Things to do in Cleveland and Surrounding Areas

The list below was compiled by Renee, with help from Cheri, Judy, and others. If you have questions or would like more ideas, feel free to email Renee directly. If you’d like to suggest other ideas for this list, please contact the chapter coordinator.


Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum. Current special exhibit is Louder than Words: Rock, Power and Politics. Admission is $23.50. The annual Music Masters tribute is the weekend of our meeting and honors Johnny Cash, with performances by Eilen Jewell, X, and Mike Ness of Social Distortion.

Great Lakes Science Center and IMAX. Open Tuesday thru Sunday.

The following museums are all within University Circle and are all within walking distance of each other, with good restaurants also within walking distance. Traditional hotel lodging can be difficult in this area due to the colleges and Cleveland Clinic.

  • Cleveland Museum of Art. Free except for special exhibits. It has a good cafe.
  • Cleveland Natural History Museum. Includes the newly reopened Perkins Wildlife Center and often hosts films and lectures.
  • Cleveland Botanical Garden. (Member of reciprocal admissions program if you have a membership from Franklin Park Conservatory in Columbus.) The Cleveland Cultural Gardens are also nearby.
  • Museum of Contemporary Art.
  • Crawford Auto and Aviation Museum.
  • Western Reserve Historical Society.
  • Not a museum, but the Cleveland Institute of Art is here, with galleries and an art-house theater (the Cleveland Cinematheque). Also on University Circle is Severance Hall (home of the Cleveland Orchestra) and the Cleveland Music Settlement and the Cleveland Institute of Music (frequent concerts, many free).

Cleveland has many other museums, from tiny and obscure to historical sites and heritage museums.


  • Playhouse Square. Cleveland’s Theater District has eight theaters with hotels and restaurants close by (walking), also ample parking and handicapped accessible.
  • Cleveland Public Theater.
  • Dobama Theater.

Cleveland Flats (east and west banks)

This is area has had a big comeback in the last few years, with trendy nightspots (including a dueling piano bar), music venues, bars, hotels (A-Loft), and restaurants. Coastal Taco and Flipside are affordable and casual, but there are many reputable destination restaurants here, like Lago and Alley Cat.

The West Bank is growing slower but has the Music Box Supper Club, the Improv, Jacobs Pavilion, the Cleveland Aquarium, and the Lake Erie Cruise ship the Nautica Queen. Take a water taxi back and forth between east and west banks for $2 per person with unlimited trips (check hours for season, may not be running in October).

Natural Areas

  • The Cleveland Metroparks holds 18 parks throughout Cuyahoga County, including the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. Some parks are beachfront and many offer recreational activities. Hinckley Reservation is 12 miles from our meeting spot in Strongsville. The North and South Chagrin Reservations are large conservation areas popular for hiking and picnics. Squires Castle sits on the North Chagrin Reservation, and the South Chagrin park has many waterfalls, swimming holes, and the large sandstone carving Squaw Rock.
  • Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Free. 18 miles from our meeting in Strongsville. A 33,000 acre national park that is very popular for biking the towpath trail and hiking. Within the park, the Cuyahoga Scenic Railroad has numerous stops and tours, including biking the Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trail in one direction and riding the train in the other. Bring your bike aboard and ride for only $3! The park has numerous waterfalls, cliffs, and large sandstone formations, as well as many historic buildings. Sheraton Suites is near the park and just north of Akron. This hotel has a restaurant which is cantilevered over the river and known for Sunday brunch.
  • Mentor Marsh State Nature Preserve. Operated by the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. This marsh runs along Lake Erie and the Grand River and has an extensive plant and bird community. Very popular for birdwatchers, photographers, and botanists. An easy drive to Geneva (see wine country notes below).
  • Holden Arboretum. A 3,600-acre botanical garden with a large tree arboretum, canopy walk (65 feet high), and emergent tower (120 feet high). Member of reciprocal admissions program if you have a membership from Franklin Park Conservatory in Columbus. The Herb Society of America is next to the Holden Arboretum.

See also descriptions of Geauga County and Ashtabula County below, and Lake View Cemetery.

