Cleveland, Ohio is a perfect city for a weekend getaway or road trip stop with your family.
If you are driving through the Cleveland area, I recommend taking a day or two to spend some time in this cool city!
Plus, consider stopping at Cuyahoga Valley National Park for a day too! It is only a 30 minute drive from downtown Cleveland.
Find out everything you need to know for your family weekend trip to Cleveland as well as the best things to do with kids in this vibrant city.
How Many Days to Stay in Cleveland
I recommend spending 2-3 days in Cleveland in order to fully experience everything the city has to offer.
If you want to add in a visit to Cuyahoga Valley National Park, I suggest staying for 3-4 days.
EXPLORE CUYAHOGA VALLEY NATIONAL PARK: Best Things to do in Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Where to Stay in Cleveland
Our family of six stayed at the Residence Inn by Marriott Cleveland Downtown located in the 5th Street Arcades.
Our experience at this hotel was top notch!
We had a very spacious two bedroom, two bathroom suite which was perfect for our family of six.
Even more, many great eating options are walkable from the Residence Inn.
Luckily, we kept very busy during our time in Cleveland so it wasn’t that big of a deal to us this time, but I would make sure your kids are aware of this if you stay here.
The traffic is not too busy downtown unless there is a major event and there are plentiful public parking lots available.
Where to Eat in Cleveland
If your family is similar to ours, sometimes eating while on vacation can get a bit chaotic.
With four kids under age 10, sometimes the most convenient and fastest option for a meal is our number one priority.
We ate breakfast every morning at our hotel, the Residence Inn.
Additionally, we visited the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame near dinner time so we ended up eating inside the lobby there. It actually worked out very well!
They have a variety of food, and it was decently priced. I also thought it was a fun and unique spot to enjoy a quick meal.
Another recommended restaurant is the Great Lakes Brewing Co. It has a variety of dishes plus a kids menu.
Best Things to do with Kids in Cleveland
We have four boys within an age range of 9 years. This means that we usually visit attractions that cater to a wide variety of ages.
Here are some of the best things to do in Cleveland whether you are traveling with a baby, toddler, elementary aged child, or even a teenager.
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is definitely the most iconic attraction to visit in Cleveland.
If you are visiting Cleveland for the first time, you need to go to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame simply because it is such a major cultural landmark.
In my opinion, it is worth the visit.
The kids will enjoy it too!
There are many interactive displays to keep the kids engaged.
My kids loved getting to try out the guitars, keyboards, and even a drum set.
They also enjoyed seeing the Pink Floyd Tour Replica of The Wall.
There are also lots of opportunities to listen to music which introduces the kids to a wide variety of musical genres, artists, and eras of music.
It is super fun to talk to the kids about all of the icons of music both past and present.
Where to Park
I suggest parking at the Great Lakes Science Center parking garage. It is right next to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. If you are planning on visiting the Great Lakes Science Center too, do both on the same day and the parking rate will be cheaper if you visit the Science Center too.
Great Lakes Science Center
The Great Lakes Science Center is located right near the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on Lake Erie.
This science center is super family friendly and has a ton of interesting and interactive exhibits.
Two of the most unique exhibits here include the NASA Glenn Visitor Center and the Steamship William G. Mather.
Make sure you double check the schedule for the William G. Mather before your visit as its hours are not identical to the Science Center’s hours.
The Great Lakes Science Center has something for kids of all ages which makes it perfect for our family.
There is a cafe inside of the Great Lakes Science Center.
If you are coupling the Science Center with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, you could eat lunch here or at the Hall of Fame.
On average, visitors can spend between 2-3 hours at the Great Lakes Science Center.
Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
The zoo is always a great place to visit in a new city.
Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is a 10-15 minute drive from most spots in downtown Cleveland.
Make sure you check the operating schedule for the zoo as hours can vary depending on the time of year.
The zoo has a wide variety of habitats and themed areas for the different animals. This is a great way to educate the kids on where animals live around the world as well as their specific habitat.
One thing that I really like about this zoo is that there is an option to add on unlimited attractions to your admission fee which includes the train, carousel, and 4D theater.
My kids ALWAYS want to ride the carousel more than once so this gives them the opportunity to do so without paying extra for each time.
Check out the total experience pass cost versus the individual attraction costs to determine whether it is worth it to spend an extra $10 for this pass for a child.
The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo also has a zip line attraction. If you purchase the total experience pass, you will receive $1 off of the zip line adventure.
