In this post we’ll discuss visiting the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. We’ll start with some basic information before moving onto a description of how our visit to the Pro Football Hall of Fame went before closing with the big question: Is it worth it? Read on to learn all about the Pro Football Hall of Fame!
Basics of the Pro Football Hall of Fame
Let’s start with some basic information you’ll want to know to start planning your visit.
What is the Pro Football Hall of Fame?
While the name might make you think the Pro Football Hall of Fame is the hall of fame for all professional leagues of American Football, all the players who have been inducted to the hall of fame played in the NFL or the AFL (prior to its merger with the NFL). So, essentially, this is the NFL hall of fame.
The heart of the Pro Football Hall of Fame is the Hall of Fame Gallery, where you’ll find busts of all the individuals who have been inducted into the hall of fame. But the rest of the Pro Football Hall of Fame is an amazing museum celebrating the history of American football, primarily professional football in the NFL and AFL.
Where is the Pro Football Hall of Fame located?
The Pro Football Hall of Fame is located at 2121 George Halas Dr NW, Canton, Ohio 44708. While it’s outside the heart of Canton, the Pro Football Hall of Fame is located just off Interstate 77, which makes it readily accessible not only from Canton, but from nearby cities as well.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame is about an hour south of Cleveland, 30 minutes south of Akron, 2 hours west of Pittsburgh, and 2 hours northeast of Columbus.
How long does a visit to the Pro Football Hall of Fame take?
Our casual visit to the Pro Football Hall of Fame took 2.5 hours. I think even a casual fan of the game should plan on three hours, but if you spent time looking at each individual exhibit you could easily fill 5+ hours.
Where should I stay when visiting the Pro Football Hall of Fame?
The easiest place to stay is in Canton, which has a variety of budget hotels. We spent one night at the SpringHill Suites Canton and had a fine stay.
How much does the Pro Football Hall of Fame cost to visit?
As of this post, adult tickets cost $30+taxes/fees, and parking is $10. For two adults and an infant (under 2), we paid $78 total for tickets and parking. You can buy tickets here by clicking the “Museum Admission” option.
Is the Pro Football Hall of Fame fun for kids?
Yes! Of course, this will depend on the age of the kids and their interest in football. Generally, the museum is kid-friendly and has some small interactive exhibits and some larger theatrical elements that will entertain most kids. Our 18-month old loves any space with room to toddle around and look at new things, so museums are always a hit. An older kid without any interest in football might be a bit bored.
Our Visit to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
We arrived at the Pro Football Hall of Fame at about 8:45AM for a 9AM open, having driven just a few minutes from the SpringHill Suites Canton. You can easily just follow the signs for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and the parking lot is right in front of the unmissable building. We paid for parking online.
We didn’t immediately head in, but at 8:55ish we saw a few people walking in, so we headed in too. There’s a ticket desk just inside the door where we showed the tickets we bought online. We were let in a few minutes early but were told all the screens might not be up and running until the official open at 9AM.
We had our photo taken in front of the green screen just past the ticket window. At the end of your experience you’ll have a chance to purchase a photo package and—in a first for us—we did! More on that at the end, though.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame is two floors. You start on the first, then go up to the second and come back down, finishing on the first. You can check out a map here.
The very first room is a temporary exhibit hall that was currently housing a photograph collection. There’s also a small “Why Canton?” exhibit explaining the early history of the hall. The Pro Football Hall of Fame is located in Canton because that’s where the NFL was formed; Canton had one of the first teams, the Canton Bulldogs. Also because in 1959, a local newspaper convinced the city to campaign for the right to house the hall of fame and the NFL agreed.
Heading left from the first room, you’ll pass down a hall of life-size portraits of some of the game’s greats before entering the first part of the museum, “The NFL’s First Century.”
This two-floor circular room with a statue of Jim Thorpe in the center is broken into two parts. On the first floor is a chronological walkthrough of the history of professional history and the NFL.
There’s memorabilia from the entire history of the game, from the first professional contract to jerseys/game balls from recent Super Bowls. Personally I’m a bigger fan of the oldest stuff. The NFL began as the American Professional Football Association in 1920 (notice immediately that the Super Bowl didn’t occur until 1967 as part of the NFL-AFL merger, so there’s a lot of pre-Super Bowl football history, in case you aren’t familiar).
We’re fortunate—at least for this day—to be born and raised fans of the Chicago Bears, who are a big part of the history, particularly the early history, of the NFL. If you’re a fan of an expansion team—like the Green Bay Packers—you’ll have to look a little more recent than the founding of the league to see familiar names pop up.
We found the second floor of this room more interesting. That room is broken into a collection of exhibits focusing on various aspects of the game, like NFL records, dynasties, instant replay, “Fantastic Finishes”, and so on. This is also where you’ll find the most interactive exhibits.
There are various molds/casts where you can compare your hands/legs/arms to those of NFL players. There’s also an instant replay booth, where you can try to see how your call matches up against actual calls from NFL games.
After this room we headed into the Hall of Fame Gallery, which is filled with busts of the games’s greatest.
It’s a beautiful room. If you can get there early, you’ll find it basically empty which makes for an even better scene.
Besides the busts themselves, there are touchscreens where you can view biographies and video highlights of each of the members of the hall of fame. With over 300 members and a few minutes of video each, you could easily spend a few hours here if you wanted.
After the Hall of Fame Gallery is the “A Game for Life” theater. While this experience—a “holographic” show in a simulated locker room—sounded pretty cool, we weren’t sure our toddler would handle it well, so we skipped it.
I did watch the more traditional film in the Super Bowl Theater a bit later. I found that to be pretty underwhelming, as it’s mostly just a highlight reel of the most recent season and Super Bowl. In hindsight I think at least one of us should have tried to watch A Game of Life instead.
The next gallery on the second floor is the Pro Football Today Gallery. This collection of exhibits focuses on recent seasons. You’ll find objects from the biggest recent moments, like Gronkowski’s jersey from Super Bowl LV and the uniform of official Sarah Thomas—the first woman to officiate a Super Bowl—from the game.
From there we headed into one of the other highlights of the experience, the Lamar Hunt Super Bowl Gallery. The Super Bowl Gallery starts with exhibits on each of the first four Super Bowls before switching to a slightly less impressive decade-by-decade format.
Now, an important point. I don’t know if it’s the same schedule every year, but the Lombardi Trophy for the upcoming Super Bowl (LVI) was on display beginning in August and ending presumably sometime during the playoffs. By the time we got there—the day before the Super Bowl—it was obviously in Los Angeles for the game. I’m not sure what’s on display from February through August.
Returning to the first floor you’ll find a few smaller exhibits, including on the Madden video game series and the Black College Football Hall of Fame. This room also has lockers containing memorabilia for each of the most recent inductees. During our visit this included two of our huge favorites from our time watching the game—Peyton Manning and Calvin Johnson.
Near the exit is a small cafe and the much larger Hall of Fame store. The store had a wide range of team merchandise, memorabilia, and Hall of Fame branded merchandise.
After exiting the store with some merchandise in hand, we checked out the photo that had been taken at the entrance.
These photo ops are common and pretty much always a rip off. We decided to pay the $42 this time for a collection of digital images, and a hard print in a small frame. It’s not a decision I’d make often, but they really won us over—we had a great day and wanted the best photos to remember it.
Is the Pro Football Hall of Fame Worth Going To?
Yes! We visited the Pro Football Hall of Fame as part of a larger road trip, which was a great way to visit. Would I make a trip just to see the Pro Football Hall of Fame? Probably not, but the proximity to Cleveland, Columbus, and Pittsburgh makes it good for a day trip from those three cities.