5 of the Best Cleveland Neighborhoods to Visit as a Tourist

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You may not think that “tourist” and “Cleveland” naturally go together. But hear me out before you click away from this post.

Cleveland has long been the butt of jokes; jokes about the Cuyahoga River catching on fire, jokes about mob ties and corrupt politicians; jokes about how it seems like the Universe has been working against Cleveland sports teams for decades.

And, while Cleveland is just now starting to dig itself out of the economic downturn that hit all of the Rust Belt cities hard in the 1980s, it's a much different city than the one most people continue to make fun of.

Cleveland script sign

I've lived my whole life in northeast Ohio, the last 4 years in a quiet little suburb called Twinsburg. Downtown Cleveland is an easy 30-minute drive away, and I've found myself drawn there more and more lately to try new restaurants, go to events, and seek out things like cool architecture and street art.

I've always been an Ohio girl at heart, but now I consider myself a Cleveland girl, too.

Cleveland mural in Ohio City

Cleveland is one of many Midwestern cities that I think are grossly overlooked and underrated by the tourism industry – so I'm here now to (hopefully) help you fall in love with Cleveland, too. (Or, at the very least, come and visit sometime!)

In this post, I want to highlight some of my favorite neighborhoods in Cleveland. The city has more than three dozen different neighborhoods, but some are better-suited to living than visiting. So here are the top 5 neighborhoods that I think are worth visiting if you're in Cleveland as a tourist.

5 of the Best Cleveland Neighborhoods to Visit

1. Ohio City

Known for: Food and beer

Pizza mural in Ohio City
Including this awesome pizza mural

If you ask me about my favorite neighborhood in Cleveland, it's probably going to be Ohio City. It's a very hipster-feeling neighborhood in terms of vibe, though the neighborhood itself has lots of history (and lots of beautiful old homes that I'm constantly dreaming of buying and renovating).

Ohio City is located just west of downtown across the Cuyahoga River, and used to be a completely separate city. Now, it's one of Cleveland's oldest neighborhoods.

Things to see in Ohio City

West Side Market – You can't miss West Side Market in Ohio City – like, literally, the brick building with its clock tower commands the eye when you drive down W. 25th Street. The market is Cleveland's oldest indoor-outdoor market, dating back to 1912. It has more than 100 vendors selling everything from meat to fruits to cheeses, with some of the stands having been here for generations.

West Side Market in Cleveland
Inside West Side Market

Breweries – Cleveland Brew Bus describes Ohio City as “Cleveland’s hot urban brewery district,” and they're right – there are nearly a dozen craft breweries in this neighborhood alone. A few that offer tours/tastings (or at least a restaurant) include Great Lakes Brewing Co., Market Garden Brewery, Hansa Brewery, and Saucy Brew Works.

Street art/murals – Ohio City is one of my favorite neighborhoods in Cleveland for street art; you'll find it all over, with a particularly large concentration around an area known as Hingetown.

Mural in Ohio City
Tiger mural in Hingetown
Ohio City street art in Cleveland
Mural in Ohio City

Things to do in Ohio City

Take a food or beer tour – You can take a food tour of West Side Market with Taste Cleveland Food Tours, or a beer tour of Ohio City with Cleveland Brew Bus.

Check out some art – Head to Spaces Gallery or the Glass Bubble Project to find some non-mural art.

Tabletop – If board games are your thing, head to Cleveland's first board game cafe, located right in the heart of Ohio City.

Where to eat in Ohio City

Ohio City has a TON of great restaurants to choose from; you could spend a week just in this neighborhood and still not run out of excellent places to eat. Some of my favorites include:

  • Phoenix Coffee – For (obviously) coffee
  • The Black Pig – Delicious French-inspired food made with local ingredients
  • SOHO Chicken + Whiskey – For when you're craving some Southern cuisine
  • Townhall – A quirky space serving up both bar food and vegan fare, complete with patio
  • Flying Fig – A small farm-to-table spot with a large wine selection
  • Momocho – Serving up modern Mexican dishes
  • Mitchell's Ice Cream – Yummy ice cream spot in an old theater
  • Mason's Creamery – Another excellent choice for ice cream
Mason's Creamery in Cleveland
Townhall salad

Parking: There's a paid parking lot behind West Side Market, but you can also find free street parking on most side streets.

