Visiting the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio: Tickets, what to see and more

The main building of the Pro Football Hall of Fame complex in Canton, Ohio

If you’re an NFL fan, it’s worth making a pilgrimage to Canton, Ohio to visit the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and the exhibits inside devoted to the history of the game make it well worth the price of a ticket for admission.

Canton holds a well-deserved place in American football history. It was where the American Professional Football Association, the predecessor to the NFL, was founded in 1920. And the city was also home to an early team, the Canton Bulldogs, that won several league championships and boasted the legendary Jim Thorpe as one of its players.

More than four decades later, the Pro Football Hall of Fame opened in Canton. Originally consisting just of the circular building pictured at the top of this page, the facility has undergone several significant expansions over the years. The complex now includes a remodeled and expanded stadium as well as an entertainment district.

These days, a visit to the Pro Football Hall of Fame isn’t just about exploring a museum. Interactive exhibits as well as outside shopping, dining and events make the complex well worth spending several hours for.

Of course, the most popular time to visit is Enshrinement Week. Typically held over a weekend in early August, the festivities begin with the annual Hall of Fame Game — the first preseason game of every NFL season — and culminate with the induction ceremony for the current class of Hall of Famers.

A replica of a 1920s automobile on display, representing the birth of the National Football League

Getting to the Hall of Fame

The city of Canton, where the Pro Football Hall of Fame is located, is about an hour’s drive south of Cleveland and about two hours west of Pittsburgh.

From Cleveland, head south — there are several route options depending on your exact starting point, but you’ll eventually pass through Akron and wind up on Interstate 77 leading into Canton. From there, take exit 107A (Fulton Avenue) and follow signs for about 3/4 of a mile toward the Hall of Fame complex.

The entrance to the Hall of Fame parking lot is along Harrison Avenue and adjacent to a highway underpass. It is somewhat easy to miss if you’re traveling southbound. Immediately after emerging from the underpass, you’ll see the circular Hall of Fame building to the right — make an immediate right into the parking lot.

Parking is free and stretches for several rows beyond the main entrance complex.

If you don’t have access to a car, a handful of independent tour groups operate visits to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. These packages become more elaborate — and expensive — for Enshrinement Week and for the NFL Hall of Fame Game, but daytrip visits can typically be arranged at any time. It’s worth shopping around to find a tour that fits best with your schedule and budget.

Busts for all the inductees of the Pro Football Hall of Fame line an exhibition room

Pro Football Hall of Fame tickets and hours

As of 2024, tickets for the Pro Football Hall of Fame cost $45 for adults and $38 for children ages 6 to 12. Children under 6 are admitted for free, and discounts are available for seniors, military members and first responders.

Tickets can be purchased in advance online via the Hall of Fame’s website, and it’s a good option to consider if you intend to visit on a weekend or otherwise potentially busy day.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame is typically open every day of the year except Thanksgiving and Christmas, though it can sometimes be closed or have restricted hours due to special events. Regular operating hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., but it stays open as late as 8 p.m. during the summer.

It is best to check the Hall of Fame’s website to ensure the museum will be open on the day and time you plan to visit.

The Vince Lombardi Trophy on display at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio

Things to see at the Pro Football Hall of Fame

The entrance to the Pro Football Hall of Fame isn’t located in the circular “original” building but just to the north of it, and just inside is a small lobby with ticket windows and friendly works ready to hand you a map to the complex and answer any initial questions you might have.

As laid out, the museum is far from flashy at first. The first exhibit in front of you is a display detailing the beginnings of pro football, including a replica of “Pro Football’s Most Significant Automobile” that represents the origins of what became the NFL in an automobile showroom in Canton.

From there, the path leads inside the circular building, where a two-floor exhibit lays out the NFL’s first century of existence. Displays lay out the rise of not just the NFL but competing leagues like the All-American Football Conference (where franchises like the Browns and 49ers were born) and the upstart American Football League (which eventually merged with the NFL in 1970).

At some point you’ll wind up on the second floor, where much of the NFL’s modern history is chronicled and exhibits begin to feature current and recently retired players. While most of the displays and artifacts are located against the outer wall, more docents are around to answer questions about football’s history and even let you try on items such as old-time leather helmets and equipment.

Once you’ve left the circular structure, you’ll see more modern museum exhibits. One particular highlight is the “A Game for Life Theater” — meant to look like an old locker room, patrons are treated to a presentation involving several Hall of Fame inductees in hologram form, hosted by legendary quarterback Joe Namath.

Just around the corner is the museum’s top attraction, the Hall of Fame Gallery that features every Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee. The gallery is somewhat unique when compared to halls of fame in other American sports in that bronze busts of each inductee is displayed (as opposed to a plaque or some other memento).

The busts are arranged by year of enshrinement. The room is somewhat dimly lit, with each bust getting a light against a black background. While visually striking, it makes it somewhat difficult to find particular busts.

Beyond the A Game for Life Theater, don’t miss the Lamar Hunt Super Bowl Gallery, a rather large display devoted to the origins and history of the big game. The main attraction, of course, is the Vince Lombardi Trophy, which gets its own display case in the middle of the room.

The last thing that patrons pass through before the exit, of course, is the gift shop. It’s one of the largest we’ve seen at any museum, sports-related or not. It’s full of cool NFL-related knick-knacks, and items are helpfully separated by team. The store also has one of the largest collections of NFL jerseys we’ve ever come across, including plenty of long-retired legends.

A view inside an empty Tom Benson Stadium in Canton, Ohio

Elsewhere in the Hall of Fame complex

The area around the Pro Football Hall of Fame has been built out in recent years, with other attractions for football fans and nearby residents alike to spend their time.

The most conspicuous nearby attraction is what’s now known as Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium, the host venue for the NFL’s annual Hall of Fame Game as well as the enshrinement ceremony. It is also a frequent home for high school football games (a prominent local school, McKinley High School, is right next door) and has also hosted events such as the USFL’s championship game in 2022 and 2023.

More recently, the Hall of Fame has been flanked by an adjoining entertainment district called the Hall of Fame Village. The complex is being constructed in phases, but as of early 2024 includes several restaurants, including Don Shula’s American Kitchen.

The complex has added interactive football exhibits and rides as part of a later phase of construction, and a football-themed water park is expected to open in the summer of 2024.

Canton, by the way, has more attractions than just the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Not far away is the McKinley Presidential Library & Museum, celebrating the life and legacy of William McKinley. The nation’s 25th president was born and raised in the region, and was interred at the nearby McKinley National Memorial not long after his assassination in 1901.

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