Disclosure: At least some of this trip was either comped or provided at a media rate. Post may contain affiliate links. A purchase and/or click through one of these links may result in a commission paid to us. All opinions are our own.
Last week, JetBlue introduced service out of Cleveland’s Hopkins Airport. I had the opportunity to ride on the inaugural flight from Boston to Cleveland, and enjoyed a few days exploring Cleveland thanks to Destination Cleveland. There are so many fantastic things to do in Cleveland with kids – here are few of my favorites.
Things to Do in Cleveland With Kids
Fans of A Christmas Story will love this attraction in Cleveland. Opened in 2006, the original house shown in the movie was purchased by Brian Jones and renovated to look just like the movie set. Guests get to see iconic items from the movie, including the leg lamp (packed in the fragile box) and the Red Ryder BB gun. In addition to the home, there’s a small museum with memorabilia from the movie, and a large gift shop. The home wasn’t crowded on the day we attended, but is definitely a popular attraction during the holiday season.
Playhouse Square, Cleveland’s theater district, is the county’s largest performing arts area outside of NYC. It features eight venues, including five historic theaters, showing everything from traveling Broadway shows to smaller comedy performances. More than one million people see a show at Playhouse Square, and with good reason. The theaters are absolutely gorgeous, and are a site in themselves.
During my trip to Cleveland, I was most excited to visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. As a music fan, I was thrilled to see the exhibits and explore the history of music. Our tour guide was extremely knowledgeable, and showed us some of the highlights of the collection, including the traveling Herb Ritts exhibit, the new inductee exhibit, and the Legends of Rock and Roll. We only had a few hours in the museum, and I definitely could have spent the whole day. The I.M. Pei designed museum, which recently celebrated their 20th anniversary, offers movies, interactive exhibits, and much more that can be explored. It’s a great place to introduce kids to rock and roll – so much of the collection is dynamic and eye-catching for children. Any list of things to do in Cleveland definitely needs to include a visit here.
One of our last stops was to Big Fun, a vintage toy store filled with fun surprises. Originally opened in the Coventry neighborhood in Cleveland in 1990, Big Fun is definitely a must visit. I loved seeing vintage toys that I remember playing with, along with old-fashioned candy, old video games, and collectable figures. Owner Steve Presser gave us a tour of the store, and I could definitely have spent over an hour there. Prices are great too – very affordable for items that you can’t find just anywhere.
The Cleveland Museum of Art offers free admission for everyone, thanks to a large endowment. Although art museums aren’t necessarily an obvious choice for a family trip, the Cleveland Museum of Art does a great job making their museum approachable and accommodating to families. Gallery One, located right off the main entrance, offers a multi-generational experience. Studio Space, which is located within Gallery One, features kid-friendly, interactive activities to help kids’ learn how to experience art. The museum also offers a world-class app, which I’d definitely recommend downloading for your visit.
Featuring 100 vendors, West Side Market is Cleveland’s oldest public market. During my Friday morning visit, I saw vendors selling meat, bread, crepes, coffee, tea, fruit, vegetables, spices, and much more. The market maintains traditional (i.e., limited) hours, so be sure to check the schedule before heading out.
See a Game
Cleveland is home to the Cleveland Browns, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Cleveland Indians, and all three sports venues are located right in the city.
During my visit to Cleveland, I experienced many delicious, unique restaurants. Not all were kid-friendly, but there are definitely plenty of options for families.
- Happy Dog – a Cleveland institution, Happy Dog offers loads of different toppings all included in the cost of a $5 hot dog. Kids will love the Froot Loop and crunchy peanut butter toppings. In the evenings, Happy Dog is home to bands, DJs, and other special events, including a very popular polka night.
- Noodlecat – we actually didn’t eat at Noodlecat at during our trip, but I did dine at the Greenhouse, chef Jonathon Sawyer’s other restaurant.
- Urban Farmer – attached to the popular Westin Hotel in Cleveland, Urban Farmer is the second location of the Portland, Oregon based restaurant. I had a delicious breakfast there and would definitely recommend a visit there.
We also ate at some other fabulous restaurants. I’d recommend using your discretion when deciding whether to dine with children at these locations – based upon your child’s age and food preferences.
- Great Lakes Brewery
- The Greenhouse
- Prosperity Social Club
Where to Stay
Cleveland offers many hotels in the area, with even more being built right now. We stayed at the Residence Inn Downtown Cleveland, which is located right near both the Quicken Loans Arena and Progressive Field. The hotel is great for families – the suites offer kitchens, along with separate rooms for the kids (except for studios). Read reviews here.
While these were the places I visited on my press trip, there are lots of other things to do in Cleveland with kids as well. A reader commented below with these suggestions:
- The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
- The Great Lakes Science Center
- The Cleveland Children’s Museum
- Greater Cleveland Aquarium
Disclosure: I attended a press trip to Cleveland courtesy of Destination Cleveland and JetBlue. All opinions are my own.