Cleveland Rocks! Cleveland Rocks! This is the chant that we got to hear as the Cleveland Guardians won their game against the Oakland A’s. It was the main reason we went to Cleveland, OH to begin with, to see a baseball game at a ball park that we hadn’t been to yet. We figured that, other than the ballgame and some good food, there wouldn’t really be much to do in Cleveland. Spoiler alert…we were SO wrong. In the day and a half that we had to explore the rest of the city, we saw history, art, beautiful parks, and even a beach. (Yep, a beach in Cleveland, OH) And most everything we did was completely free.
The next morning, our first stop was the West Side Market.
West Side Market is somewhere that you definitely need to visit when you’re in Cleveland, even if you don’t get anything to eat. It’s the oldest publicly owned market in the city, and the building itself is beautiful – the brickwork, the architecture, the windows.
There are over 100 vendors, selling everything from seafood to spices to baked goods, and it’s an experience for the senses. We had some delicious pizza rolls from Pizza di Bella for lunch. They heated them up for us so that we could enjoy them right away.
A tip: There is a balcony that overlooks the entire indoor market area, with bench seats so you can sit and enjoy the view. It’s a great place to take pictures and get an overview of all of the vendors. The stairs to get up to the balcony are in the same corner as City Roast Coffee and Tea (on the corner of West 25th and Lorain Ave.). We took our pizza rolls up and made a plan for the rest of our visit there while we ate.
Check out WestsideMarket .org for a vendor list and more information.
After wandering around the market, and drooling over the desserts, we grabbed a few to go and moved on with our day.
Be sure to snap a picture of the mural that is right outside of the market on the way out. 1849 West 24th Street. Artist: The Bubble Process – Sean Higgins and Nicholas Rezabek
While exploring the city, there were three things that we were constantly on the lookout for: 1) the murals that are spread all throughout the city, 2) cathedrals on the many different churches in the area, and 3) the “Cleveland” script signs that are placed in different parts of the city as photo ops.
1) The murals throughout Cleveland are stuck everywhere.
They are under bridges, along the side of the highways, and on the side of buildings. Most of this street art was actually commissioned by the city itself, or the surrounding businesses.
This mural was probably my favorite one. It’s located at 6321 Detroit Avenue, on the side of the TRD Leather building, and was done by artist Shane Pierce.
On his Instagram page – @abstractdissent – he says this about the mural: “A few years back the city had some building plans showing this business gone and turned into a parking lot. My friend Chuck that owns TRD Leather has been in this neighborhood for over 20 years. He has Native American in his blood so it only seemed appropriate to do a portrait like this. Maybe now people won’t see this business as an eye sore, but a piece of history that withstood all the changes in the neighborhood.”
This sums up the reason behind why there are more and more murals being painted all throughout the city, and why I love them so much. I went to Cleveland once before, and it didn’t seem like a very inviting place. I know that art can’t change an entire city, but it has certainly gone a long way towards making it feel like a fun place to explore (and I imagine a better place to live as well).
2) The main cathedral that I wanted to see was the St. Theodosius Orthodox Cathedral. (Located at 733 Starkweather Avenue in the Tremont area)
But again, Cleveland didn’t disappoint. We ended up seeing nine different churches while we were exploring the city, and that wasn’t even all of them. Each one of these buildings was so unique.
These are just a few of my favorites. If you’d like to see pictures of all of the ones we saw on this trip, I created another blog post specifically for them. =)
3) My favorite “Cleveland” sign was in Tremont (1502 Abbey Avenue).
The biggest reason I liked this one so much is because it had all of the bridges in the background, along with a beautiful view of the city. According to case.edu, there are “more than 330 bridges in the immediate Cleveland area”, and I was fascinated with them all. One of the bridges we saw in The Flats area of the city was a lift bridge, which I never even knew was a thing until this trip.
Here are the addresses for all of the other “Cleveland” signs, if you want to visit them all:
Edgewater Park: 6500 Cleveland Memorial Shoreway (This one was a close second for my favorite)
The Foundry: 1831 Columbus Rd.
Euclid Beach: 16301 Lakeshore Blvd.
