5 Cleveland Landmarks You Should Know

Cleveland landmarks
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5 Great  You Should Know About

If you’re looking for a genuinely fun-filled experience that involves the exploration of historic sites in the most unusual way possible, Cleveland is the place for you to check out. One of the largest cities in the state of Ohio, Cleveland has a rich history of art, commerce, and tourism. These three come together to gives visitors a truly memorable experience. Here, we’ll show you five great to visit during your next venture into Cleveland, Ohio. Oh, and to top it all off, you’re only about one hour away from Kalahari Resorts, in Sandusky, Ohio.

Situated on the shores of Lake Erie, this historic city is home to countless attractions and tourist destinations. From the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, to the Museum of Natural History, it offers a truly diverse range of sites for you to enjoy on your trip. Beaches, zoos, aquariums; Cleveland has it all. It’s also quite interesting to note that the things of utmost historical significance, a host of popular inventions, and those considered ‘first-of-their-kinds’ are native to this great city.

What do golf balls, Superman and indoor shopping malls all have in common? They were all conceived in Cleveland, of course!

We took a look at some of the most marvelous Cleveland Landmarks and following are our top 5 picks.

1. Museum of Natural History

Museum of Natural History in Cleveland
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Looking to learn about the history of the planet and the numerous species that walk(ed) the earth? You need to look no further than the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.

Home to over five million distinct, painstakingly preserved examples of our world’s history, the museum offers a great opportunity to satisfy one’s curiosity. Be it a seasoned museum-goer or a casual backpacker looking to explore, no matter who you are there’s something for you to take away from the Museum of Natural History.

Let’s start with the most interesting feature that you won’t want to miss out on: the dinosaurs in Cleveland!

Who doesn’t gasp in awe at the sight of a full-size, larger-than-life reconstruction of a dinosaur fossil? It certainly brings out the curious eight year old from within us. What the Kahn Hall at the Cleveland Natural History Museum is known for, is its special focus on the remains of dinosaurs found in the southern hemisphere.

Although the exhibit is ever changing with new additions and old favorites being showcased alongside temporary displays which are on loan from other museums, it is or has been home to such imposing specimens as: the Gigantosausrus-aptly named as it’s widely considered by expert scientists to be the largest land predator ever (YIKES!), the Suchomimus-just your average 30 foot, crocodile-headed dinosaur, and of course, our personal favorite, the Majungasaurus, which among its other charming qualities, is thought to have been a cannibal.

The Museum of Natural History in Cleveland
Image Source: clevelandart.org

Are thirty foot cannibals with crocodile heads not your cup of tea?  Don’t worry.

The museum’s ‘Ralph Perkins II Wildlife Center & Woods Garden’ also houses some tamer, yet just as exotic animals that are sure to be very well received, especially by younger visitors. Among these are coyotes, bobcats, red foxes, gray foxes, North American river otters, snowshoe hares, striped skunks, and porcupines. A wide variety of bird species also inhabit the wildlife center: bald eagles, peregrine falcons, great horned owls, and sandhill cranes are just a few among many more.

Perhaps animals, rare and prehistoric though they may be, aren’t what you are looking for in a museum. Maybe your interests are out of this world entirely. Museum of Natural History has got you covered.

The museum’s renowned ‘Shafran Planetarium’ presents a truly riveting virtual tour of the stars, planets and galaxies – all with the use of state of the art, high definition display technology that is immersive and life-like. Similar fiber optic technology continues to the exterior of the planetarium, where stars projected onto the dome create a mesmerizing effect against the night sky.

The ‘Mueller Observatory’ , similarly, gives visitors a look at the universe beyond our solar system, though unlike the planetarium, it employs a high powered telescope to render crisp images of outer space, all in real time. So if you ever wanted to see our celestial neighbors for yourself, definitely give it a go.

2. Lake Erie

Cleveland landmarks - Lake Erie Marblehead Lighthouse
Image Source: thelakehouseinn.com

We’ve talked about Lake Erie a great deal and even wrote up a separate post about Lake Erie fishing charters. The truth remains, no trip to Cleveland is complete without a visit to this main attraction.

The fourth largest lake in North America (eleventh in the world!), Lake Erie is a very popular tourist destination. At its deepest point, it’s recorded at around 200 feet and spans roughly 9000 square miles. If you’re worried the name sounds…well, eerie…don’t let that (or the lake’s very own urban legend, Bessie) deter you. The name is simply derived from a tribe of Native Americans who had settled on the banks of the lake a couple of centuries ago. And Bessie is just a myth created by some fisherman to scare off meddling kids. At least we hope so!

