Pro Football Hall of Fame Guide

Last updated 10th November 2017

Why Go

Baseball may claim the title of “America’s pastime,” but there’s just something about football that keeps the crowds coming. The National Football League was founded in Canton, Ohio in 1920, and the league has grown into a multibillion dollar enterprise in the near century since. Today, the Pro Football Hill of Fame has more than 300 legends of the game enshrined in its halls, and visiting it is a must for any diehard football fan.

Where to Go

The Hall of Fame complex has evolved quite a bit over the years from its origins as a two-room building with less than 20,000 sq-ft of space. The most recent expansion in the mid-1990s more than quadrupled the exhibit space, and the NFL recently announced an $700 million expansion of the whole campus, in anticipation of the 100th anniversary of the league in 2020. This includes vast improvements to Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium, where the first NFL preseason game is traditionally held each year. Also on the docket is an uber-modern hotel and a retirement complex for former players.

Tours are self-guided, and the Hall of Fame recommends three hours for the entire experience. VIP behind-the-scenes tours are also offered, but call ahead or check the website for the latest details.

What to Do

Here’s some of what you’ll experience on your tour through the buildings:

  • History of the game – This colorful section looks at each decade of the NFL’s first century and highlights players, coaches, teams, stadiums, sample uniforms and equipment, teams that have had dynasties throughout the years, and rule changes. There are also sections dedicated to people who were pioneers in the game, how communication has changed and evolved, and the results of every Super Bowl. We also enjoyed looking at samples of each Super Bowl ring.
  • Hall of Fame – The actual enshrinement area features busts of each member that has been inducted. They are dramatically lit and it feels a bit like a hallowed site—visitors are apt to whisper in this area.
  • Interact – Our kids loved the interactive features of the museum, such as models of different famous players’ hands. It’s one thing to imagine how huge some of these men were, but to put your hand up to a likeness of theirs proves what superhumans some of them were. There’s also an area where children can play the latest version of EA Sports Madden Football or test their football knowledge in a trivia challenge.
  • Mementos – One whole gallery is dedicated to “Moments, Memories & Mementos,” adding a personal (and at times very touching) aspect for players in a game where the focus is the team and not the individual.
  • Gift shop – As you might imagine, there’s an incredible team shop, with a wide variety of merchandise for each one of the NFL’s 32 teams. This is a wonderland for young NFL fans, but bring your credit cards, as very little here is on the clearance rack!

Getting Around

Canton is in Northeast Ohio, and is an easy day’s drive from Chicago, Detroit, Charlotte, Buffalo, or Philadelphia. The Hall of Fame is convenient to either Akron-Canton airport (7 miles) or Cleveland Hopkins International Airport (59 miles). If you’ll be flying in, check both airports, as one is often cheaper than the other. Pittsburgh’s airport is another regional option, but it’s closer to two hours distant. Downtown Canton lies a couple of miles from the Hall, which is located right adjacent I-77 in a residential neighborhood. The Hall of Fame is handicap accessible and offers complimentary wheelchairs for guests.