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- Explore the City: Navigate by neighborhood or by activity, with color-coded maps of Cleveland’s most interesting neighborhoods
- See the Sights: Root for the Cleveland Indians at “The Jake,” check out the legendary costumes, instruments, and handwritten lyrics at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, admire industrial-era mansions, or check out the Museum of Contemporary Art
- Get a Taste of the City: Dine at a trattoria in Little Italy, savor fresh fare at farm-to-table restaurants, sample falafel, pierogis, local cheeses and more at the Westside Market, and relax with a pint at a craft brewery
- Bars and Nightlife: Catch a performance at the House of Blues, play bocce ball in an Irish pub, polka-dance at a popular local happy hour, or sip craft cocktails in a historic lounge
- Local Advice: Douglas Trattner shares insider know-how on the city he calls home
- Itineraries and Day Trips: Explore nearby Lake Erie, Akron, and Amish Country, or follow city itineraries designed for long weekends, rainy days, and more
- Handy tools like full-color photos, detailed maps, and background information on the history and culture of Cleveland
Exploring more Midwest cities? Check out Moon Chicago or Moon Minneapolis & St. Paul.
There’s a level of enthusiasm, optimism, and momentum in Cleveland that hasn’t been felt in decades. Population in the city center has more than doubled in the past 10 years, introducing an abundance of fresh energy to downtown streets. Many of those new residents are young professionals, who bring with them all the positive trappings of a modern generation. Look around today and you’ll see more bikes, breweries, coffee shops, pocket parks, urban gardens, and creative start-ups—not to mention a slower pace to the day.
Those outside the region are taking notice, too. Major film studios have discovered that Cleveland’s grand 20th-century architecture makes a fine backdrop to just about any story. The dining scene continues to attract more than its fair share of attention, creating a boom in food-related tourism. Visitors are increasingly beating a path to Cleveland’s world-class museums, stages, and attractions.
But more than anything, there is a genuine sense of civic pride. After decades of serving as the nation’s favorite punch line, Cleveland has shaken off the rust, put its house in order, and emerged as a contemporary city with an authentic Midwestern vibe. Rather than wait for others to label and define their town, locals are simply embracing the affordability, accessibility, and beauty of this city on a Great Lake and a crooked river.
These days, it seems you can’t pick up a magazine or newspaper without reading another story about Cleveland’s “Rust Belt Revival.” Around here, folks just call that Tuesday.
5 TOP EXPERIENCES
1 Be a Part of Rock and Roll History: Immerse yourself in the city’s storied musical history by checking out the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.
2 Go to Foodie Heaven: Cleveland has every type of cuisine you could ever want. To sample for yourself, head to Asiatown, the West Side Market, or explore the innumerable diverse ethnic restaurants around town.
3 Get Out on the Water: There’s no better way to experience the city in the summer than by exploring its main waterways, Lake Erie and the Cuyahoga River. Relax on a pleasure cruise or get your heart rate up on a kayak or stand-up paddleboard.
4 Root for the Home Team: Attend a Cavs, Indians, or Browns game and join the locals who champion their teams regardless of score or standings.
5 Sip Some Suds: Cleveland is in the midst of a beer boom. Craft beer lovers can sample the suds at one of the city’s many breweries or hitch a ride on the Brew Bus.
THE THREE-DAY BEST OF CLEVELAND
Visit the West Side Market, a bustling public market that is a treat not just for foodies, but also for people-watchers and architecture buffs. Grab a cup of coffee from City Roast Coffee and peruse the 100 or so stalls, which sell everything from goat meat to goat cheese. For brunch, eat like a local by ordering a sausage sandwich from Frank’s Bratwurst. Get it with kraut, horseradish, and brown mustard on a hard roll. Don’t leave without checking out the attached produce annex.
Craft beer lovers should sign up for a behind-the-scenes tour of the Market Garden Brewery production facility, located a few hundred yards from the West Side Market. Tours are offered throughout the weekend. When done, visit the nearby breweries of Great Lakes Brewing Co. and Platform Beer to sample some of Cleveland’s freshest suds. If ice cream is more your speed, head down to Mitchell’s Homemade Ice Cream for a scoop of strawberry rhubarb crisp from one the city’s best makers.
Artsy types can stop into Glass Bubble Project, a garage glassblowing studio that has an open-door policy and often hosts impromptu demonstrations. If it happens to be the first or third Saturday of the month between mid-May and mid-October, wander into Ohio City’s Market Square for Open Air in Market Square, a weekly bazaar.
When hunger sets in, hit Bar Cento for Neapolitan-style pizza or Black Pig for farm-to-table French-inspired fare starring heritage-breed pork. Stop by The Plum for progressive American fare with an edge.
For a post-meal nightcap, go directly to Porco Lounge and Tiki Room for delicious Polynesian-style cocktails like Mai Tais, Zombies, and Pain Killers served up in a wild tiki bar setting.
