Things to do in Cleveland in a Day

Fun things to do in Cleveland: Check out the Free Stamp in Downtown Cleveland
We love visiting places we've never been before so when we had the chance to take a short road trip from Pittsburgh to Cleveland, we jumped at the chance. Cleveland, you say? The one in Ohio? Yes! Is Cleveland worth visiting? We think every place is worth visiting at least once even in the U.S. Rust Belt. Cleveland may not be at the top of your travel wishlist but consider giving the Cleveland a chance with a weekend city break road trip. Read on to learn about things to do in Cleveland in just 24 hours. I think you'll find yourself pleasantly surprised and looking forward to a return trip.

Pittsburgh to Cleveland Pitstops

I visit Pittsburgh regularly for work and I'm no stranger to all the fun things there are to do in Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh to Cleveland is just a 3 hour drive making it easy to discover Cleveland in a day. Of course, getting there is half the fun. There are some great places to stop and stretch your legs on the drive between Cleveland and Pittsburgh.

Stone Fruit Coffee Company

Boardman, Ohio is home to Stone Fruit Coffee Company, a great place to break up the drive between Pittsburgh and Cleveland. A Campfire Smores and Sprinkled Donut Gourmet Joe latte and coffee cake baked on the premises really hit the spot and fueled the rest of our drive with sugar and caffeine. Stone Fruit Coffee Company even has some pinball machines to generate an added adrenaline rush to fuel the rest of the drive.
Pittsburgh to Cleveland drive: stop at Stone Fruit Coffee Company in Boardman Ohio for coffee cake

Cuyahoga National Park

It would be easy to spend a full day hiking at Cuyahoga National Park. With just 24 hours to spend in Cleveland, limit yourself to just a couple short hikes. Cuyahoga National Park is situated just outside the city of Cleveland. In fact, you'll drive through some suburban residential neighborhoods to get there. Park at the Boston Visitors center and take a walk on the Ohio and Erie Canal path.
Things to do near Cleveland: Cuyahoga National Park
We got some great advice from the staff working at the visitors center at Cuyahoga National Park. We drove to Brandywine Falls and took a 10 minute hike along a path carved into the rocks to see the waterfall. It felt great to get some fresh air and get our legs pumping near the end of our drive between Pittsburgh and Cleveland.

Getting Around Cleveland

If you stay in Downtown Cleveland, ditch your car and stick to public transportation and Uber. You'll be able to sample more Cleveland craft beer this way. We stayed at the SpringHill Suites in Independence on the outskirts of Cleveland which was convenient to drive in and drive out (and no fee for parking like you'd get at Downtown Cleveland hotels). You can get a reasonably priced Uber or Lyft (less than $20 USD) to Cleveland's West Side where many of Cleveland's top attractions are located. Take the Cleveland RTA train from the West Side to downtown and then Uber back to the suburbs.

Things to do in Cleveland

On to the main event! Read on for things to do in Cleveland in just 24 hours. Make sure to bring your extra loose pants. You're going to need them since a lot of the fun things to do in Cleveland revolve around eating.

Cleveland West Side Market

Cleveland's West Side Market is a must visit. You'll discover delicious temptations at every turn. This historic food hall opened in 1912 and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. I tried a chocolate covered jalapeno at Campbell's Sweets. The heat was no joke! Bam! You had me at BACON. The Bacon Maple Apple Fritter from Vera's Bakery in West Side Market was simply divine.
Fun things to do on the West Side of Cleveland: Visit West Side Market and Mitchell's Ice Cream
Things to do on the West Side of Cleveland
Left: Eat a chocolate covered jalapeno at Cleveland's West Side Market
Middle: Try Mitchell's ice cream
Right: Eat a Bacon Maple Apple Fritter from Vera's Bakery in West Side Market

Visit Great Lakes Brewing Company

Cleveland has a fantastic craft beer scene. Did you know that Eliot Ness used to drink at the bar that is now home to Great Lakes Brewing Company (walking distance from Cleveland's West Side Market). Ness was a well-known American Prohibition agent, famous for his attempts to bring down gangster Al Capone. Keep an eye out for the bullet hole above the bar. Rumor has it that this bullet was meant for Eliot Ness himself.
Things to do in Cleveland: Visit Great Lakes Brewing Company
Sip a Burning River Pale Ale, a nod to Cleveland's more polluted history (thankfully, the Cuyahoga River hasn't caught fire in over 50 years now). Order potato kegs (sort of like over-sized tater tots). You'll discover inventively named creations on the menu. We sampled the "Over the Falls" with rich gravy and cheese curds. Our Great Lakes Brewing Company potato kegs were dense and delicious.

Have a Flight of Cleveland Craft Beer at Nano Brew

Continue sampling Cleveland's best craft beer on the West Side. Try a craft beer flight at Nano Brew. I love tasters and ended up batting 3 for 4 on my craft beer flight. Nano Rum Raisin and Tropical NEIPA were unique and flavorful. I also really loved Brewery Ommegang Pale Sour. Nano I Paddle Around NEIPA was less to my liking. Nano Brew gets bonus points for the bad ass moose head mounted on the wall.
Fun things to do in Cleveland: Have a craft beer flight at Nano Brew

Try Mitchell's Ice Cream

We simply couldn't walk by Mitchell's Ice Cream and not stop. Campfire Smores and coffee chocolate chunk ice cream paired well together on a hot day. You can even see into the magical ice cream factory from the shop.

