Cleveland’s come a long way since the 1970s and 1980s when it was sharply affected by economic decline, high unemployment, and abandoned buildings. Because today, Ohio’s second-largest city is no longer just a remnant of the Rust Belt. It shines as a noteworthy example of urban revitalization done right, thanks to creative and forward-thinking locals who spotted untapped opportunities to help restore their beloved city to its glory days. And unlike other U.S. urban destinations, Cleveland truly has something for every type of traveler: world-class arts and culture, competitive sports, recreational offerings, a progressive culinary scene, and hip hotels.
Ahead, ten reasons why Cleveland is worth checking out this summer.
Kimpton Schofield Hotel
Occupying a lovingly restored historic downtown structure designed by prominent architect Levi Scofield, this boutique hotel has everything you need to feel relaxed and refreshed while you’re in town. The spacious with 122 guest rooms and suites feature locally-inspired art, muted tones of blue and grey, and handsome furnishings, while some of the recently-renovated higher floors have residential-style suites appointed with convenient touches like full kitchens and washer and dryer units – making them ideal for extended stays.
Adjacent to the inviting lobby accented with a striking fireplace centerpiece, cozy sitting nooks, and plants galore – this is where complimentary morning coffee and nightly hosted wine hour are served – is Betts. Open for breakfast through dinner, this cheerful, all-day eatery strikes a balance between virtuous and indulgent, from vibrant grain and veggie bowls to Ohio City pappardelle smothered with a rich three-meat ragu.
Front International: Cleveland Triennial For Contemporary Art 2022
Launched in 2018, this visionary contemporary art triennial running through October 2 brings represents 100 artists from all over the world at 30 venues across Cleveland, Akron, and Oberlin. Even better? It’s all free to the public, as art should be. This exhibition’s title, Oh, Gods of Dust and Rainbows, is taken from a 1957 Langston Hughes poem, and underscores the healing, therapeutic, and transformative power of contemporary art. Highlights include Renée Green’s exhibition, Contact, at Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland and SM-2N: sldrty?, a collaborative video and sculptural installation by Sarah Oppenheimer and Tony Cokes at Transformer Station.
Sacred Hour Wellness Spa
Gorgeously designed and specializing in globe-trotting treatments administered by gentle yet gifted practitioners, this urban oasis owned by former New Yorker, massage therapist, and yoga instructor Tabitha Baker encourages you to prioritize your wellbeing in a “sexy and ethical” setting. For your first visit, consider a Korean Scrub. Performed in the just unveiled, all-black Hammam-inspired suite, the invigorating hourlong full-body exfoliation – leave your inhibitions at the door, as you’ll be nude – takes inspiration from jjimjilbangs (Korean bathhouses). Afterwards, decompress further at Tribú bar and lounge with elegant light bites such as truffle popcorn and White Sturgeon Caviar and a Champagne flight.
Cent’s Pizza + Goods
At this stylish Ohio City pizzeria by Vincent Morelli, who cut his chops at Brooklyn institution Roberta’s, the design is fun and quirky – as evidenced by the cherry red tables, checkerboard flooring, and hot pink globe lights – but make no mistake: Morelli is serious about making Cleveland’s best pizzas. Even simple items, like the plain cheese pies, are knockouts thanks to quality ingredients and watchful care in the wood-burning oven.
Heart of Gold
Across the street from Cent’s, you’ll discover Heart of Gold, another buzzy newcomer. But here, it’s imaginative, yet approachable bites that take top billing. Though the main dining room is no slouch, hang at the crisp, white-tiled bar with a smash burger, everything spice waffle fries, and boilermaker for a more social and casual affair. Also, the boozy freezer pops are a wonderfully nostalgic treat to beat the summer heat.
Martha on the Fly
This snug counter joint in Tremont run by Ryan Beck only does breakfast. Thankfully, it does it really well. (The prices are refreshingly wallet-friendly, too.) Even the simplest offering, which is called Jane, generously layers an egg patty, American cheese, and the house Sunshine Sauce on a squishy homemade brioche bun. On top of being deeply delicious, it will only set you back $8.
The Roaming Biscuit Bake Shop & Cafe
At this roaming pop-up concept (hence, the name) and cafe tucked away in Tyler Village, a repurposed factory complex, owner Shawnda Moye brings a Southern staple to Cleveland with her flaky, buttery, made-from-scratch biscuits. Though the menu skews lean with just four biscuit offerings and six sandwiches, everything, especially OG Sammie with egg, bacon, and pimento cheese, is immensely satisfying.
Cleveland Sandwich Co.
After serving time for financial fraud in Montana and paying his dues, chef Kevin O’Connell sought out cities to help rebuild his career. Despite opening spots in Los Angeles and Buffalo, he didn’t hit his stride until he moved to Cleveland during the pandemic. Now, in a humble space in downtown’s Superior Building, he’s gaining the trust of the local community one artfully-crafted sandwich at a time. Go because O’Connell’s creations are downright delectable – the best-selling muffuletta is a must – but also go because everyone deserves a second chance.
Sleek, dark, and seductive, Amba led by acclaimed chef Douglas Katz of city mainstay Zhug is an enticing culinary love letter to India. The design is nothing short of stunning, and fittingly, the quality of the shared plates menu matches the decor. Recommended dishes include the tamarind-roasted eggplant with pickled chilies and coconut, and the house take on pilau fragrant with saffron, almonds, and fried onions.
At this warm, Appalachian-driven spot helmed by beloved area chef Karen Small (formerly of the Flying Fig), start the day off on a bright note with her thoughtful takes on familiar breakfast and brunch dishes. Because the kitchen sources whole, nutritious ingredients, whatever you decide on – whether it’s the Anson Mills Rice Congee or breakfast burrito – won’t just taste great, but will make you feel great as well.