Who doesn’t love a good freebie? They say the best things in life are free, and we couldn’t agree more! Here in Cleveland, some of the finest local attractions won’t cost you a dime. Whether you’re in the city limits or exploring the greater metropolitan area, there are so many ways to spend the day without breaking the bank. The only thing you’ll have to do is gas up the car! Pack some road trip snacks, because we’re about to embark on the best budget-friendly road trip in Northeast Ohio.
Best Free Attractions in Cleveland
If you find yourself seeking free things to do in Cleveland, you’ll be pleased to know that there are oodles of social activities to attend. From unique destinations to artful performances, there are many incredible free attractions in Cleveland. 1. Attend an event at Crocker Park
Open-air malls aren’t necessarily something you might expect in a place with such diverse weather, but
is beloved by locals. One of its coolest features is actually its vibe… you see, its streets are perfect for everything from free outdoor movies in the summer to awesome decoration displays in the winter. It seems as if there’s almost always something going on here! Shop ‘til you drop, grab a bite to eat, and indulge in the festivities of whatever fun event is happening during your visit. You can’t go wrong with a trip to Crocker Park.
5 Minutes Away: Keep the walk-worthy fun going at Bradley Nature Park. 2. Catch a Chippewa Lake Water Ski Show
Think you know all of Northeast Ohio’s most competitive teams? Think again. The
Chippewa Ski Team
is part athletics, part theatrics, but it’s all local. This awesome team is the only competitive water ski show team in the state! They frequently perform at Emerald Lake (whose address is linked above for your ease), but they’ve been known to appear all over the region. Hour-long shows are free to watch in the summer months, and winter offers the perfect opportunity to join them during indoor practice season. You don’t need any water skiing experience to join… just bring some floatation devices and lots of enthusiasm!
10 Minutes Away: Play with goats and sip wines at The Winery at Wolf Creek. 3. Hike the Towpath Trail
is unlike any other hike in the entire state. At over 100 miles in length, it’s almost inconceivable to hike the whole thing… and yet many athletic locals have done just that! However, once upon a time, this path was used by mules to pull barges along the Ohio & Erie Canal. While the canal largely ceased operation in 1913 (and dried up in many stretches due to halted maintenance and the forces of nature), many stretches of it can be hiked to this day. In Cleveland, most of it is paved, and each section of the trail almost has its own vibe. Visit the stretch in Scranton Flats, Downtown, or Tremont… each stretch is beautiful and historic.
5 Minutes Away: Refuel after your walk with a trip to the West Side Market and Ohio City. Honorable Mentions
There are almost too many freebies in Cleveland to include on one list! Here are a few honorable mentions that are also worth checking out:
4. Attend a free Cleveland Public Theater show
Cleveland Public Theater
is a local gem. Since 1981, this collective of local artists has been putting on incredible shows that Clevelanders can’t get enough of. While most of their performances are ticketed events, there are also a handful of annual free shows that belong on your bucket list. Their Student Theatre Enrichment Program (STEP) is behind many of the free performances, but their roster of talented actors put on a variety of epic shows. Check their calendar of events to see what’s coming up next! (And keep your eye out for their annual Día de Muertos event!)
5. Check out the architecture of the Terminal Tower
You might know Tower City as a shopping mall, but once upon a time, it was a legendary structure. You see, the Terminal Tower was once the
second-tallest building in the world
, dwarfed only by the Woolworth Building in New York City. Of course, this title didn’t last long as skyscrapers began to define local skylines across the world. However, the Terminal Tower is still one of the tallest buildings in Cleveland.
Free Museums to Explore in Cleveland
Who doesn’t love a good museum?! These institutes of knowledge house incredible collections and artifacts and, here in Cleveland, many are free to visit. Ready to experience pure awesomeness? Check out these epic local landmarks! 6. Cleveland Museum of Art
The Cleveland Museum of Art and its
Fine Arts Garden
is always free to visit, and it’s well worth it. This is no dinky local museum… this goliath institution is home to some of the most ancient and most storied works of art in all of Cleveland. From stunning ancient Egyptian art to famous works by Claude Monet, this museum has a stunning array of things to see. While they do charge for special and traveling events, general admission won’t cost you a dime.
