From the Cavaliers finally winning the NBA finals to the Indians making it to the World Series, last year was a moment in the sun for Cleveland. But there’s more to this Ohio city than sports and a wide variety of things to do in Cleveland. Off the field, Cleveland has become a perfect destination for mouthwatering food and lively nightlife. All over the city pockets of upcoming restaurants and trendy activities are brimming with tons of attractions that make Cleveland well worth a visit; even if sports aren’t exactly what you’re looking for.
Morning: Brunch and the West Side Market
Town Hall Brunch
What better way to start the day in Cleveland than with a delicious, leisurely brunch? Town Hall is a Cleveland restaurant by day and bar by night in Ohio City that serves a heavenly brunch from 9:00 am to 2:00 p.m. on weekends. Highlights of the brunch include a build-your-own crepe station with over 20 potential ingredients and their scrumptious scrambled eggs that they make with mozzarella cheese. In the mood for lunch food? Town Hall’s truffle fries are the perfect savory side item to complete your meal.
Another great aspect of Town Hall is their gorgeous back patio. Surrounded by tall hedges and featuring both large, comfy booths and bar-top tables with center gardens; Town Hall’s back patio is a flawless relaxing atmosphere for weekend brunch. As far as drinks go, you can sip on a tasty mimosa or check out their Bean Bar for some unique drinks such as a rich Nutella Mocha.
Typically there’s a wait at Town Hall so get there at least 30-40 minutes before you want to eat. Luckily, the restaurant will text you when your table is ready, giving you plenty of time to explore the Ohio City area.
West Side Market
The West Side Market is an iconic Cleveland stable that just so happens to be a couple of doors down from Town Hall. So, while you are waiting on your table, take a walk through the exciting chaos that is the West Side Market. Check out everything from fresh fruits and vegetables to unique, signature sweets. The City Roast Coffee stand is an amazing place for some fresh brew and Theresa’s Bakery sells 17 different flavors of their famous cannolis. For a great photo op, make sure to make a trip upstairs to see an overview of the massive market.
Even if you don’t have any shopping to do, the West Side Market is worth the trip for the experience, but there are also some other sights to take in around Ohio City. Across the street from the West Side Market is an outdoor market where you can buy crafts and nifty Cleveland souvenirs. Some of the more interesting stands are based out of old-time automobiles and are definitely worth taking a look at. Finally, if you’re looking for another photo op there is a “Before I Die…” wall right next door to the market. But luckily you can already check exploring Cleveland off your list.
Afternoon: Zoo and Crocker Park
Whether you are traveling with children or are just looking for some exercise, the Cleveland Zoo is a great way to get outside and walk around. With general admissions for adults costing only $14.25, its well worth it for an afternoon of entertainment. The Cleveland Zoo features up-close exhibits of giraffes, tigers, lions and a plethora of other animals. Included in your ticket is also a walk through The Rainforest, which features tons of exotic birds, amphibians and reptiles. Whether you are traveling with children or are like most adults without children and haven’t been to a zoo in years, a trip to the Cleveland zoo will be the perfect, active addition to your day.
If the zoo isn’t for you or you just love to shop, then check out Cleveland’s Crocker Park area. Crocker Park is a beautiful outdoor shopping center featuring over 75 trendy stores and restaurants such as Michael Kors, Express, M.A.C and Urban Outfitters. The price range of Crocker Park ranges from H&M and Talbots to BCBG Max Azria and Anthropologie, so there is something for everyone.
If shopping tuckers you out, stop and have a drink at Bar Louie’s charming outside patio or at Brio Tuscan Grille’s outside bar. Both of these options bring the quaint small-business vibe to the busy shopping complex and are perfect for a quick rest and cocktail.
If you are looking for somewhere to stay in Cleveland, the Crocker Park Hyatt Place is a luxury hotel right next to the shopping action. Plus, it includes an indoor pool and is only 12.7 miles from the Cleveland Hopkins Airport. Overall, Crocker Park is a great area of Cleveland to shop, eat and stay in so make sure to check it out when you are in town.
Evening: Dinner, Dessert and Rocky River Park
Danny Boy’s Pizza
If you are looking for the best slice in Cleveland Danny Boy’s Pizza is for you. The small, local restaurant located in the Rocky River suburb of Cleveland will take you out of the Crocker Park bustle for a relaxing, delicious meal. Truly a hidden gem, this small restaurant may not look like much on the outside, but once you taste their pizza you will thank me. There New York-style crust is perfect for thin-crust pizza lovers and you have to try an order of their amazing breadsticks.
Mitchell’s Ice Cream
After your delicious pizza, stop by Cleveland classic Mitchell’s Ice Cream for dessert. Only a 0.5 mile walk away, Mitchell’s offers a wide variety of unique, rich ice cream flavors. I recommend anything with chocolate chunks in it, such as the Double Chocolate Chip or Cookies and Cream, because the chocolate they use in their ice cream is melt-in-your-mouth delicious. Even if the line is out the door, it usually moves extremely fast and the ice cream is well worth the wait.
Rocky River Park
Once you’ve enjoyed dinner and dessert it’s time for Rock River’s main attraction Rocky River Park, which is within walking distance of both Danny Boy’s and Mitchell’s Rock River location. Make sure to get to the park in time for sunset in order to watch a beautiful scene over Lake Eerie. The park features a cute beach area and a higher viewpoint where you can watch the sun set on the perfect day.
What it lacks in size, Rocky River Park makes up in view. If I’m being honest I didn’t go to Cleveland expecting much scenery, but a Rocky River park sunset is completely gorgeous and ads a great, relaxing touch to the perfect day.
Nightlife in Cleveland: Bars and Board Games
Heading back towards the Ohio City area, there are tons of bars and things to do in Cleveland once the sun goes down. In the Ohio City area, there are many bars close to each other that are perfect for a quick drink or a full out bar crawl. Townhall, the brunch/bar restaurant, has a great night atmosphere and has a giant outdoor television for any sports fans who are worried about missing the game. While it can get extremely packed, it isn’t usually too hard to get to the bar and there is tons of seating both inside and out.
Nano’s Brew is also a great bar to stop by with a gorgeous outdoor space. Usually a little less crowded than Townhall, there is tons of seating outside, but no TVs for sports fans. When I went it had just rained so we didn’t get to enjoy the beauty that was the two-story back patio, but its definitely a place I’m going to stop by next time I visit Cleveland.
Finally, for a unique way to end the night Tabletop is a bar that has almost 1,000 different board games that customer can play while they drink. While Tabletop has a 5$ cover, access to all their games it worth it and you can buy a late-night snack if you need one. This is definitely a great place to relax and end the night with a unique nightlife experience.
When to Visit Cleveland
There are things to do in Cleveland year-round, but the best time to visit Cleveland is from September through October or from April to May when the temperatures aren’t freezing cold like in the winter or hot and humid as in the summer. During these months, you’re likely to see pleasant weather with temps between the 60s and 70s that taper off in the evenings.
Booking accommodation in Cleveland
- Booking.com has over 48 properties in Cleveland. You get free cancellation on most rooms and a “best price guarantee”. TripAdvisor is another great resource for hotel reviews.
Booking flights to Cleveland
- Skyscanner and Google Flights are my favorite comparison websites that searches millions of flights. Once you find your best deal, book directly through the airline with no extra fees.
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Ellen is a travel-obsessed 22-year-old from Louisville, Kentucky. She studied professional writing and political science at Miami University, and has always been passionate travel and writing. She is currently living in Madrid where she she spends her weeks teaching English to primary school students and her weekends exploring Europe. Her favorite travel destination is China and her dream destination is the Amalfi Coast.