The Midwest city boasts cultural, gastronomic, and other experiences worth the travel there.
Manufacturing. Healthcare. Technology. Those were the terms most associated with the city of Cleveland, Ohio, over the last few decades. But the midwestern destination has since moved on to become a bit of an underrated stop for vacationers.
While the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and activities on or along Lake Erie might be the first results that pop up for your search, there is a lot to do here, from arts and history to design and cuisine. You will soon see that your itinerary of a few days is insufficient time to experience the city truly.
Cleveland also has a rich African American connection and many venues to experience that history and culture in all its glory. You might be left needing a few more days as you plan this next trip.
The mention of Cleveland brings up the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame without a doubt. If you’ve visited the city and not stopped by here, you haven’t done justice to your trip. Five floors of music history await your attention, including highlights of Black artists who’ve made their mark in the industry over the decades.
Other spots to visit include the Cleveland Museum of Art—for its Black Vanguard Exhibit and Arts of Africa Gallery, as well as the Cleveland History Center. The Cozad Bates House is a small but informational venue documenting the importance of Cleveland—called Station Hope—as a stop in the Underground Railroad through which many African Americans escaped to Canada and the many families that contributed to this pivotal moment in history. Equally fascinating is the Howard A. Mims African American Cultural Center, which houses a collection of works by African and African American artists.
The Baseball Heritage Museum spotlights the diversity in the sport, including the important contributions of Latin, Caribbean and women’s leagues. For sports fans, this is a highly recommended spot to check off your list. And then, to take a breather from a busy day of sightseeing, surround yourself with greenery at the Cleveland Botanical Garden, where seasonal blooms present a great way to spend time in nature while still in the city.
If you have a full day to spare, then Cuyahoga Valley National Park provides ample opportunity to cherish the area’s green splendor, taking you through forests, hills and farmlands and even offering up an opportunity for a scenic train ride. For the artistically inclined, a performance at Karamu House—recognized as the country’s oldest producing African American theater—is recommended.
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Cleveland’s Culinary Attractions
Given the diversity of the population that calls Cleveland home, it should come as no surprise that the city offers myriad choices when it comes to dining out and indulging in global cuisines. Primo African Quisine is one such business serving delicious Pan-African food, from staples such as suya and egusi soup to traditional dishes such as Senegalese lamb thiep and amiwo from Senegal—a cornflower and tomato paste dish that hits the taste buds just right.
Other spots to enjoy African and Caribbean dishes in the city include Empress Taytu Ethiopian Restaurant, Yum Village, Angie’s Soul Café, and Kafela. For views of the water and drinks and/or dinner as you watch the sun set, Lindey’s Lake House and Jade New Asian & Sushi Bar are equally fabulous options. You can get a real feel for Cleveland residents’ savoring life by the water—private boats, paddle boarders, or jet skis going by while you eat is commonplace.
Other restaurants to test your taste buds include Betts, Addy’s Diner, Yours Truly, REBol, Blessed Café and more. In fact, a walk along Euclid Avenue, where many historical buildings are located, will present way too many options for your dining considerations, no matter the size of your group or the preferences to be catered to.
The Arcade Cleveland is also located here, a building you simply cannot miss, given its astounding architecture. Built in the late 1800s, it was considered America’s inaugural indoor shopping mall. Another historic spot is the city’s public market called West Side Market. More than 100 vendors set up shop here daily, selling everything from baked goods and spices to meats and fruit. And while galivanting around the city, stay at The Westin Cleveland Downtown for a central spot to walk to many attractions or even grab a bite at the lobby bar.
Wines made in Ohio have been making their mark in the industry over the years, thanks to dedicated winemakers in the area. For an urban winery making a difference to the land and locals, Chateau Hough Vineyards and Winery is a must on your itinerary.
Operated by Brenda Frazier, the Black-owned business has made quite an impact locally. Not only is there rejuvenation of land thanks to urban farming efforts, but also a second chance provided to previously incarcerated individuals employed here. The business was founded by Brenda’s husband, Mansfield Frazier, and since his passing in 2021, she has taken on the reins. The tasting room and vineyards are located unexpectedly right in the middle of a residential neighborhood. Known for their fruit-forward wines, expect sweet to semi-dry bottles of various flavors to wow you.
The Grand River Valley Wineries are about an hour’s drive away from the city, but a perfect spot to enjoy some ice wine if heading over to Canada (which is the largest producer of ice wine) is not in your plans anytime soon. The dessert wine is made using frozen grapes while still on the vine, which means a sweeter, more concentrated juice is obtained from the fruit.
Some of the local wineries specializing in ice wine include Laurentia Vineyard & Winery, Debonne Vineyards, and Ferrante Winery—you might be able to enjoy a tour along with your tasting; call in advance to check with the different venues. And you can continue sipping on local wines at a local fave, Crosswinds Grille at The Lakehouse Inn, a charming dining location with ingredients starring local farmers’ crops, providing just the perfect finale to your fabulous Cleveland adventure.