18 Essential Cleveland Bucket List Ideas: Food + Activities


It’s always fun to explore a new city. Even if Cleveland isn’t at the top of your travel bucket list, perhaps you should add it. Cleveland has a ton of museums, a beautiful waterfront, and (of course) the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Jump ahead to these sections:

Let us help you create your itinerary for Cleveland. We will even try to find a few hidden gems that locals would enjoy.

Unique Cleveland Bucket List Ideas for Locals

If you are like most people, you probably don’t do much sightseeing in your own community. In fact, there are probably some Clevelanders who have never been to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. 

Consider becoming a tourist in your own city. Visit those places that are popular with tourists. Or perhaps you might also want to consider these unique experiences as well.

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1. Tour Lakeview Cemetery

Yes, we are suggesting that you spend your day off work touring a cemetery. There’s nothing weird about that, is there?

Some of you may be cringing at the idea of spending your recreational time among the dead. However, others of you are saying to yourself, “Yeah, I would love to tour that graveyard.” 

If you are the type of person who would enjoy wandering through a cemetery, gather up a group of 11 like-minded friends and schedule a tour. Even though the tour might focus on the monument for President Garfield, ask to see the “weeping angel.” 

The weeping angel is seated on the marble gravestone of the Haserot Family. Besides being a striking figure, the angel appears to have shocking black tears running down both cheeks. 

2. Learn how people through the centuries prevented pregnancies

You may have heard of the Dittrick Museum of Medical History. Located at Case Western Reserve University, the museum celebrates the history of medicine and showcases an extensive collection of medical devices and surgical equipment. 

What you may not know is that the Dittrick Museum also has an extensive collection of contraceptive items that have been used through the ages. Apparently, old contraception techniques utilized beaver testicles, cat bones, crocodile dung, ear wax from a mule, and spider carcasses, among other strange things.  

3. Visit the Dunham Tavern 

The Dunham Tavern is the oldest building in Cleveland. It was a hot spot back from the 1820s to the 1850s. Currently, however, it is full of period antiques.

Ok, Clevelanders. We’ve given you three (hopefully unique) ideas of things to do in your city. Which appeals to you? The cemetery? The birth control display? Or the tavern that doesn’t serve beer?

Here are some additional ideas for natives and those visiting the city. 

Must-Do Cleveland Bucket List Ideas for Visitors

What are the most popular tourist attractions in Cleveland? Here are three for your bucket list. 

4. Immerse yourself in rock history for the day

We suggest arriving at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as soon as it opens because you are going to want to spend the entire day perusing the displays. Examples include John Mellencamp’s motorcycle, dresses worn by Diana Ross and the Supremes, and Ringo Starr’s drum kit. 

If the memorabilia doesn’t interest you, the videos and recordings will. You might want to spend hours at the interactive listening stations that allow you to hear recordings of your favorite musicians and learn what artists inspired their sound. 

5. Take a photo with a major award at The Christmas Story house

The exterior scenes of Ralphie’s house were filmed in a quiet neighborhood in Cleveland. A savvy entrepreneur purchased the property and renovated the interior, making it look like the home in the movie. 

Visitors to the Christmas Story house can take photos holding Lifebuoy soap, sitting under the kitchen sink, or opening a giant crate marked “Fragile.” 

Of course, having extensive knowledge of The Christmas Story movie is necessary to enjoy this experience. 

You can also have an overnight experience in The Christmas Story house! Visit their website to discover how.

6. See some of the best art in the world for free

The Cleveland Museum of Art has a diverse collection focusing on Asian and Egyptian art. Admittance to the museum is free, and art lovers can examine pieces by Monet, Rodin, and Caravaggio. 

The museum itself is considered to be a work of art too. The atrium and building have been featured in popular movies whenever an impressive facade is needed. 

Cleveland Bucket List Ideas for Spring or Summer

Will you be visiting Cleveland during moderate weather? Here are some ideas that will allow you to enjoy the great outdoors during your visit. 

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7. Stop and smell the flowers at the Holden Forests and Garden

The Holden Arboretum combined forces with the Cleveland Botanical Garden to create Holden Forests & Gardens. Holden Forests and Gardens is “where people connect with trees and plants.”

