From a vibrant arts scene to a passionate base of sports fans—and everything in between—there’s one neighborhood that outshines the rest of CLE’s tourist destinations: Downtown Cleveland. Especially for first-time visitors, staying in Cleveland’s downtown core is the key to building an exciting itinerary with ease.
Downtown Cleveland puts you in the center of all the action, with top attractions like Playhouse Square and The Arcade to fill your days and exciting nightlife venues like The Big Bang Dueling Piano Bar to keep the party going after the sun goes down.
Looking for the inside scoop on Cleveland’s top neighborhood? This complete Downtown Cleveland travel guide has all the top tips, covering what to see & do and where to eat, drink & stay during your holiday.
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What to see & do in Downtown Cleveland
Rock & Roll Hall of Fame
A visit to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is a must for any Cleveland-bound music lover. Multiple levels of exhibits will guide you through the world of music production and live entertainment, with interactive activities, priceless memorabilia, and feature films on display.
Since there’s so much to see & do at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, there are a few exhibits you should make a priority so you don’t miss out. You’ll want to take a selfie beneath the Pink Floyd tour replica of “The Wall” and grab a seat at the new Rooftop Beatles concerts.
Then, to finish off your experience, head to “The Garage” and start our own band with your travel companions. Here, you’ll play real instruments, record your own song, and design your own merch logo.
Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse
Located in Downtown’s Gateway district, the Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse (formerly named Q Arena) is home to not one but two professional sports teams. Stop by the box office to grab tickets to a Cleveland Cavaliers (NBA) or Cleveland Monsters (AHL) game, or explore the full calendar of concerts, entertainers, and stand-up comedians.
One thing patrons love about the Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse is the availability of game-time snacks. From sit-down bars and lounges to grab-and-go outlets so you don’t have to miss a second of the action, you’re sure to find something to satisfy your cravings.
Want to splurge? Upgrade to club seating for premium refreshments, extra legroom, and the best views in the arena.
Built in the early 1920s, Playhouse Square is Cleveland’s historic theater district celebrating the performing arts. The block is home to ten performance halls, one of which is the largest outside of New York. You’ll also find several trendy local bars and restaurants here, perfect for planning a night out.
Watch an award-winning Broadway show from exclusive box seats, unwind with a remarkable meal or cocktail, or gaze at the largest outdoor chandelier in North America. No matter how you choose to spend your evening at Playhouse Square, the bright lights and energy of live entertainment are sure to dazzle!
First Energy Stadium
First Energy Stadium, built in 1999, was previously named Cleveland Browns Stadium. No matter what you call it, this world-class venue in Downtown Cleveland is not only home to the city’s NFL team but also hosts several fun family events throughout the year, like Monster Jam and music festivals. If you still want to celebrate the game day but can’t fit Cleveland Browns into your schedule, you’ll also find international soccer and college sports teams taking the field.
Pro tip: The First Energy Stadium is a 100% cashless venue; be sure to have your cards on hand if you plan to make any purchases.
Great Lakes Science Center
Offering educational fun for all ages, The Great Lakes Science Center is one of Cleveland’s top tourist attractions. This interactive museum focuses on STEM themes and will guide you and the kids through hundreds of hands-on experiments and their real-life applications.
In addition to fun exhibits like an augmented reality sandbox, the Great Lakes Science Center has a few other add-on attractions onsite that solidify its reputation as one of the coolest museums in Cleveland. A few of these are free with your museum admission, including the Cleveland Clinic Dome Theatre and some waterfront picnic areas.
The NASA Glenn Visitor Center is home to astronaut suits and memorabilia, plus the real Apollo Command Module. The Steamship William G. Mather is also docked right outside; you can climb aboard and explore this historic ship at your leisure.
Cleveland is full of baseball lovers, and Progressive Field is where they all come to celebrate the Cleveland Guardians. If you’ve got time on your itinerary, catch a game at this famous MLB park and stop by the team store and grab some merch to cheer on the home team like a true fan.
Traveling with kids? Progressive Field makes spectating with your little ones easier than ever. Children under three get in free, and KultureCity is an interactive playscape and clubhouse to keep them entertained. They even have a Sensory Room and sensory kits with headphones available so that everyone can enjoy the game.
If you don’t have any minors in tow, there are several other ways to take your Progressive Field experience to the next level. Before a weekend game, hit up one of the famous parking lot block parties with DJs and other live entertainment. Then, during the 7th inning stretch, you can head through the concourse to Corner Bar. The bar offers 40 beers on tap, but its key feature is a digital ‘Hometown Brews’ wall, where you can serve yourself.
Cleveland Public Square
Looking to spend some quality time outdoors? Cleveland Public Square is a hip downtown destination that’s a hub for recreation and just hanging out. In addition to hosting hundreds of events each year—including concerts, festivals, and farmer’s markets—this urban park is home to several permanent public gardens and art installations.
No matter what month or season you visit Cleveland, there’s always something to do at Cleveland Public Square. Winter tourists will love circling the Cleveland Foundation Skating Rink with hot cocoa in hand, while the splash pad is perfect for cooling off on a hot summer’s day.
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Foodies should plan their visit on a Tuesday afternoon when some of the tastiest food trucks in Cleveland congregate in the park.
Nicknamed “Cleveland’s Crystal Palace,” The Arcade is a prominent piece of the city’s history. This circa-1890 landmark was the first indoor shopping center in America—and it’s truly a work of art. Five stories high and featuring a 300-foot skylight, the Arcade is full of old-world architecture, ornate details, and tropical plants.
