6 Essential Experiences in Cleveland, Ohio

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“The mistake by the lake” is just one of the nicknames of my birthplace of Cleveland, Ohio. Believe it or not, a weekend in “the 216” might just be what your travel plans need. This resurging city is home to a world-class market and orchestra, a fantastic ethnic food scene (pierogi, anyone?), a top-notch brewery, and downtown ballpark, and is only 90 minutes from the world’s best amusement park.

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West Side Market

Since the 1840s, the West Side Market has stood proudly on Cleveland’s west side, offering fresh meat, produce, pasta, pierogi, and flowers. This huge public market has both indoor and outdoor vendors. Head over there first thing in the morning and, before you start shopping, grab a hot breakfast and a copy of the morning Plain Dealer from the West Side Market Café.

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PlayhouseSquare

PlayhouseSquare, a huge performing arts center, is smack in the middle of downtown. In fact, it’s the largest theater complex outside of New York City’s Lincoln Center. Made up of seven different theaters and cabaret acts, the area was brought back from the brink of the wrecking ball in the 1970s and now is home to touring Broadway shows, the Cleveland Opera, the Cleveland ballet, and the world-renowned Cleveland Orchestra. On certain dates, you can pop your head behind the scenes on a tour of the PlayhouseSquare complex. Even if there isn’t a performance going on during your visit, this massive performing arts complex is still worth a trip.

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Great Lakes Brewery

Great Lakes Brewing Company brews nearly 15 beers, including a seasonal beer that has become legendary (just ask any beer fan about Great Lakes Christmas Ale  — or just look for the crowds in Ohio grocery stores around early November). If you’re a beer fan, a visit to their brewery and café is a must-do on your trip to Cleveland. After all, any brewery that has a pale ale which celebrates the fact that its home city’s river once caught on fire because it was so polluted should be applauded.

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Progressive Field

Home to the Cleveland Indians, one of Cleveland’s much maligned sports teams, Progressive Field is one of the most beautiful ballparks in the league. Tickets can usually be purchased by walking up to the box office the day of the game, and there’s not a bad seat in the park. For a real thrill, grab a seat in the outfield bleachers next to the drummer. While you’re there, don’t be surprised if you hear Clevelanders call it “The Jake” (in homage to the stadium’s original name, Jacob’s Field).

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Cedar Point

Cedar Point has been voted the Best Amusement Park in the World 15 years in row, so they must be doing something right. Located about 90 minutes west of Cleveland in the coastal town of Sandusky, Cedar Point is definitely worth a day trip — even if you’re not a coaster lover. In addition to their 14 roller coasters and numerous other rides, the park is situated right on Lake Erie and has a rather wide beach. Stay overnight at the historic Hotel Breakers for an authentic experience.

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Stay a While

For a great place to relax for the weekend, check out the Glidden House Inn, a boutique a short walk from the Art Museum or Wade Park. There’s a tasty complimentary breakfast for guests, and once you’ve finished your day of sightseeing, return for a refreshing beverage at the bar of the on-site restaurant. If you’d prefer earning your hotel points, you won’t be disappointed at the Marriott downtown at Key Center, either.

So get yourself out to Cleveland — it’s definitely worth your weekend!

Photo credits author, Rob Dauphin, Melanie Lukesh, author and Andy Hayes

6 Essential Experiences in Cleveland, Ohio

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