The big marquees and blinking lights let you know you’ve arrived in Playhouse Square, Cleveland's official theater district. This collection of glamorous, restored theaters draws well over a million visitors annually for Broadway shows, concerts, dance performances, opera and resident companies including Cleveland Play House and Great Lakes Theater. Aside from New York’s Lincoln Center, this is as big as it gets in the United States.
Make a night of it. The neighborhood includes restaurants, such as the sleek Cowell & Hubbard, a free Cleveland State University art gallery, and U.S. Bank Plaza, an outdoor spot to lounge.
At 20 feet tall with more than 4,600 crystals, the GE Chandelier is the world’s largest outdoor chandelier. It was installed over the intersection of East 14th Street and Euclid Avenue in 2014.
RTA’s Healthline, a bus rapid transit route, connects this neighborhood to the Historic Gateway Neighborhood and Public Square, as well as points east including University Circle.
East 4th Street
With its strings of overhead lightbulbs, patio seating and ever-present street life, pedestrian-friendly East Fourth Street exudes a come-hither draw that’s hard to ignore. This concentrated chunk of commerce is the result of a tenacious developer’s effort to redevelop a tawdry block of vacant and struggling storefronts into the city’s newest entertainment and housing district. The New York Times called it a “prime example of 21st-century urban redevelopment in the Midwest.”
See a concert at the House of Blues. Laugh along to touring comedians at Hilarities. Bowl at the Corner Alley. Savor a pint at Flannery’s or dine at Iron Chef Michael Symon’s flagship restaurant, Lola. It’s also a good place to find souvenirs. The CLE Clothing Co. sells T-shirts your friends might actually want to wear.
And, if nothing else, stop down to visit us at the Cleveland Visitor Center located on the northwest corner of East Fourth Street and Euclid Avenue.
St. Clair-Superior and Asiatown
Fill up on dim sum, pho, sweet steamed buns and exotic fruit smoothies in AsiaTown, then go shopping for everything from cans of curry paste and Buddha statues to silk purses. Locals often site some of their favorite spots including Superior Pho, #1 Pho, LiWah, Seoul Hot Pot and Bo Loong. But, don’t just take our word for it – got out and explore on your own.
Artists also have been drawn to the neighborhood by its wealth of gritty, old warehouses and their large, relatively inexpensive live/work spaces.
Check out schedules for Zygote Press, which hosts printmaking exhibitions, artists’ talks and print sales; the Cleveland Flea, which fills area buildings and parking lots with art, clothes, jewelry, furniture, knick-knacks and fresh food; the ArtCraft Studio, which hosts artist open houses; and The Morgan Conservatory, which offers paper making workshops.
Other not-to-miss events in this area include the Cleveland Asian Festival (May) and The Cleveland Kurentovanje (March).
Back in the mid-19th century, this neighborhood housed warehouses for hardware, marine and garment businesses, as well as offices for the then-mighty iron, coal, railroad and shipping industries. Nowadays, many of the Victorian-era buildings may look the same on the outside, but are filled with steak eaters, wine drinkers, club crowds and loft dwellers.
The area—which covers roughly eight square blocks—is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Its conversion into an entertainment and housing district took hold in the late 1980s and 1990s and continues today. The Warehouse District is one of the most popular residential areas downtown, with historic renovations and new luxury construction.
Check out the district’s annual street festival in August featuring live music and a ridiculous amount of incredible food.
This left-leaning, inner-ring suburb’s welcome signs let you know you’re entering a nuclear-free zone. So, check your weapons at the border.
For those seeking a counter-culture feel, Cleveland Heights is your ‘burb. Within the neighborhood sits a number of unique business districts including Coventry Village, Cedar-Lee and Cedar-Fairmount.
Quintessential Cleveland Heights attractions include the Big Fun toy store, Tommy’s restaurant, the Grog Shop concert hall and the Cedar-Lee movie theater, which shows independent, foreign and documentary films. Popular newer additions include Luna Bakery Café, for those who like their crepes and macaroons fresh, and American Apparel, for those who like their garb on the trendier side.
A plethora of historic homes makes driving around the side streets here a pleasure. From Cedar Road, drive up Fairmount Boulevard to see what happened when Cleveland’s captains of industry left the inner city about 100 years ago.
Cleveland’s Little Italy is the kind of place where you’ll smell garlic, hear Frank Sinatra tunes on the sidewalk and see regular bocce games outside the community center. This little stretch of neighborhood simply oozes with Italian goodness.
There’s a certain energy in this area. Families who’ve lived here for generations mix with students from nearby universities. Visitors flock to the area for traditional Italian restaurants and bakeries, a monthly art walk and the beloved Feast of the Assumption street festival in August.
Ask any Clevelander for a recommendation on the best restaurant in Little Italy and each person will name someplace different. We all have our favorites.
Walk off pasta, pizza, cassata cake and cannoli calories by visiting the galleries and shops along Mayfield Road and Murray Hill.
Or, head up the hill to the historic, park-like Lake View Cemetery, where Italian immigrants made many of the elaborate headstones and monuments.
