From meeting new people to experiencing new sights, sounds, and smells – is there anything more exciting or rejuvenating than a break from the day-to-day mundanity? Traveling is an excellent way to immerse yourself in a new culture, setting, or way-of-life, but the best part is this: you don’t have to venture far from home to enjoy what this world has to offer.
Whether your journey takes you across your own city, to an unexplored part of your state, or even to the other side of the world, there’s no doubt you will still learn a lot about your surroundings – and yourself – along the way.
While the culture an hour away from your home might not be drastically different from what you’re used to, you can still gain a deepened sense of appreciation for where you’ve laid your roots. Plus, traveling locally has a lot of benefits:
More cost-effective. Local travel is certainly a budget-friendly way to explore! Many activities and parks are free or have a low cost of entry. For day trips, you can also pack your own meals to save.
Eco-friendly way to travel. Travel is hard on the environment, but putzing around your area is more sustainable than air travel.
Quick trips. Getting out locally means you can do it more often! Long weekend trips are a lot easier to take when the destination is a short drive away.
Easy to plan. Preparing your itinerary for a local getaway will likely save you some time and stress.
More convenient. Especially if you have little ones, sticking close to home may be much more convenient than far-off destinations. If you forget something, have an emergency, or need to cut the trip short, being closeby definitely has its benefits.
If you're not from around here, you may only know Cleveland for its famous attractions, like the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame or maybe for its sports teams ("How 'bout them Browns?")... But those who live here know how special this city truly is and that one thing is for certain: with amazing restaurants, art, museums, parks, and more there’s something for everyone in Cleveland.
"In Northeast Ohio, nothing is given. Everything is earned." - LeBron James said it best when he came back to play for the Cleveland Cavaliers, where he kept his promise to bring home a championship to his home team. People from NEO are hard-working, full of grit, and are passionate about what makes home, home.
Even if you’ve had the pleasure of living in or near Cleveland for decades now, there’s no doubt that there’s still plenty of corners of this city just waiting to be explored. That’s why we’ve put together this insightful guide, as often, it’s the regions within our own backyard that we tend to overlook!
Ready to discover the best of The Land? Let’s get started!
Ready to get your legs moving and lungs filling with fresh air? The region is also home to several state parks and national parks, offering outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, swimming, camping, and so much more.
Cleveland Cultural Gardens: Located near the Cleveland Museum of Art, you will find over 30 beautiful gardens to explore. What is so special about these gardens is each is designed and cultivated by distinct cultural or nationality groups. "They represent the diversity and multiculturalism that is Cleveland, and bring to life the Gardens’ mission, 'peace through mutual understanding'."
Rocky River Reservation: Just a 20-minute drive from the city is the Rocky River Reservation, which is split in half by the scenic Rocky River. Here, you’ll find shale cliffs, deep floodplain forests, meadows, and wetlands. The river has been voted as one of the top 150 fishing spots in the country. There are also plenty of hiking trails here, as well as a nature center, marina, stables, and three golf courses.
Cleveland Metroparks: With nearly 24,000 acres and over 300 miles of trails, the Cleveland Metroparks are well-loved in this area. There are 18 Metropark locations around Cleveland and is a four-time winner of "Best Park in the Nation".
Cuyahoga Valley National Park: One of the state’s most picturesque national parks, the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, is located on the doorstep of Cleveland. In fact, it’s just less than a half-hour drive away, and its 33,000+ acres are home to hiking trails, bike paths, a scenic railroad, and a vast array of flora and fauna.
Findley State Park: Further to the west, you’ll find Findley State Park, which is situated among the picturesque Findley Lake. This forested park is great for boating, hiking, fishing, mountain biking, camping, and more. In fact, it’s the perfect place to spend a peaceful afternoon in nature.
Punderson State Park: To the east of Cleveland is Punderson State Park, which is famous for its historic, Tudor-style lodge. While you’re here, you can also partake in some golf or winter sports, or why not enjoy its camping and hiking opportunities? This scenic state park is a must for any local or traveler.
West Branch State Park: Not far away is the West Branch State Park, which features the 2,650-acre Michael J Kirwan Reservoir, a swimming beach, campground, hiking trails, boat ramp, and more. On a pleasant spring or summer day, this place is incredibly popular among city-dwellers.
Portage Lakes State Park: Less than an hour’s drive south of Cleveland is Portage Lakes State Park, which is home to not one, bit eight stunning lakes. You’ll find a disc golf course here, as well as a swimming beach, dog park, marina, and an observatory. You’ll be entertained for hours, if not days, in this region alone.
One of the best ways to truly experience Cleveland is by foot, so luckily, there are plenty of hiking trails in or near the city. These are some of our favorites!
Lake to Lake Western Trail Head: This popular trail links Lake Isaac and Lake Abram in Middleburg Heights via an easy-to-trek asphalt and boardwalk surfaced path. Most of the trail runs through woodlands and wetlands, offering great views, while you should also keep an eye out for local wildlife who call the area home.