2. Gordon Square (Detroit-Shoreway)

Known for: Theater and art

Street art in Gordon Square

One of my newest go-tos when it comes to Cleveland neighborhoods is the Gordon Square Arts District (part of the Detroit-Shoreway neighborhood). This artsy West Side Cleveland neighborhood is going through a bit of a Renaissance of its own, and if its growth continues it may very well nudge out Ohio City as my favorite part of Cleveland.

Things to see in Gordon Square

See a show – Gordon Square is home to a variety of theaters. There's the Capitol Theater that shows both first-run and indie films; Cleveland Public Theater with its 5 performance spaces; and Near West Theater, a volunteer community theater.

Check out some art – Being an arts district, there's plenty of art to see in Gordon Square. There are a handful of new murals going up along Detroit Ave., and there are a smattering of galleries to visit, too. If you're in town on the third Friday of the month, you can go to the monthly open house at 78th Street Studios, which is an old warehouse that's been converted into artist studios.

Gordon Square Arts District in Cleveland

Things to do in Gordon Square

Shop – There are quite a few cool shops in Gordon Square, including Fount (they craft leather bags right here in Cleveland), HausFrau (a record shop), and iLTHY (for your pop culture clothing needs).

Play pinball – Check out Superelectric Pinball Parlor, a fun bar with vintage pinball machines.

Where to eat in Gordon Square

Lots of good/cool food options here too:

  • Gypsy Beans & Baking Co. – A cool coffee shop – all of their lattes have travel-themed names!
  • Happy Dog – A Cleveland institution serving up hot dogs and beer
  • Banter – Serving up poutine and sausages
  • Spice – A farm-to-table restaurant that sources from its own farm
  • Toast – A wine bar offering up good food (with, yes, toast featured prominently)
  • Stone Mad – A gastropub with a bocci ball court
  • Minh Ahn – If you're craving authentic Vietnamese food
  • Brewnuts – If you love both beer AND donuts, this is the place for you
  • Sweet Moses – A 1940s-style soda fountain serving homemade root beer and sundaes
Brewnuts in Cleveland
Brewnuts

Parking: There's free street parking, and a couple free public lots.

3. Downtown Cleveland

Known for: Sports, entertainment, architecture

Public Square as seen from Terminal Tower
Public Square as seen from Terminal Tower

I can't talk about Cleveland and not talk about its downtown area. The downtown core actually covers a few different neighborhoods, from The Flats to Playhouse Square to East 4th Street. But for brevity's sake I'll include all my favorite bits from all those neighborhoods here.

Things to see in downtown Cleveland

Rock n Roll Hall of Fame – No trip to Cleveland would be complete without a visit to the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame. The museum itself is top-notch, and you'll be able to appreciate the unique I.M. Pei-design, too. Allow at least a few hours here to really soak it all in.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Public Square – Public Square was originally laid out by Cleveland founder Moses Cleaveland in 1796. It's been updated a little bit since then (it underwent a huge makeover in 2016 before the Republican National Convention came to town), but still is the center of a lot of the action in the city. In the summer, enjoy the fountains and green space, and in the winter strap on some skates and go ice skating here.

Cool architecture – Along with the Rock Hall itself, you'll find lots of other cool buildings downtown, too, from the art deco Terminal Tower to the Gothic-style Trinity Cathedral. And don't forget to look INSIDE some of Cleveland's downtown buildings. You'll find architectural delights at The Arcade, Heinen's (yes, inside a grocery store!), and the Cleveland Public Library.

Cleveland Arcade
Inside the Arcade

Things to do in downtown Cleveland

See a show or game – Enjoy a theater or Broadway show at a theater in Playhouse Square, or catch a Cleveland sports team at Quicken Loans Arena, Progressive Field, or FirstEnergy Stadium.

Watch boats on the Cuyahoga – One of my favorite downtown spots is along the Cuyahoga River at Heritage Park. Not only does this spot in The Flats offer up some great views of the Cleveland skyline, but it's also the perfect place to watch boats traverse the river. If you're lucky, you might even get to see the Center Street Bridge swing out of the way of larger vessels.

The Flats in Cleveland
Center Street Bridge in The Flats

Shop – There are some cool spots to shop downtown, including Small Box in the Warehouse District (housed in converted shipping containers), and the CLE Clothing Co. on East 4th St. If you're in town for the once-monthly Cleveland Flea (which runs from April to October), that's well worth checking out, too.

Where to eat downtown

East Fourth Street is currently at the heart of downtown Cleveland's dining scene, so several of these spots can be found there!

