When you think about how many sporting attractions, museums, fantastic restaurants and music venues the city has, it's amazing how many people overlook Cleveland as a vacation destination. Well, that's a big mistake, as this charming city on Lake Erie has everything, and a little bit more.
If you want to stay outdoors, there's plenty to do in Cleveland. Picnic on the lakefront, climb Terminal Tower to see the city skyline at sunset, wander down the Erie Canal path or book a round at one of the hundreds of local golf courses.
Join the masses as they cheer on the Browns or the Indians, or pay homage to your favorite artists at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Get lost in the massive collection of the Museum of Art, marvel at the beauty of the Cleveland Arcade and then head to the House of Blues for a night of raw musical energy.
These kind of experiences are what make Cleveland great. Whether it's music, sports, outdoor attractions or museums that you love, Cleveland is a city that delivers, so why not make it your next getaway destination?
Cleveland is up there with Nashville and New Orleans as one of America's musical capitals. Boasting fantastic live music venues like the House of Blues and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, visiting the city is a must for serious music lovers.
Few cities love their sports as much as Cleveland, as you'll find out when you attend a game featuring the Browns (in the NFL), the Indians (in Major League Baseball), the Cavaliers (in the NBA) or the Monsters (in the NHL).
Cleveland also has a taste for art and knowledge, with some of the Midwest's finest museums and galleries. See the 45,000 pieces in the collection of the Cleveland Museum of Art, walk with dinosaurs at the Museum of Natural History or dive into the history of transport with the old cars and planes at the Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum.
Cleveland is also Ohio's dining capital, with highly rated eateries from the Mediterranean, Latin America, Asia and the American heartland. Any gourmet food lover will be satisfied by the tacos at La Bodega, the seafood at Blue Point Grille or the Neapolitan pizzas at Citizen Pie.
If you love playing golf, Cleveland is a wonderful vacation destination. Nearby Bridgestone hosts the World Golf Championship every year, while public courses like Mastick Woods will challenge any amateur player.
The most famous and influential artists, recording industry figures, and others who have played pivotal roles in the history of the rock-and-roll genre are recognized and paid tribute to at the Cleveland Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Seven floors of exhibits explore different aspects of this musical genre, from its roots in gospel and blues, to the cities that influenced its development and the individual artists who have played key roles in its evolution. Along with the permanent exhibits, there is a movie theater, temporary exhibits, and a calendar packed with live music events.
This museum houses an impressive and diverse array of art from around the world, including approximately 45,000 pieces in its permanent collection. The Cleveland Museum of Art has earned an international reputation for its renowned collection of Asian and Egyptian art, and is one of the most-visited art museums in the world. The museum is located in Wade Park, a 75-acre landscaped green space with outdoors sculptures and a Lagoon. Opened in 1916, the park and museum are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The busy, bustling West Side Market is a landmark of the city, offering the wares of over a hundred vendors. Fruits, vegetables, cheeses, meats, and fish are for sale along with some prepared foods such as gyros and delicious baked goods. Many of the stalls have been held by the same families for more than a century, and they include a diverse range of products ranging from European to Mediterranean and Middle Eastern specialties. Along with shopping, visitors can take a guided tour of the facility to learn about its history.
The Great Lakes Science Center is both a museum and educational facility dedicated to the Great Lakes region of the United States. Along with permanent and temporary exhibits, the Science Center houses an IMAX Dome theater and cafe. Exhibits revolve around the disciplines of science, technology, engineering, and math, and include the NASA Glenn Visitor Center devoted to space sciences. Along with the exhibits, there are daily demonstrations exploring various scientific phenomena, along with interactive displays.
The Cleveland Botanical Gardens offer visitors both an escape and an education in urban green spaces. In addition to a variety of outdoor gardens to explore, The Eleanor Armstrong Smith Glasshouse offers an 18,000 square foot glassed-in conservatory, housing 350 types of plants and 50 different animal species from Madagascar and the cloud forests of Costa Rica. Along with simply enjoying the meticulously-kept grounds and gardens, the Botanical Garden hosts a calendar of activities and events throughout the year. If you have the time, check out the Holden Arboretum located in nearby Kirtland, OH which covers 3,600 acres of forest and gardens.
Cleveland's weather can be extreme, with cold winters and hot, humid summers. For these reasons, the best times to visit are the in-between seasons. Late spring (April and May) or the fall (September and October) are the best times to go.
