Free, Fun and Kid-Approved Attractions in Cleveland
Welcome to Cleveland Plus, the 22-county region that borders Lake Erie and surrounds and includes the metropolis of Cleveland, Ohio.
We are home to family favorites like the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo (home to the African Elephant Crossing), the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, University Circle (the nation’s most concentrated square mile of arts and cultural institutions) and PlayhouseSquare (second largest theater district in the country second only to Broadway).
A family vacation to Cleveland Plus costs 40-60 percent less than one to cities like New York, Philadelphia or Los Angeles –without sacrificing any of the experience! Below you’ll find a list of free, fun, kid-approved attractions in Cleveland Plus to help make your vacation one you’ll never forget.
Wade Oval Wednesdays
Take a mid-week break and enjoy live music in the heart of University Circle. Have a picnic on Wade Oval or relax in the beer and wine garden with a great view of the stage. The lineup includes a wide variety of music to suit everyone’s tastes. Location: Wade Oval is the park in between The Museum of Art, The Cleveland Museum of Natural History and The Cleveland Botanical Garden, University Circle. June 13 – Aug. 29, 2012
Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland – Learning Center & Money Museum
Ever wondered how we bought things before money existed? And, who makes our money anyhow? All these answer and more answered at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland’s Learning Center and Money Museum. The museum regularly hosts temporary exhibits exploring currency and the value of money from other times and cultures. Kids can get a look at the Money Tree where they can track counterfeit money and follow the history of money through the ages. Opened Mon. – Thurs. from 10am-2pm, the museum offers free admission and a unique tour through the Federal Reserve.
Cleveland Police Museum
Delve into the history of Cleveland law enforcement at the Cleveland Police Museum—free of charge. See confiscated firearms, uniforms, artifacts and more from Cleveland’s past including things from the legendary crime fighter, Eliot Ness, and the Torso Murders investigation.
Stearns Homestead is a working farm is operated by the Parma Area Historical Society as an educational and historic farm. It features a barn complete with animals, two homes dating from the early 1900s that now serve as museums, gardens and a display of historical farm and household items.
Share in the Amish heritage through the discovery of horse-drawn buggies, homemade family-style foods and exceptional craftsmanship in Northeast Ohio’s Amish Country. You’ll find antique stores, craft houses, traditional Amish restaurants and excellent inns.
Summer in the City Free Concert Series – The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum
Many free concerts are offered this summer at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. Check out their calendar of events of on their website for upcoming shows.
Lakewood Front Porch Series
Bring blankets, chairs, snacks and friends and have an entertaining evening in this open air theatre located on the front steps of the Lakewood Public Library. Entertainers range from jazz and indie music to early 60s Americana and folk music.
Lake View Cemetery
Lake View Cemetery is filled with sculpture, architecture and tributes to those who made great contributions to the area’s industrial and civic development. The interior of its Wade Memorial Chapel was designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany, including the focal point “The Flight of Souls,” a leaded glass window done in the Favrile technique. Lake View Cemetery counts J.D. Rockefeller and African American inventor Garrett Morgan among its famous residents. And here’s a tip–on a clear day stand atop the memorial for President James A. Garfield for a fantastic view of the city.
International Women’s Air and Space Museum
The International Women’s Air and Space Museum at Burke Lakefront Airport documents women’s past and present accomplishments and contributions to the fields of aviation and space. A collection of memorabilia and historical artifacts preserve the memory of women aviation pioneers.
Cleveland Plus Beaches
While surfing in Ohio might sound crazy, the truth is that Cleveland Plus offers a variety of accessible (and FREE) beaches along its Lake Erie Coast with swimming, sailing, surfing and some of the best walleye, perch and bass fishing in the world. After a beach-bum weekend on Lake Erie, visitors might forget about their yearly pilgrimage to the shore. Check out some of these notable beaches:
- Fairport Harbor Beach – Fairport Harbor Beach was made for adventure seekers. With activities ranging from kayaking, canoeing, boating and fishing, this beach offers water-related programs, festivals and events suitable for every member of the family.
440. 639.9972, http://www.lakemetroparks.com/select-park/fairport.shtml
- Headlands Beach State Park – Forget about a trip to the shore when you can experience the Mentor Headlands, Ohio’s longest natural sand beach. The size of Headlands Beach allows plenty of room for travelers to play beach volleyball, Frisbee, cook out, sunbath and relax.
- Edgewater Beach – Fly a kite, have a picnic or take a swim. With an unmatched view of the Cleveland skyline, Edgewater Park is a popular west side beach that boasts a variety of summertime activities like swimming, boating and fishing. Enjoy the upper level for a shaded picnic, or head to the lower level for swimming and beach access.
