Visit Cleveland: 10 Best Bets for Family Fun

by Sandra Foyt on July 30, 2012. Updated July 31, 2012

in Travel Ideas

Guitar art at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.There’s a reason Cleveland, Ohio is one of my family’s favorite American road trip stops. And it’s not just because the city is on our route from New York to California. (Interesting fact: Cleveland is situated within 500 miles of 43% of the US population.) While its location is convenient, what draws us back is the fun and educational things to do in Cleveland with kids.

Cleveland offers big-city attractions at budget-friendly prices (40-60% less than most major cities.) Best of all, Cleveland welcomes visitors with a warmth and friendliness not usually found in urban centers.

10 Things To Do In Cleveland with Kids

1. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum – If you’ve only got time to do one thing in Cleveland, make it this one. On our first visit when the kids were 13 and 10-years-old, we took full advantage of the museum’s music education activities, but most recently we went specifically to see one exhibit – a tribute to the Grateful Dead. With new exhibits every year, and extensive enrichment resources to engage students at all age levels, there’s incentive to return often.

2. Cleveland Metroparks Zoo –  One of Cleveland’s most popular year-round attractions offers a new reason to visit with the addition of its newest exhibit, the five-acre, immersive African Elephant Crossing. Observe the towering elephants from vantage points on the range; a special “nose-to-trunk” viewing window brings you up close and personal with these magnificent animals. Pass the naked mole rat habitat into The Sydell L. Miller Elephant Care & Visitor Center where several interactive educational displays teach as much about zoology as conservation. And do set aside plenty of time to wander through the rest of the zoo’s diverse habitats.

3. Greater Cleveland Aquarium – Walk along the world’s longest underwater sea tube, get close enough to be splashed at the feeding of sharks and stingrays, or learn about trout native to the inland waters of Ohio.

4. A Christmas Story House & Museum - One of Cleveland’s quirkiest attractions, this restored home brings the beloved Christmas story movie to life with a collection of props that make for hilarious photo opps worthy of your next holiday card.

5.  West Side Market – Celebrating its 100th Anniversary, the West Side Market has been called the “building block of national culinary culture.” Find traditional food –  from spice shops to the Perogi Palace – at stalls, some of which have been family owned for a century.  Only open on the original ice delivery days: Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday.

6. The Cleveland Museum of Art - The price is right at the art museum – FREE. Additional fees may apply for some programs, but it’s well worth it for word-class traveling art collectins such as the recent Rembrandt in Americaor the upcoming Wari: Lords of the Ancient Andes. Look for art classes, family programs, and other programs just for kids.

7. Western Reserve Historical Society – History comes alive at the museum or at Hale Village and  Farm. In the history center, explore exhibits from one of the largest collections of historic costume and textiles in the United States, not to mention artifacts from the automotive collection or  highlights of the American experience. Head to the village for a 19th century outdoor living history museum.  The landscape includes 32 historic buildings, a working farm, craft & trade demonstrations, and interpreted sites with historic costumed staff.

8. Great Lakes Science Center – More than 100 hands on exhibits, six-story high OMNIMAX Theater, a working Great Lakes freighter, and the NASA Glenn Visitor Center are just some of the fun and educational attractions at this high-tech complex.

9. The Children’s Museum of Cleveland – Best for young children, ages 1-7, The Children’s Museum features a number of permanent exhibits that encourage learning through play. The Splish! Splash! water exhibit is sure to please, while an assortment of community exhibits teach kids valuable lessons. And short-term exhibits such as Young Architects, Centuries of Childhood: An American Story, or SANDasaurus keep it interesting.

10. Cuyohoga Scenic Valley Railroad- One of the oldest, longest, and most scenic railroads carries passengers from Akron to Cleveland, through Cuyohoga National Park, the  10th most visited park in the nation.  Go back in time the 19th century setting, visit a working farm set amidst the hills and valleys, walking trails and waterfalls of this pristine natural treasure.

More Cleveland Tips from Family Travel Experts:

Visit Cleveland with Albany Kid:

Disclosure: Our most recent visit to Cleveland was hosted by Positively Cleveland.

| Sandra Foyt inspires lifelong-learners to travel the world. A former education advocate and enrichment coach, she lived in Buenos Aires, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Washington, D.C., New York City, and Southern California before settling in Northeast NY with two teens, an outdoorsy husband, and a well-indulged Chocolate Lab. Sandra contributes to Being Latino, and her portfolio appears at www.SandraFoyt.com. Email: sandrafoyt@albanykid.com, Twitter @SandraFoyt.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

wandering educators July 31, 2012 at 1:28 pm

this is awesome! i esp want to go to the great lakes science center! we went to the great lakes aquarium in duluth, mn, and it was incredible.
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LeX July 31, 2012 at 1:46 pm

Hi Sandra!

Very good recommendation! Perfect travel tips for Kids and family ;)
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Steve August 1, 2012 at 1:08 am

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is super high on my list of things I want to see. It’s good to know that there’s other things to do in Cleveland too. Might make it easier to convince everybody else that we should go.
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Micki August 3, 2012 at 1:50 am

Who knew? I honestly have never thought about visiting Cleveland, but you made it sound like a lot of fun! I’m all over the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame idea.
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