for the Sunday Gospel Brunch, during which you can dig into an all-you-can-eat Southern-inspired breakfast buffet to the accompaniment of live gospel music.
18. Take a ride with Cleveland Bike Tours
If you want to discover the Downtown and burn off some steam while you do it, sign up for a ride with Cleveland Bike Tours. After meeting up with your guide and fellow cyclists, you'll enjoy a guided tour of the Downtown's chief hot spots. The guide will be on hand to give you an insider's perspective on the various sights you'll see along the way, so feel free to direct any questions you have about the neighborhood their way. The tour takes around two and a half hours in total. Custom bike tours can also be arranged on request.
17. Shop till you drop at Tower City Center
In the mood for some retail therapy? Then head for Tower City Center, a mammoth-sized shopping mall in Downtown Cleveland that's got everything you need for a major shopping spree. Spread over three floors and boasting hundreds of small boutiques, chain stores, and designer outlets, it's guaranteed to leave you with sore feet, a big dent in your wallet, and a much-improved closet. If you get tired of trawling the aisles, take a break in one of the dozens of cafes and restaurants. If you've got time to spare, you could even catch a movie at the luxe ten-screen cinema.
16. Ride the waves at Lake Erie
When the sun is shining, there's no better place to enjoy the warmth than at Lake Eerie. There are plenty of different ways to enjoy the water, whether that's by hiring a Go Boat (a single passenger electric-powered boat), a jet ski, a kayak, or a leisurely paddleboat.
15. Enjoy a show at Milton and Tamar Maltz Performing Arts Center
Milton and Tamar Maltz Performing Arts Center at Temple–Tifereth Israel is one of Downtown Cleveland's architectural gems, boasting three jaw-dropping stained glass windows by Arthur Szyk and a stunningly ornate interior designed by Charles R. Greco that's worth the price of admission alone. The center hosts numerous musical performances and cultural programs throughout the year, so be sure to check what's on before your visit so you can book accordingly.
14. Make some money at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland Learning Center and Money Museum
Named one of the best attractions in Downtown Cleveland by Only in Your State, the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland Learning Center and Money Museum is a fascinating place that both kids and adults can enjoy. Not only will you learn about the history of money, but you'll also learn how to spot the telltale signs of counterfeit bills and even get the chance to design and make your own currency. The best thing of all? It won't cost you a dime to get in. The museum is open Monday through Thursday between 9:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.
13. Take a sightseeing tour with Lolly The Trolley
Exploring a city on foot might be the cheapest way to see the sights, but if you want to discover Downton Cleveland in style, hop aboard Lolly The Trolley for a whistlestop tour of all the neighborhood's best attractions. The vintage style, bright red trolley bus has been patrolling the Downtown for almost 40 years, and is still just as popular as ever. Start your journey on the West Bank before heading around Downtown and Public Square and onto other key destinations. Depending on how much time you have, you can book either a one-hour non-stop tour or a two-and-a-half-hour tour that includes a few stops along the way.
12. Visit the Cozad-Bates House
The Cozad-Bates House is one of the oldest structures in Cleveland, dating all the way back to 1853. As the only surviving pre-Civil War building in the area, it would be worth visiting anyway, but its involvement in the Underground Railroad and links to Abolitionist Andrew Cozad, who built the house in 1853 for his son Justus, makes it even more so. While you're there, be sure to check out the gorgeous Italianate-influenced architecture, which can be seen in the curved bay windows and hipped roof.
11. Try your luck at Jack Cleveland Casino
If you're in the mood for a night of top-notch entertainment, Jack Cleveland Casino has what you need. Located in the historic Higbee building in Public Square, the casino boasts over one hundred thousand square feet of gaming space, along with a variety of bars and in-house restaurants serving up everything from all-you-can-eat buffets to contemporary Mediterranean cuisine. There's live entertainment throughout the evening, along with over five hundred slot machines, 100 table games, and 30 poker tables. The casino is open 24 hours a day, giving you plenty of opportunities to test your luck.
10. Admire the view at Terminal Tower
If you can't say no to a glorious view, take yourself to the top of Terminal Tower, a fifty-two-story skyscraper that serves as one of the Downtown's most instantly recognizable landmarks. Built in the 1930s, it offers astonishing panoramas over the Downtown skyline and across the lake from the deck on the forty-second floor. Even if you don't usually have a head for heights, the view is far too good to miss.