Buckeye Trail: The Buckeye Trail is a 1,444-mile loop that winds its way around Ohio and is a great way to experience some of the best sights on offer in and near the city. Keep in mind that it’s not all an easy hike, with some sections containing lots of hills, muddy areas, and stream crossings. For a moderately challenging four-mile stretch, hike the Pine Lane to Boston Store section. Be on the lookout for a stand of rare white pines near the middle of the trail!
Towpath Trail at Scranton Flats: At Scranton Flats, you can enjoy native meadow plants, wild fish habitats, and scenic overlooks. The area is also popular with its Towpath Trail, which takes walkers along the Cuyahoga River and under the Hope Memorial Bridge, while providing an insight into Cleveland’s industrial heritage and iconic city skyline.
Cleveland is home to a unique, chef-driven food scene, which sees foodies flocking to the city on a regular basis. Whether you’re looking for a quick bite to eat or a lengthy, fine dining experience, there’s something for absolutely every appetite in this city.
The Bourbon Street Barrel Room
With Creole and Cajun-inspired cuisine, including classics such as gumbo, crawfish etouffee, and beignets (just to name a few), the Bourbon Street Barrel Room certainly won’t disappoint. You can also enjoy 30 rotating craft beer selections, as well as any cocktail you can think of. Plus, with open, split-level dining rooms and a relaxing atmosphere, it’s the perfect way to spend any night of the week.
Il Rione Pizzeria
Looking for a Little Italy inspired restaurant specializing in pizza, drinks, and music? Il Rione Pizzeria is a popular choice among locals and travelers alike, with many loving the traditional décor, well-equipped bar, and of course, mouth-watering pizzas. We also hear their friendly customer service is unrivaled!
Lola Bistro has been in operation for over 20 years, but its fan base only continues to grow. Led by Chef Michael Symon, the restaurant seeks out Ohio's diverse produce and heritage farms for menu inspiration. Don’t miss their signature Lola fries, as well as favorites such as beef cheek pierogi and beef hanger steak.
Spice Kitchen + Bar
With the motto, “from our farm to your plate”, you know you’re in for something special when you dine at Spice Kitchen + Bar. In fact, their hyper-seasonal and constantly evolving menus are driven by ingredients from their farm in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, along with other regional farms that practice sustainable agriculture.
Pier W is the recipient of multiple prestigious awards and is known for serving the best Cleveland seafood. It has been a landmark restaurant since 1965 and its architecture was designed to resemble the hull of a cruise ship. With a cliff location overlooking Lake Erie, it just doesn’t get more picturesque, or delicious, than this mainstay.
After a hike around the area and a stomach full of delicious food, there’s no doubt you’re wondering: what should we do now? Don’t fret, as there are plenty of fun things to do in Cleveland to suit any occasion.
Looking for some fun things to do within the city that will keep the kids or teenagers entertained? You’ve come to the right place!
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Head down to Rock and Roll Boulevard to visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, something visitors of all ages will find entertaining. Here, you can enjoy stories of the people, events, and songs that shape our world through exhibits, innovative programs, and concerts.
Great Lakes Science Center
Right next to the Rock Hall is a great place to spend the day with the kids! At the Great Lakes Science Center, there are so many fun ways to learn. Get hands-on with learning exhibits, watch films in the massive domed theater, and enjoy lunch on the water.
Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
What’s a family day out without a trip to the zoo? What once started as a Wade Park in 1882 is now the city’s most-loved zoo, offering educational programs, exhibits, and of course, plenty of animal species from around the globe. The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is sure to delight even the youngest of attendees.
What should you do in Cleveland once the sun goes down? We’re glad you asked! Here are our suggested night-time attractions.
The Cleveland Orchestra
How about a beautiful summer night performance at the Cleveland Orchestra? Their evening concerts are perfect for catching after an early dinner or straight after work. You’ll also find the highly rated Severance Restaurant here, as well as bars in the lobby to have a pre-concert drink.
Catch a Ball Game
With three major sports teams calling Cleveland home, you can find year-round sports entertainment. Head to Progressive Field (forever known as Jacob's Field or The Jake by most Clevelanders) to watch the Indians play and stay for fireworks in the summer. Fall is for football, and there is an unconditional love for the Browns here - THIS is our year (every year...). Winter and spring can be rough weather-wise, but you can count on the Cavaliers to cheer you up - or at least keep you entertained.
Heading to Cleveland's theater district is a fun night out for all. There are so many exciting performances to watch from plays to musicals to the ballet, be sure to check out a show at one of the ten theaters in the area.
Superelectric Pinball Parlor
If you’re heading out after dark with the kids, or even your significant other, there is lots of fun to be had at the Superelectric Pinball Parlor. You can play over 20 games ranging from the 50’s to the latest releases, as well as enjoy beverages from their full bar. This retro-inspired place is a favorite among locals, so come along and see why!
Want to hit the town without it costing you a small fortune? Here are some of our favorite ways to enjoy Cleveland “on the cheap”.
