Want to enjoy a fun day out in Cleveland without shelling out a bunch of money? Luckily there are many free things to do in Cleveland that are a lot of fun and won’t cost you a penny.
From visiting free museums to sightseeing around the city to enjoying free events like outdoor concerts, these are the best free activities in Cleveland.
20 great free things to do in Cleveland
Free museums in Cleveland
The following museums are either always free to visit, or free on certain days/to certain residents.
1. Cleveland Museum of Art
Location: 11150 East Blvd, Cleveland
The Cleveland Museum of Art is one of the best museums in Cleveland, and admission is free for everyone, every day. While there are sometimes special exhibits that carry an extra charge, visiting the permanent collections is always free.
There are so many things to see at the Cleveland Museum of Art that you can easily spend an entire afternoon wandering around.
Some of the highlights at the museum include Monet’s “Water Lilies,” the Egyptian art gallery, the Armor Court, and the Tiffany display. There’s even an outdoor sculpture garden at one end of Wade Lagoon you can enjoy for free.
The Cleveland Museum of Art also hosts free events like lectures and concerts throughout the year.
Note: The CMA has a parking garage that is NOT free. If you want to find free parking, you can try to find street parking in nearby neighborhoods, and then either walk over to CMA or use the free CircleLink Shuttle that runs two routes around University Circle.
Location: 11400 Euclid Ave, Cleveland
Unlike typical collecting museums, MOCA is a non-collecting museum that showcases new and fresh contemporary artworks each season. There’s always something new to see at MOCA, and the museum also hosts free events like lectures and poetry readings.
3. Money Museum
Location: 1455 E 6th St, Cleveland, OH 44114
The Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland’s Money Museum is a great educational museum for all ages, but especially for children.
Featuring interactive exhibits and hands-on components, visitors will have fun while learning everything about money at the same time. Admission to the Money Museum is free for all.
4. International Women’s Air & Space Museum
Location: 1501 N Marginal Rd Ste. 165, Cleveland
The International Women’s Air & Space Museum is another small museum in Cleveland that offers free admission to everyone.
Located inside Burke Lakefront Airport (exhibits begin in the main entrance hall of the airport), the mission of the International Women’s Air & Space Museum is to collect, preserve, and showcase the history and culture of women in all areas of aviation and aerospace.
This museum isn’t large (you can easily look at all the exhibits in about 30-40 minutes), but it’s a unique one in Cleveland!
5. Transformer Station
Location: 1460 W 29th St, Cleveland
Located in a former railroad substation in Cleveland, Transformer Station is a contemporary art and photography museum located in Ohio City.
This is a great place to go to check out interesting exhibits from leading contemporary artists, and admission to Transformer Station is free for everyone all the time.
6. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame*
Location: 1100 E 9th St, Cleveland
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is a must-visit museum in Cleveland for any music enthusiast. This museum traces the history of rock and roll through engaging exhibits that cover multiple floors.
While the museum is not free for everyone, admission is free (yes, FREE) for City of Cleveland residents thanks to a $10 million gift from the KeyBank Foundation.
*In order to get free tickets to the Rock Hall, you need to book a “Cleveland VIP” or “CLE VIP” ticket online in advance, and be prepared to show proof of residency such as a driver’s license, state ID, photo ID, or utility bill with a City of Cleveland address upon entry.
The Cleveland Museum of Natural History is also free to visit on Sundays for residents of the City of Cleveland and East Cleveland. Reserved tickets and proof of residency is required.
Free things to see in Cleveland
The following are interesting things you can see in and around Cleveland for free anytime, whether you’re a local resident or not.
1. Public Square
Location: Public Square, Cleveland
Public Square in Downtown Cleveland is an easy spot to go for free sightseeing. There are a number of places to explore around the square, including the Soldiers and Sailors Monument (which you can always go inside for free), the Old Stone Church, and Terminal Tower.
In the winter, Public Square is transformed into a Christmas wonderland with a giant Christmas tree, ice skating rink, and holiday lights display.
2. Cleveland Arcade
Location: 401 Euclid Ave, Cleveland
The Cleveland Arcade opened in 1890, and is regarded as one of the first indoor shopping centers in the US.
Today, the Arcade is mostly utilized by the Hyatt Regency hotel, but there are a few restaurants at either end (including a Rising Star Coffee at the Superior Ave end). It’s one of Cleveland’s architectural gems, and worth strolling through to admire the pretty architecture.
3. Heinen’s (Cleveland Trust Co. building)
Location: 900 Euclid Ave, Cleveland
Another architectural gem in Downtown Cleveland that’s free to visit is the Cleveland Trust Co. building, a beautiful building from 1907 that’s a mix of Beaux-Arts, Neoclassical, and Renaissance Revival architectural styles.
Now home to a Heinen’s grocery store, this historic building is nevertheless still a great place to visit while sightseeing in Cleveland. The glass dome in the Rotunda is worth a stop – and there are cheap eats here, plus affordable wine and beer tasting up on the second floor.
4. Cleveland Public Library
Location: 325 Superior Ave, Cleveland
The main branch of the Cleveland Public Library in Downtown Cleveland is another great free place to go in the city.
The interior of the library is very beautiful and worth a visit, and the Eastman Reading Garden located outdoors between the two wings of the library is especially nice when the weather is good.
The library also hosts many free events, including concerts, workshops, and more.