Today, however, it’s a part of the Great Lakes, alongside lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron and Ontario. Known for the collection of islands within the lake, it is a must see for people visiting Cleveland.

There are a number of viewing sites that are open to the public where you can take in the beautiful landscape in all its majesty. Fancy a day at the beach? Come on down to Edgewater Beach, host to the weekly ‘Edgewater Live’ event, full of live music, food trucks, beach games, special performances…need we say more?

Or why not take to the waters on a ferry boat ride and treat yourself to a panoramic view of the breathtaking shoreline. With 31 islands, travellers have their choice of which island they’d like to visit. As such, each one presents its own distinct subculture and people. Revel in the local customs and traditions as you get to know the residents and partake in everything from bike rides and nature walks, to local festivals and scuba diving (make sure you have a great full face scuba mask)!

Great Lakes - Lake Erie - Cleveland landmarks
Image Source: cleveland.com

The open water also offers a great opportunity for boating enthusiasts. Whether you want to go sailing, or rent a motorboat or jet-ski, local businesses are happy to accommodate you.

But what good is a boat ride without some fishing to go along with it? Home to over a hundred different species of fish, Lake Erie is a prime location to break out the bait and tackle the task.

If you do decide to give it a try, you’ll find fish such as walleye, perch, smallmouth bass and even steelhead trout, white bass, and catfish. We can almost guarantee that you won’t be met with any lake monsters. The operative word being almost, though.

3. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Long Live Rock - Cleveland Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Image Source: news5cleveland.com

“I wanna rock and roll all night!”

Or at least from 11 am to 5pm. That’s when the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is open most days.

For any fan of rock music or even just music in general, going to the RRHOF has been described as being something of a pilgrimage. Dedicated to recording and preserving the history of musicians, music producers, and other prominent music professionals, this is one of the most popular destinations for tourists in Cleveland. It seems fitting that this city would have a museum made for the documentation and display of all things related to rock and roll. After all, it was a Clevelander disc jockey who coined the now ubiquitous term.

Overlooking a picturesque part of the Lake, stands the Hall itself. With a number of different events and attractions scheduled throughout the year, it is a monument to telling to story of rock and roll, but even the building itself is a treat from an architectural standpoint. Bringing together elements of both minimalism and modern architecture, the building sports a large, tent-like glass section that also serves as the main entry passage. Furthermore, it employs simple geometric shapes alongside more complex designs.

Cleveland Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Image Source: thisiscleveland.com

So what can you expect on your visit? Like any museum, exhibits often come and go, but unlike most, the theme here is music and the very spirit of rock! The exhibits range from performances by renowned artists from around the globe, and full on interview panels with some of the most famous music professionals, to displays of the lives of said individuals, both living and deceased. So you may find an interview with your favorite band, or maybe an exhibit dedicated to their lives and work.

Our favorite feature of the museum would have to be the tour called ‘Play It Loud’, which exhibits an unmatched collection of rare, first hand instruments used by legendary musicians. This is the perfect opportunity to view and learn more about the instruments and tools that made all of your favorite songs and albums possible and also an in depth look into the technical side of music production, how it’s done and what really goes into making chart topping singles and hits.

And when your inner rockstar needs to take a break and relax, hop on over to the All-Access Café for a fine selection of food, drinks, and other refreshments.

The Hall also has a very popular souvenir section where you can often find a large collection of music spanning different eras of rock and roll, faithful recreations of the belongings of some musicians, and other memorabilia to mark your visit to the city and the Hall.

Cleveland landmarks - Cleveland Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Image Source: cleveland19.com

But really, the hall is all about the inductees. From ‘Chuck Berry’ to ‘Nine Inch Nails’, the Hall constitutes some of the most influential artists who ever lived. And with eligibility set at 25 years since the release of one’s first record, it is considered a great honor for any individual who is considered for induction. As such, many of the exhibits and features detail not only the musicians themselves but also how they helped to shape and define the modern day music industry.

For all who consider themselves rockers, or just anyone looking to have a fun, thoroughly instructive experience, put the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on your list of ‘must-visits’ when in Cleveland.

4. Cleveland Museum of Art

Yes, yes, lake trips and rock and roll are all well and good. But what if you prefer something a tad more refined? What about all the folks who appreciate the finer things in life? And aren’t dinosaurs, rockstars and jet skis too childish?

If you’ve been feeling left out thus far because you haven’t seen anything that piques your more discerning interests, we’ve got the perfect option for you as well. The Cleveland Museum of Art!