Fancy a visit to Cleveland’s oldest public market? At Westside Market, you can find over 100 vendors selling affordable and budget-friendly baked goods, dairy, flowers, ready-to-eat foods, spices and nuts, meats, seafood, fruits, and vegetables. It’s the perfect way to waste away an hour or two, as you just never know what delicacies you’ll find! When you're done shopping, head next door to grab yourself a pint - of craft beer from Market Garden Brewery or of ice cream from Mitchell's.
Cleveland Botanical Garden
For just $10 - $15 per person, you can enjoy a day out at the beautiful Botanical Garden in Cleveland. It’s the 12th largest public garden in the country and aims to connect people with the wonder, beauty, and value of trees and plants, to inspire action for healthy communities. Don’t miss the Glasshouse either, which is home to 50 different types of butterflies, birds, reptiles, and amphibians.
A Christmas Story House
Is a Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-shot Range Model air rifle on your list to Santa? If so, you'll be in good company to visit Ralphie's house from A Christmas Story. Visit the museum year-round and pick up a keepsake, like your very own leg lamp. Careful bringing it home, though - it's fra-gee-lay!
If you’re hoping to not even spend a dime while exploring the city, then you’re in luck. There are plenty of fun, family-friendly, and fantastic things to do in Cleveland – all of which are completely free.
The Cleveland Museum of Art
Admission to the Cleveland Museum of Art is completely free, as is access to some of their popular exhibits. The museum houses a diverse permanent collection of more than 61,000 works of art from around the world, with a concentration on Asian and Egyptian art. It’s the perfect place to spend a morning or afternoon, especially if the weather is anything but pleasant outside.
Edgewater Park Beach
Fancy a dip in the stunning Lake Erie? Located on Edgewater Park is a swimming beach which is very popular among residents and travelers for its large array of activities and easy access to dining and other entertainment. It’s a “nature getaway to swim, play, picnic, and relax with your family and friends”.
Find the Script Signs
There are five "Cleveland" script signs (six if you count one in the airport) scattered throughout the city and are worth a visit to. Each sign is positioned with the city skyline behind it for a unique and beautiful backdrop for photos. You can find the signs at: East 9th Street Pier (North Coast Harbor), Edgewater Park, 1831 Columbus Rd (The Flats), 1502 Abbey Ave (Tremont), 16301 Lakeshore Blvd (Euclid).
If this long list of activities within Cleveland has tired you out, then perhaps a visit to a local spa is in order? Enjoy a facial, massage, or just some seriously good relaxation at these amazing spas in the city.
Spa West is the only European style luxury spa in Ohio, providing world-class treatments administered by expert technicians. If you’re in need of some relaxation, beauty therapy, or revitalization, then this is the place. Enjoy massages, facials, spa treatments, and so much more.
Quintana's Barber & Dream Spa
Not your average barber, Quintana’s also has a “dream spa” attached to it, offering every relaxing and rejuvenating treatment under the sun. Whether you’re in need of a deep tissue massage, manicures, pedicures, facials, spa packages, or more, you’ll walk into this place and glide out feeling like a new person.
Looking to hit the gym in Cleveland, or perhaps a relaxing yoga session is more your thing? It doesn’t matter what your mind and body is craving, this spectacular city has the perfect place on offer.
Rise Nation provides fitness climbing cardio classes and even Jennifer Aniston is a fan! Climbing engages all major muscle groups simultaneously, giving you a powerful workout without wear and tear on your body. The classes are structured via levels, so even if you’re a beginner, you can still take advantage of this popular fitness institution.
The Studio Cleveland
The Studio is your one-stop shop for massage, saunas, meditation, aerial classes, and of course, yoga. They offer yoga basics for beginners, Vinyasa yoga, power yoga, restorative yoga, yin yoga, Hatha yoga, yoga for self-care and outdoor beach yoga throughout the summer.
Looking to fulfill your wanderlust by heading outside of the region for a day? You could spend decades within Cleveland without barely scratching the surface of all there is to do in this large city, but consider these days trip next time you fancy a new adventure.
German Village, Columbus
Located in the state capital, just around 2.5 hours’ drive from Cleveland is German Village, a must-see place for anyone fascinated with German architecture and way of life. It was established over 150 years ago by German pioneers and has retained its historic appearance ever since. Don’t miss The Book Loft and the homemade cream puffs at Schmidt’s Café.
With the world-famous Niagara Falls located just over a 3 hour-drive away, you’d be seriously missing out if you didn’t factor it into your time spent in Cleveland. These fascinating falls feature a 51m drop and span 670m in width. While you’re there, why not make a day (or weekend) of it and enjoy all that the Niagara Falls State Park has to offer, such as hiking, boating, and dining at The Top of the Falls Restaurant.
As a final reminder, some of these activities may need to wait until businesses fully reopen from coronavirus closures. However, there is still much to see and experience in Cleveland that you can enjoy today! What are your favorite spots in Cleveland? Send them our way to [email protected] or by tagging us on Instagram @rvshare and using the hashtag #rvsharelocal.