Beauty on the Inside
20 Indoor Activities to Beat the Bad Weather Blues
By Annie Zaleski
Inclement weather can hit at any time—not just during the winter months—but don’t let that rain (or snow) on your parade. After all, Cleveland has a way of shining, both outdoors and indoors. Here’s a list of 20 great ideas for indoor activities to do when Mother Nature acts up.
Music to your ears
Plan to spend most of the day at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. The jewel of the North Coast boasts artifacts, memorabilia, listening stations and films—including the new, multimedia Power of Rock Experience exhibit honoring inductees.
Let's get loud
Cleveland has an abundance of unique live music venues. For a classical fix, visit majestic Severance Hall and see the world-famous Cleveland Orchestra. Rock and rollers can check out Waterloo Rd. staple the Beachland Ballroom & Tavern—the former Croatian Liberty Home that's booked everyone from the White Stripes to the Sonics—or Coventry indie music mecca the Grog Shop. Nighttown and the BOP STOP at the Settlement offer up jazz-oriented programming (among other things). And on the Flats West Bank, the Music Box Supper Club boasts some of the best views of the Cuyahoga River—along with a large concert hall with and a cozy, supper club-style stage.
Sharpen your mind by trying an escape room, which requires groups of people to pool their knowledge in order to get out of a locked room. Locally, Perplexity Games Escape Room and Escape Hunt Cleveland are brain-teasing bets.
Extreme adrenaline rushes
For more active ways of letting off steam, try BOSS Pro-Karting & Events (go-karts galore!), the Sky Zone Trampoline Park—which offers dodgeball and basketball SkySlam—and Ray's Indoor Bike Park.
Cleveland's art scene is diverse and invigorating. The world-renowned Cleveland Museum of Art—which boasts over 40,000 pieces—is free. Make a day of it, and also check out some cutting-edge exhibits at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in nearby University Circle. In Ohio City, the newly opened location of beloved gallery SPACES joins CMA satellite Transformer Station—while just down the street, in the former American Greetings building, the 78th Street Studios offers a sprawling maze of colorful galleries.
Northeast Ohio vinyl hunters are spoiled; there's an abundance of record stores for rainy day browsing. On Waterloo Rd., hunt for wax classics and rarities at Blue Arrow Records and the hottest new indie releases at Music Saves. In Tremont, A Separate Reality Records and Loop have a well-curated section of wax. And in Lakewood, My Mind's Eye offers an unparalleled selection of punk, metal, garage and vintage vinyl.
Quicken Loans Arena is your go-to indoor pro sports hub. Of course it's the home of LeBron and the 2016 NBA World Champion Cleveland Cavaliers and American Hockey League 2016 champs Cleveland Monsters. In the spring and summer, however, don't forget about our arena football team, the Cleveland Gladiators.
Flash back to the '80s and '90s at 16-Bit Bar + Arcade, the always-packed Downtown Lakewood destination, which puts an adult twist on the kid-friendly arcades of yore. For pinball aficionados, Gordon Square's Superelectric Pinball Parlor—a cozy corner storefront crammed full of old and new machines—is the place to be. Both the east and west side outposts of the Happy Dog have pinball—in fact, the venue hosts the popular Cleveland Pinball League. Flats East Bank's Punch Bowl Social has all of this and much, much more—including bowling, karaoke Skee-Ball and pool.
Get your sea legs
The Greater Cleveland Aquarium is perfect for sea-creature-loving kids of all ages. Not only does it have tons of fun events--including family-friendly overnight stays and a swimming Santa during holiday season--but it also has a giant shark tube and a stingray petting zone.
Shop 'til you drop
Check out the wares at Ohio City anchor the West Side Market—everything from produce and meats to specialty kitchen delicacies—or browse the boutiques and galleries at the 5th Street Arcades. Downtown Cleveland mall Tower City also has a massive indoor cinema that's perfect for indoor fun.
Who says shuffleboard is old-fashioned? Not Forest City Shuffleboard, which pairs five indoor shuffleboard courts with pop-up food offerings and a hefty drink menu.
You'll shoot your eye out! Head to A Christmas Story House, the 19th-century Victorian in Tremont that was used in the 1983 film of the same name—and is now a museum dedicated to the seasonal favorite.
Cozy up with a good book
Book lovers, rejoice! Cleveland's indie booksellers—including Tremont's newly reopened Visible Voice, Coventry staple Mac's Backs-Books On Coventry and Loganberry Books on Larchmere—are perfect indoor destinations. Also consider hangs at the Downtown branch of the Cleveland Public Library, which is dubbed "The People's University" because of its classes and the creativity-centric TechCentral MakerSpace.
Roll the dice
Cleveland has an abundance of indoor gaming emporiums—such as Ohio City's Tabletop, a cozy and inclusive Ohio City establishment that's a gaming paradise catering to all ages and skill levels, or The Side Quest, where you can get your geek on in what feels like the coolest basement rec room ever.
History buffs are sure in luck: The Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton are world-class institutions. The Cleveland History Center at the Western Reserve Historical Society, meanwhile, is a fascinating look at what makes Northeast Ohio such a cultural, political and entrepreneurial innovator. And the Baseball Heritage Museum chronicles baseball's multicultural history and impact on the site of League Park.
The Great Lakes Science Center covers all the science bases—physics, biology, chemistry, astronomy and all points in between—in the form of hands-on learning and exhibits.
Take a gamble
Get the kids a babysitter, and spend a day (or night) at the JACK Cleveland Casino playing live poker, table games or the slots. Of course, you'll work up an appetite gambling, so grab a sandwich at Corky & Lenny's or a burger at Stack'd. Or take a road trip out to the Hard Rock Rocksino Northfield Park to catch a show or spend an afternoon on the slot machines.
With nine indoor theaters, Playhouse Square has a packed schedule of concerts, Broadway musicals, plays, dance performances and much, much more. In Gordon Square, the Cleveland Public Theatre offers thought-provoking plays, while the east side's Karamu House fulfills its mission of producing arts education and presenting community programs while honoring the African-American experience.
Cleveland remains a bowling mecca—and whether your preference is traditional (Corner Alley, with locations Downtown and near University Circle; Lakewood retro haven Mahall's) or duckpin (try the Hi and Dry in Tremont), there are no shortage of options.
Chow down like a Clevelander
Filling your belly isn't a problem in Cleveland. Chow down at Sokolowski’s University Inn, whose chicken paprikash, pierogis and bratwurst are world-renowned; Slyman's Restaurant, home of the massive corned beef sandwiches; gooey grilled cheese oasis Melt Bar & Grilled; and Ohio City staple Old Fashion Hot Dogs, where you can grab a chili dog (or three) on the cheap.