Start your day with a little Parisian flair by grabbing breakfast at Le Petit Triangle Café, a quaint and quiet café that serves sweet and savory crepes, fluffy omelets, and a heavenly café au lait.
Make your way over to the Nautica entertainment complex on the West Bank of the Flats and hop aboard Lolly the Trolley with Trolley Tours of Cleveland, which offers fun and informative sightseeing tours of the city and surrounding neighborhoods.
When the trolley ride is over, make your way to the North Coast Harbor and into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. Though the museum looks small from the outside, it can gobble up an entire afternoon. If the kids are in tow, swap the Rock Hall for a visit to the adjacent Great Lakes Science Center.
If the Cleveland Indians are in town, check the box office at Progressive Field for last-minute bleacher seats, where you’ll enjoy cold beer, hot dogs, and great baseball. Otherwise, go play some shuffleboard at Forest City Shuffleboard, a roomy entertainment venue with indoor courts and a full bar. If filling shopping bags sounds like more fun, wander into the 5th Street Arcades, a historic downtown mall with an eclectic mix of shops, boutiques, and cafés.
Grab a pre-dinner aperitif at Spotted Owl in Tremont before hitting any of the amazing chef-driven bistros in the area. For eclectic Mediterranean dished up in a converted colonial, visit Fat Cats. For stellar sushi in a hip, grotto-like setting go to Dante Boccuzzi’s Ginko.
After dinner peruse the wonderful collection of art, film, and music books at Visible Voice Books while sipping a glass of wine or cup of coffee.
If it’s Sunday, join the locals for a long, leisurely dim sum brunch at Li Wah in Cleveland’s Asiatown neighborhood. Home cooks in search of hard-to-find recipe ingredients should visit Park to Shop or Tink Holl market for a bewildering selection of items.
For proof that there’s more to do in Cleveland than eat and drink, head to University Circle for a day filled with art, architecture, and history. The Cleveland Museum of Art has never looked better thanks to a seven-year, $350 million overhaul. Science and history nerds will be thrilled to spend some time exploring the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, while the horticulturally minded might prefer the Cleveland Botanical Garden. Contemporary art lovers should check out the latest exhibits at the Museum of Contemporary Art.
Down in the Flats, a long-dormant entertainment district along the banks of the Cuyahoga River, a $750 million waterfront redevelopment project ushered in new restaurants, bars, and entertainment venues, all of which are connected by a meandering boardwalk. Collision Bend Brewing Company is a lively restaurant and brewery set inside a 150-year-old brick building on the river’s edge. Roll a few games of bocce at Backyard Bocce before hopping aboard the free water taxi to the other side of the river. That’s where you’ll find the Harbor Inn, the oldest continuously operating bar in Cleveland.
Downtown serves as the financial, legal, and governmental nucleus of the entire county, but an influx of hotels and residential buildings have instilled a fresh sense of vitality. After dark, areas like East 4th Street and the revitalized Flats East Bank teem with restaurants, cocktail lounges, and live-music venues like the House of Blues.
Downtown also is the place to enjoy live theater, cheer on professional sports teams, and explore the ephemera at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. Clean, compact, and walkable, downtown rewards urban hikers with an abundance of glorious classical architecture.
OHIO CITY AND TREMONT
Known to locals as OHC, Ohio City is a neighborhood that’s long been anchored by the West Side Market. In addition to breweries like Great Lakes Brewing Co., Market Garden Brewery, and Platform Beer, this hip ’hood is home to the edgy art gallery Transformer Station. Celebrated eateries like Flying Fig and Momocho Mod Mex make OHC ground zero for adventurous foodies.
The adjacent neighborhood of Tremont has a high concentration of chef-owned bistros, like Dante and Fat Cats, but is equally known for the creative energy on display in its numerous galleries. Architecture fans enjoy the historic churches in this former university neighborhood, and shoppers come for the upscale boutiques.
DETROIT SHOREWAY AND EDGEWATER
Detroit Shoreway and adjacent Edgewater are some of the most dynamic and developing parts of town. Anchored by the decades-old Cleveland Public Theatre, the trendy Gordon Square Arts District is home to art galleries, architecture studios, and thriving neighborhood theater. Lively taverns like the Parkview Nite Club and Happy Dog join fine eateries such as Luxe Kitchen & Lounge and Spice Kitchen & Bar. Antiques hunters prowl the secondhand shops of Lorain Avenue in hopes of scoring a treasure, while beachgoers enjoy Edgewater Park.
UNIVERSITY CIRCLE AND LITTLE ITALY
Often referred to as “One Perfect Mile,” University Circle is home to an unmatched concentration of educational, medical, and cultural institutions, including the Cleveland Museum of Art and Museum of Contemporary Art. The Old World is alive and well in neighboring Little Italy, a lively borough featuring redbrick lanes, authentic Italian eateries, and eclectic art galleries.