10 Minutes Away: Visit the Haserot Angel (or Angel of Death Victorious) in Lake View Cemetery for a dose of outdoor art. 7. International Women’s Air & Space Museum
Tucked away in Cleveland Burke Lakefront Airport is a museum you almost have to see to believe. The International Women’s Air & Space Museum is one of the
best free museums in the area
, and it’s almost like a local secret. This little-known museum is free to tour solo, or you can enjoy a guided tour for a small fee. Its collections preserve the contributions of lady leaders in the realms of aviation and aerospace. Some names and faces will be familiar to you, but you’ll walk away with a new knowledge of many aviation mavericks.
5 Minutes Away: Admire the Fountain of Eternal Life in Veterans' Memorial Plaza. 8. Cleveland Police Museum
Many have yet to experience the incredible collections hiding in the
Cleveland Police Museum
, but it belongs on your bucket list, without a single doubt. This free museum in Cleveland traces the history of local law enforcement from its humble beginnings, and it dives into some of the most famous cases in the area. One of the most famous local cases is the Cleveland Torso Murders, which was investigated by Eliot Ness and remains unsolved to this day… but some of the evidence (and even victim death masks) are on display at the museum so, hey, maybe you can crack the case!
5 Minutes Away: Explore Erie Street Cemetery, the oldest cemetery in Cleveland. It’s hiding right across the street from Progressive Field! Honorable Mention
Keep the fun going! There are even more free museums in Cleveland worth seeing, but we had to add one more to the list. 9. Money Museum
Almost ironically, the
Money Museum at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland
is totally free to visit. While it does close to the public when COVID infections in Cuyahoga County peak, it’s a cool place to visit or add to your bucket list. Walk under the money tree, engage with interactive exhibits, and try your hand at identifying a counterfeit bill.
Free Things to Do at Night in Cleveland
After hours, Cleveland’s landscape changes quite a bit. Moonlight, streetlights, and neon signs add a totally different vibe to the city… but there are still freebies you can indulge in. 10. Watch the sunset at Edgewater Park
. As the westernmost park in the Cleveland Metroparks, it’s a bit removed from the heart of the park district, but it has a totally unique landscape. Admire the Cleveland skyline, wiggle your toes in the sand, and snap a picture with our iconic Cleveland script sign. As the sun stretches to kiss the Lake Erie horizon, it will paint the sky in stunning hues of pink and orange. With the lake fueling local weather, you can expect some interesting clouds in the sky!
10 Minutes Away: Head over to Pier W in Lakewood for more incredible views of the Cleveland skyline… only paired with food! 11. See the lights dance on Lake Erie from Voinovich Bicentennial Park
Cleveland is full of green park spaces, but
Voinovich Bicentennial Park
is one-of-a-kind. This terraced space is a blend of concrete and greenery, and it’s full of excitement in the warmer months. Like Edgewater Park, this pretty public park is home to one of several Cleveland script signs, plus incredible views. With such close proximity to Downtown Cleveland, this site is an incredible place to admire nighttime views. The park closes at 9 p.m., but you can swing by at or after dusk to take in the gorgeous lights of the downtown district as they dance over Lake Erie’s energetic waters.
10 Minutes Away: Treat yourself to some classic Cleveland comfort food at Slyman's Restaurant and Deli. Honorable Mentions
Looking for even more fun after dinnertime? These additional spots are all sorts of fun! 12. Catch a show at Broadview Heights Community Amphitheater
Each summer through September, you can enjoy
free concerts in Broadview Heights
! Bring a lawn chair or blanket and get comfy, because each show is unique and worth catching. You’ll also enjoy the Nights in the Heights Concert & Cruise In events, which add a fun spin to this cool free event.