Besides general sightseeing (and photo-taking), there’s plenty to do at The Arcade. Take a walk around and window-shop, or treat yourself to a wellness treatment at the spa or the old-fashioned barbershop.
Where to eat & drink
Butcher and the Brewer is Downtown Cleveland’s top purveyor of housemade beer and stunning dishes, where local ingredients are the star of the show. This laid-back, rustic restaurant highlights a fusion of flavors from global cuisines, with family-style plates of Korean fried chicken, grilled octopus, coffee-topped bone marrow, and more. Thanks to community table seating and family-style sharing plates, you’re sure to leave with a new favorite food and a few new friends.
Looking for a stellar American Steakhouse? Cleveland Chop offers high-end food and a casual atmosphere. You’ll find staples like soups, salads, steaks, and seafood on the menu, alongside creative sides like sweet corn gnocchi and a house risotto.
Ever been to brunch at a steakhouse before? It’s not all steak and eggs! Seat yourself on the courtyard patio and dig into crab cake egg bennies, a hangover burger, and a pitcher of Margs.
Barrio Gateway is Downtown Cleveland’s top destination for tacos and tequila. You can build your own taco creation with mix-and-match toppings or order one of their specialty combinations.
Don’t forget to try their innovative guacamole and queso appetizers, with toppings like pineapple and buffalo chicken with blue cheese. Want to take your tacos on a picnic? Try to hunt down the Barrio food truck that’s always rolling around Cleveland.
High ceilings and floor-to-ceiling windows give diners at Blue Point Grille a panoramic peek at Cleveland’s city skyline. You might expect that views like this are the restaurant’s finest feature, but the inside is equally as impressive with exposed brick and an antique bar.
Seafood is flown in daily from the Atlantic and the Pacific for some epic raw bar specials. A large dessert menu features French-inspired dessert cheese plates, promising a one-of-a-kind meal from start to finish.
Pull up a seat at the Southern Tier Brewery Cleveland taproom bar if you’re looking for a pint. In addition to a rotation of 30+ draughts, the Cleveland location of this all-American brewery has a menu full of beer-infused food. From IPA smoked wings to beer-infused saucy brisket meatballs, Southern Tier takes “bar food” to the next level.
Step through the heavy bank-safe door and enter another time period at Vault. This speakeasy-style cocktail lounge is one of the coolest venues in the city, with great Gatsby-era mood lighting, velvet couches, and art-deco wallpaper. You’ll spend your night chatting up the expert mixologists and shooting billiards. Need the perfect accompaniment for their small bites and charcuterie boards? Splurge on a champagne tower for the group.
Society Lounge is an exclusive cocktail lounge where the classics are stirred, and innovative new concoctions are shaken. Need some nibbles for when the libations get a little too strong? The food menu isn’t long, but it does pack in the flavor. You can order Society’s citizen pizza pie by the slice or request a bag of local, old-fashioned caramel corn.
Get ready to party at The Big Bang Dueling Piano Bar. As its name suggests, this venue has two pianos and two performers playing every night (at the same time), promising a night full of drinking, singing, dancing, and playing.
Since this bar’s performers don’t have a set list and take audience requests, every show is sure to be highly interactive. You can also visit on karaoke night if you want to join in on the show yourself.
Where to stay
As it’s the heart of the city, Downtown is one of the most popular neighborhoods to stay in Cleveland. Accommodation options here are plentiful, with everything from budget lodgings to some of the city’s swankiest 5-star hotels.
Looking for a stay with great value and an affordable price tag? A room at the Drury Plaza Hotel Cleveland Downtown comes with a hot breakfast, daily appetizers, happy-hour beverages, and unlimited popcorn and soda built into its nightly rate. All that, and this hotel is quite pretty, thanks to its cathedral-inspired lobby with high ceilings, marble walls, historic murals, and ultra-tall arched windows.
Staying at the Hyatt Regency Cleveland at The Arcade is the key to staying in the center of all the action. With its historic facade and wood paneling and vaulted ceilings featured in each room, this hotel is overflowing with character, but the interior has been revitalized to reflect the needs of the modern traveler. You can even choose between downtown and arcade views depending on your preference.
Want to pamper yourself? The Hyatt Regency has a rejuvenating on-site spa and salon offering everything from massages and facials to blowouts and mani/pedis.
Guests at the Hotel Indigo Cleveland Downtown love its stylish and sophisticated design, complete with a courtyard terrace (with evening cocktail service) and an old-world, theatre-inspired lobby. Spacious rooms with gorgeous wardrobes and dressers give you a true home away from home experience, and a full hot breakfast is included in your stay, so there’s no need to rush out of your room when that alarm clock starts chirping.
There are so many ways to relax with a night at the Kimpton Schofield Hotel. You could cozy up by the lobby fireplace with a complimentary newspaper, stretch out on your in-room yoga mat, settle into some bubbles in a signature blue clawfoot bathtub, or book a massage—the list goes on and on.
Teeming with warm and inviting spaces, the Kimpton has a bespoke furniture collection and an overall contemporary feel. This boutique hotel is big on guest experience, too, with many extras available, including custom loaner bikes, complimentary guitar rentals, and a meet-and-mingle wine hour in the lobby each evening.
The Ritz-Carlton, Cleveland, has an overarching high-class vibe with a black and white color scheme, modern art, and Italian marble throughout the lobby and carried through the guest rooms. This luxury hotel boasts a state-of-the-art fitness center with a giant skylight, but its best feature is the wide selection of live-stream fitness classes available 24 hours a day, ranging from yoga and Zumba to Peloton sessions and weight training.