  • Pour – For good coffee in a cool downtown space
  • Lola – Iron Chef Michael Symon's downtown eatery
  • Greenhouse Tavern – For New American fare
  • Marble Room Steaks & Raw Bar – This place has amazing architecture inside, too
  • Barrio – A tasty taco joint
  • District – Serving up modern American food and cocktails named after Broadway plays
  • Blue Point Grille – If you're craving seafood in an upscale spot
  • Luca Italian Cuisine – For good Italian food in The Flats
  • Punch Bowl Social – A place to go for food, drinks, a rooftop patio, AND bowling
East 4th Street in Cleveland
East 4th Street

Parking: You'll find mostly paid lots/parking decks downtown, though there's some metered parking, too.

4. Tremont

Known for: Churches, food, and art

Tremont neighborhood in Cleveland

Located adjacent to Ohio City, Tremont is most recognizable for its tree-lined streets, Victorian homes, and large number of churches. It's one of the oldest parts of Cleveland, and was at one time home to a large immigrant population. These days, Tremont is being revitalized through an influx of young professionals moving into the neighborhood.

Things to see in Tremont

A Christmas Story House & Museum – If you're from the US, chances are you've seen “A Christmas Story” at least once (or, if you're like me, at least once a year on Christmas Eve when TBS plays it for 24 hours straight). The house where the American cult classic was filmed is located in Tremont, and the inside looks exactly like it did during filming. Touring the house is fun.

Art – Tremont is quite an artsy neighborhood, too. You'll find galleries and murals all over, with my (current) favorite being a brand new one that just went up in July 2018 on W. 14th Street.

Tremont mural in Cleveland

Things to do in Tremont

Walkabout Tremont – On the second Friday of every month, you can enjoy Walkabout Tremont from 5-10 p.m. This community event “showcases the best of Tremont’s creative side,” featuring street performers, pop-up art, bar specials, and extended hours at galleries and shops.

Food tour – Taste Cleveland Food Tours also offers a Tremont food tour.

Pose with the Cleveland script sign – There are 3 Cleveland script signs in the city, with one of them being in Tremont on Abbey Avenue. There's a dedicated parking lot for this particular one just under the bridge across the road.

Cleveland script sign in Tremont
The Abbey Avenue script sign

Where to eat in Tremont

You can find everything in Tremont, from ethnic food to fine dining.

  • Loop – Coffee shop downstairs, record store upstairs
  • Sokolowski's University Inn – A Cleveland institution, this family-run restaurant has been serving up Polish and Eastern European food since 1923.
  • Grumpy's Cafe – There's nothing grumpy about their comfort food
  • Ushabu – A Japanese-style hot pot restaurant
  • Bourbon Street Barrel Room – For when you're craving New Orleans-style food
  • Dante – If you want to have a fancy night out, try their 7-course tasting menu
  • Churned Ice Cream Shop – Creative ice cream flavors, plus dairy-free options

5. University Circle

Known for: Museums and learning

Wade Lagoon in Cleveland
Wade Oval

Home to Case Western Reserve University and many of Cleveland's museums, Universiry Circle is a very pretty neighborhood that I've found myself visiting a lot recently. You could easily spend a day or two just enjoying the museums in this part of the city, but there are some cool non-museum things to check out, too.

Things to do in University Circle

Go to a museum – Cleveland has some fantastic museums, including the Cleveland Museum of Art (which is FREE to visit!), the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) Cleveland, and even a medical museum (the Dittrick Medical History Center).

Cleveland Museum of Art
Cleveland Museum of Art

See the Cleveland Orchestra – University Circle is also home to the Cleveland Orchestra at Severance Hall. Cleveland's orchestra is fantastic, and is often named one of the best in America (and, in fact, in the world). And they're celebrating their 100th anniversary in 2018.

Things to see in University Circle

Wade Oval – Directly behind the Cleveland Museum of Art is a sculpture garden and green space with a pond in the middle. This is Wade Oval, and it's a great place to enjoy the sunshine in Cleveland. In the spring, several dozen cherry blossom trees bloom here.

Wade Lagoon in Cleveland
Wade Lagoon in the spring

Cleveland Botanical Garden – If plants are your thing, then you can also check out the Cleveland Botanical Garden, which is located on the site of the old Cleveland Zoo. Here you'll find a glass conservatory, an excellent children's garden, a topiary garden, a Japanese garden, and more.