Cleveland Hopkins International Airport is about 13 miles southwest of the city center and it's easy to get from there to Downtown Cleveland. The best route is to take the RTA Red Line Rapid Transit train connection, which takes around 30 minutes and costs $2.25. Expect to pay around $20 for a taxi.
Cleveland's Amtrak Station is located at 200 Cleveland Memorial Shoreway, not far from the center of town. It's a stop on the Capitol Limited, which runs from Washington D.C. to Chicago, and the Lake Shore Limited, which connects Cleveland to New York City and Boston (although both services offer a limited number of daily connections).
If you are coming into Cleveland by car, I-71 runs from southern Ohio and Kentucky, I-77 links the city to Virginia and the Carolinas, while I-90 connects Cleveland to Boston in the east and Seattle to the west, so there should be a convenient approach route from almost any American state.
Greyhound and Megabus both provide intercity bus services into Cleveland, linking the city with Chicago, Columbus, Pittsburgh and plenty of more distant destinations. The Greyhound stop is at 1465 Chester Ave (which is handy for the center of town) while Megabus stop at 2110 Prospect Ave (which is convenient for the University).
Basing yourself in Downtown Cleveland makes sense if you want to have access to the major museums, cultural venues and sporting stadiums and the area is home to plenty of upscale options, like the Ritz-Carlton and the Hyatt Regency Cleveland at the Arcade. There are also excellent cheaper accommodation options, such as the Downtown Hampton Inn and the Cleveland Hostel, a popular hangout for visiting students.
Downtown Cleveland – The main action in Cleveland takes place Downtown by the shores of Lake Erie, where you'll find major attractions like West Side Market, which is the best place in the city to buy fresh produce. Climb the Terminal Tower for the best views of the city's skyline and shop at the Arcade - a stunning late 19th-century mall that is one of the most beautiful in the world.
The East Side – East Side is located east of the Cuyahoga River and seems a world away from Downtown Cleveland. Partly, that's because of its student vibe. Being home to University Circle, there are plenty of music venues like Nighttown to visit after dark. It's also Cleveland's museum district, with great galleries like the Cleveland Museum of Art and the Museum of Natural History.
Tremont – Located in the western part of central Cleveland, Tremont is the city's creative hub. Check out up and coming local talent at the Asterisk Gallery or join the Tremont Art Walk to see what's going on during your visit. It's also a great place to eat out, with popular bistros like Fahrenheit and Dante offering high-quality, affordable dishes.
The Regional Transport Authority (RTA) provides an extensive bus and train network that reaches across Cleveland. The Green and Blue lines of the Rapid Transit rail link are the quickest way to get around, while the Waterfront Line is useful for getting from Downtown to attractions like the Browns' stadium. The best idea is to buy a day pass for all public transit, which costs $5.50.
Cleveland has a reputation as one of the easiest cities to drive around in the USA. Partly, that's due to the absence of one-way streets and the wide, often traffic-free boulevards. The grid system is also fairly simple, with numbered north-south streets and avenues running east-west. Parking shouldn't be hard to find either, with plenty of metered spaces and parking lots at Canal Basin, Willard Park and on South Marginal Street.
If you want to shop for branded goods, the Tower City Center in Downtown Cleveland is the place to go, but is closely rivaled by The Galleria at Erieview. Both malls host big names like Macy's, J.C. Penney and Forever 21. Anyone interested in the history of shopping should also head to the Arcade. Its glass skylight, balconies, and metal railings are stunningly beautiful. Even if many stores remain unoccupied, it's not to be missed.
If you are hunting for fresh produce, West Side Market is the place to go. This vibrant market hosts artisan cheese producers, bakers, brewers and all manner of food producers from across the world. There are also a number of supermarkets in the central Cleveland area, including local chain Dave's and major brands like Publix, Whole Foods and Walmart. Grocery prices tend to be lower than the American average. Expect to pay $3.10 for a gallon of milk and around $1.80 for a pound of apples.
Cleveland offers a huge variety of gourmet food options, with Asian, Mediterranean and traditional American restaurants as good as any in the USA. Tremont is the best dining neighborhood, where you'll find Mexican restaurants like La Bodega and Barrio Tremont, along with bistros like Bac Asian and Crop, which blend Asian and American dishes. The East Side is also a great place to eat. Check out eateries on Restaurant Row like Chinato and Lola for affordable, delicious meals. Expect to pay $20 for a high-quality meal and $10 at most mid-range eateries.