Set along America’s Rust Belt, Cleveland is a former manufacturing capital turned bustling culinary and arts hub. Curious visitors have been increasingly drawn to this underrated urban destination (sort of like Prague, the way it was 20 years ago). Not only is it affordable, but also there are plenty of fun things to do in Cleveland. World-class dining, craft beer, arts, and culture — it’s all here, and for a fraction of the cost you’d find in bigger cities like New York City or San Francisco.
Where Is Cleveland, Ohio?
On a first visit to Cleveland, many travelers are surprised to discover it’s a waterfront city with beaches and sailing. After all, Cleveland saddles right up to the shore of Lake Erie, and in warmer months you’ll find locals sunning on their own blissful stretch of coastline. While there’s currently no ferry service to Canada — occasionally visible from across the lake — you can drive northeast to Niagara Falls (about 4 hours), or head to nearby Sandusky to rent a boat and explore the famous Lake Erie Islands.
Cleveland’s Top Attractions
Considered by many the city’s number one point of interest, the Cleveland Museum of Art is hard to beat. Located in museum-filled University Circle, it deserves an entire afternoon spent wandering through its frequently rotating exhibits (Alex Katz, Rodin, Yayoi Kusama); plus, admission is free.
Meanwhile, the iconic Rock & Roll Hall of Fame tells the stories of rock’s legends, living and dead, while also scheduling frequent film screenings and live concerts. Visitors should also catch an Indians game at the 35,000-seat, wonderfully modern Progressive Field stadium, which has a glass-enclosed restaurant as well as the rollicking Budweiser Patio.
What to do in Cleveland if yours is a family of daredevils? Drive an hour west to reach Cedar Point, which boasts 17 roller coasters, including the terrifying Magnum XL-200. Once your stomach has been sufficiently flopped, grab lunch on Cedar Point Beach and watch the boats go by.
The Lake Erie shoreline is dotted with laid-back, sandy beaches that are as delightful as anything you’d find on the East Coast.
Start with Huntington Reservation, a beautiful coastal hideout that’s part of Cleveland Metroparks. When you’re not leaping over the blue-green waves, you can sprawl out on the sand, go fishing on the breakwall, or have a picnic.
Meanwhile, Edgewater is a more convenient spot for those not looking to venture far from the city. Three miles from downtown, the resort-like park (a portion of which is dog-friendly) has cabanas, beach volleyball, and quite a few concession stands for when those ice cream cravings set in.
Major Events and Festivals
In 2018, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will be hosted at Cleveland’s Public Auditorium, and considering past events have featured big-name performers like Alicia Keys and Pharell Williams, this is an easy way to catch some of rock’s biggest stars all under one roof.
But other cultural events and festivals shape the landscape, too, including the Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art, as well as the Cleveland International Film Festival (April 4 to 15 in 2018), which showcases over 200 different features by emerging filmmakers from all over the world.
The nation’s largest cycling festival takes place here every September, turning the lakefront into a live action pedal party with competitive races, night rides, and a flurry of live music and festival tents.