Cleveland Cultural Gardens – If *free* gardens are more your jam, hop on Martin Luther King Boulevard and head north through Rockefeller Park, where you can enjoy the Cleveland Cultural Gardens. This is a collection of more than 30 small gardens that are designed and cared for by different cultural/ethnic groups in Cleveland. This concept is totally unique, and I love the multiculturalism on display here.

Hungarian garden at Cleveland Cultural Gardens
Hungarian garden at Cleveland Cultural Gardens

Where to eat in University Circle

You'll find a lot of college-student-friendly joints in University Circle, but also some other great spots to eat:

  • Algebra Tea House – For tea, coffee, and fresh smoothies
  • Trentina – For when you're in the mood for Italian
  • L'Albatros Brasserie & Bar – For classic French cuisine
  • Table 45 – World dishes served up at the InterContinental Hotel and Conference Center
  • Piccadilly Artisan Creamery – Ice cream made with local ingredients and liquid nitrogen

Parking: There's some metered parking around Wade Oval, along with several paid surface lots and parking garages.

Where to stay in Cleveland

If you're looking for a good place to stay in or near some of these neighborhoods, here are my top picks:

Cuyahoga River in The Flats
Cuyahoga River in The Flats

This is by no means an exhaustive list, so please forgive me if I've left out your favorite restaurant, point of interest, or even full neighborhood – there's just no way to include everything.

But hopefully this 2500-word post will prove to non-Clevelanders that this city of ours is actually way cooler and more interesting than most people realize!

Who's ready to come visit me in Cleveland now? Which Cleveland neighborhood would you most like to see?

 

Pin it for later:

The best Cleveland neighborhoods to visit
The best Cleveland neighborhoods to visit

 

"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

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25 Comments on “5 of the Best Cleveland Neighborhoods to Visit as a Tourist

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  1. It is my dream to explore this Ohio part of the World. I have heard about it very much and really wanted to explore it as a local person not as a tourist. Thanks for this post.

      Cleveland is a great place to explore like a local – and the rest of Ohio is pretty awesome, too!

    Cleveland was never really on my wishlist, but now I see I just knew too little about it. I see plenty of sights I would love to check out in your blog post. It’s never too late to learn, right? 🙂

      It’s never too late! Cleveland has many more things to do and see than I think more people realize. AND we’re close to even MORE cool things in Ohio like Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Cedar Point, and the Lake Erie Islands!

    Totally agree it’s the this! I love Ohio City and have lived here for 2 years now! Love the food recs too! Great post!

      Thanks so much, Kat! I’m sure there are plenty of great restaurants that didn’t make this list simply because I haven’t tried them yet – but I tried to include a nice mix!

    Agreed thank you So much ! My best wishes to you

    Ice cream, street art, hall of fame….I think I need to book a flight!! Sounds amazing, so informative but in such a fun way. Looks like a really vibrant destination that I’m sure I’d love!

      Cleveland has everything you need for a great city getaway! Glad you liked the post.

    Clearly I must return to Cleveland for somer Funness. I have visited downtown and Tremont but there appears to be so much more to see. Inspiring!

      Definitely much more to see! I’ve been going downtown every other weekend in order to take notes and try new restaurants, and I feel like I’ve barely even scratched the surface.

    Great list. I’ve been to Cleveland (and the surrounding area) for business many times and you’ve covered some of the highlights. If you head a little further south there’s some great areas down in Akron and Canton. For example, the NFL Hall of Fame, or the Stan Hywet Hall in Akron. There are gems all over this great country.

      Yup, lots of great things to do all throughout Ohio! Some other favorites of mine near Cleveland include Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Sandusky (including Cedar Point), and the Lake Erie Islands! It’s also great the cities like Columbus and Pittsburgh are also so close.

    Great list! I would add some other hotels to the list: The Ritz for luxury, aLoft for awesome location in the Flats and the Hilton Downtown for awesome skyscraping views and Bar32.

    Amazing amazing amazing. I loved everything about this super detailed article.

    Great Article! I currently reside in Sagamore Hills but I am a Cleveland Girl as well. I was born in Cleveland but grew up in Maple Heights! I would definitely share this article with someone looking to visit the city or for those who are looking for fun things to do in and around the city of Cleveland! There’s so much to see and do!!

    What an amazing post! I’m so happy that I found your blog :). Always happy to connect with fellow Cleveland travel bloggers.

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