This overview of the different parts the city by Cleveland native Douglas Trattner will help you plan your next visit to this often-overlooked mecca.
From nine to five, downtown serves as the financial, legal, and governmental nucleus of the entire county. After dark, though, the vibrant Warehouse District and East 4th Street teem with restaurants, nightclubs, and live-music venues like the House of Blues. Downtown also is the place to enjoy live theater, cheer on professional sports teams, and explore the ephemera at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. Clean, compact, and walkable, downtown rewards urban hikers with an abundance of glorious classical architecture, and the largest stock of hotels can be found here as well.
Ohio City and Tremont
The 19th-century homes in Ohio City make strolling its leafy lanes feel like a trip back in time, but the neighborhood’s not stuck in the past. The celebrated West Side Market and fine eateries like Flying Fig and Momocho make the area ground zero for adventurous foodies, while new breweries attract craft beer fans from far afield. Nearby Tremont has an equally high concentration of chef-owned bistros, like Lolita, Fahrenheit, and Parallax, but is better known for its creative energy, on display in the monthly ArtWalks; architecture fans enjoy the historic churches in this former university neighborhood, and shoppers come for the upscale boutiques.
Detroit Shoreway and Edgewater
Some of Cleveland’s most exciting changes are taking place in these near-west neighborhoods. Ecoconscious residents are moving here to live in green-built homes, raise backyard chickens, and frequent new farm-to-table eateries like Toast and Spice Kitchen. Building on the 20-year history of the Cleveland Public Theatre, the animated Gordon Square Arts District is home to art galleries, design studios, and thriving neighborhood theater. Antiques hunters prowl the secondhand shops of Lorain Avenue in hopes of scoring a treasure.
University Circle and Little Italy
Often referred to as “One Perfect Mile,” University Circle is home to an unmatched concentration of educational, medical, and cultural institutions, including the Cleveland Museum of Art and Museum of Contemporary Art, both of which are better than ever. The Old World is alive and well in neighboring Little Italy, a lively borough featuring redbrick lanes, authentic Italian eateries, and eclectic art galleries.
Cleveland Heights and Shaker Heights
Incorporated in the early 1900s, the neighboring communities of Cleveland Heights and Shaker Heights developed as leafy streetcar suburbs on the fringes of town. Today, these popular inner-ring cities boast all the amenities of a self-sufficient town. The Main Street-like districts of Shaker Square, Cedar-Lee, and Coventry keep residents and visitors alike entertained with restaurants, jazz clubs, and movie theaters, and sightseeing drives allow one to explore the impressive mansions built by Cleveland’s wealthy industrialists.
The bulk of the commercial activity in this West Side neighborhood is found on the thoroughfares of Detroit, Madison, and Clifton, which are dotted with funky shops, restaurants, and bars. But one of the biggest draws here is the Rocky River Reservation, part of the Cleveland Metroparks system. Boasting a dog park, a web of trails, and a scenic strip of rushing river, this picturesque retreat attracts joggers, bicyclists, anglers, and picnickers. Lakewood is also home to the Beck Center for the Arts, a long-standing community arts beacon.
The Greater Cleveland area stretches for miles in every direction save for north, where it is bounded by Lake Erie. Much of that real estate is consumed by bedroom-community suburbs, but that doesn’t mean you should just hole up downtown. The majestic Cuyahoga Valley National Park is just south of town, while the equally verdant Holden Arboretum can be found out east. In the wintertime, mountain bike enthusiasts travel from throughout the Midwest to hit Ray’s MTB Indoor Park. Meanwhile, shoppers flock to upscale boutiques in Beachwood, Rocky River, and Chagrin Falls, and live music fans venture to the Beachland Ballroom and Blossom Music Center.
Excerpted from the Second Edition of Moon Cleveland.