CLEVELAND HEIGHTS AND SHAKER HEIGHTS
Incorporated in the early 1900s, the neighboring communities of Cleveland Heights and Shaker Heights developed as leafy streetcar suburbs on the fringes of town. Today, these popular inner-ring cities boast all the amenities of a self-sufficient town. The Main Street-like districts of Shaker Square, Cedar-Lee, and Coventry Village keep visitors and residents alike entertained with restaurants, jazz clubs, and movie theaters. It’s also possible to explore the impressive mansions built by Cleveland’s wealthy industrialists.
The bulk of the commercial activity in this West Side neighborhood is found on the thoroughfares of Detroit, Madison, and Clifton, which are dotted with indie shops, restaurants, and bars. But one of the biggest draws here is the Rocky River Reservation, part of the Cleveland Metroparks system. Boasting a dog park, a web of trails, and a scenic strip of rushing river, this picturesque retreat attracts joggers, bicyclists, anglers, and picnickers. Lakewood is also home to the Beck Center for the Arts, a long-standing community arts beacon.
The Greater Cleveland area stretches for miles in every direction save for north, where it is bounded by Lake Erie. The majestic Cuyahoga Valley National Park is just south of town, while the equally verdant Holden Arboretum can be found out east. In the wintertime, mountain bike enthusiasts travel from throughout the Midwest to hit Ray’s MTB Indoor Park. Meanwhile, shoppers flock to upscale boutiques in Beachwood, Rocky River, and Chagrin Falls, and live music fans venture to the Beachland Ballroom and Blossom Music Center.
Note that Sight listings include links to Google Maps. Using a WiFi connection is advised to avoid roaming charges.
Ohio City and Tremont
Detroit Shoreway and Edgewater
University Circle and Little Italy
Cleveland Heights and Shaker Heights
In 1920, Cleveland was the fifth most populous city in the United States. Its position on a lake, a river, and a grand canal helped it develop into an industrial powerhouse. As the city expanded, so too did its need for new local, county, and federal buildings. Fortuitously, that need happened to coincide with the City Beautiful movement, a progressive philosophy that believes a well-planned, visually appealing downtown goes a long way toward boosting the spirit of its inhabitants. Those heady times left behind a legacy in the form of stunning architecture, world-class cultural institutions, and idyllic residential suburbs on the fringes of town.
It would take Cleveland another 75 years to match its building boom of the early 20th century. But in the mid-1990s, shaking off its Rust Belt reputation, the city pulled off a slew of public projects that included new sports venues, a state-of-the-art science and technology museum, and a glass-and-steel temple to rock and roll. Following that, the city added attractive new hotels and completely redeveloped the Flats neighborhood.
At the same time, downtown population began to soar, climbing roughly 80 percent over the past two decades. Attracted by the city’s increasing amenities, millennials, empty nesters, and scores of other urban pioneers gravitate to the city center, where they have easy access to the arts, professional sports, food, drink, and that Great Lake and twisty river.
S Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum
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1100 Rock and Roll Blvd., 216/781-7625, www.rockhall.com; 10am-5:30pm Sun.-Tues. and Thurs.-Fri., 10am-9pm Wed. and Sat.; $26 adults, $24 seniors, $16 children, free for children 8 and under, discounted rates for advance online purchase
They say you can’t cage an animal like rock and roll, but this iconic shrine does a laudable job of telling the story of rock’s gritty past, present, and future. Some 150,000 square feet of space is crammed with permanent and temporary exhibits, interactive displays, and live-performance spaces. An incredible array of memorable costumes, instruments, personal effects, and ephemera provide visitors with a unique perspective on rock’s roots and culture. The museum features experiences like the Power of Rock and a new Hall of Fame that honors inductees. Sure, the entry fee is a bit steep, but where else are you going to see a Janis Joplin blotter acid sheet drawn by comic book artist Robert Crumb and the hand-written lyrics of “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” in one afternoon?
To take a little bit of rock home with you, stop by the well-stocked museum store, which is loaded with music-themed books, CDs, and genuine memorabilia. The plaza out front is home to summer concerts, a beer garden, and a massive “LONG LIVE ROCK” sign for can’t-miss photo ops.
Great Lakes Science Center
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601 Erieside Ave., 216/694-2000, www.greatscience.com; 10am-5pm Mon.-Sat., noon-5pm Sun. summer, 10am-5pm Tues.-Sat., noon-5pm Sun. winter; $17 adults, $14 children
This modern steel-and-glass structure boasts some 400 hands-on science-centric activities on three floors of exhibits. One of the largest of its type in the country, the 165,000-square-foot museum makes science, technology, and the local environment fun and accessible for children and adults alike. Favorite exhibitss include the indoor twister, static generator, and photoluminescence shadow wall. The Great Lakes Story
- On Sale
- May 7, 2019
- Page Count
- 356 pages
- Moon Travel