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Cleveland City Guide | 5 min read

The Best Family Cleveland City Guide!

Familydaysout.com has done ALL the hard work so you don’t have to with this ULTIMATE Cleveland City Guide to print & use!

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Lisa Downs

Lisa Downs

05 Sep | read


Located on the southern shore of Lake Erie, you'll find the incredibly diverse and inspiring city of Cleveland, just waiting with a host of perfect days out for the family!

Not only is Cleveland found on the shores of Lake Erie, it's also the LARGEST city on the shores.  Combine its melting pot of cultures with some amazing food, really fun attractions and plenty of pristine nature to explore, and you have yourself the ultimate family experience!

It's all these reasons and more that we're excited for you to delve into our Cleveland City Guide featuring our "Top 9 Family Attractions" , which are really just the tip of the iceberg in what you can enjoy in this Ohio favorite.

So make sure check out our entire Cleveland City Guide that we've carefully put together all for you, to help you plan that ROCKIN' family day out!

Main Image Credit: ThisIsCleveland.com

Image Credit: Destination Cleveland

We can't wait for you to read our top 9 things to do with kids in this Cleveland City Guide, plus we share with you some fun experiences that will bring out the child in everyone! 

We know budgets are often a consideration when traveling with children, so also in this Cleveland City Guide we offer up some great FREE things to do with kids to keep that budget in check! 

Getting around Cleveland without a car is really simple, and we've got you covered when it comes to navigating the city without any hassle. Don't miss checking out our fun facts about Cleveland too!

If you want to venture out of the city for a day, this Cleveland City Guide shares one of our favorite day trips, plus we list some famous faces who were born right in the heart of The Forest City!

So whether this is your first trip and you're saying "Take me to Cleveland"! or perhaps you have lived in the city all your life but you still wonder "What is there is to do near me in Cleveland?", then keep reading because we can't wait to tell you all about the fun things to enjoy in this amazing city, and so much more!

Image Credit & Copyright: Nathan Migal

The written history of Cleveland began in 1792 when the city was founded by General Moses Cleaveland, however activity and life in the area existed long before that.

About 2,500 years after the Last Glacial Period ended (which ended about 15,000 years ago!), the tundra had dried enough to attract wildlife to the area, including caribou, deer, wolves, and bears.

There is evidence actually evidence that the earliest humans in the area lived around 2,000 years after THAT (are you keeping up kids, that's 10,500 years ago!) so you can only imagine the history that this part of Ohio holds!

Rising temperatures in the area meant more human activity, with various crops being grown and agriculture taking off. 

Fast forward back to 1792, and Cleveland as we know it today is born. During the early 19th century the area was a hot spot for trade given its location to Lake Erie and also the Cuyahoga River. During the American Civil War, the city also grew into a major industrial metropolis and became a gateway for immigrants from Europe and the Middle East, as well as African American migrants.

For much of the 1900s, Cleveland was one of the largest cities in the USA, thanks also to the Ohio & Erie Canal. This changed after WWII but soon recovered and today, you'll find Cleveland to be a great destination to explore sports, the arts, food and PLENTY of family fun!

Image Credit & Copyright: Nathan Migal

You're about to have an amazing adventure in Cleveland, but where to start?

Maybe it's wildlife you love? Great! Attractions such as the Greater Cleveland Aquarium have you covered! Would you rather spend the day surrounded by the wonders of nature? Not a problem! The Nature Center at Shaker Lakes or the Cleveland Botanical Garden could be the place for you!

Is it fascinating museum's that the family can't get enough of, Cleveland has you covered there as well! Make a bee line for the kid-tastic Cleveland Children's Museum, the free admission International Womens Air & Space Museum and the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame and Museum!

Cleveland also offers some experiences that you never even knew about, such as visit the "Christmas Story" House & Museum (yes, we mean the actual one from the film!)

With so many fun things to do in Cleveland with the family, you'll soon have that family itinerary filling up! So kids, which attraction will you visit first? We can't wait to hear!

Image Credit & Copyright: Kayla Lupean

If you don't have a car in Cleveland, don't worry at all! No matter what the weather, there is an option for you!

First (and especially during those cooler months!) the Regional Transit Authority is a great option. The RTA runs a FREE rolley bus on weekdays, as well as evenings and weekends which is great for hopping between attractions.

For those arriving and leaving via plane, you can take the RTA rail line between the airport and Tower City Center which departs every 15 minutes.

In fact, RTA's transit system is pretty substantial with bus, trolley and train lines all throughout the city! You can find out more on RTA’s website where you can plan your routes and purchase fares online before heading to the city!