- Huntington Beach – Known for its family-friendly environment and its commitment to cleanliness, the Huntington Reservation Beach caters to swimmers and sunbathers alike. After a day at the beach, visitors can head to the nearby Honey Hut Ice Cream Shoppe for some of Cleveland’s famous handmade ice cream.
- Lakeview Park Beach – Think: relaxation. Rich with history, adorned in rose gardens and engulfed in the natural beauty of Lake Erie, Lakeview Park Beach is the perfect respite from the hustle and bustle of daily life.
Almost Free for the Kids ($5 and under)
Discover more than 50 breeds of farm animals on a trip to this hands-on science center. While here, milk a cow, take a wagon ride, stroll through gardens and enjoy animal shows and demonstrations.
Admission: adults $6, seniors (60+) $5, children (2-11) $4, under 2 free.
Enjoy the great outdoors all year round with more than 3,100 acres of beautiful plant collections and spectacular fall and summer gardens, beautiful colors, winter splendor, trails and picnic areas at the Holden Arboretum. Trails offer a variety of distances and levels of difficulty.
Admission: adults $6, seniors (60+) $5, children (6-12) $3, children 5 and under free.
The Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage
The Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage showcases the history of Northeast Ohio’s Jewish community through artifacts, unique exhibits and interactive displays.
Admission: adults $12, seniors (60+) and students (13+ and college students) $10, children 5-11 $5.
Century Village Museum
Experience more than 100 years of history as you explore the restored 1806 village of Burton at Century Village Museum. You’ll find treasures including a cabin from 1798, vintage barns, an 1872 schoolhouse, five furnished historical homes, a jail and a country store.
Admission: adults $7, children 6-12 $5, children 5 and under free.
Western Reserve Historical Society
Cleveland’s oldest cultural institution is home to a library and two museums in University Circle. The Western Reserve Historical Society’s History Museum features a 1911 mansion and the Chisholm Halle Costume Wing. The Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum displays nearly 200 antique, vintage and classic automobiles and aircraft.
Admission: adults $8.50, senior $7.50, veteran $6.50, children 17 and under $5.
Take a tour of the USS Cod, an unaltered World War II vintage submarine and the only submarine in history to perform a submarine-submarine rescue.
Admission: adults $7; seniors, inactive/retired military and college students $6; students (K – 12) and active military with ID $4; children under 6 years and military in uniform and wives/family of active duty submariners are admitted free.
Kent State University Fashion Museum
Explore the history of fashion as we know it today at the Kent State University Fashion Museum. Find European and American gowns as well as traditional dress, celebrity dresses and nine galleries devoted to great fashion designers and artists from the 18th century to the present.
Admission: adults $5, seniors $4, students and children (7-18) $3, children under 7 free.
Built in 1824, this is Cleveland’s oldest building still standing on its original site. It was once a stagecoach stop on the old Buffalo-Cleveland-Detroit post road, and today features an original parlor, taproom and items of early Americana including 19th century Ohio antique furniture.
Admission: adult $3, children (3-12) $2, children under 3 are free.
Stan Hywet Hall + Gardens
Frank A. Seiberling, co-founder of the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, once called this 65-room country estate home. French and Italian reproduction furniture, eighteenth-century British portraits and priceless antique heirlooms make up the homes original furnishings. Lagoons, formal gardens, a greenhouse and stunning rows of silver birch trees make the outside just as inviting as the inside of this home, one of the finest examples of Tudor Revival architecture in the United States.
Admission: Adults $8, children 6 to 17 $4, ages 6 and younger free;
Cleveland Botanical Garden
A beautiful senior getaway is the Cleveland Botanical Garden, a combination of indoor exhibits housed in a magnificent glasshouse and ten acres of diverse outdoor gardens. The spectacular Glasshouse includes two major exhibits, the Costa Rica Rainforest and the Madagascar Spiny Desert. There are also several beautiful outdoor gardens, including a rose garden and Japanese tea garden, for your exploration. The grandkids will love the Hershey’s Children’s Garden, a kid-friendly exhibit with signs and pictures at kid level and fun features, like a barn and a treehouse.
Admission: Adults $7.50, seniors 60 and older $5.50, children 3 to 12 $3, 2 and younger free
Parade the Circle – FREE!
Be there June 9 as international and national guest artists join the Cleveland Plus’ community of artists, families, schools and community groups to parade around Wade Oval in University Circle.
The free event, which celebrates the community arts, draws more than 60,000 people every year. The celebration incorporates the drama and artistry of colorful floats, giant puppets, bright costumes, handmade masks, stilt-walkers, dancers and musicians.
After the parade, children and adults can enjoy a bevy of free make-and-take arts and crafts projects, food and beverage. Many of the area museums throughout University Circle offer day-of discounts. Visit www.universitycircle.org for more information.
For more information visit www.positivelycleveland.com.
– April Ingle