5. West Side Market
Location: 1979 W 25th St, Cleveland
West Side Market is located in the Ohio City neighborhood of Cleveland. It’s part food hall, part produce market, and part old-fashioned grocery store.
If you want to get the most out of your visit, a West Side Market food tour is a great way to experience the market and sample local delicacies.
But if you’re on a budget and don’t want to spend any money at all, just walking through the market is free!
Free things to do in Cleveland outdoors
From parks to beaches to gardens, these are all the free outdoor things we love in Cleveland.
1. Edgewater Beach
Location: Edgewater Park, Cleveland
Edgewater Park is definitely one of the best free things to do in Cleveland. This public park is located on the shores of Lake Erie and has one of the best beaches in the Cleveland area in Edgewater Beach.
Aside from the beach, there’s also a brand new playground, a pier, and one of the iconic Cleveland script signs, which makes for a great photo op.
2. Cleveland Metroparks
Location: Multiple locations
Another free activity in Cleveland is visiting one (or all) of the Cleveland Metroparks. The 18 parks and nature reserves in the Cleveland Metroparks system are totally free for everyone to visit, and are award-winning in the United States.
Some of the best things to do include hiking, visiting the nature centers, and attending free programs put on by Cleveland Metroparks naturalists.
Some of my favorite Metroparks close to downtown Cleveland include:
- Rocky River Reservation (which has nice hiking trails and a kid-friendly nature center)
- Lakefront Reservation (which includes beaches like Edgewater and Euclid Beach Park)
- Brookside Reservation (go for cherry blossoms in the spring!)
3. Rockefeller Park Greenhouse & Cultural Gardens
Location: 750 E 88th St, Cleveland
Rockefeller Park Greenhouse is a public greenhouse and botanical garden in Cleveland that offers free admission to all. You can visit Rockefeller Park Greenhouse year-round and enjoy seasonal flowers including spring tulips and winter poinsettias.
After visiting Rockefeller Park Greenhouse, don’t miss the Cleveland Cultural Gardens. These 30+ small gardens are each cared for by a different cultural or ethnic group organization in the Cleveland area.
Both Rockefeller Park Greenhouse and Cleveland Cultural Gardens are close to the Cleveland Museum of Art, so you can combine all three of these free activities into a great low-cost day out.
4. Lake View Cemetery
Location: 12316 Euclid Ave, Cleveland
There are many reasons to visit Lake View Cemetery in Cleveland. You can see the beautiful Wade Memorial Chapel and James A. Garfield Memorial, or stroll around taking in the ornate gravestones and tombs.
The cemetery is also one of the best places in Cleveland to see spring flowers, especially daffodils on Daffodil Hill. The entire cemetery was designed like a European garden, so it’s always a pretty and peaceful place to visit.
5. Sunset at Lakewood Park
Location: 14532 Lake Ave, Lakewood
Sitting on the Solstice Steps at Lakewood Park overlooking Lake Erie is one of the best places to catch the sunset. This is a great free place to go in Cleveland to enjoy the views – just be prepared for everyone to clap when the sun dips beneath the horizon; it’s a thing here.
Lakewood Park also offers a playground, a swimming pool, a skate park, and sports courts, plus some cute swing-benches facing the lake.
6. Cleveland Metroparks Zoo*
Location: 3900 Wildlife Way, Cleveland
The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo does not offer free admission for everyone, but it does offer free admission on Mondays for residents of Cuyahoga County and Hinckley Township.
This makes it one of the best free things to do in Cleveland for local residents, especially families with young children. The zoo has 183 acres of wildlife in diverse habitats, and you can see everything from African elephants to kangaroos to wolves.
*Note that you’ll need to bring a license, state ID, or current utility bill to prove your Cuyahoga County or Hinckley Township residency. Free Mondays don’t apply on Memorial Day, Labor Day, or the 4th of July, and entrance to The RainForest is not included in the free ticket.
Free events in Cleveland
Here are the best recurring and seasonal free events in Cleveland.
1. Summer concert series
Location: Multiple locations
Cleveland Metroparks hosts the Sounds of Summer, a seasonal concert series that brings live music to parks around Cleveland like Edgewater Park and Euclid Beach Park.
During the summer months, this is a great way to enjoy free live music in an outdoor setting.
2. Third Fridays at 78th Street Studios
Location: 1300 W 78th Street, Cleveland
78th Street Studios is a fine arts complex in the Gordon Square Arts District neighborhood of Cleveland with more than 60 small galleries and art studios in one space.
Every third Friday of the month, 78th Street Studios opens to the public for a free art walk. You can stroll through the galleries and studios, and enjoy live music and other entertainment. (You can shop, too, but going to the event itself is free!)
3. Take a Hike tours
Location: Multiple locations
A free walking tour is a great activity for visitors and locals alike. Take a Hike offers free guided 90-minute walking tours around Cleveland’s best neighborhoods from June through September each year.
You can explore Ohio City, the Warehouse District, Tremont, the Playhouse Square District, and other neighborhoods of Cleveland on these fantastic free tours.
Take a Hike also offers free self-guided tours with interactive maps so you can explore on your own too.
(It’s always recommended to tip your tour guided on walking tours like this, though.)
What’s your favorite free thing to do in Cleveland?
Amanda was born and raised in northeast Ohio, and has always been a fangirl of her home state. Now, she’ sharing her love of the Cleveland area with the world, highlighting all the best things to do, see, and eat in the CLE. She’s been running Cleveland Traveler since January 2019.