Cleveland is the most underrated city in the U.S. There, I said it. (I grew up 20 minutes from downtown, so maybe I’m a little biased!) The city has undergone a complete revitalization in the last few years, and it stands up to some of our other favorite cities in the Midwest. From art and music (The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is a must — it has Beyonce’s clothes!!) to great beer and even better food, there are many reasons to make The Land (that’s hip lingo for Cleveland if you didn’t know) your next getaway.
While it might not be the prettiest place on earth, the culture and history (the Rockefellers once called it home!) are prevalent in everything the city offers. We combed through the best places to stay, go, eat, and drink for your trip to the CLE. Oh, and if you love grilled cheese, keep scrolling for the best grilled cheese in the country. Just sayin’.
Where to Stay
Budget Friendly (under $150)
Stay in Kimpton Schofield, where the modern touches combine with the historical, and the staff is always warm and friendly. Complementary bikes are offered at the hotel, and the Kimpton Schofield Hotel is located downtown, which means it’s walking distance from Playhouse Square, Cleveland’s theater district. The hotel is also across the street from Heinen’s, a Cleveland grocery store. Heinen’s downtown location is in the historic 1908 Cleveland Trust building, which was designed by George Browne Post, who also designed the New York Stock Exchange building.
Clifford House is a B&B located in historic Ohio City. Stay for the classic yet eclectic décor, delicious breakfasts, and friendly staff who have a wealth Cleveland knowledge
Mid-range Stays (less than $200)
The Glidden House is a boutique hotel that’s listed with the National Register of Historic Homes. It features original French Gothic architecture and is walking distance away from Severance Hall, Cleveland Art Museum, Cleveland Botanical Museum, and the Cleveland Natural History museum.
Things to Do
The Cleveland Art Museum is a world-renowned destination, making it an absolute must-see. Keeping with the founders’ vision of “for the benefit of all people forever,” general admission to the museum is free to the public. Also walking distance away from the art museum is the Cleveland Botanical Garden; Western Reserve Historical Society, which houses the Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum; and the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame honors rock and rolls’ most influential people, including artists, producers, and engineers. It’s a fun, exciting way to spend an afternoon.
The Cleveland Orchestra is a world-renowned orchestra, and they play most of their concerts at Severance Hall, a beautiful building built in classical and art deco styles. Catch an orchestra concert and go to Coquette Patisserie, which is only a short walk away, for post-orchestra French desserts and drinks.
Playhouse Square is Cleveland’s theater district and is the largest American theater district outside of New York City. Marvel at the GE Chandelier, which is the world’s largest outdoor chandelier, located above Euclid Ave. and 14th St.
Visit the house that was used in the filming of the classic A Christmas Story. The house, restored painstakingly to how it appeared in the film, is now an attraction for fans of the movie to tour. Across the street is the A Christmas Story Museum, filled with props, costumes, and other memorabilia, as well as behind-the-scenes photos of the movie.
Buy various locally-made goods such as cards, furniture, and even food at this monthly market with pop-up locations throughout the year.
Where to Eat
Creative renditions of pancakes and French toast are this Ohio City eatery’s specialties, but even if you’re looking for a savory option, there’s the an option for you: the “Real F’ing Breakfast Burrito” with adobo-braised beef, hash, scrambled egg, manchego, smoked tomato salsa and cheddar — yes, please!
Whether you want your brunch to-go with delicious pastries or you want to sit and eat, Lucky’s Cafe is the place to be. Try their waffles that are served with warm, maple-roasted apples; local Ohio honey whipped cream, and house-made caramel sauce.
West Side Market is Cleveland’s oldest publicly owned indoor and outdoor market, featuring more than 100 stalls that sell bread, meats, ethnic foods, and fresh produce. Visit Crepes de Luxe for crepes, Irene Dever for homemade pierogies, and Piccadilly Creamery for liquid nitrogen ice cream.
Barrio Tacos is one of Cleveland’s best taco places. Each location has its own festive Dia de Los Muertos décor, and they have both seasonal tacos and a build-your-own-recipe option.
TownHall is the perfect place for vegans and non-vegans alike in Cleveland’s Ohio City area. They’re a non-GMO restaurant that’s gluten-free friendly as well.
Fans of Food Network will know Michael Symon, a Cleveland restaurateur. Mabel’s BBQ is Symon’s take on BBQ, Cleveland style. Enjoy brisket, ribs, and more with Cleveland kraut in a rustic setting with exposed brick walls, industrial lighting, and long communal tables.
Greenhouse Tavern focuses on farm-to-table food and is run by Jonathon Sawyer, a James Beard award-winning chef. Sustainability is a huge theme of the restaurant, which is seen not only in the food, but also in the décor.
Melt is a Cleveland icon, serving up rich, loaded grilled cheese creations such as the Chorizo & Potato, which is has fresh chorizo sausage and sharp cheddar cheese.
Great Lakes Brewery is a craft brewery that makes both seasonal and year-round beers, and it’s a short walk away from the West Side Market. The brewery offers food and tours that are great to check out on a free afternoon.
Load your hot dog (or vegan dog if that’s more your thing) up with more than 50 toppings to choose from such as chorizo chili, fried egg, Thai chili, and garlic sauce. It can get messy, but it’s worth it. Stay for the music, comedy, and pinball machines.
Go for drinks in elaborate old-bank vaults that are converted to a lounge with Jazz Age vibes. The drinks pay homage to Cleveland with names such as Millionaire’s Row and Cleveland Trust.
Go to Rising Star for a delicious cup of house-roasted coffee or tea and stay for the conversations you’ll have. They do pour-overs, AeroPress, vacuum-pot, cold brew, and so much more.
Enjoy ice cream made from local ingredients at this amazing ice cream shop. Tours are also available at the Ohio City location.
Enjoy delicious and inventive small-batch ice cream at Mason’s Creamery in Ohio City. There are classic flavors such as sea salt caramel, as well as seasonal flavors. Vegan options are equally delicious!