Downtown Cleveland is the central business district of Cleveland, Ohio and while it may be dedicated to commerce and its skyline dominated by the high rise towers of several large financial institutions, it’s a scenic downtown area fronted by beautiful Lake Erie.
The heart of Downtown Cleveland is all about business, but head to the waterfront and the district comes to life both culturally and socially. Most of Downtown’s best attractions are by the lakeside in North Harbor. Head there to find amazing interactive museums, a concert park and lots of aquatic activities.
That’s not all Downtown Cleveland has to offer either. It’s great for shopping, has some very classy bars and a food scene with a definite international influence. So, before you go, put all of these fifteen best things to do in Downtown Cleveland on a must-do list, you’ll be so glad you did.
1. Lolly The Trolley
Hop aboard Lolly the Trolley for a sightseeing tour of Downtown Cleveland. Lolly is an antique-style bright red, wooden bench-seat trolley bus which begins its journey on the West Bank.
Tour around Downtown through Public Square and then over to North Harbor before visiting several other popular destinations in the city.
Choose either a one hour non-stop tour or a two and a half hour tour with rest break included. A professional guide narrates both tours.
Fun tour for beer lovers: Cleveland: Brewery Tour with Craft Beer Tasting
2. Goodtime III Cleveland Cruise
Board the Goodtime III cruise ship to view Downtown Cleveland from the water. The ship sets sail from East 9th Street Pier in Downtown Cleveland and cruises both the lake and the Cuyahoga River.
The Goodtime III, Cleveland biggest sightseeing boat, has four separate decks and can carry up to a thousand passengers. Narrated public tours last for around two hours.
For something a little different, take a luncheon cruise with food, a happy hour cruise with booze or a Saturday night City Lights cruise with Downtown Cleveland skyline illuminations and a sky full of stars included.
3. Public Square
Find the Public Square in Downtown Cleveland, and you’ll have found the heart of the city. The square, which covers a total ground space of six and a half acres, dates back to the late 1790s when the city was founded.
The Public Square is not just a place to chill out. There are frequent events happening in the square throughout the year. Watch a live performance of either music or drama on the Mandel Concert Hill, listen to the presentations on the Speakers’ Terrace or grab some healthy food from the Rebol restaurant-cafe and enjoy eating it on the Gund Foundation Green.
The Public Square has several interesting monuments and a cobbled pathway running around the perimeter perfect for an after-lunch stroll. From December to February there is an ice rink in the square which is opened for public enjoyment.
Fun Cleveland Food Tour: Ohio City Food Tour
4. House of Blues Cleveland
For a lively night out with some great music check out the House of Blues Cleveland on Euclid Avenue in Downtown Cleveland.
Locally rated as one of DT’s top nightspots, this amazing blues and rock venue has a massive music hall for live performances, leather-clad VIP lounges with independent entertainment, full-service bar, and an in-house restaurant.
Once a month on a Sunday the club hosts their well renowned Gospel Brunch. The very hearty brunch is an all-you-can-eat buffet meal consisting of breakfast ingredients, a roast meat carvery, southern specialty dishes and lots of desserts all accompanied by live gospel music.
5. Great Lakes Science Center
The Great Lakes Science Center is an impressive museum installation located on East Ninth Street in Downtown Cleveland.
The museum houses hundreds of interactive exhibits which enable visitors to discover for themselves the idiosyncrasies of science, investigate the functions of the human body in the Grossology Lab or have a space experience in the NASA Glenn Visitor Center.
The Great Lakes Science Center has an on-site cafeteria with fantastic lake views and a theater with a six-story-high domed cinema screen.
6. Cleveland Bike Tours
Get energetic and explore Downtown Cleveland on a cycle tour. Meet up with other cyclists and the guide at the depot on East 9th Street. After a short safety briefing, it’s helmets on and time to hit the streets.
The cycle tour takes in all the best sights of Downtown, with occasional stops for informative chats from the guide, before heading to the waterfront for some lakeside air.
Tours are usually two and a half hours long and cover a distance of approximately five miles.
7. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is a museum dedicated to the legends of the music industry situated on Rock and Roll Boulevard off East 9th Street in Downtown Cleveland.
