The Best of Cleveland in Three Days

Cleveland's bustling West Side Market.

Cleveland’s bustling West Side Market. Photo © Erik Drost, licensed Creative Commons Attribution.

Only have a few days in Cleveland? Here’s a guide to the best of the city, from dining at Michael Symon’s Lolita to shopping in the Lorain Avenue Antiques District to visiting the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.


Day 1

Visit the bustling West Side Market, a public market that is a treat not just for cooks, but also people-watchers and architecture buffs. Grab a cup of coffee from City Roast and peruse the 80 or so stalls that sell everything from goat 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 detached vegetable annex.

If it’s between Memorial Day and Labor Day, set aside some time to prowl the knickknacks at Open Air in Market Square, an outdoor flea market and block party that takes place across the street from the West Side Market. Stroll north on W. 25th Street and check out the various shops that dot the eclectic urban strip. Hit Deering Vintage for glam vintage threads, Glass Bubble Project for original blown-glass art objects, and Johnnyville Slugger for your very own custom baseball bat.

Before dinner, walk down Jay Avenue to see what Cleveland looked like 150 years ago and admire blocks of restored 19th-century homes.

When hunger sets in, hit Bar Cento for Neapolitan-style pizza or SOHO Kitchen for new takes on Southern classics, or stop by Crop Bistro for contemporary American fare dished up in the city’s most attractive dining room.

For a post-meal nightcap, go directly to Velvet Tango Room, a polished speakeasy that mixes up the most divine classic cocktails in the region.

Day 2

Start your day with a little Parisian flair by grabbing breakfast at Le Petit Triangle Café, a quaint and quiet café that serves savory crepes, fluffy omelets, and ethereal café au laits.

Make your way over to Nautica entertainment complex on the west bank of the Flats and hop aboard Lolly the Trolley, which offers a number of fun and informative sightseeing tours.

When the trolley ride is over, make your way to the North Coast Harbor and into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Though the museum looks small from the outside, it can devour entire afternoons in a single visit. If the kids are in tow, swap the Rock Hall for a visit to the adjacent Great Lakes Science Center.

If the team is 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 gallery hopping in eclectic Tremont, where artsy shops like Paul Duda Gallery and Banyan Tree sit side-by-side with architecturally impressive churches.

Grab a glass of wine at Press Wine Bar before hitting any of the amazing chef-driven bistros in the area.

For upscale pasta and pizza in a lively setting visit Fahrenheit. Or, go to Michael Symon’s charming neighborhood bistro Lolita for Mediterranean fare.

After dinner peruse the wonderful collection of art, film, and music books at Visible Voice Books, or grab a chocolate-covered banana at Tremont Scoops.

Day 3

If it’s Sunday, join the locals for a long, leisurely dim sum brunch at Li Wah. If you prefer upscale breakfast fare served in an elegantly restored diner car, head to Katz Club Diner in Cleveland Heights.

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 just wrapped up a seven-year, $350 million overhaul and has never looked better. Science and history nerds would do well to spend some time exploring the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, while the horticulturally minded might prefer the Cleveland Botanical Garden. Contemporary art fans and architecture buffs both will appreciate the Museum of Contemporary Art.

For lunch, try Coquette Patisserie, a petite bakery café across the street from the Museum of Contemporary Art that offers authentic French pastries, savory small plates, and champagne by the glass.

Thrift, salvage, and antiques buffs should stroll the Lorain Avenue Antiques District, a collection of thrift, consignment, antiques, and restoration shops.

For a full farm-to-table feast not far from the antiques, head to Spice Kitchen, a handsome American bistro that buys local, cooks seasonal, and always hits the mark.

On warm or chilly nights, the outdoor courtyard at Stone Mad Irish Pub is the place to be thanks to a towering four-sided fireplace. Inside, a meticulously crafted Irish bar complete with sunken bocce court offers a unique form of after-dinner fun.


Excerpted from the Second Edition of Moon Cleveland.

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