A New Clevelander’s Guide to Local Attractions

Picture of a large white sign that says "Cleveland" set against Lake Erie and the Cleveland skylineHave you recently come to Cleveland and don’t know what there is to do for fun around here? Cleveland doesn’t have the same notoriety as some larger cities like Chicago or New York City, but that doesn’t mean we’re devoid of things to do. The best way to enjoy what we have to offer is to ask a native. And lucky for you, we’re Cleveland born-and-raised.


Arts and Live Events

Cleveland has something for everyone’s artistic taste. For those looking for museums, the Cleveland Museum of Art houses an expansive collection of pieces from all around the world, from ancient times to modern day. The Cleveland Museum of Contemporary Art, on the other hand, showcases the hottest new contemporary art from fresh voices. The best part? Both museums have free general admission, making them great for low-cost day trips.


But if you’re looking for live events, there are plenty of options to choose from. Playhouse Square, the second largest theater district in the country, is home to everything from Broadway musicals, art house productions, student plays and small-scale concerts. For classical music lovers, Severance Hall and Blossom Music Center house the world-renowned Cleveland Orchestra. But for those interested in more contemporary performances, Blossom Music Center also hosts a variety of concerts, along with Jacobs Pavilion at Nautica, The Agora, and other venues across the city.


Sports and Restaurants

It isn’t Cleveland without sports. The Guardians, Browns, and Cavaliers all call Cleveland home, but there are many minor league and independent league teams throughout the Greater Cleveland area. For baseball, the Lake Erie Crushers in Avon and Lake County Captains in Eastlake are less expensive alternatives to the major league Guardians. The AHL’s Cleveland Monsters is Cleveland’s resident hockey team, and the NBA G League has the Cleveland Charge.


If you’re going to a game, you might want to find a place to eat before or after. Luckily, Cleveland has plenty of restaurants of varying prices and cuisines. You can find food from all around the world due to Cleveland’s rich cultural history, from Vietnamese to Mexican to Italian. There are too many restaurants to list here, but if you’re looking for something distinctly Cleveland, you can find the nearest Polish Boy – Cleveland’s regional sausage sandwich featuring kielbasa, barbeque sauce, fries and coleslaw.


Nature Lovers

For those looking for a bit of adventure, Cleveland is home to the Cleveland Metroparks, an expanse of 18 parks and nature preserves that surrounds the metropolitan area. The parks include hiking trails, picnic areas, lakes, river and creeks, and seasonal outdoor activities. The Metroparks are also home to the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, which has free admission every Monday for residents of Cuyahoga County and Hinckley Township (which covers most of the Greater Cleveland area).


If you can’t get enough outdoor activities, to the south of Cleveland is the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. The park offers a lot of the same things as the Metroparks, but one unique attraction it has is the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad. The train runs through the park from Independence, Ohio all the way down to Akron, with multiple stops along the river. You can ride the train as part of a sightseeing trip, shopping trip, or after kayaking down the river or biking down the Cuyahoga River towpath.


On the Water

Sitting on Lake Erie and the Cuyahoga River, Cleveland has numerous activities for those who enjoy nautical activities. The Flats are a perfect starting point. This Cleveland neighborhood lays on the east and west bank of the Cuyahoga River and is home to dining, nightlife, and watersports. You can even dine on the river by taking a cruise on the Nautica Queen. Or if you’d prefer to stay on land, the Greater Cleveland Aquarium is conveniently located on the West Bank of the Flats.


Are you more into the lakeshore? Edgewater Park sits right on Lake Erie’s shoreline and features walking paths, fishing, boating, and swimming at Edgewater Beach. Or if you’re interested in Cleveland’s boating history, it’s a hop, skip and a jump away to the Steamship William G. Mather, a floating museum honoring the Lake Erie shipping industry. And while you’re there, you can stop into The Great Lakes Science Center, the curator of the exhibit and a beacon for Cleveland’s young scientific minds. Or swing by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, it’s the Science Center’s next-door neighbor!


Local Phenomenon

Of course, each city has their own spots of local tourism, spots in the city that those in the surrounding areas like to frequent. One such place is the West Side Market, a publicly owned marketplace filled with independent food vendors of all walks of life. The market is in Ohio City, a premier neighborhood on Cleveland’s west side, home to shopping and dining experiences located in a historic neighborhood.


On the East side of the city, you can find University Circle, a central location for many renowned institutions in Cleveland. The aforementioned Cleveland Museum of Art calls it home, along with the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, the Cleveland Botanical Gardens and the prestigious Case Western University. If you’re a bit more into the unconventional, you could pay Lakeview Cemetery a visit. Although it may seem macabre to visit a cemetery as a tourist, Lakeview Cemetery is a quiet and respectful place that hosts tours and events relating to Cleveland’s natural beauty. It is also the resting site of many notable figures such as John D. Rockefeller and Alan Freed.


Cleveland is a diverse city with a long history, so this is by no means a comprehensive list. It might not be as big as some other cities, but there’s always something to do around the corner. The best way to learn about it all is to come experience it yourself.


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