Cleveland Airport: 5300 Riverside Dr. (near baggage claim)
North Coast Harbor (near the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame): East 9th Street Pier
You can get a picture of that last Cleveland Sign, and watch the sunset at the same time.
The East 9th Street Pier, behind the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, is one of the best places in Cleveland to watch the sunset.
You have to pay a little for parking here, but the views are worth it.
We got there a little early, so we took some time to explore the park. If you walk all the way to the water and turn around, there are amazing views of the city. On one side of the park there is a historic freighter, part of the Great Lakes Science Center (also home to the NASA Glenn Visitor Center – one of only 11 NASA visitor centers in the country). On the other side is a Coast Guard station that has a landing strip. While we were waiting on the sunset, we saw several small planes and a helicopter going in and out. Which was extremely exciting for someone like me who loves airplanes. =)
From the end of the pier, you can also see the lighthouse in Cleveland – that is only accessible by boat.
On our way out of town the next morning, we went to the Lake View Cemetery – well known for its iconic “residents”, beautiful grounds, unique headstones, and the Wade Memorial Chapel.
I have a post that’s all about the Lake View Cemetery, if you’re interested in diving a little deeper, here.
The Wade Memorial Chapel, with its stunning bronze doors, stained glass window, and mosaic lined walls was a sight to see. There was a tour going on while we were there, so we didn’t spend too much time exploring the actual chapel. If I go back sometime, I’d really like to spend more time here and perhaps even take one of the guided tours.
Named “The Flight of Souls”, the window was designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany. (Yes, THAT Tiffany) In fact, according to the cemetery website, the entire interior of the chapel was designed by Tiffany and his studios, and it shows.
It was unfathomable to me to think about just how much time all of that took. The care and precision that went into placing each of those tiles in the right place, and the design skills it took to imagine such a piece to begin with.
To really explore the rest of the cemetery grounds, you need a map of where everything is. It’s that big.
The tombstone for Alan Freed was neat. It was created to look like a jukebox. Appropriate considering Alan Freed was the person who coined the phrase “Rock and Roll”, and was known for holding “the first rock concert on March 21, 1952”.
(Consequently, this is why the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is in Cleveland as well. We didn’t go on this trip, but I’ve been there before, and it’s a fun visit if you’re into music and memorabilia.)
These are a couple of my other favorites that we saw:
Places to Eat in Cleveland, OH
Whenever we travel, we like to go to local restaurants if at all possible. Here are a few of our favorites from this trip:
1) Prosperity Social Club (1109 Starkweather Avenue)
This place was living up to its name, “social club”, when we were there. There was a LARGE party that had reserved basically the back half of the restaurant that afternoon, and everyone had just started arriving. (Luckily, we got there just before the bulk of the crowd and found street parking around the corner from the restaurant.) Unbeknownst to us, that day was also “Old World Wednesday”. Which means that we were about to be stuck between a loud party and a polka band. BUT…our amazing waiter put us at a table right next to the front window, tucked into a little nook. We could hear the polka music, but it wasn’t overwhelming, and we were nowhere near the crowd in the back.
This restaurant has been in operation since 1938, and I can see why. The service was great, the atmosphere is unique and inviting, and the food….was DELICIOUS!
2) Grumpy’s Café (2621 W 14th Street)
This restaurant was filled with fun local art (that was for sale if I’m not mistaken) and good food. They have their own dedicated parking lot, which was nice, and they were close to two more church cathedrals.
3) Mitchell’s Ice Cream (1867 W 25th Street)
The ice cream at Mitchell’s is hand-crafted in the kitchen, right there in the same building. If you walk past the counter, towards the back of the building, you can take a peek into the kitchen and see the ice cream being made. And it was YUM!!!
Tip: If there is no street parking available nearby, you can go behind the building, to the parking lot for the West Side Market, park there and walk through the alley to the front. (Don’t worry, it’s well lit and has a wide sidewalk.)
There is so much more to Cleveland than we thought there would be.
There are SO many more murals to find, basketball and footballs games to watch, and a number of hiking trails and waterfalls not to far outside of the city. Hopefully, if you only have one or two days in Cleveland, this will give you a few good ideas to start planning your own trip. And if you have any other places that I need to see in the city, find me on Instagram – @thenovelturtle – and let me know.