48 Hours in CLE: The Arts

June 12, 2018

Two-Day Itinerary of Cleveland's Arts Scene


From indie galleries stacked with handmade wares to the grandiose historic institutions curating the classics, Cleveland is a city centered around the arts. So, if you're the type of person who wants to see the French impressionist art of Monet or the experimental style of Mark Mothersbaugh, we've got a two-day itinerary with your name all over it.

Day 1

Image by Cody York

Breakfast: Start the day off with a cup of joe and a light pastry at The Coffee House in University Circle. It's one of the hidden gems of the neighborhood, but worth finding. They offer a huge selection of drinks. Don't leave without biscotti, which is big enough for two.

Morning: A short bike ride or Uber ride brings you to the Cleveland Museum of Art (CMA), which features more than 45,000 pieces of art spanning 6,000 years. This historic institution is home to one of the last Rodin-supervised casts of "The Thinker," as well as Monet's "Water Lilies." The best part about the CMA? Admission to its permanent collection is always free.

Lunch: No need to venture too far for lunch. The Cleveland Museum of Art has its own restaurant, Provenance. The upscale menu offerings often reflect the art on display within the museum. For instance, during a traveling exhibition featuring Monet, the restaurant developed a special menu that showcased the artist's love of painting gardens with edible flowers and herbs, as well as a lemon lavender cake.

Early Afternoon: The Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland  (MOCA) anchors the Uptown area of University Circle in its stunning onyx building. It's a non-collecting institution, which means they're always showcasing something new in the contemporary art world. In the past, the museum has featured the works of Andy Warhol, Jim Hodges and Claes Oldenburg. MOCA admission is free on the first Saturday of every month.

Late Afternoon: Reinberger Gallery, located at the Cleveland Institute of Art, supports professional artists while also serving the students and faculty as an educational resource. It's inside these galleries that you'll uncover some inspiration from the newer voices in the art world - through multi-media, multi-sensory work - that tests boundaries and questions reality.

Dinner: After a full day of exploring, reward yourself with dinner at Chef Zack Bruell's L'Abatros.  This quaint French brasserie is tucked away in University Circle among lush greenery within University Circle, making for the perfect little escape.

Evening: Add a little oomph to your night with a visit to the art galleries along Waterloo in the up-and-coming Waterloo Arts District on Cleveland's east side. Check out Waterloo Arts Gallery, Waterloo 7 Studio/Gallery and Maria Neil Art Project. This unique part of town is an indie hotspot, boasting not only art, but an iconic music club, vinyl record shopping, vintage threads and cool little eateries along the corridor.

Day 2

Image by Cody York

Breakfast: Our second day takes us to the west side of Cleveland. Get the day going on the right foot with a big plate of corned beef hash or a huge stack of pancakes from Grumpy's Cafe in Tremont. Also, if any of the art on the wall tickles your fancy, feel free to inquire about making it your own.

Morning: Take a break from the big arts institutions with a jaunt through Tremont's art galleries. Known as ground zero for Cleveland's indie arts scene, this place has dozens of little galleries popping up in between restaurants and homes, like Calicchia Studio, Doubting Thomas Gallery and Manly Pad Portrait Studio. One of the best times to visit is during Walkabout Tremont, an art walk held the second Friday of every month.

Lunch: Take a five-minute drive to Ohio City's Hingetown for lunch at Saucy Brew Works. Devour a New Haven- or Saucy-style pizza for lunch along with one (or a whole flight!) of their brewed-on-site craft beers.

Afternoon: Walk about a block to find The Transformer Station, a contemporary art and photography museum with frequently rotating exhibits. Inside, you'll often find thought-provoking photography exhibits, as well as contemporary art that's been curated through the Cleveland Museum of Art. The building itself was transformed from an electrical substation into an intriguing setting for contemporary art. And, good news, admission is absolutely free.

Tread just a few steps across the street and you'll come eye-to-eye with SPACES, a contemporary art gallery in what was once the Van Rooy Coffee Building. SPACES has three ever-evolving exhibit programs that all feature new work from artists each season. The gallery focuses on artists who explore and experiment - so expect to experience some really mind-bending art.

Evening: A quick ride up the street brings you to 78th Street Studios - home to four floors of art galleries, creative spaces and even recording studios. Located inside a former automobile manufacturing building, this isn't some fancied-up art space. Instead it's an incredible place to immerse yourself into our indie art scene. Visit on the third Friday of each month for a specialty art event with food, drinks and more than 60 small businesses.  

Dinner: Wind down from the long day with some serious eating from Banter. This place is well known for its Quebec-style poutine - which can come smothered in everything from sloppy joes to braised rabbit. The wide selection of sausages is a pretty popular draw, as well as tons of craft beer and fine wine.

Summer 2018 Art Wave

Have you started planning your trip around FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art? Now's the time. Learn more about this multi-venue, summer-long exhibition of contemporary art happening across Northeast Ohio July 14-Sept. 30, 2018 here.

Articles Search

Download the Destination Cleveland App

The Destination Cleveland app is your guide to art, culture and rock ‘n’ roll in a city that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Grit meets sophistication in a town with world-class experiences without the world-class ego. And for that, you’re welcome.

Destination Cleveland
334 Euclid Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44114
800. 321. 1001
Check out what other travelers say
about Cleveland on TripAdvisor.