As the seat of Cuyahoga County and second largest city in Ohio, Cleveland draws 11 million visitors each year to explore its cultural and historical attractions, from Little Italy on the east side to trendy Tremont in the south.
Where To Stay
Few Midwestern cities can boast both historic and beachfront hotel locations. For an intimate, boutique feel, try the 1910 Glidden House mansion next to the Botanical Gardens. If you want a view of the water, request a lakeside room at Doubletree on Lakeside Avenue or Cleveland Marriott Downtown at Key Center. Looking for the best rate for your dollar? Book an airport hotel like the Sheraton or Hilton Garden Inn for around $100 on Hipmunk.
Cleveland is home to dozens of neighborhoods within its perimeters, but perhaps the best known is University Circle, the city’s cultural hub just east of downtown. Within one square mile, the neighborhood packs more educational, cultural and medical buildings than any other square mile in the country. Thousands of visitors flock to its Cleveland Museum of Art and the Cleveland Orchestra.
Visit Playhouse Square, America’s second largest theater district. Nearby, you’ll find Little Italy, with its old world charm and family-run restaurants and bakeries.
Just south, once the site of Cleveland University, historic Tremont now fills its streets with trendy restaurants and shops. Slavic Village, also south of downtown, retains its roots from descendants of Polish and Czech immigrants. In the ethnic shops or St. Stanislaus church, you just may hear Polish spoken. Make sure you stop by the 100-year-old West Side Market in Ohio City.
When To Go
The summer months may offer the most outdoor activities, but hotel prices go down by as much as 10 to 15 percent during the off-season. Enjoy the fall foliage when it peaks in mid October or the budding new growth in April. Be aware that Lake Erie creates its own weather pattern, leading to an average snowfall of nearly 60 inches total from the months of November through March.
How To Get Around
As the center transportation hub in the Cuyohoga Valley area, Cleveland provides extensive bus routes, five rapid train lines and free downtown trolleys. Most busses and rapid train lines accept exact change or a fare card. Only the Healthline BLT and Red Line Rapid require a prepaid fare for their “proof of payment” system. The five trolley lines within downtown Cleveland are “free with a smile.” See the Regional Transport Authority for routes and times. Pre-purchase a fare card for 1, 2 or 5 trips or opt for a daily or weekly pass.
Request a mailed or digital copy of the Cleveland Travel Guide from the official visitor’s center. For help walking around the city, download CityMaps2Go, which will let you zoom in on your location even if you lose internet connection. University Circle offers its own travel app to guide you through the museums, galleries, restaurants and shops in the area.
Discover Cleveland’s gritty charm for yourself. Immerse yourself in “C-Town” for a weekend, and learn what drew 11 million others this year.
Laura Roberts is a freelance travel writer who has worked with clients such as Hipmunk. She loves the thrill of exploring a new place, whether it requires crossing a county line or another hemisphere.