Admire the Architecture on Public Square

The Cleveland RTA Red Line has a stop right across the street from the West Side Market. The Red Line will deliver you to Public Square in Downtown Cleveland ($2.50 USD cash fare). Look up and marvel at Cleveland's stunning architecture.
Public Square in Downtown Cleveland

Explore Downtown Cleveland Arcades

There are some simply fabulous arcades in Cleveland. We visited Cleveland in late June and it was nice to be able to get out of the scorching heat for a few minutes. Have an air-conditioned browse through the shops and admire the historic architecture. You'll feel like you've taken a step back in time. The Arcade Cleveland (attached to the Westin Cleveland) is particularly grand.

Seek Out the Free Stamp

Another famous thing to do in Cleveland is visit the Free Stamp. What is a free stamp, you ask? Cleveland's Free Stamp is a sculpture of a giant novelty rubber stamp sitting along one of the main thoroughfares through downtown.
Things to do in Cleveland Ohio
From Left: 
Check out the moose head at Nano Brew
Statue on Public Square in Downtown Cleveland
The Arcade Cleveland
The Free Stamp

Listen to Music at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame may be Cleveland's most famous attraction. Walk toward Lake Erie and listen for strains of music. There is often a band playing just outside near the Long Live Rock sign (at least in the summer). It costs $26 USD to visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It's probably not worth it unless you can spend a whole day here. With just 24 hours in Cleveland, we knew we couldn't spare that kind of time. Pro-tip: you can access the lobby and gift shop in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for free to get a taste of the museum. Take a moment to admire Phish' flying hot dog above your head.
Cleveland attractions: The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Relax Along Lake Erie

Another fun thing to do in Cleveland in a day is admire the Lake Erie waterfront views. I have to say that the lake breeze transported me back to my childhood in Buffalo and summers on Lake Erie.
Things to do in Cleveland: walk along Lake Erie

SIDEWALK SAFARI SPOTLIGHT: Buffalo is another Rust Belt city that has a ton to offer. Eat delicious local comfort food, explore Buffalo's historic architecture, and take a cruise on the Buffalo River.

Visit Cleveland Public Library

I have to say, the Cleveland Public Library was an absolute highlight of our visit to Downtown Cleveland. The library features very cool architecture and a puppet exhibit where I got to meet Oscar the Grouch. Walk up to the special collections room on the third floor. When we visited, there was a fab display of chess sets.
Cleveland Points of Interest: Cleveland Public Library

Eat Chicken Wings and Play Video Games in Berea

Venture further afield to finish off the day in Berea Ohio near the Cleveland Airport. Our friend from college owns a collectibles shop in Berea where we got to meet Fozzie and Kermit and play some pinball. Go Kidforce! Berea is also home to Boss Chick N Beer. Don't you dare ask for the wings pre-sauced. I picked the jalapeno buffalo sauce to dip my chicken wings. Boss Chick N Beer also serves French fries with a sprinkle of salt and sugar (for that perfect savory sweet combo). If you visit Berea in the summer, you might just catch a gorgeous sunset and a live band in the park.
Things to do in Cleveland Ohio
From left:
Chicken wings and sweet and savory fries at Boss Chick N Beer in Berea
Berea Ohio sunset
Fozzie and Kermit at Kidforce Collectibles
Chess sets at the Cleveland Public Library

See a Piece of Movie History at the A Christmas Story House

Round out your 24 hours in Cleveland with a visit to A Christmas Story House. A Christmas Story is a cult classic movie that flopped when it first came out in the mid-1980s but soon developed a following. You can now watch 24 hour A Christmas Story marathons during the holiday season on U.S. TV. In the movie, set in 1940, little Ralphie innocently plots to get himself a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas. The house used in the film is located in Cleveland's Tremont neighborhood. A super-fan of the movie bought the house and restored the interior to what it was during the film and opened a museum devoted to A Christmas Story in 2006. The museum has since been extended to include a couple of the houses across the street with exhibits featuring memorabilia from the movie. You can even stay overnight at the Bumpus House Bed and Breakfast (presumably minus the smelly old hound dogs). Visit A Christmas Story house, take the tour, and recreate all your favorite scenes from the movie. And yes, you'll find many a leg lamp in the gift shop!
Things to do in Cleveland: Visit "A Christmas Story" House Museum


There you have it...a whirlwind 24 hours in Cleveland. I hope you've enjoyed this post on how to do Cleveland in a day and a night and that this inspires you to undertake the drive from Pittsburgh to Cleveland.

SIDEWALK SAFARI SPOTLIGHT: Nearby Pittsburgh (Pittsburgh to Cleveland takes just 3 hours by car) also has it's own quirky house. If you liked A Christmas Story house, you'll love Randyland in the Mexican War Streets neighborhood.

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Sidewalk Safari | Part-time Travel Blog: Things to do in Cleveland in a Day
Things to do in Cleveland in a Day
Travel from Pittsburgh to Cleveland for 24 hours. Learn about things to do in Cleveland Ohio. Find out about what to do in Cleveland in a day. Discover fun places to visit in Cleveland.
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