Cleveland is one of the most underrated and dynamic cities in the country. Yet this hidden gem of a destination has so much to offer in terms of great food, arts and culture, and wonderful recreational activities. Whether you love independent booksellers, the live music scene, sports, wonderfully friendly communities, then this is the place for you to visit. 

While it may not receive as much recognition as that other midwestern gem, Chicago, Cleveland is a wonderful place to visit and explore with your family in tow. The following are a few things to consider and find inspiration for your next trip to this widely loved city.


West Side Market

This is perhaps the most beautiful market you will ever visit when you stop by Cleveland. This historic marketplace opened in 1912, and the massive structure is an architectural wonder. You can visit to ogle the beautiful space, but also to get some groceries and a few gifts for friends back home. There are also regularly scheduled tours since the building is historical and the vendors themselves have long histories that are fascinating and worth learning about. If you and your family love food and like to try new things, then visit the West Side Market and treat your palate to delicacies from Germany, Ireland, Slovenia, Italy, Greece, Poland, Russia, various Middle Eastern countries, and so on. 


Cleveland Museum of Natural History

This museum was initially started to act as a research and educational facility in the early 1920s but eventually opened to the general public. Kids love coming here because there are all sorts of interactive activities they can take part in, and lots of space to run around and play. The exhibitions dedicated to dinosaurs are fairly impressive, and there are plenty of learning opportunities to take advantage of at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. There are so many things to do in Cleveland, but this destination ranks pretty high on the list of things to do as a family. The Smead Discovery Center at the museum also offers plenty of hands-on activities that are fun for kids to do, and while dinosaur skeletons are cool to look at, there are live animals in a sort of zoo in their outdoor venue which you can see up close.


The Cleveland Zoo

Speaking of zoos, the Cleveland Zoo is one of the oldest in the country, having opened in 1882. However, its original mission was to showcase animals of local origin, as opposed to importing animals from abroad. However, nowadays you can see animals from the world over, with special expeditions dedicated to Australia, the African savanna, North American creatures, an aquarium, and even more specialized sections that explore the rainforest and places like the Asian Highlands and Waterfowl Lake. The zoo also features a regular roster of film and music programming, festivals, and different fun events your family can join. 


See a Baseball Game

Progressive Field is one of the country’s most storied baseball fields. If you all love and enjoy sports, then this destination should be at the top of your list. There are behind-the-scenes tours that are super fun for the whole family, and the family deck offers a wonderful view of the facilities – try to snag a ticket to a ball game with these incredible seats. The field also offers lots of culinary treats that run the gamut from traditional beer and hot dogs to other foods the whole family is bound to enjoy, including a daily buffet. So it’s a great place to grab lunch, especially if the weather is nice enough for a ball game.


Historic Little Italy

Another entry in this article mentioning food without listing Historic Little Italy as an important place to visit would be entirely remiss. That’s because this particular destination has some of the best Italian cuisines it has to offer. The original architecture of all buildings here is intact and authentic. Also, there are regular parades and dances featuring people wearing old Italian costumes, and there are also festivals and arts and crafts fairs celebrating Italian heritage. There’s also lots of live music, plenty of excellent restaurants and markets that sell specialized culinary items, and it’s generally the perfect place to spend the day with family.


The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Home to the term itself “rock and roll,” Cleveland is of course home to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation and museum. This is an excellent place for the entire family to visit, especially if you’re a fan of particular genres or rock bands. 

There is a ton of memorabilia and historic artifacts from different artists, and there’s a ton of things to read and see. It’s worth visiting even if you just want to see an exhibit for only one or two of your favorite bands or to see where history is made every year since it’s the site where all decisions are made regarding inductees to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. 


Cleveland Museum of Art

Cleveland is home to a number of museums and cultural institutions, as clearly shown by this list. However, one of the crown jewels is indisputably the Cleveland Museum of Art. This museum holds tens of thousands of works of art and is especially notable for its astounding collection of Asian and Egyptian art. There are plenty of kid-friendly things to do at the museum, and a learning annex full of programming that would be easy to take advantage of. Furthermore, this can be a pretty affordable family trip since it is free during a few days of the year, so it presents a pleasant outing that won’t cost an arm and a leg. There is a massive outdoor area with a sparkling garden that also includes some excellent dining options, so you can also have lunch or a mid-morning treat at the museum.

Cleveland is a truly great city that has a lot to offer. And, if you decide to visit, you can also take a day trip to nearby Columbus Ohio, which is also a great city with plenty of excellent independent bookstores, restaurants, and live music venues. In general, Cleveland and other nearby cities in the state are wonderful places to explore with the entire family, and its low-key vibe is an added bonus.