Greater Cleveland Aquarium
The Greater Cleveland Aquarium is located in the Flats District of downtown Cleveland.
It is situated on the Cuyahoga River which makes a stunning scenic backdrop.
Visiting the Cleveland Aquarium will likely take you between 60-90 minutes.
Children’s Museum of Cleveland
The Children’s Museum of Cleveland is a great place for kids to immerse themselves in imaginative play.
Visitors can explore hands-on exhibits such as Adventure City which is a multi-floor mini town with a doctor’s office, farmer’s market, auto shop, building materials, and more.
There is also an art-focused exhibit called Arts and Parts plus a water and science exploration area called Wonder Lab.
These are just a few of the many exhibits that will engage your children in role playing and engaged hands on learning.
The Children’s Museum of Cleveland is best suited for kids under 10.
Depending on how much your children enjoy playing and exploring the museum, families can expect to spend between 2-3 hours here.
Cleveland Museum of Natural History
The Cleveland Museum of Natural History is an impressive space where history meets science.
This museum has so many engaging areas for kids.
Some of these exhibits include the Dinosaur exhibit, the Perkins Wildlife Center with live animals, and Smead Discovery Center specifically designed for kids 7 and under.
Check out the museum’s website for the most current exhibits as well as future ones.
Must Know Information
In the fall of 2023, the Cleveland Museum of Natural History is completing a major renovation and expansion project. Visit the Know Before You Go page on the museum’s website for the most up-to-date information on hours and closings.
Many families visit Cleveland for the sports and then stay to enjoy some other attractions.
Cleveland’s sports scene is top notch.
If you have a trip planned to Cleveland, consider checking out any sporting events that may be happening during your visit.
This is important not only if you want to attend an event, but also so you can plan for any additional traffic and increased visitors in the area.
Cleveland’s top professional sports teams include:
- Cleveland Browns (National Football League)
- Cleveland Guardians (Major League Baseball)
- Cleveland Cavaliers (National Basketball Association)
The Cleveland Arcade is an architectural gem on Euclid Avenue in the heart of downtown Cleveland, and no, it is not a place full of video and amusement games.
I highly recommend taking a walk through the Arcade. It is quite stunning and intriguing to see.
Luckily the Residence Inn Downtown Cleveland where we stayed was connected to the Cleveland Arcade.
From the hotel’s breakfast area, we could see right inside of the Arcade’s central atrium.
The Cleveland Arcade has a few shops and restaurants inside to meander through.
The highlight of visiting the Arcade is seeing its gorgeous architectural elements. Make sure to go up to the balcony and enjoy the view of all of the visitors in the lower level.
Unique Things to Do and See in Cleveland
Take a Picture of the FREE Stamp
This stamp is located in Willard Park.
It is the world’s largest office stamp and is quite the sight to see.
This stamp has a very interesting origin and history.
Visit the Christmas Story House
If you are a fan of the beloved Christmas Story movie then you may be interested in touring or at least driving by the Christmas Story House.
This is the actual house used in the film.
You can purchase tickets to tour the house which also include admittance into the Christmas Story Museum, located right across the street.
Additionally, you can visit the gift shop for free!
Take a picture with one of the many Cleveland script signs
There are numerous Cleveland script signs scattered throughout the area.
We found one near the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Great Lakes Science Center.
To get to it you can walk from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame by turning left onto east 9th Street and walking towards Lake Erie.
It is on the edge of Voinovich Centennial Park on the North Coast Harbor.
When you take a picture of it, the back of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame will be in the background along with a gorgeous view of downtown Cleveland.
Must Do Attractions
If you are able to visit Cleveland for only a short time and want to know what the absolute must do attractions are, my recommendations are below.
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
As I mentioned above, this is the most iconic attraction not only in Cleveland but also is a top thing to visit in the United States and even on a global level.
If you are in Cleveland, I definitely think you have to visit it.
Walk along Lake Erie
While in Cleveland, take at least a few minutes to walk along Lake Erie.
You can walk by Lake Erie near the Great Lakes Science Center and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Edgewater Park is also a highly recommended place to spend some time and enjoy scenic views.
Great Lakes Science Center or the Cleveland Museum of Natural History
If you have time to do just one other thing with your family in Cleveland, I would check out one of these museums.
Make sure to visit each museum’s website for the most up-to-date hours and admission prices.
Cleveland is a great city to check out for a family weekend trip or as part of a road trip.
I sure hope you enjoy your visit to Cleveland and wherever else your trip takes you. May you love your adventure! KW