The museum, an unusual geometrically shaped construction, houses infinite collections and exhibitions of everything from video clips to pinball machines plus song lyrics and photographs from before the days of the Beatles right up to the present day rappers of hip-hop.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has a theater featuring shows of all the artist inductions over the past thirty years and an outdoor stage for live concerts.
Book online: Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Tickets
8. Nuevo Modern Mexican & Tequila Bar
Spice up your stay in Downtown Cleveland with a meal at the Nuevo Modern Mexican & Tequila Bar on East 9th Street.
The waterside restaurant has fantastic terraces looking out onto the marina which is a great spot for enjoying a Mango Margarita before tucking into Carnitas or Lengua tacos.
The Nuevo Modern Mexican & Tequila Bar hosts live music on their outdoor patio once a week during the summer months.
9. Rock and Dock
To enjoy some watersports on Lake Erie head to the Rock and Dock at the North Coast Marina on Downtown Cleveland’s East 9th Street.
Hire a paddle boat and take a serene paddle around the marina or if you prefer to use your arms instead of your legs, take a turn in a kayak or on a stand-up paddleboard. For the best adrenaline thrill of all, have a ride over Lake Erie on a jet ski.
If that all sounds too much, then try a Go Boat. The single passenger electric powered boats may look like a rubber ring with a motor, but they’re great fun, and you get to be your own captain and choose where you want to go and when.
10. Jack Cleveland Casino
Test your poker face at the Jack Cleveland Casino in Public Square, Downtown Cleveland. Inside the one hundred thousand square feet of luxurious gaming space, which is open twenty-four hours, there are over one thousand five hundred slot machines and more than a hundred tables featuring games such as roulette and poker.
The Jack Cleveland Casino has several in-house restaurants offering a variety of cuisine ranging from international buffet to burgers and pizzas plus numerous bars catering for all drinking tastes.
11. Tower City Center
The Tower City Center is a mega-sized, indoor shopping mall on West Huron Road in Downtown Cleveland. Save an entire day for shopping here; you’ll need it.
The center’s three retail floors are stacked to overflowing with big name stores, cafes, and restaurants. The mall also houses a ten-screen cinema showing all the latest movie releases.
The Tower City Center interconnects with the Jack Cleveland Casino and has a walkway which links directly to both of Downtown Cleveland’s main sports arenas.
Try a taste of the Mediterranean while in Downtown Cleveland by dining out at the Mallorca restaurant on West 9th Street which serves traditional dishes from Spain and Portugal.
The Mallorca maintains the Spanish theme with its dark wood interior and tuxedo-wearing waiters. Go for the Paella Valenciana with a glass of Sangria or the Shell Fish Casserole in Green Sauce accompanied with a glass of Rioja and you’ll feel as if you’ve taken an Iberian vacation.
Don’t miss coffee and brandy at the end of your meal. It’s a true Spanish spectacular when they set your drink on fire.
13. USS Cod Submarine Memorial
The USS Cod Submarine Memorial is a maritime museum moored on North Marginal Road in Downtown Cleveland.
The three hundred and twelve-foot submarine was in active service during World War II and until it was decommissioned in the mid-1950s. After a complete restoration, which maintained all the features of its original design, the submarine was designated a national historic landmark.
The Cod is open to visitors from the beginning of May through to the end of September, on Saturdays only from October to the end of November and for special occasions such as the Pearl Harbour Commemoration Day.
14. Terminal Tower
One of the best places to view Downtown Cleveland is from the observation deck in the Terminal Tower.
The fifty-two story skyscraper, built in the 1930s, is one of the iconic landmarks of Downtown and an integral part of the Tower City Center.
It’s a two elevator ride up to the deck on the forty-second floor which offers panoramic views of the downtown district and on clear days, up to thirty miles across the lake and into the distance.
15. Bar 32
Drop in at Bar 32 on the thirty-second floor of the Hilton Hotel on Lakeside Avenue East in Downtown Cleveland for scenic vistas paired with sophisticated beverages.
The bar, at an altitude of almost four hundred feet, has stunning views over Lake Erie and parts of the downtown district making it the ideal spot for pre-dinner drinks or sundowners.
Guaranteed to hit the right spot as dusk settles on Downtown Cleveland are The View cocktail or a Blue Moon.