Free things for families to do in Cleveland
Cleveland is a great city for sports aficionados, lovers of watersports, or those that just enjoy a good sunset or a local brew. Cleveland is also a great place for kids – there are numerous museums and spacious parks. A day or a weekend with the family doesn’t have to cost big bucks though, here are six FREE things to do in Cleveland with kids.
Learn about moolah at the Federal Reserve Bank’s Money Museum
For an educational indoor attraction, look no further than the Federal Reserve Bank’s Money Museum. This interactive museum is small but mighty for learning about how currency, budgeting, and inflation work!
While the museum has something for everyone, kids over 5 will gain the most from a visit. Adults will marvel at the historic building!
Cleveland’s Money Museum is only open Mondays-Thursdays from 9:30 am-2:30 pm, so be sure to plan accordingly!
Explore the West Side Market
The Ohio City neighborhood is home to the West Side Market. Over 100 years old, the market boasts produce, meat, bakery, and even floral stalls.
Children will enjoy ogling at all of the baked goods, while your husband drools over stuffed peppers wrapped in bacon or a side of ribs! There’s something for everyone! Admission to the market is free and taking home a treat is completely optional.
The West Side Market is closed on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Hike or Bike in Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Unlike many National Parks, there are no fees to enter Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Located only 30 minutes south of downtown Cleveland, the park makes you feel worlds away from big city living!
Brandywine Falls is one of the most popular attractions in the park. The 65-foot waterfall is accessed by a boardwalk hike that’s easy for ages toddler and up. Traveling with a baby? I’d recommend bringing a carrier.
If you need to bring a stroller, the Ohio & Erie Towpath trail is hard-packed within the National Park, making it an easy way to take in some of the sights and sounds of the area. Visitor Centers and restrooms also lie along the towpath. The park is open year-round.
Read more about My 5 Favorite spots within Cuyahoga Valley National Park and my favorite trail: The Ledges Trail. Like hiking (hey, it’s free!)? Check out the best hikes in Northeast Ohio.
Enjoy history and serenity at Lake View Cemetery
When it comes to family-friendly destinations, most Americans don’t think of cemeteries as tourist locales. However, when Lake View Cemetery opened in 1869, there were no botanical gardens or city parks, so locals used this green space as a place to picnic, stroll, and rest,
Lake View Cemetery is also home to the James Garfield monument. Garfield was the 20th President of the United States and the second President to be assassinated. This impressive building is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Note: The Garfield Monument is currently undergoing restorations. It should reopen on May 1, 2022.
If you’re teaching your kids about American business, you can show them the massive monument that belongs to John D. Rockefeller. The 65 tall piece of granite that weighs in at over 350,000 pounds is sure to impress. This park-like cemetery is free to visitors after registering at the cemetery office.
Stare at a masterpiece at the Cleveland Museum of Art
It’s hard to believe that a museum of this caliber is FREE! The Cleveland Museum of Art is home to 30,000 works of art and there is sure to be something to entertain families of all ages.
We’ve been to the CMA three times with our young family. While their favorites so far were the Armor Court, and the escalator (LOL), it has been a positive for us to expose our children to art at a young age! Maybe the biggest question came from our son – who wondered why there were so many naked people! If nothing else, it’s a great way to spend a cold day in Cleveland – and sitting inside the museum’s atrium it feels like you’re outside in the sun.
The Museum is closed on Mondays. Large backpacks are not permitted and must be checked. There is a nursing room available.
Have a picnic or a swim at a lakeside park
One of the major perks of Cleveland is its location on Lake Erie! A picnic and a swim is always an affordable option (and adored by kids)!
Our family enjoyed a picnic lunch at Voinovich Park, which is situated close to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Great Lakes Science Center. If you require a swim, Edgewater Park is popular among visitors and locals — you can even bring your fishing pole and try your luck at getting some Lake Erie perch!
Where to stay: The Residence Inn Downtown has plenty of room for the entire family!
Have you been to Cleveland? What’s your favorite thing to do there?