Author: Ben Szweda
Date of Trip: June 2014
Cleveland is a lakefront city in Ohio on the shores of Lake Erie. It is a two hours drive from Pittsburgh, PA, and Columbus, OH, and a four-hour drive from Cincinnati, OH.
Its airport is CLE and travellers currently from Charlotte, Chicago, Denver, Fort Lauderdale, Nashville, Phoenix and many other cities can reach it on a nonstop flight.
From the airport specially branded white airport taxis are available to take you to your destination. You can also ride the public light rail system. The red line of Cleveland’s Rapid begins at CLE and terminates at Tower City ($2.25 each way; day, 5-day, and 7-day passes available).
Inside Tower City are two excellent hotels and you can reach them both without ever going outside since your arrival at CLE. I’ve personally stayed at The Ritz-Carlton; the other choice is the Renaissance Cleveland, both Marriott properties.
Cleveland does have newer hotels however, with several still under construction. The Westin is currently the newest hotel and offers nice Lake Erie views. Another favourite that I have personally stayed in is the Marriott at Key Center.
All four hotels are centrally located in downtown Cleveland and surround Public Square. If you plan to use public transportation while in Cleveland, Public Square is a termination point of many routes, including downtown’s several free trolley routes and the Healthline bus.
The Healthline will take you to Cleveland Clinic, Cast Western Reserve University, and University Circle’s many museums: Cleveland Museum of Art (free), Cleveland Botanical Gardens, Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Children’s Museum of Cleveland and Cleveland Museum of Modern Art.
In the evening, you have to try Red the Steakhouse. Diners are raving about it from Cleveland’s far-east side to Boca Raton, FL, and now with its new downtown Cleveland location you can experience it for yourself. Red is located just off my favourite street in Cleveland: East Fourth Street. After dinner, walk down East Fourth Street to enjoy the vibrant restaurant patio life and stop in to sample a drink off the creative menu at Greenhouse Tavern.
Getting to and from East Fourth Street is easy on the free trolleys. Take the C- or E-Line, or if you’re staying on Public Square, just walk. Public Square is ground zero. Streets to the east and west of Public Square run north and south and are numbered from 1.
On day two of your visit you will probably be interested to see the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ($22). This is located next to the Great Lakes Science Center on the farthest north end of E9th St. The free trolleys also go here (L-Line on weekends, NineTweleve Line on weekdays).
To continue enjoying your time on the 9th Street Pier you can take a river cruise on the Nautica Queen. The boat sails daily all summer long for lunch and six days a week for sunset cruises.
Before gearing up for another amazing dinner check out the view from the 42nd floor observatory deck of Cleveland’s Terminal Tower. Tickets are sold via an Eventbrite.com page – search for “Terminal Tower Observation Deck Tour” or “@TowerLightsCLE.”
For dinner, you might consider going back to East Fourth Street. Lola is a national favourite as it is owned by celebrity chef Michael Simon. If you’d prefer to get a sense of another area of Cleveland instead, hop in a taxi and head for Lolita (be sure to have booked a table). It is also owned by Michael Simon, but located in Cleveland’s unique Tremont neighbourhood.
After dinner it’s time for drinks again, but first a view. Walk north till you can’t go any more. You’ll be stood high above the Cuyahoga River. This is my favourite view of downtown and it’s especially nice at night.
Getting a taxi by standing in this area won’t be possible. If you don’t have Uber, head back to the restaurant and have them call a taxi. Otherwise, walk west on Abbey Ave until you get to another bustling little neighborhood. This is W25th Street in Ohio City. Here there are many lively bars with some cool patios and local breweries. While it will be closed in the evening you can marvel at the architecture of the old West Side Market. If you want to get inside, come back on a Monday or Wednesday before four or a Friday or Saturday before six.
When you are done exploring Ohio City, you’ll have better luck finding a taxi from here for the ride back to your hotel. Or, take the red line on the light rail again – you are just one stop from Terminal Tower.
If you have one more day in the city you must catch a show at one of Cleveland’s many theatres. The Healthline, C- or E-Line Trolleys will deliver you to the doorstep of one of America’s largest theatre districts, Playhouse Square.