Shaker Square & Larchmere
Want to know what a shopping mall was like in the 1920s? Stop by Shaker Square, the oldest shopping district in Ohio, and the second oldest in the country. The businesses have changed, but the red-brick, white-paint Colonial-Georgian style buildings remain intact.
A coffee shop and several restaurants now draw visitors, along with a six-screen cinema with a curvy Art Deco lobby that’s worth a visit even if you don’t plan to see a movie. A popular weekly farmers market fills the square with shoppers from April to December.
Shaker Square sits on the eastern end of Cleveland at its border with Shaker Heights. A light rail line connects the square to Downtown Cleveland.
Antique lovers should include a visit to nearby Larchmere Boulevard. This district, which stretches a handful of blocks northwest of the square, also features independent shops, antiquing opportunities galore, an great indie book store and quaint restaurants, including a couple in renovated historic homes with welcoming patios.
University Circle is chock full of culture and home to some of Cleveland’s biggest and best reputations. The newly-renovated Cleveland Museum of Art and Severance Hall, the beautiful home of the Cleveland Orchestra, sit within walking distance of the city’s botanical garden and natural history museum. They’re all bordered by Wade Park, where it’s not unusual to find local couples posing for their wedding pictures, and Case Western Reserve University, for which the neighborhood is named.
Just east of the museums, check out a major developing neighborhood called Uptown. Here you’ll find the city’s striking new modern art museum along with a mix of local and chain restaurants and businesses popular with area students and employees at the nearby major hospital campuses. RTA’s Healthline, a bus rapid transit route, connects the neighborhood to Public Square downtown in 20 minutes via Euclid Avenue.
Experimental theater and indie film fans should consider planning a night out in Detroit-Shoreway, a neighborhood on Cleveland’s West Side.
Both The Cleveland Public Theatre and The Capitol, a 1920s movie house, underwent major renovations recently as part of a big injection of civic money to create the neighborhood’s Gordon Square Arts District.
Since then, a number of new restaurants, shops and bars have filled in the blanks. Mainstays include the Happy Dog, with its hot dogs (and more than 50 toppings) and bevy of bands (including members of the Cleveland Orchestra), and the Parkview, with its world-famous smoked salmon BLTs and weekly blues jams.
If you’re in the area on the third Friday of the month, head over to the indie art openings at W. 78th Street Studios. Dozens of local artists display their latest paintings, sculpture, photography, jewelry and crafts in a sprawling, former auto factory. It’s free, unless, of course, you take something(s) home with you.
Just west of Cleveland, Lakewood is one of the region’s residential hot spots, with its high-rise apartment and condo buildings on Lake Erie and tree-lined streets filled with vintage porch- and flower-bedecked houses (many of them century homes).
People in this town like to have fun, as evidenced by the many mom and pop bars that line Madison and Detroit avenues, along with plenty of cool, independent restaurants and funky, antique shops.
An Experience Lakewood app can help you plan a visit to what Travel & Leisure called one of America’s coolest suburbs. We couldn’t agree more.
In August, don’t miss the city’s annual art festival, which is jam packed with local and national artists. And, in October, check out the town’s Spooky Pooch Parade, the nation’s largest parade of dogs in costumes (oh, it’s as awesome as it sounds).
Any other time, consider unwinding with a bit of poetry at The Root coffee shop. Or, catch one of the best tableside views in town at seafood star Pier W, grab a massive grilled cheese at the original home of Melt Bar and Grilled and strike some pins at Mahall’s retro bowling alley with a happening music scene. And, if you’re into historic preservation, prepared to be amazed by The Museum of Divine Statues.
Follow the West Side Market’s iconic clock tower to Ohio City, a quick trip over the Cuyahoga River from Downtown. The 100-year-old public market, which pretty much every Clevelander shows off to their out-of-town friends, anchors a neighborhood full of restaurants, bars and Victorian houses.
USA Today named Ohio City one of the world’s 10 great places to bar hop. Yep. Right up there with Seville, Spain and Dublin, Ireland. Great Lakes Brewing Company, Ohio’s first microbrewery and brewpub, used the power of hops and barley to help pioneer the neighborhood’s revival. Local business owner and beer enthusiast, Sam McNulty, has taken that revival to the next level.
At the northern end of the neighborhood, the new Transformer Station and Spaces Gallery showcase contemporary art. Hingetown, an up-and-coming cluster of businesses on the north end of the neighborhood, hosts free outdoor world music concerts in the summer and a Sunday seasonal street market.
Artists led Tremont’s revival, and chefs sealed the deal. Nowadays, the neighborhood draws big crowds for monthly art walks and cuisine whipped up by some of the area’s top chefs. Award-winning, modern restaurants co-exist with old-school standbys where fish fries and pierogies still rule the menu.
Just south of downtown, most activity in this neighborhood is clustered in and around Professor Avenue, with its restaurants, bars and boutique shopping, as well as Lincoln Park, which hosts a weekly seasonal farmers market and an annual art festival in September.
Don’t leave without seeing the highly-photogenic, onion-domed St. Theodosius Greek Orthodox Cathedral and some of the nearby residential construction and rehab projects, including a loft makeover at a former Bible factory.