“Cleveland Rocks!” declares Drew Carey, and he’s got some evidence to back up his claim. Like so many Midwest cities, Cleveland’s been through its share of hard times, but it has much to recommend it as a tourist destination. Let’s take a look at several of the city’s notable attractions:
Cleveland Botanical Garden
The 10 acre Cleveland Botanical Garden is the oldest civic garden in the country, dating back to 1930. Visitors can see the Eleanor Armstrong Smith Glasshouse featuring the plants of Costa Rica and Madagascar, 3,000 species of trees and shrubs, the Western Reserve Herb Society Garden, a rose garden, a Japanese garden, wildflowers, perennials, and the Hershey Children’s Garden. There is a resource center and library that offer information on landscaping and horticulture, crafts, gardening classes, and story time for preschoolers.
The Cleveland Botanical Garden is open year round, closed on Mondays. Admission is $8.50 for ages 13 and above, $3 for ages 3-12.
Cleveland Museum of Art
Housed in a classic Beaux Arts white marble building in the 15 acre Fine Arts Garden, since 1916 the Cleveland Museum of Art has been one of Ohio’s premier civic and cultural institutions and a world class comprehensive art museum. The museum’s permanent collection of 30,000 works includes masterpieces from Asia, Africa, Europe, and North and South America, stretching back 5,000 years. Especially popular with visitors is the Armor Court, with its historic swords, daggers, and suits of armor. The museum also regularly hosts important touring exhibits.
The museum is closed Mondays, the 4th of July, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s. It opens at 10 AM and closes at 5 PM, except Wednesdays and Fridays when it stays open until 9 PM. Admission is free.
Cleveland Museum of Natural History
The Cleveland Museum of Natural History is located in the University Circle area, near such other attractions as the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Cleveland Botanical Garden, and the Western Reserve Historical Society.
Among the many highlights of the museum is Amazing Feats of Aging, which explains how and why people, animals, and plants age. There are reconstructed dinosaur skeletons, other prehistoric fossils, and natural gemstones. Exhibits tell all about the natural history of Ohio, its plants, animals, insects, and archaeology, as well as the human history, focusing on the Indians of the area.
Many exhibits are interactive and kid-friendly.
Shafran Planetarium, part of the museum, offers a variety of 35-minute astronomy shows about the stars and planets.
The Cleveland Museum of Natural History is open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 10 AM to 5 PM, Wednesday from 10 AM to 10 PM, and Sunday from Noon to 5 PM. Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and students, and $7 for ages 6 and under.
Great Lakes Science Center
Located on the Lake Erie shore, the Great Lakes Science Center offers a variety of science related attractions and activities. There is a six-story Omnimax Theater, the only NASA Visitor Center outside the South, the steamship William G. Mather, interactive workshops for students and teachers, a 150 foot wind turbine and solar array canopy, and more than 400 scientific exhibits in multiple galleries. There are refreshment stalls, cafés, and a gift shop. The Science Center also offers overnight camps.
The Science Center is open seven days a week, year round except Thanksgiving and Christmas, from 10 AM to 5 PM every day.
Playhouse Square Center
Playhouse Square Center is the nation’s second largest live theater complex, behind only Lincoln Center in New York.
The Cleveland theater district was once thriving, then pretty much collapsed with almost all the theaters closing down, and then experienced a great rebirth, with the past giants renovated and reopened, and new theaters added. Today playgoers have an embarrassment of riches-Allen Theatre, Hanna Theatre, Idea Center Studio 1 at Playhouse Square, Kennedy’s Theatre, Ohio Theatre, Palace Theatre, State Theatre, and 14th Street Theatre.
Playhouse Square Center is part of a broader revitalization of downtown Cleveland. It’s a great place to spend an evening, taking in a play and enjoying dinner in one of the area’s fancy restaurants.
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Since 1986, people have been flocking to the I.M. Pei designed glass and steel pyramid that is the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, making it already one of the most popular tourist destinations in Ohio.
The Hall of Fame has an extensive multimedia permanent collection of songs, photos, video and memorabilia telling the history of the rock and roll era and highlighting its most memorable performers. There are also frequently changing temporary exhibits. If you come at the right time, you may even be able to catch a live performance by one of your favorites.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is open year round, seven days a week. Admission is $22 for ages 13 and up, $17 for seniors, $13 for ages 9-12, and free for children under 9.
Terminal Tower has been surpassed by multiple modern skyscrapers and is no longer the tallest building of the Cleveland skyline, but locals retain an attachment to the 1930 downtown building. Located in the center of Public Square at the south end of downtown, Terminal Tower is named for the train station on its ground floor, but also contains a mall with some of the city’s biggest department stores, a food court, and multiple movie theaters.
Terminal Tower is 52 stories high, with an observation deck on the 42nd floor that provides an impressive view of Cleveland and the surrounding area.
If you’re willing to venture a little beyond Cleveland itself, within a short drive are the amusement park Cedar Point, Kelleys Island State Park with its Glacial Grooves, and Cuyahoga Valley National Park.
“Awesome Ohio Adventure!” Discover Ohio.
“Ohio Things to Do.” Yahoo! Travel.
“Ohio Tourism.” Ohio Beautiful.
“Ohio Tourist Attractions.” We Go Places.