Only in CLE

April 6, 2016
Only in CLE

Eight Experiences You'll Only Get in Cleveland

Lexi Hotchkiss

We know that when it comes to travel, it’s all about those uniquely different experiences that make a trip truly memorable. The joy of travel isn’t simply gaining admission to an attraction, but rather finding niche experiences within them that you just can’t find anywhere else in the world.

Here are eight only-in-Cleveland experiences you shouldn’t pass on:

8. Leave a penny on the tombstone of John D. Rockefeller
Did you know that John D. Rockefeller, the wealthy industrialist who created Standard Oil, spent much of his life in Cleveland? He is buried at the famous Lake View Cemetery along with other notable residents such as President James A. Garfield, Eliot Ness and Carl B. Stokes.

Toward the latter half of his life, Rockefeller was known for doling out dimes to children as charity. Legend has it that if you leave a dime on his tombstone you’ll be richly rewarded.

7. Salute the sun on the Rock Hall's front lawn with 1,500 yogis
There’s yoga. And, then there’s Believe in Cleveland yoga.

This hugely popular yoga event, which often draws thousands, happens every four months at an ultra unique Cleveland location and includes music, dancing, education and food.

The front lawn of the Rock Hall is just one of the locations where they practice. Other locations have included huge art studios and former factories.

6. Nosh on a bag of smokies at the West Side Market
“What in the world is a ‘smokie,’” you ask? These smoked beef jerky treats, which resemble a thicker, longer and less-greasy version of a Slim Jim, are an oh-so-tasty Cleveland tradition.

The best place to get them? The West Side Market, a perennial Cleveland attraction, where you’ll find more than two-dozen butchers selling their stock.

And, while you’re there, you might as well pick up some frosted cupcakes, luxurious crepes, handmade pierogi, homemade bread, fresh cheeses, produce and the best falafel sandwiches of all time.

5. Conquer the Melt Challenge from Melt Bar & Grilled
Here it is: 13 different cheeses on three slices of grilled bread and a pile of hand-cut fries and coleslaw. It’s five-pounds of food with your name on it.

Or, maybe not. But it is a menu item at Melt Bar & Grilled, Cleveland’s famous grilled cheese restaurant (four CLE locations).

The good news is that Melt offers more than 25 splendid (and huge) gooey grilled cheese concoctions. Our faves? Try the Parmageddon, which boasts potato pierogies, sauerkraut and copious amounts of cheddar cheese.

4. Locate the famous bullet hole at Great Lakes Brewing Company
Eliot Ness, the famous crime fighter who brought down Al Capone, was the Safety Director for Cleveland from 1935 to 1942. Ness was known to throwback a few drinks in a popular bar called the Market Tavern. During one of his stints, it’s rumored that his gun discharged a bullet that became lodged in the mahogany bar.

Today, that bar is home to the Brewpub at Great Lakes Brewing Company – undoubtedly one of the most famous breweries in Cleveland. Consider bellying-up to the bar for one of a tall cold amber lager aptly named “Eliot Ness.”

As for the bullet hole? It’s still there. If you can’t find it on your own, ask your bartender.

3. Listen to The Cleveland Orchestra inside a local hot dog joint
A group of classically trained musicians hailing from some of the world’s most prestigious conservatories (The Cleveland Institute of Music, The Julliard School, Curtis Institute of Music and the Eastman School of Music) have joined together to create Classical Revolution Cleveland.

The chamber group performs classical masterpieces monthly inside Happy Dog, an old-school bar serving tons of beer, hot dogs and more than 50 not-so-normal hot dog toppings.

Want more of The Cleveland Orchestra? Consider picnicking with the world-renowned institution during their summer residency at Blossom Amphitheater.

Classical not your style? Happy Dog also hosts monthly Polka Happy Hours and science lectures appropriately titled “Life, the Universe and Hot Dogs.”

2. Lay eyes on Monet's and Picasso's at The Cleveland Museum of Art
Containing arguably one of the most renowned art collections in the world, The Cleveland Museum of Art is a must for any visitor’s itinerary. But where to begin?

Sure, you can definitely peruse no shortage of pieces by well-known artists like Monet (Water Lilies), Picasso (La Vie) and Warhol (Marilyn x 100).

But make some time to check out other art within its permanent collection. There’s Caravaggio’s The Crucifixion of Saint Andrew, Frederic Edwin Church’s Twilight in the Wilderness, Auguste Rodin’s The Thinker, John Rogers Cox’s Gray and Gold and about 45,000 other mind-blowing pieces.

Let’s also not forget that admission to its permanent collection is completely free. #Bonus

1. Hide under the sink at A Christmas Story House
Nothing says Cleveland like, “Ralphie, you’ll shoot your eye out!” [Huh?]

As it turns out, scenes from the 1983 movie, based on the story written by author Jean Shepherd, were filmed right here in Cleveland.

Today, you can visit A Christmas Story House, the actual house where many of the scenes were filmed. Each nook and cranny inside the home was completely renovated to look exactly as the home was portrayed in the movie.

Hide under the sink like Randy when he was sure “Daddy’s gonna kill Ralphie.” Snap a selfie next to the Christmas tree holding a Red Ryder BB Gun wearing Ralphie’s bunny pajamas gifted from Aunt Clara. And, head upstairs and peer into the bathroom where Ralphie got his mouth washed out with Lifebuoy Soap.


-Find Michael Jackson's white sequined glove inside the Rock Hall.

-Explore the inside of a NASA command module at the Great Lakes Science Center.

-Paddle on Lake Erie with a craft beer.

-Order a plate of pierogies from Sokolowski's.

No doubt, we didn’t hit all the experiences in Cleveland. So, locals, share with us other experiences that belong on every visitor’s CLE bucket list below.

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