The facility hosts special exhibits and learning opportunities for Clevelanders and out-of-town guests.

8. Visit lions, tigers, and bears at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo

The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is divided into several subsections: Australian Adventure, African Savanna, Northern Wilderness Trek, and Rainforest are just a few.

Cleveland Bucket List Ideas for Fall or Winter

All you need to do is Google “Cleveland lighthouse covered in ice” to understand how cold it gets in the region. Of course, Clevelanders enjoy some fall days with moderate temperatures, but you might want to schedule indoor activities during your winter visit.

9. Do a little shopping in The Arcade

Located in downtown Cleveland, The Arcade describes two Victorian-era buildings with a beautiful glass skylight that covers the area in between. The Arcade was built in 1890 and is considered one of the earliest indoor shopping malls in the US. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1975.

10. Shop some more at the West Side Market

The West Side Market is another beautiful marketplace in Cleveland. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in the 1970s. 

Cleveland Bucket List Ideas for University Students

Cleveland is a great sports town and has an abundance of breweries. Young adults shouldn’t have a problem staying entertained in this Ohio city.

Here are some things that young adults might enjoy while visiting Cleveland.

11. Watch the Guardians, Cavaliers, Browns, or Monsters

Are you a sports fan? No matter the season, there should be some sporting event to watch either in person or at one of Cleveland’s many sports bars. Make sure you wear the right colors so you are sure not to offend. 

12. Take the Towpath Trail

When the Towpath Trail is completed, it will be over 100 miles long. Currently, you can run, hike, bike, or ride a horse along the Ohio and Erie Canal. 

This historic trail was where mules pulled canal boats full of passengers and goods. The trail leads you across a cable suspension bridge. 

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Cleveland Bucket List Ideas for Kids and Families

Your little ones probably won’t last very long at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. However, there are plenty of kid-friendly places to take your children when you visit Cleveland. 

13. Let the kids play at the Children’s Museum of Cleveland

Within the Children’s Museum of Cleveland, kids can explore Adventure City, Wonderlab, and Arts and Parts. In addition, kids can put on a staged production, complete with lights! Also, the top floor of the museum has a fantastic collection of miniatures.

14. Learn about Lake Erie at the Great Lakes Science Center

At the Great Lakes Science Center, kids of Cleveland discover that learning about science can begin in their own backyard, as many of the exhibits feature the natural environment in the Great Lakes region. 

15. Visit a heroic dog at The Cleveland Museum of Natural History

There are lots to see and do at The Cleveland Museum of Natural History, but one of the most unique exhibits is the mounted heroic dog named Balto. Balto, the lead of a dog sled team, delivered medicine to a remote section of Alaska. The team made the 674-mile journey in six days, while the route typically took a month in those conditions. 

When a Cleveland man saw Balto on display at a dime museum in Los Angeles after the dog’s heroic journey, he raised funds to buy the animal. As a result, Balto lived out his life in Cleveland, and his mount can be seen at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.

Bucket List Foods and Restaurants in Cleveland

What’s for dinner? There are a couple of signature dishes you’ll need to try in Cleveland. Otherwise, enjoy the wide variety of restaurants found in this foodie city.

16. Polish Boy

The Polish Boy isn’t a dainty sandwich. Instead, visualize kielbasa on a bun, topped with French fries, barbecue sauce, and coleslaw. Make sure you grab a lot of napkins when you purchase this meal-in-a-sandwich.  

17. Mustard

Bertman’s Ballpark Mustard has been described as a “vinegar-based brown mustard, tangy and a little sweet without being overpoweringly hot.” Besides being Clevelander’s favorite condiment at baseball games, it is also used as a base for a popular barbecue sauce.  

18. Sfogliatelle

Whether you buy sfogliatelle in Cleveland’s Little Italy or at another area bakery, this Italian treat is sure to delight. The dessert is sometimes referred to as a lobster tail because of its design. However, this flaky piece of pastry perfection is many Clevelanders’ favorite sweet treat.

Create Your Own Bucket List

Have we inspired you to create your own bucket list? Learn how and start checking items off your list. Whether your bucket list includes travel destinations, achievements, or foods you would like to try, the clock is ticking! It’s time to get started!


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