We’ve all experienced that look of disbelief, the horrified cry of, “How have you never done that?” Sometimes it’s because we don’t have the time or money, sometimes it’s just because we don’t want to do that, whatever that is. But sometimes, it’s because we didn’t know that we should. So in order to help you avoid The Look, here’s a list of 13 things you absolutely must do in Cleveland. I promise, you’ll enjoy every one of them!
1. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
I think it's safe to say that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is Cleveland's biggest tourist attraction. It's internationally renowned, impeccably designed, and perfectly situated between the city and Lake Erie. Wander the hallowed halls of rock'n'roll history, find your favorites, and argue with friends about who should or shouldn't have been inducted.
2. Attend a Cavaliers/Indians/Browns game
A stadium full of screaming fans waving glowsticks, a free shirt on every seat so the crowd blends into one, and a screen bigger than your house, which BLOWS FIRE. And that's just the Cavs. Each one of these teams could have its own category, but for the sake of brevity, let's just say that Clevelanders are a bit nuts about their teams. The air at a home game in Cleveland is electric (or maybe that's just the screen BLOWING FIRE).
3. Explore University Circle
University Circle is home to the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Severance Hall, Lake View Cemetery, Case Western Reserve University, the Cleveland Botanical Gardens, and the Case Western Reserve Historical Society. There's weeks' worth of activities packed into this corner of town.
4. Swim in Lake Erie
It might not be the warmest water in the world, but Clevelanders are tough! It's about a 15 hour drive to the nearest warmer water, and besides, there's beaches here for a reason, right?
5. See the Cleveland Orchestra
The Cleveland Orchestra is the best orchestra in the country, and one of the best in the world.
If classical music is not for you, they also enjoy a foray into pop culture as much as anyone with film scores and movie soundtracks. Accompanies by graceful ballerinas and dazzling costumes, the Nutcracker is a Christmas family favorite. They also perform free outdoor concerts in the summer. Best of all, black tie/formal dress is optional at Severance Hall.
6. Eat pierogis
Owing this delicious dumpling to a large Polish and Eastern European population, Clevelanders love their pierogis. I mean, really love them. They'll put them on anything - salads, burgers, hotdogs, tacos. They'll fill them with potato, cheese, cabbage, duck, and vegan cheese. Clevelanders have turned the humble pierogi into a culinary art that transcends continents and bridges cultures.
7. See a play at Playhouse Square
See a play at the second largest theatre district in the country! With over 1000 events every year, spread across ten venues, there's something for everyone. Touring Broadway productions, musicals, kids' theater, bands, comedy, dance, and more.
8. Visit Brandywine Falls
At 65 feet (20 meters), Brandywine Falls is the second highest waterfall in Ohio. This is one of Cuyahoga Valley National Park's biggest attractions, and the moment you arrive, you'll see why. The walk is an easy stroll along a wooden boardwalk, which is also wheelchair accessible.
9. Shop at the West Side Market
This place is a Cleveland institution. Every stall has something you want: colorful French macarons, huge apple turnovers, fresh homemade hummus, ready-to-cook pierogis or steaks. There's a hot sauce stall, and a stall that sells only flavored cooking oil and wine. Right next door is the produce section, so you can search out a bargain on your weekly groceries. Tip: Shop seasonal and haggle a little, and it'll be cheaper than the supermarket!
10. Dance the Cleveland-style polka
Did you know that Cleveland has its own style of polka? Well now you do! There's even a Cleveland-Style Polka Hall of Fame in Slavic Village. Bars, restaurants, and social halls around town host Cleveland-style polka events throughout the year. Don't worry if you've never danced it before - you'll find a willing teacher in no time!
11. Go to Cedar Point
Are you a thrill seeker? Want to get your heart pounding as you fly through mid-air? Or maybe you're more into arcade games? Haunted houses? Maybe you're just here for the hot dogs and cotton candy. Cedar Point has everything you love about carnivals, fairs, and theme parks, all rolled into one.
12. Have a Great Lakes Christmas Ale
'Tis the season! for the Great Lakes Christmas Ale, that is. The beer has an almost cult presence in Cleveland. It comes out on November 1, and by the close of business on November 2, stores have run out of stock. Bars have tapped out a whole keg. (Don't worry, there's more where that came from). There's an annual first-pour party which is attended by hundreds. It's only produced from November to December, and Clevelanders wait all year for the next batch. If beer isn't your thing, Mitchell's Ice Cream makes a delicious Christmas Ale ice cream using leftover beer from the brewery that is too foamy to bottle.
13. Visit the 'A Christmas Story' House
Cleveland's Christmas claim to fame comes from the classic Christmas movie. The house is the very one used in the film, and the interior is just as you remember it, right down to the tiny details. There's a museum and gift shop across the road. This nostalgia bomb is a great way to get into the holiday spirit!