When the weather is looking good, why not walk! According to some, Downtown Cleveland is considered a "walkers paradise." In fact, you'll find most attractions in Downtown Cleveland can be reached within a 20-minute walk, and walking is a great way to discover some hidden gems along the way.

Walking in Cleveland is also safe, as you'll find yellow-clad ambassadors patroling the streets Downtown to ensure your safety, say hi or offer helpful directions!

If walking isn't quite for you but you want to feel the air on your face, Cleveland has several bikeshare companies where you can rent a bike for the day with no hassle at all.

There are several options in and around downtown (as well as options within the Cuyahoga Valley National Park and Towpath Trail) including the Bike Rack (located in Downtown Cleveland’s Gateway District) which is operated by the Downtown Cleveland Alliance, and Fridrich Bicycle (located on Lorain Avenue near Ohio City)

So why not make your way around Cleveland like a local, and take advantage of the great ways to get around the city without a car!

Cleveland has some amazing food, but none so famous than the pierogi and it's THIS iconic Polish dish that has to be experienced when in the city that has been dubbed "The Best Pierogi City in the USA"!

The Polish Pierogi (also the national dish of Poland) has been around in its European motherland as early as the 13th century, but it was officially set in history after it appeared in a 17th century cookbook!

But what is a pierogi, we hear you ask. Well, pierogis are semi-circle shaped dumpings that are often boiled then pan fried, traditionally stuffed with staples such as potato, cheese, sauerkraut, mushrooms, spinach and meat.

Then, during the 20th century the pierogi hit the shroes of the United States. The first documented pierogi sale in the entire country occured in Cleveland in 1928 at the Marton House Tavern. This was when proprietor named Andrew Marton served these delicious dumpings to unemployed steel workers. Since then, Cleveland has embraced this European staple and now produces some of the best in the world!

There are SO many food options to enjoy within Cleveland, but do yourselves a favor - if you see pierogi's on the menu, give them a try, and then you'll really be part of Cleveland's history!

Image Credit & Copyright: Janey Schafer for ThisIsCleveland.com

Our Top 9 Fun Things To Do With The Kids In Cleveland!

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Image Courtesy: Cleveland Museum of Natural History

The Cleveland Museum of Natural History dates all the way back to 1920, which means this popular Cleveland museum has been giving families an incredible learning experience for over 100 years!

This iconic museum makes sense of science and our planet for children, as they delve deep into the past in dinosaur hall, or discover the outer reaches of the Universe through the astronomy programs. They can even experience natural wonders, meet wild animals, enjoy a hike, or join a class - all whilst creating meaningful memories!

Image Credit: Dale McDonald for ThisIsCleveland.com

Are you ready to make a SPLASH at Greater Cleveland Aquarium? In fact, this popular attraction is the only independent, free-standing aquarium in the entire state of Ohio!

During your visit, kids will love to explore the wonders of rivers, lakes, oceans and beyond across 70,000 square feet of exhibition space, featuring 55 exhibits that showcase both local and exotic species of fish and so much more! Come face to face with sharks, piranhas, frogs, lizards, angelfish and so many creatures you might not have even heard of! With fun and educational daily activities too, this aquarium hopes it will "SEA" you soon!

Image Credit: Destination Cleveland

Are you ready to be inspired? The Museum of Contemporary Art (or "moCa") is actually a contemporary non-collecting museum celebrating the art and artists of our time. It's also free admission, as art and creativity should be experienced and shared by all!

Since the museum's founding in 1968, the works of over 2,000 artists have been showcased, and in addition to the various exhibitions throughout the museum, there are also programs to connect you deeper to art and discovery as well as workshops, talks, and performances too!

Image Credit: CMCleveland

Enjoy a day of play, experimenting, imagination, and a host of hands-on activities all at the Children's Museum Cleveland! All of the innovative exhibits at this museum JUST for kids promote learning through play, along with programs designed for all those inquisitive and curious minds up to 8 years of age.

From the arts, to science, to "real" world play and music, kids can learn about a host of topics whilst being given a space of their own to freely explore, touch and learn about the world in which they live!

Image Credit & Copyright: Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

Cleveland really does ROCK at the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame and Museum! Spend the day exploring a number of exhibits that not only tell the fascinating history of various music genres - from country, folk, blues and of course rock - but also share the stories of those iconic and inspirational artists who have made an impact on music across the decades!

In addition, you not only have the Hall of Fame where you can learn about all the inductees over the years, but there is also a space where you can make your own music too! Perhaps one day YOUR name will be on the Hall of Fame? You never know!

Image Credit: Destination Cleveland

The Great Lakes Science Center is a fascinating museum and educational facility located in downtown Cleveland, where many of the exhibits tell the story and showcase the features of the natural environment in the Great Lakes region!

It's history, science and nature all rolled up into one! Not only can you enjoy the signature and traveling exhibits, but there's also a cafe, AND an impressive IMAX Dome theater! Did you know that the Great Lakes Science Center is home to the NASA Glenn Visitor Center too? An out of this world experience for kids of all ages!

Image Credit & Copyright: Kayla Lupean for ThisIsCleveland.com

"A Christmas Story" is one of the holiday seasons most popular movies, and now YOU can visit the actual house (along with a museum across the street), all restored to its movie splendor. It's open year round for tours, and you can even stay overnight!

The Christmas Story Museum is well worth a visit too, featuring original props, costumes and memorabilia from the film, plus hundreds of rare behind-the-scenes photos! You'll find toys from the Higbee’s window, as well as Randy’s snowsuit, the chalkboard from Miss Shields’ classroom AND the family car! Ready to enjoy that festive feeling year round? We are, so let's go!

Image Credit: Destination Cleveland

There's nothing quite like spending the day surrounded by nature, which is why we LOVE Cleveland Botanical Garden! Located in the heart of Cleveland’s iconic University Circle, this great family day out offers an enchanting escape from the bustling city.

Here, mesmerizing and manicured gardens await, along with specially curated glasshouses filled with unique, weird and wonderful plant and flower species from all around the world. A colorful, educational, and calming day out for all ages - rain, hail or shine!

Image Credit: Destination Cleveland

Cedar Point is just outside of Cleveland, but it's so iconic it just had to be part of our Top 9 list! This iconic theme park has been giving families all the thrills they can handle for over 150 years, and now it's your turn! 

Cedar Point offers 70 (yes, 70!) amazing rides for you to brave, but don't worry there are plenty of kid and family-friendly options in there too. More than just roller coasters, this popular theme park also features live shows, incredible dining options and signature summer events that will really be the icing on the cake to any visit! Are you ready to take on all that Cedar Point has to offer? Get ready kids, there is a whole lot of FUN ready and waiting for you!

Famous Folk From Cleveland!

 Family Days Out: City Guide

Halle Berry

Halle Berry is an American actress who started her career as a model and first runner up in the Miss USA pageant. 

For her work in Monsters Ball, Berry was the first African-American actress to win the Best Actress Academy Award.

Image Credit: Gage Skidmore

 Family Days Out: City Guide

Dorothy Dandridge

Dorothy Dandridge was an American actress, singer and dancer. She was the first African-American film star to receive a Best Actress Academy Award nomination.

She received this nomination for her work in Carmen Jones.

Image Credit: Public Domain

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5 Fun Cleveland Facts

Impress your friends with your amazing Cleveland knowledge!

  • Cleveland is a city of firsts! The first blood indoor shopping mall in the country opened in 1890 (if you ever visit The Arcade, you'll be walking through history!), plus the first ever US automobile sale happened in the city in 1898, as well as the first blood transfusion in 1905.
  • Continuing the firsts, Cleveland was also home to the first electrified public square in 1879 and become home to General Electric in 1892!
  • It was at 10622 Kimblerly Ave in Cleveland that Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster created the character of Superman!
  • In the 1950s, it was a Cleveland DJ who coined the term "rock n roll"! This is why you'll find the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Clevland as opposed to any other US city!
  • In 1967, Cleveland elected it's first African American mayor - Carl Stokes - also a first for any major US city!

Top 5 FREE Things To Do With Kids In Cleveland

Explore West Side Market!

Explore West Side Market!

Image Credit: Destination Cleveland

Life tastes better when you shop at West Side Market! Did you know that West Side Market is Cleveland’s oldest public market, which is reason enough to explore this historic landmark for a few hours!

The market is home to 100 vendors offering a range of incredible local products from meats, seafood, fruits, vegetables, baked goods, dairy, flowers, ready-to-eat foods and more! A market is a great way to really get to know a city, and spend time as the locals do in this historical tradition, so make sure a visit to West Side Market is on your Cleveland itinerary!

Nature Center at Shaker Lakes

Nature Center at Shaker Lakes

Image Credit: Shaker Lakes

Located only minutes from downtown Cleveland in the heart of Shaker Heights, you'll find the Nature Center at Shaker Lakes which welcomes the public to explore the natural wonders that await, surrounded by the Shaker Parklands.

It's here you the whole family can enjoy wonderful nature-filled experiences, no matter what the age, and no matter what the season! With over 2,000 feet of trails, plus 8 mapped native habitats and some colorful and unique wildlife to spot, Nature Center at Shaker Lakes will transport you to another world!

International Women's Air and Space Museum

International Women's Air and Space Museum

Image Credit: IWASM

Get ready to be inspired! The International Women's Air & Space Museum is dedicated to the preservation of the history of women within all areas of aviation and space, telling the stories of those who have shaped the past, inspire the present but also who will impact our future! 

The range of exhibits showcase the history and culture of these trailblazing women, ready to inspire future generations as history is brought to life! The museum also offers guided tours on weekdays, should you want to take your learning experience to the next level!

Explore Nature at Bedford Reservation!

Explore Nature at Bedford Reservation!

Image Credit: Kyle Lanzer for ThisIsCleveland.com

Bedford Reservation is a stunning nature-filled day out for the family! This popular reservation features a deep gorge (which has been declared a National Natural Landmark), with picturesque vistas and waterfalls, as well as mature trees and abundant wildflowers.

Bedford Reservation offers numerous trails for hiking, as well as mountain biking and horseback riding, plus there are picnic areas and Shawnee Hills Golf Course! At over 2,200 acres, Bedford Reservation is also home to Tinker’s Creek, the largest tributary of the Cuyahoga River. Don't miss a stop at the scenic overlook along Gorge Parkway for those spectacular vistas, particularly in the fall!

Relax in Edgewater Park!

Relax in Edgewater Park!

Image Credit: Destination Cleveland

Enjoy that classic park experience with Edgewater Park! At this popular Cleveland park you can enjoy 147 acres, with a whopping 9000 feet of shoreline, as well as plenty of dog and swim beaches, and boat ramps if you want to take to the water!

Watch the sunset from the fishing pier, or take some lunch and enjoy family time at the many picnic areas and grills, or you can spend the day in a rentable pavilion! With plenty of trails to hike or walk to top off that park-filled day out, Edgewater Park is a great way to feel like you are escaping the hustle and bustle of the city.

Cleveland Ohio Travel Guide 4K

A Fun Day Trip From Cleveland!

At only 30 minutes drive from Cleveland you'll find Ohio's ONLY national park, and it's an absolute gem to visit! Cuyahoga Valley National Park is not only a beautiful part of Ohio with incredible nature, adventure and wildlife to experience, but it's also FREE to visit!

Hiking, biking, waterfalls, caves and limetone rock and more await you at Cuyahoga Valley National Park, with over 32,500 acres of stunning landscapes and wildlife refuge to immerse yourself in.

Though a short distance from the urban areas of not only Cleveland but also Akron, Cuyahoga Valley National Park will make you feel worlds away. So why not escape the hustle and bustle of city life and escape to the country - it's just at your fingertips!

Image Credit & Copyright: Cody York for ThisIsCleveland.com

There is SO much history that runs deep in Cuyahoga Valley, with over 12,000 years of human occupation. Throughout these years the area has been built on the unwritten stories of prehistoric peoples, environmental events and inspiring comebacks of modern times. All of these events and human occurances have left an impact on the valley, shaping it to what you know today.

Along the Cuyahoga River humans have used, shaped (and been shaped) by the landscape so seeing the area first hand and knowing this can really make that family day out extra special. 

The story of Cuyahoga Valley National Park's establishment highlights the impact local citizens and leaders have had when they work together with passion and common purpose to protect aspects of the country's heritage.

The region has so much unique and beautiful wildlife and nature, there is so much to see, take in and protect. Today, it's about not only saving the park's significant features but also restoring a landscape to be culturally vibrant, less polluted, a better home for wildlife, and a model for sustainable living - which we love!

Cuyahoga Valley National Park is a true Ohio gem, and is just waiting for you to visit and explore!

Here’s our top 4 Cuyahoga Valley National Park things to do:

We hope you found this content useful! Please share with your friends, and if you have any comments, or want to let us know what we can do to further help you find fun days out with the family, then just email our team at [email protected]!

Let's get the family adventure started!

Lisa Downs Written by
Lisa Downs

Lisa has been a content writer for Family Days Out for nearly 10 years, and a keen travel writer for nearly 20. She loves experiencing the best of a city, discovering the many things to do and immersing herself in the culture, and sharing these experiences with others through her writing.

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