13. Listen to the sounds of summer in the Cleveland Metroparks
Who doesn’t love a good evening concert surrounded by the beauty of nature? The epic
Sounds of Summer
concert series in the Cleveland Metroparks is awesome and unique in that you’ll find yourself at places like Squire’s Castle, surrounded by birdsong and sweet tunes. Bring a picnic and get comfy!
Free Family-Friendly Activities in Greater Cleveland
When you’ve got kids in your household, you know how expensive it can be to find a family-friendly event or place. However, there’s so much to do with kids in Cleveland… and many local attractions won’t cost you a dime! 14. Attend a free event at Pinecrest
When it comes to the local shopping scene, Clevelanders have come to really love
in Orange, Ohio. This neat little commercial district has stores, dining, housing, and entertainment… but their free public events are also a huge draw for many locals. Yoga sessions, markets, music, and more add a degree of interest to the local landscape. It almost feels like there’s always something happening here!
10 Minutes Away: If you’ve got a bit of money to spend (after saving up some cash from checking out these freebies), swing by Thistledown Racino for a unique and lucky evening after the kids are in bed. 15. Explore the Nature Center at Shaker Lakes
Nature Center at Shaker Lakes
is a treat for visitors of all ages! Inside the nature center, you’ll find all sorts of exhibits and educational displays to teach you all about the local landscape. Outside, you can explore it via two beautiful trails. Walk amidst wildflowers, boardwalks, and more… this beautiful spot is a favorite of many locals, and it’s totally kid friendly.
5 Minutes Away: Enjoy some delicious and nutritious food at Anatolia Cafe. 16. Visit the Northern Ohio Railway Museum
Trains are fun for kids and adults alike, and the
Northern Ohio Railway Museum
is one of the best places to explore their local legacy. Here, a team of volunteers and train enthusiasts preserves a piece of transportation history via various beautifully restored train cars. Take a free tour, then unwind with a trolley ride. The museum is only open on Saturdays, but it’s well worth a trek… Seville itself is a charming little community with a unique story.
5 Minutes Away: Hike alongside Chippewa Lake for beautiful views accompanied by birdsong. Honorable Mentions
Are the kids craving more adventure? Rest assured, there’s still so much to do in the area! 17. Explore the Cultural Gardens
If you’re ready to step into another world, you have to check out the
Cleveland Cultural Gardens!
Complete with exquisite landscaping, beautiful statues and stonework, and a highly walkable park environment, you’ll fall in love with this pretty stretch of gardens in Cleveland’s Rockefeller Park.
18. Discover magic in Schoepfle Garden
Over in the Lorain County Metro Parks system, you’ll find a pretty park that’s nothing short of magical.
is an 80-acre getaway with a variety of themed sections. The Children’s Garden is especially popular, and its carousel is a must-visit attraction.
Cheap Things to Do in Cleveland
With all these freebies, you’ll find yourself saving a pretty penny as you adventure through Greater Cleveland. If you’re looking for fun things to do with your saved cash, these cheap attractions and dining spots might strike your fancy. 19. Dine at Two Bucks
Even picky eaters can find a treat for the taste buds at
. There are several locations in the area, but the Lakewood location is central to all sorts of affordable attractions. The concept here is built off of happy hour deals, but every hour is happy hour! Dig into mozzarella sticks, jalapeno poppers, salads, burgers, and award-winning mac and cheese. Try cocktails at a price that won’t break the bank!
5 Minutes Away: Admire restored beauty and art at The Sanctuary Museum right in town. 20. Visit the markets in AsiaTown
When it comes to cool Cleveland neighborhoods,
tops the list for many locals. This neat neighborhood is filled to the brim with unique businesses and dining spots, ranging from authentic Vietnamese to regional specialties. Of course, the local markets can’t be beat. Asian Town Center and Park to Shop both have all sorts of ingredients you won’t find anywhere else, plus sweet treats like handmade bakery goods. Stock up on goodies and snacks, then swing by a local restaurant to round out your experience!
