When I was growing up in Northeast Ohio, the top destination for school trips, family getaways and weekend adventures was always the city of Cleveland. Despite the underrated view from outsiders, Cleveland is on the rise and becoming a top American city.
Downtown Cleveland has everything a great city needs: entertainment, culture and awesome food. In the heart of downtown is Cleveland’s Gateway District, on East 4th street, full of restaurants, pubs, lounges and bars, including the Chocolate Bar.
Another iconic downtown Cleveland landmark is the Arcade. Not a gaming scene but a Victorian-style, historic building full of shops and dining options.
Cleveland also has the largest performing arts center in the United States, outside of NYC. Playhouse Square, in the Cleveland Theater District, hosts classic Broadway performances such as The Phantom of the Opera and, at Christmas time, The Nutcracker ballet.
Tower City Central, located next to Quicken Loans Arena, home of the Cleveland Cavaliers, is a major destination downtown. With 75 shops, six restaurants, an 11-screen theater and two hotels, Tower City is truly a full-service spot for food and fun.
Ohio City, located west of downtown Cleveland, is one of the oldest residential areas in Cleveland and has some of the best attractions. The West Side Market, the oldest market space in Cleveland, has over 100 vendors on a daily basis that serve a variety of ethnic foods and beverages from exotic coffee, to meats, to baked treats and crepes. A visit to the West Side Market is a great afternoon activity filled with lots of amazing foods.
Ohio City is also home to the best ice cream ever! I may be a little biased, but Mitchell’s Ice Cream is homemade using local grass-fed dairy and is a Cleveland favorite. The transparent glass allows customers to see the ice cream being made and makes it that much sweeter. Mitchell’s Ice Cream also offers vegan flavors for the nutrition-conscious and anybody with allergies, so no one is left out of the creamy goodness.
Perhaps the most unusual part of Cleveland is the Flats, alongside the Cuyahoga River. The mixed industrial, entertainment and residential areas create a very millennial scene. The large number of new apartments provide an innovative look to the industrial grunge making it a perfect picture spot.
The Flats is a great place to see live music at one of the many riverside restaurant/bars. Rent kayaks and boats and float across the river or play cornhole and giant Jenga on the patio of Coastal Taco Bar & Chill. The Flats East Bank is home to the famous Big Bang Dueling Piano Bar, and on the West Bank is the Cleveland Aquarium, a family-friendly adventure.
- Growing Music Scene
Cleveland has a wide variety of venues and restaurants for live music. From large arenas like Quicken Loans Arena and the Wolstein Center, to more intimate venues such as the House of Blues and Beachland Ballroom & Tavern, Cleveland is a hot spot for all kinds of artists to showcase their music.
One of my favorite concert venues is Jacob’s Pavilion at Nautica, right alongside the Cuyahoga River in the Flats. The outdoor pavilion provides the perfect summer-night concert experience.
A new and growing music attraction in Cleveland is the Hard Rock Rocksino, where visitors can enjoy the casino life while catching a great show. Another famous music scene is the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame located downtown along the Lake Erie shore. This museum pays tribute to the legends and is a must-see Cleveland attraction for music lovers.
The city of Cleveland has some of the most devoted sports fans; however, has also seen some of the worst sports tragedies ever, until recently. After years of waiting and disappointment, the Cavaliers became the first major sports team to win a championship for Cleveland since 1964.
The spirit changing victory for the Cavs sparked new hope for fans and only grew when the Indians made it to the World Series this past year. The history of disappointment turned victory inspired a recent sports documentary from ESPN Films: 30 for 30 titled “Believeland.” The year of 2016 started a new era of national fame in the newly named city of Believeland.
The wonderful city of Cleveland has history and character and is unlike any city in America. I hope Cleveland is included in your next U.S. road trip; as a native, I can say it is one of the best things about Ohio.
What’s your favorite Cleveland spot? Never been? Let me know below!