Fine art connoisseurs rejoice. Considered one of the finest museums of its kind in the States, The Cleveland Museum of Art is known for its massive collection of pieces from all over the globe and boasts a catalog of some very rare and sought after paintings, statues, sculptures, murals, decorative pieces and other attractions. And with over 700,000 people in attendance per year, it is one of the most-visited museums of its kind in the world. So why exactly are so many art enthusiasts making a bee line for this museum in particular? Well, here’s a little sneak peek.

Cleveland's Museum of Art
Image Source: cleveland.com

With more than 61,000 pieces of art, the art museum is renowned the world over for its collection of Asian and Egyptian Art, but also has a large selection of pieces from China, Africa, Europe, and India. Modern European art, drawings, prints and textiles also make up a large portion of the Museum’s holdings. Examples of Roman, Islamic, Japanese, and Greek also adorn the Museum’s walls.

To talk of rare and valuable pieces, one need not go too far when it comes to this museum’s collection. Among the most famous ones are:

– Water Lillies by Claude Monet, part of a triptych, or ‘three-fold’ painting. The other two parts of the painting reside elsewhere, but this piece is one of the artist’s most famous. It is said he spent over 30 years painting such works because of his fascination with the shimmering of water in ponds and how the flora reacted to the light.  

–  The Thinker by August Rodin. Standing (well, sitting really) sentinel outside the museum, the large sculpture of a man immersed in thought is something of an oddity. Unlike many other art pieces that were laboriously restored or preserved, this particular one sustained quite a bit of damage after arriving at the museum. The story goes that in 1970, a terrorist attack resulted in the lower half of the statue, its legs and base, being irreparably damaged. Thankfully, there were no other casualties and the attack had the opposite of the intended affect as the story served only to strengthen the statues significance and allure.

–  Stag at Sharkey’s by George Bellows. One of the finest examples of the aesthetic of the time, this American painting evokes a sense of the force and energy in a boxing match that it depicts, by using rapid, blurry brushwork.

So if you’re in the area and feel like appreciating the arts, definitely take a tour of the Museum. No matter where your artistic interests lie, you won’t be disappointed.

5. Cleveland Metroparks Zoo

Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
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Now, call us old-fashioned, but we think that a trip to the zoo can be one of the best ways to enjoy your day. Lions, tigers, bears, oh my!

The zoo provides a look at some of the most ferocious, wild beasts known to man, alongside some of the cutest, most fun loving ones you’ll ever have the pleasure of seeing. Among its residents, the zoo houses giraffes, hippos, big cats, elephants and rhinos. Not to mention, they have the largest collection of primates in North America. So you can see apes, gorillas, baboons, howler monkeys, orangutans, marmosets and capuchins all under the same roof.

As it stands, the zoo is made up of a number of different areas, all with their own distinct theme and collection. There’s the Australian Adventure, showcasing the finest species from the Australian Outback, the African Savanna for everything from the King of the Jungle to the Hungry-Hungry-Hippos, the Cat and Aquatics building (kitty likes fishy?!), and of course the latest addition, the Asian Highlands, where you’ll find snow leopards, pandas and a host of other animals.

Tiger Exhibit Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
Image Source: clevelandmetroparks.com

One of the most visited sections, called The Rainforest, is especially interesting. It is one of the largest indoor tropical environments built by man and houses over 600 animals from many different tropical regions of Asia, Africa and the Americas. Here, you’ll find some of the most exotic examples of plant and animal life. Among them are fruit bats, capybaras, sloths, anteaters, turtles, snakes, and even the extremely rare fishing cat (good thing it’s not in the Cat and Aquatic building).

Oh, and did we mention? They have their own waterfall! That’s right. Visitors are greeted to The Rainforest by a large, 25 foot waterfall. And not to be accused of false advertising, they’ve also outfitted The Rainforest with…get ready for this…a giant rain machine. Yep, you heard right. The central exhibit is ‘The Tropical Rain Storm’, a true to life recreation of a rainforest island where it actually rains.

So no matter what type of animals pique your interest, you’ve got plenty of options and they’re all housed close by for efficiency and convenience.


Cleveland landmarks
Image Source: britannica.com

In terms of sightseeing and tourism, Cleveland seems to have it all. Lakes, dinosaurs, paintings, beaches, and rock and roll, the list seems endless but really we’ve only just scratched the surface. Even if you don’t get to explore the entire city, visiting these top 5 Cleveland Landmarks would definitely be a memorable experience.

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