10 Minutes Away: Enjoy the sunset or a picnic lunch at East 55th Street Marina. Honorable Mentions
Need more affordable fun near you? There’s so much to discover… you just need to know where to look! These additional spots might strike your fancy. 21. Play at The Corner Alley
We love a good game day! Get competitive with friends and family at
The Corner Alley
! If you claim a lane before 5 p.m., you can play for just $25 an hour. Divide that by eight people (the highest number allowed per lane) and, boom. You have a fun group outing for just a few bucks per person. Plus, there are on-site cocktails here!
22. Swing by Stearns Homestead Farm
Nowadays, there’s one local farm that still alludes to Cleveland’s rural roots.
is an awesome destination in the late summer and early fall, and it’s home to lots of history and critters alike. Pick up some food to feed the animals and make some new friends!
Free Things to Do in Cleveland Each Season
The seasons in Cleveland are stunning. Some cities have very little variation between the seasons but, here in Cleveland, you can experience all four seasons in one day. (Maybe that’s not something to brag about…) The following free activities should be at the top of each season’s bucket list! 23. Visit Daffodil Hill in Lake View Cemetery in the spring
Stop and smell the flowers in one of the liveliest cemeteries you’ll ever see!
features circa 100,000 blooming flowers each spring, and they create a seemingly endless sea of yellow. Surrounding the hill is a vast and historic garden-style cemetery that’s filled to the brim with art, including a presidential resting place and one Tiffany glass cathedral.
5 Minutes Away: Go shopping and dine in Coventry Village. 24. Swim at Huntington Beach in the summer
Ready for a day of fun? Treat yourself to a road trip through
the best beaches in Cleveland
, starting with Huntington. This pretty Bay Village beach has sand, picnic spots, and hiking trails all along Lake Erie’s shore. Nearby but still on campus, the Lake Erie Nature & Science Center and BAYarts are waiting to entertain you. Pack a lunch, work on your tan, and listen to the sounds of nature at this great spot.
10 Minutes Away: Chill out with something sweet at the Westlake Mitchell’s Ice Cream storefront. 25. Take in the autumnal splendor of Cuyahoga Valley National Park
You look like you could use a
fall foliage road trip
. Cuyahoga Valley National Park is tucked away in neighboring Summit County, and it is nothing short of a treat. This gorgeous park is filled with waterfalls, cliffs, picnic spots, and hikes that are picture-perfect. Plus, many portions of the park are open late, so you can go star-gazing in a place that’s well away from the city light pollution.
10 Minutes Away: Get to know more of the local landscape at Richfield Heritage Preserve. 26. Admire ice sculptures crafted by Lake Erie’s winter waves
When winter comes, Lake Erie’s shore becomes transformed by the presence of
local park is going to be a treat in the winter, but we’ll point you in the direction of Lakefront Reservation to begin your journey. As Lake Erie’s waves crash upon the shore in the early months of winter, you’ll notice that plants are transformed into strange and almost alien statues. These ice gardens are surreal and beautiful, but don’t forget to bundle up!
5 Minutes Away: Warm up with some comfort food at V’s Chicken. Honorable Mentions
There’s so much seasonal fun in Greater Cleveland that it’s hard to narrow in on
only a handful! These honorable mentions are also bucket list worthy: 27. Visit Medina Square in the fall
When it comes to fall fun, nowhere quite beats the vibe at
. This town looks like a real-life train set, and it is overflowing with charm. With frequent free events and all sorts of adorable local shops, you’ll love getting to know the area like a local.
28. See the holiday lights in Strongsville
Each winter, Strongsville becomes a
holiday wonderland of lights
. The city center comes to life with city-sponsored displays, but the surrounding neighborhoods also go all out. The whole town is worth exploring, and the local mall right off Route 82 is an awesome place to warm up and possibly meet Santa Claus himself.
Cleveland is an awesome place to explore, and local adventures can often be enjoyed without breaking the bank. Which of these free things to do in Cleveland is your favorite? Share your thoughts with us in the comments!
Looking for even
more local fun? Explore more local gems in our Best Things to Do in Cleveland series:
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