Before this summer, all I knew about Cleveland was that there was some controversy related to LeBron James. After a few vacation days there, I’m happy to have learned just a little bit more. My top take-away? This mid-sized city has a surprising number of things to do and has hometown pride in spades.
My husband and I stayed at an Airbnb in one of the oldest neighborhoods in Cleveland, “Ohio City.” Not only did our rental have chickens in the backyard (bonus!), it also had a number of eateries and bars within walking distance. Our first night in Cleveland included a trip to Great Lakes Brewing Company, which has great ales and $5 brewery tours on the weekends. I was excited to find that they also mark the vegetarian items on their menu with a “V” and offer a vegan burger made with chickpeas. Top it off with a trip to Mason’s Creamery, a half adorable half hipster ice cream parlor with ample outdoor seating (and of course some vegan flavors).
No trip to Cleveland is complete without a visit to the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame. With my husband being a musician and music junkie, we devoted about six hours to this museum. We even felt we could have seen more had we been more heavily caffeinated. Level 0 takes the longest, with levels 1-5 having fewer exhibits. My personal highlights included Kurt Cobain’s electric guitar, Janis Joplin’s round frames, a written-down phone message from Cat Stevens to Bruce Springsteen, Michael Jackson’s glove, and handwritten lyrics of Beatles’ songs. And that just barely scrapes the surface. Adult tickets run $23.50 as of Summer 2017, but the price is well worth it if you’re at all a music fan. A tip for those who do plan on spending most of the day there: the cafe food is actually decent, though pricey, or you can leave and re-enter all day with your wrist band if you prefer a picnic lunch or meal out.
Once you’re done at the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame, it’s worth spending some time roaming around the waterfront and downtown Cleveland. The pier by Lake Erie has a handful of restaurants, or you can snap a photo by the “Cleveland” sign (only minimal waiting in line required). Head to nearby Willard Park to see the random and quirky “Free” stamp and pontificate about its meaning. Lastly, stop into Tower City Center for a view of the city (their observation deck is $5) and to see where a scene from Captain America: The Winter Soldier was filmed. Apparently, the movie White Boy Rick featuring Matthew McConaughey also recently used this as a filming location and will be released in 2018.
For a unique experience outside of the city center, I recommend spending a half day at Lakeview Cemetery. If you start at the Visitor’s Center and ask for a map, you’ll be taken into a little room with a nice lady with glasses who will excitedly tell you about various points of interest. The map lists where some of the more noteworthy residents are buried; however, it may help to do your own Google search since not everyone is listed. For example, Harvey Pekar of American Splendor fame did not make the list, nor did Alan Freed who popularized Rock n’ Roll. The most frequented stop is the Garfield Memorial, complete with views of the city skyline at the top (if you don’t see an outdoor observation area, keep climbing stairs). Other highlights include the multi-million dollar Wade Chapel, the dam where they filmed more scenes from Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and the creepy Haserot Angel that appears to be crying black tears. If it’s not clear yet, this is not your typical cemetery. If your timing is right, they even have a summer concert series on the Garfield Monument lawn!
What Cleveland spots did I miss? Post in the comments below!