9. Visit Cleveland Hungarian Museum
The Cleveland Hungarian Museum was opened with the express purpose of protecting and preserving the culture and traditions of the Hungarian population of northwest Ohio. It also offers a unique perspective on the history of Cleveland's Buckeye neighborhood (or Little Hungary, as it's mostly known). Located in the heart of Downtown Cleveland, the museum is small but fascinating, with an intriguing collection of folk costumes, artwork, and artifacts, including a porcelain replica of the crown of Hungary. There's also a research library for those who want to dig a little deeper into the history, and a gift shop for those on the hunt for a souvenir.
8. Stock up on goodies at Heinen’s of Downtown Cleveland
Visting a supermarket might not sound like the most fun way to spend an afternoon, but no trip to Downtown Cleveland is complete without at least one visit to Heinen’s of Downtown Cleveland. Since Joe Heinen opened his first butcher shop on Kinsman Road in Cleveland in 1929, Heinen's has grown into a chain of 23 upscale stores spread across Ohio and Chicago. The latest store opened in the historic Ameritrust Tower and Swetland Building in Downtown Cleveland in 2015, and is as worth visiting for the stunning stained-glass rotunda and hand-painted murals as for the artisan cheeses, smoked meats and deli section.
7. Play volleyball at Voinovich Bicentennial Park
If you want to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, make your way to Voinovich Bicentennial Park, a key landmark for Cleveland natives and just a short hop, skip, and a jump away from other notable attractions like the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame, the FirstEnergy Stadium and Willard Park. Covering over four and a half acres of green space on the shores of Lake Erie, the park offers multiple opportunities for rest and relaxation, whether that's enjoying a game of volleyball with some friends, testing your talent for bocce, or trying your hand at some fishing. Visit in the summer months and you might even be lucky enough to catch an outdoor concert.
6. Check out the death masks at the Cleveland Police Museum
If you're looking for a fun, cheap way to spend a few hours, don't miss the Cleveland Police Museum, a free museum that offers visitors a fascinating peek into the history of the Cleveland PD. Key exhibits to check out include the death masks from the Torso murderer case and an original "Murphy System" police call box.
5. Take a stroll around Public Square
Public Square is the beating heart of Downtown Cleveland. Built in the late 1790s during the city's very earliest days, the plaza has served as an integral part of Cleveland's city center ever since. In 1975, its significance was recognized when it earned a place on the National Register of Historic Places. With numerous monuments, some great cafes, and the opportunity to catch a performance at the Mandel Concert Hill (or even one at the Speakers’ Terrace), it's a great place to spend an afternoon. If you visit between December and February, bring your skates to take advantage of the ice rink.
4. Explore the USS Cod Submarine Memorial
The three hundred and twelve-foot submarine USS Cod is the only vessel in the US Navy to have ever been named after the cod fish. It's also one of Cleveland's most important landmarks. After being decommissioned in the mid-1950s, the Cod was treated to a complete restoration and sent to enjoy a happy retirement on North Marginal Road in Downtown Cleveland. All of the original features have been lovingly restored, giving visitors the rare opportunity to experience what life what have been like on a working sub during World War II. Visit any day from the beginning of May through to the end of September or on Saturdays only from October to the end of November.
3. Check out the exhibits at the Great Lakes Science Center
A finalist in the 2022 USA Today 10Best Readers' Choice travel award contest for Best Science Museum, Great Lakes Science Center is one of Downtown Cleveland's most fascinating destinations. A perennial favorite with kids and adults alike, the museum is home to a vast assortment of exhibits designed to give visitors an amazingly fun, hugely educational crash course in science. Check out the artifacts and NASA media at the NASA Glenn Visitor Center, tour the immaculately restored 618-foot historic steamship to experience life aboard a working Great Lakes freighter, or discover more about the science behind rock music in The Science of Rock N’ Roll!... whatever you decide to do, prepare to be entertained.
2. Catch a game at Progressive Field
Progressive Field first opened its gates in 1994 (albeit under the name Jacobs Field) and has been one of Downtown Cleveland's biggest draws ever since. With a party atmosphere, great food options (Dante’s pizza is always a reliable choice), a walkable downtown location, excellent in-game entertainment, and good views of the baseball action from the seats, it's a great place to catch a game.
1. Visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
As US News notes, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is one of Cleveland's most popular attractions, attracting over 9 million visitors since it first opened its doors in 1995. Home to a vast array of permanent and temporary exhibits, memorabilia, and historical artifacts, not to mention host to films, lectures, and regular music concerts. it's a fascinating, one-of-a-kind place that no music lover within driving distance of Downtown Cleveland will want to miss.
Written by Liz Flynn
Read more posts by Liz Flynn