Miscellaneous Cleveland

  • Lake View Cemetery. 285 acres of historical and architecturally significant buildings and monuments, including Wade Memorial Chapel, interior designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany, and the Garfield Monument. Both buildings are staffed with interpretive guides. Beautiful landscaped grounds with paved driving and walking paths and the final resting place of many historically notable people, from Eliot Ness to Alan Freed and Rockefeller. Lake View is situated between two great neighborhoods: Little Italy and Coventry. Lake View can be walked to from both. It is also less than a mile from University Circle museums (see above).
  • Lolly the Trolley. 216-771-4484. Heated and enclosed trolley tours of Cleveland.
  • Steamship William Mather. Cleveland. Limited hours.
  • Westside Market. 1979 West 25th St., Cleveland. Closed Tuesdays and Thursdays. Named one of “10 Great Public Places in America” by the American Planning Association. Hard-to-find food supplies, fresh produce, and good food stands (Food Network has made Steve’s Gyros and Czuchraj Meats popular destinations). Market Garden Brewery is next door.
  • House from The Christmas Story movie. Open 7 days a week. 3159 W. 11th St., Cleveland. Hours: M-Sa 10-5, Su 12-5 (Call to verify). 216-298-4919.


Cleveland is now on the national food scene map partly due to famous chefs like Mike Symon (just opened restaurant number four here, Mabel’s, Cleveland-style BBQ) in addition to Michael Ruhlman, Zack Bruell, and Dante Boccuzzi. Cleveland just has too many great restaurants to list here. I suggest trying Yelp or this searchable database, which is current and specific to Cleveland and categorized by region and types of food. frequently posts restaurant lists, but call ahead since some of their top lists have closed. Feel free to email me for specific ideas, from breweries to sushi and decadent steak houses to loud and grungy bar food joints.

Akron (33 miles south of Strongsville)

  • Akron Art Museum.
  • Stan Hywet. Botanical garden and historic home tours.
  • Tangiers. Dining and entertainment venue.
  • Akron Civic Theater.
  • Luigi’s Italian Restaurant.
  • Thirsty Dog Brewing Co.
  • Hopping Frog Brewery.

See also Cuyahoga Valley National Park, above.

Wine Country (Ashtabula County) and Amish Country (Geauga County)

Northeast Ohio’s wine country is right off of Interstate 90, about an hour east of Cleveland. Lodging can be found at Geneva State Park or bed and breakfasts and inns. Geneva on the Lake has a fun strip for putt putt, pizza, vintage diner food, donuts, and biker bars. The strip can be a bit rowdy on summer weekend nights. There are many wineries, a few breweries, and a distillery (Red Eagle Distillery) in the Geneva area. My favorites of this area are Harpersfield Winery and Allessandros (in Saybrook) for dinner. Harpersfield township has a nice park on the Grand River with a big covered bridge that is driveable and walkable (Ashtabula County has 18 covered bridges). This area has a lot of green space and nice parks and is known for fishing (fly fishing and steelhead).

Geauga County is between routes 44 and 422 and Interstate 90 is on its northern border. Geauga County has a great park district (including an 11,000 acre designated Dark Sky Park, Observatory Park). Geauga County is still pretty rural but has a few nice inns and bed n breakfasts, and quite a few farmer’s markets, roadside produce stands, and pick-your-own farms that are very popular in the fall for apples and pumpkins (I like Eddy’s fruit farm and Pattersons Fruit Farm). Middlefield has a large Amish population and a weekly auction with flea market, as well as two cheese factories. No great lodging or restaurants in Middlefield, but neighboring Burton has a few.

Bordering on the southwestern edge of Geauga County is the picturesque town of Chagrin Falls, with a waterfall running through a town of shops and restaurants, a glass studio, theater, lovely architecture and the north Ohio location for Jeni’s Ice Cream. Chagrin Falls is close to the freeway and 34 miles from our meeting site in Strongsville. I’m a Geauga County native, so if anyone stays here, I can give more personal recommendations.

Websites for Further Ideas

If traveling with kids: