The local’s guide to Cleveland, Ohio – Nine Cleveland Local Favorites

Cleveland isn’t typically thought of as a vacation destination, but visitors may be surprised by all the city has to offer. Like many other post-industrial cities in the Midwest, Cleveland has begun to reinvent itself as a desirable destination for both tourists and residents. If you’re planning a trip to Cleveland, you’re probably aware of major tourist attractions here, such the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. But as with any city, the locals are the best guides to Cleveland. Here are nine Cleveland local favorites:

Severance Hall, Cleveland, Ohio Photo: Erik Daniel Drost on Flickr

Severance Hall, Cleveland, Ohio

East Side

  • Severance Hall: The Cleveland Orchestra is ranked among the top symphony orchestras in the world, and its home is Severance Hall. This beautiful domed building was completed in 1931, and is located in University Circle, adjacent to the Case Western Reserve University campus. If you’re a lover of classical music, don’t miss the opportunity to see a performance when you’re in town.
  • Chagrin Falls: This charming town is tucked away among winding, hilly roads and a network of state-protected parks 20 minutes east of Cleveland. The small town square, lined with shops and restaurants, is a great place to grab a bite to eat, take a walk, and gaze over the nearby waterfall.
Chagrin Falls, Cleveland, Ohio Photo: Robotheart on Flickr

Chagrin Falls, Cleveland, Ohio

  • Little Italy: Just down the street from Severance Hall is Cleveland’s Italian district, Little Italy. After enjoying a plate of gnocchi or homemade lasagna at one of the many restaurants, stop by Presti’s bakery for a fresh cannoli or real Italian espresso.

West Side

  • Mahall’s 20 Lanes: If you’re looking for a real local gem, stop in at Mahall’s 20 Lanes in Lakewood, just west of Cleveland. This charming bowling alley was built in the 1920s, and still retains the look and feel of a bygone era.
Mahall's 20 Lanes, Cleveland, Ohio Photo: Steve Snodgrass on Flickr

Mahall’s 20 Lanes, Cleveland, Ohio

  • Melt Bar and Grilled: Now with three locations across the greater Cleveland area, the original Melt Bar and Grilled sprung up in Lakewood in 2006. Locals keep returning to Melt for its creative gourmet grilled cheese creations, such as The Dude Abides, which consists of homemade meatballs and fried mozzarella sticks smothered in marinara, provolone and Romano. Dedicated patrons who get the Melt Bar and Grilled logo (a grilled cheese sandwich and crossbones) tattooed on their body receive a 25 percent discount for life.
  • West Side Market: Completed in 1912, the West Side Market is an iconic Cleveland building, and a great place to go grocery shopping. Check it out for a taste of what market shopping was like before the major grocery chains took over.
West Side Market Hall, Cleveland, Ohio Photo: JulioGonzalez1 on Flickr

West Side Market Hall, Cleveland, Ohio


  • East Fourth:For a taste of new Cleveland, head to the restaurants on East Fourth. You’ll find fine dining spots like Michael Symon’s Lola and the Greenhouse Tavern, as well as Mexican and Vietnamese fare, and an Irish pub. These restaurants are open late, so stop by in the evening to experience the Cleveland nightlife.
  • Playhouse Square: Cleveland’s theater district is home to several gorgeous venues such as the State, Palace and Allen theaters. You’ll find plays, touring musical theater and even popular musicians performing year-round.
  • Lola, Lolita and The B-Spot: These three restaurants, owned by celebrity chef Michael Symon, are an essential stop for visiting foodies. Check out Lola or Lolita for signature Symon cuisine like cured meats and pork-centric dishes, or B-Spot for a great burger topped with house-made pickles.
B-spot Burger, Cleveland, Ohio Photo: Stu Spivack on Flickr

B-spot Burger, Cleveland, Ohio

There’s a lot to see and do in Cleveland if you know where to look. As with any trip, make sure you come prepared. Cleveland is notoriously cold and snowy in the winter, so bring warm clothes, and be especially careful while driving. If you haven’t checked your vehicle insurance coverage in a while, give your insurance company a call and make sure you’re covered in case of an accident.

More great places to visit in the USA

Our Texas Road Trip – tips for Europeans driving in the USA
5 Best kept secrets for Train Lovers in San Diego
Visit Chicago for popcorn, pizza and a walk by the river

Photo Credits: Severance Hall by Erik Daniel Drost, Chagrin Falls by RobotHeart, Mahall’s 20 Lanes by Steve Snodgrass, West Side Market Hall by JulioGonzalez1, B-spot Burger by Stu Spivack, Featured content photo Cleveland by ifmuth

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  • Reply
    August 23, 2012 at 2:08 pm

    I have never been to Ohio, but I have close historian friends there who are very impressed with the Severance family. That they had their concert hall building placed in University Circle was a brilliant idea. Especially since it was right in the centre of an appalling depression. Every city needs generous and community-minded patrons, I think.

    The West Side Market Hall looks great. Thank you.
    Hels´s last blog post ..Troika – modernist art pottery

  • Reply
    September 30, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    Great suggestions! If you have more than a just a couple hours to spend in the area, another great adventure is the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad. It’s a wonderful way to see the Cleveland Metroparks and take a trip back in time, especially this time of year when the leaves are all turning..

    Keep up the good work, Heather!
    Heather´s last blog post ..Internet Marketing Basics For Business Owners

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