Category: Travel

Cleveland: an Accidental City Guide

Downtown Cleveland seen from the shore of Lake Erie

Downtown Cleveland seen from the shore of Lake Erie

It’s been a little while since I last posted, a lot has happened in the last six months which has meant I have had to take a blogging hiatus (moving flat, doing DIY on aforementioned flat, getting a puppy) but I’m back now with a slightly different post to kick things off – an homage to the city of Cleveland.

This Autumn I was lucky enough to visit Cleveland for the second time. Cleveland is one of those towns you either only dimly aware of (if you are British) or have bad associations with (if you are American). When I told most Brits I was visiting they would usually say “Where is it?”, and when I spoke to Americans they would usually say “Why?”. But contrary to popular opinion Cleveland is a charming place, the problem is it’s so much of a hidden gem that even when you are there it is difficult to work out what to do.

My beloved and I were in town for a wedding and had a couple of days to explore the city, but when we weren’t with the bride and groom we really struggled to find where to go or what to see. In the end we based much of our trip on the following forum thread on the Apartment Therapy website. This was posted in 2009, and I think the fact that we used this to plan a lot of our time shows how bad the problem is.

So in the name of telling the world how great a city Cleveland is here is my hit list of things to do and see in the city.

The People

Friendly people in Cleveland

Friendly people in Cleveland

The people of Cleveland are incredibly friendly, they are also astonished you are there. This conversation I had with a woman in the queue for security at Cleveland airport exemplifies the kind of interactions I had all week:

Lady – “I just heard your accent, where are you from?”
Me – “I’m from Scotland”
Lady – “And you came to Cleveland?!”
Me – “Yes”
Lady – “What did you think?”
Me – “I had a great time”
Lady – “Well imagine that!”

Also at the airport there is an electronic screen advertising the city which says “Cleveland – More affordable entertainment than other US Cities!”

There is so much more to Cleveland than a cheap night out. People of Cleveland: have more confidence in yourself. It’s a lovely place to visit.

Food & Drink

We stayed at an Airbnb in Tremont, a part of the city with some fantastic restuarants and bars all within walking distance. We loved Barrios for its tacos, beer and cocktails, and had fantastic American style pizza at Edisons. For breakfast we drove to Ohio City to Jack Flaps (which has delicious breakfast burritos and Vietnamese breakfast Bahn Mi).

For afternoon coffee and cake Blackbird Baking Company in Lakewood had delicious pastries and the best pumpkin spiced latte I have ever tried. Made with real pumpkin, apparently.

Real Pumpkin Spiced Latte anyone?

Real Pumpkin Spiced Latte anyone?

Cleveland boasts an embarrassment of new-wave brewpubs, notable places we visited included: Fathead (the beer is great but the branding gives me the creeps), Platform, Market Garden Brewery, and Great Lakes (special shout out to the Edmund Fitzgerald Porter). There are far too many for me to mention here – this is an opening selection, not a definitive list.


Canopy Collective had an incredible fusion of mid-century furniture and knick-knacks combined with artist books and prints.

Flower Child Retro probably the best vintage shop I have ever been to – put aside a good few hours to explore the shop, it has everything from furniture to ballgowns. I walked away with three incredible velvet dresses. This is a must visit if you are in the area.

River Colors Yarn Store (next to Blackbird Baking Company) has a large selection of locally spun yarns and international wools.

If you love vinyl Separate Reality Records is overwhelming, with one of the largest selections of records I have ever seen, go there and lose yourself.

Separate Reality Records

Separate Reality Records