Exploring the Forest City: Free things to do in Cleveland

By: Gwenllian Jones

May 29, 2015

Getting to know a new city can be pricey, but not so in Ohio‘s Forest City. From world-class art to areas of incredible natural beauty, these are some of our favourite free things to do in Cleveland to enjoy and explore its charms – without spending a cent.


Lake View Cemetery

Free things to do in Cleveland

The monument of former President James A. Garfield in Lakeview Cemetery © Erik Drost/Flickr

The resting place of well-known Clevelanders, including President James A. Garfield, Lake View Cemetery is one of the city’s top attractions. The grounds are beautiful, with 285 acres of trees and flowers, offering a peaceful reprieve from the bustle of the city. And, for extra bang for your non-existent buck, you can enjoy free concerts on the lawn of the Garfield Monument during the summer months.


Cleveland Museum of Art

Free things to do in Cleveland

Picture-perfect views at the Cleveland Museum of Art © Erik Drost/Flickr

With a permanent collection including the likes of Picasso, Turner, and Gauguin, the Cleveland Museum of Art is one of the best free things to do in Cleveland. Although some exhibitions and lectures may require you to buy a ticket, entrance to the museum and access to its collections is free so there’s more than enough to marvel at gratis, ranging from Roman sculptures to contemporary art.


Movies at Lakewood Library

Free things to do in Cleveland

You can even see this sculpture at the Public Library for free © Steve Snodgrass/Flickr

For a touch of old-school Hollywood glamour without the glitzy price tag, the Public Library in Lakewood is the place to go on the weekend. Screened in the main auditorium of the library, the Lakewood Public Cinema showcases a classic movie every Saturday. And while you’re there, keep an ear out for upcoming concerts and lectures – also organised by the library, free of charge.


Butler Institute of American Art

Free things to do in Cleveland

The Butler Institute was the first museum of American art in the US © Dennis Marsico

You don’t have to pay exorbitant entrance fees to enjoy the first museum in the United States to be exclusively dedicated to American art – in fact, you don’t have to pay at all (but feel free to donate). Today the Butler Institute showcases innovative, sometimes offbeat exhibitions, and offers a collection of folk art that includes everything from primitive paintings from the Colonial era to the works of Bob Dylan.


Rockefeller Park

Free things to do in Cleveland

People gathered around the fountain in the Italian Garden, one of the Cultural Gardens in the Park ©

Home to the Rockefeller Greenhouse, which is filled with floral abundance, as well as the diverse Cultural Gardens, Rockefeller Park is one of the most colourful, sweet-smelling free things to do in Cleveland. Take some time to explore and enjoy – the Cultural Gardens in particular are a great spot, with each garden in the collection representing a different country; a testament to the diversity of Cleveland, and of the United States.


Headlands Beach State Park

Free things to do in Cleveland

Headlands Beach is a natural sandy beach on Lake Erie © Erik Drost/Flickr

A popular spot during the summer months, the sandy beach at Headlands Beach State Park can be yours to enjoy for absolutely nothing. Bring along a picnic, some cosy blankets, and a bathing suit and just enjoy the sun and the sand – maybe even take a dip in the lake. The beach here is the largest in Ohio, stretching along Lake Erie for a mile, and with walking trails and fishing nearby (with the right license, of course), there’s plenty of free fun to be had.


Tremont Art Walk

Free things to do in Cleveland

The Tremont Art Walk happens on the second Friday of every month © Eugene Kim/Flickr

On the second Friday of every month the galleries, designers, and boutiques of the Tremont neighbourhood open their doors to the public for the ever-popular Tremont Art Walk. This free-to-attend event showcases local talents and businesses in a social and casual environment and many galleries lay out nibbles to encourage the party vibe. Enjoy the street performers livening up the scene during the evening and, perhaps, head to one of the surrounding bars for a tipple later on”¦or keep the evening at zero dollars and just drink up the festive arty atmosphere.


Header image © PapaBear/iStock/Thinkstock


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What do you think of these free things to do in Cleveland? Where are some of your favourite places in the city? Let us know in the comments section below.


Gwenllian Jones

Originally from Snowdonia, Gwenllian fled her North Wales nest to study in Dublin. Since then she hasn't stayed anywhere long, spending time in Europe and South America. She's now trying her hand at London life, working as a writer and editor, and staring too much on the tube. @GwenllianHaf

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