I have family who has lived less than an hour from Cleveland my entire life. However, until this fall I had never been. After a few hours of research and some advice from family – on a very cold day this fall, my husband and I took a day trip to Cleveland. And I don’t know why we were both surprised, but we had a great day and could have easily spent 1-2 more days seeing the city. Here is what made the cut / and what didn’t…
Downtown: The historic downtown area sits right on Lake Erie. Cleveland was founded in 1796 but as I walked around its Civil War history and the turn of the century industrialization feel are what struck me. Downtown has been preserved and is filled with historic old large brink buildings. In its day, Cleveland was the home for Rockefeller’s standard oil company, early car manufacturing and as a huge shipping port.
In the center of town there is a huge monument to those in 9,000-10,000 Ohioans in the county who fought in the Civil War. Incidentally, we were there on Veteran’s Day and were able to participate in the local remembrance ceremony at 1100. There is the beautiful old stone church built in 1855, and one of the country’s most beautiful public libraries. And down by the water you can see the world’s largest rubber stamp.
If it’d been summer I might have been persuaded that Cleveland would be a great small city to live or spend some time – by the water, lots of history, clean, friendly… but I don’t think I can be convinced with the wind that blows in off Lake Erie.
Don’t miss the Westside Market while in town. It is a beautiful indoor market dating back to 1912. The brick building is worth the visit in its own right and the food was dazzling. I was sorry we were six hours from home or I would have stocked my fridge with fresh and cheap produce. But I solved my problem by buying some sweets for later!
The Cleveland Museum of Art is a quality museum and can definitely hold it’s own to others in the US or even Europe. We only had a couple of hours there and definitely could have spent more. In fact, Cleveland has an entire Museum area in Wade Park where you could easily spend a day or an entire weekend seeing the Museum of Art, the Natural History Museum, the Auto Museum and the Children’s Museum.
We chose to have a late lunch in Little Italy and that was not a mistake! We ate at Guarino’s Restaurant which was fantastic and has been in that same location since 1918 (have the Lasagna). But I have a feeling that I would not have been disappointed anywhere we went!
Finally, I highly recommend a drive out to Lake View Cemetery. The grounds are beautiful but you also want to visit President Garfield’s Tomb and the Wade Memorial Chapel. The chapel is small but absolutely gorgeous with its Tiffany stained glass windows and two large Tiffany glass mosaic murals that line both sides of the chapel. I have never seen anything like it.
What we didn’t do this trip but worth consideration:
-Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Frankly I just don’t like music enough to spend that much time or money there. However, it is one of Cleveland’s iconic stops.
-NASA space center
-See a show at Playhouse Square (a lot of the greats got their start here and it is in the largest theater district in the US outside of New York City)
-Take in a Game
-Drink at a Brewery
-Visit the Christmas Story House