Seriously Cleveland, I heard it rocks and not just because there is a Rock and Roll museum in the city (which I never made it to, sorry), but the visit was for more personal reasons and connecting with family there. But along the way, I also discovered that Cleveland and for that matter, the entire region of Northern Ohio is quite spectacular – so I get it and want to show you all the good stuff. BTW, I was only traveling around with my cell phone, so the pictures here are mostly on my Samsung Note, not my usual best but hope you don’t mind – you’ll still get the general look and vibe of the area and a visit to Cleveland, Ohio.
Here’s what to do and see in Cleveland
Old world charm mixed in with contemporary architecture
Cleveland is a real contrast of old and modern. There are so many areas downtown and throughout the city with such amazing architecture and old world charm it is really outstanding just driving through the different neighborhoods. A case in point is the opulent Cleveland Arcade (above) and the ornate Stone Church with their amazing Tiffany windows (below).
While closer to University circle, there is an amazing collection of ultra modern buildings by contemporary architects like Frank Gehry, Marcel Breuer and Rafael Viñoly revamping the Cleveland Museum of Art and Case Western University. (Below). I’ll be posting soon about the Cleveland Museum of Art and what an amazing institution it is, so do stay tuned for that post if your into art, design and amazing architecture.
Re-purposed banks into a fabulous grocery store at Heinen’s
What can I say except that I had a fabulous lunch in a grocery store no less. But not just any grocery store – this is Heinen’s in downtown Cleveland in the renovated old bank with glorious stained glass atrium, painted murals and arched arcades with the upper stories hosting an extensive wine collection, wine bar and a nice eatery. I opted to nosh on the freebie samples below, but wow, they really give out some good stuff. I loved this taste of a crispy Porchetta sandwhich which reminded me of those amazing deli trucks in Italy – so authentic. I just had to order the entire sandwich with extra crispy cracklins on the side and boy that was an amazing feast, along with one of their signature soups, a cheesy/bean chicken chowder….oh so yummy!
Yes on the Porchetta sandwich with extra crispy cracklins at Heinen’s
A world class museum and it’s free!
World class museums are one of the things Ohio is known for and I’ve always wanted to visit the Cleveland Museum of Art and let me just say, this place really rocks! The new addition to the Museum really sets the older buildings into a fabulous blend of old and new, cozy interior galleries vs. huge covered glass pavilions, and did I mention the art itself is world class? Definitely a mix of so many art themes and collections, I enjoyed walking through the galleries and eclectic collections. What I loved the most about the museum experience is the seamless blending of all the collections and well thought out design transitioning effortlessly from one gallery to the next – I really wanted to see it all and I did!
The new wing and atrium designed by Rafael Viñoly
Classical to contemporary collections blend seamlessly
Prego, where’s the Italian district?
Just down the road from the Cleveland Museum of Art is the Italian district and I really wanted to explore the area and find something good to snack on, which I’m sure would be easy in their Little Italy. Not Surprising, there was a plethora of food choices to check out, but even more surprising is the large number of art inspired galleries on the main street and other side streets. I really enjoyed visiting many of the repurposed buildings that were turned into group galleries, even a church that was converted into a gallery was fun to explore and talk story with the owner. Oh and yes I did find a few good bakeries with amazing home made cannoli, and I ate way to many to publicly share any photos of my gorging exploits.
Visiting a cool cemetery in Cleveland
For some strange reason, I love unusual cemeteries and I’ve heard a lot about the amazing landscape and views from Lake View cemetery. So I headed out there after Little Italy, driving uphill on a tree lined street and find the cemetery within an affluent and quiet residential neighborhood. Hosting many important people like John D Rockefeller, President James Garfield including a host of Civil war generals and Cleveland dignitaries, the tombs and landscapes all blended in effortlessly with beautiful vistas, lakes and botanical gardens that you can walk or drive through if you are in a hurry.
Inside the mausoleum of President Garfield (below) the ornate interior hall glistens with thousands of mosaic glass that would be almost impossible to replicate in today’s world. But the best feature is to climb all the way up the tower to see magnificent panoramic views of the city skyline and surrounding countryside. There is a docent on the property that gives tours during certain time frames but basically going around the monument or other areas around the cemetery is relatively easy. If you want to learn more or take a guided tour, check out the Lake View website here.
Stunning Tiffany glass and walls in the Wade Chapel
The cool neighborhoods of Cleveland
So I made it to the West side market twice (a popular food market), but it was closed on both days, imagine! So even though I couldn’t visit the actual market, the street was filled with fun bars, cafes and cool shops. Also in the same area as West Side Market is the up and coming Tremont neighborhood. This is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Cleveland, also having the largest German immigrant population in the region. Tremont has been going through a really fast growth spurt with a hodgepodge of cool shops and galleries, trendy bars and cafes and other uber cool hangout spots that is fun to explore and walk around the casual and hip neighborhood.
Street scene and art in the Tremont Neighborhood
For those into the food scene, Tremont is the place to go for fun and creative food with a twist and there’s a variety to choose from. This neighborhood has one of the most concentrated collections of fine dining restaurants and cool bars in all of Cleveland and it seems all the foodies know just the right places to try out in Tremont and it sounds like they are all very good and worth the effort.
Trying the appetizers and Bouillabaisse at Fat Cats
Serious lunch is fun and inventive at Fat Cats which is very close to the Tremont riverfront. They start of giving you some delicious hand made breads with dish of tapenade floating in a pool of olive oil, yummy. Then it get’s better with this oh so crispy fried calamari and then followed by bouillabaisse that could have come from someone’s grandmother in Provence. The food is comforting and yet so fresh and original in this colorful restaurant – I would definitely come back for another meal.
A wine or beer tasting with chocolate at Lilly
One of my new favorites came as a recommendation from my sister who is a chocoholic but Lilly chocolate ups it to the next level by offering really cool wine or beer tastings to go with the chocolates. And if you have never had the experience of wine/beer with hand made chocolates this place is pure heaven and worth a visit.
Gotta have some sweets for later, right?
Thanks for dropping by for a visit to Cleveland, Ohio. If you enjoyed the post, please share it with any of the social media buttons listed around the post, thank you. Oh, today is also Travel Photo Mondays, so go ahead and check out the other bloggers linking today below, I’m sure they would appreciate your visit too!