The West Side Story, CLE Style

July 20, 2015
The West Side Story, CLE Style

These Cleveland neighborhoods and near-west suburbs range from quirky to trendy, traditional to outrageous

Downtown Cleveland has a ton to do and see, but if you want to get away from the bustle for a bit and take advantage of neighborhoods with their own personality and style, the West Side certainly won’t leave you hanging. Whether you’re in the mood for craft brews or a spectacular view of Lake Erie, here are some great places to check out just outside the city-center.

Ohio City

Foodies and fans of craft beer call Ohio City’s Market District their urban oasis. Just across the Cuyahoga River, west of downtown, the city’s yellow-bricked West Side Market has been home to haggle-friendly meat, seafood, and veggie vendors for more than 100 years, but it’s Ohio City’s Victorian-era homes, boutique eateries, and famous craft brewers (like Great Lakes Brewing Co.) that have made it one of the city’s symbols for urban renewal (where hip meets heritage). But its coolest locale might be the entrepreneurial and arty district of Hingetown, which “hinges” Market District and Gordon Square Arts District into Ohio City.

3 Must-Do Things:

  1. Shop artisan vendors with live music at Open Air in Market Square every Saturday from June through August.
  2. Sip on a hoppy Cluster Fuggle IPA at Market Garden Brewery or an award-winning Dortmunder Gold at Great Lakes Brewing Co.
  3. Sample ethnic eats from falafel to crepes at the West Side Market. Climb the stairs just inside the W. 25th St. entrance for an amazing view inside.

Directions from Downtown:

Take the Detroit-Superior Bridge west and turn left onto W. 25th St., or take the Lorain-Carnegie Bridge west and turn right onto W. 25th St. RTA Red Line, westbound to W. 25th – Ohio City Station. Cab fare: $8-10 from downtown.


This blue-collar neighborhood balances Cleveland’s big city feel with cozy, small town charm. Minutes from downtown, Tremont is one of Cleveland ’s oldest communities, and for all we know, might just be stuck in time. Just look at those old cottages, bygone neighborhood bars, beautiful churches, and cordial local characters. Look closer and notice those come-as-you-are bars are sandwiched between Food Network-famous restaurants, art galleries, and even a pop culture monument (A Christmas Story House and Museum).

3 Must-Do Things:

  1. Feeling hangry? Check out eccentric artwork while noshing on fresh feel-good food at Grumpy’s Café.
  2. Shop local galleries, pubs, and restaurants on the Tremont Art Walk, every second Friday of the month, from 6-10 p.m.
  3. Pair artisanal chocolate truffles with craft beer or fine wine at Lilly Handmade Chocolates.

Directions from Downtown:

Take I-90 West, exit Abbey Ave. East. Turn right and go south on Abbey Ave. and turn right and go south on West 11th St. RTA Bus #81 from downtown Public Square to Professor and College Avenues. Cab fare: $10-12 from downtown.

Detroit Shoreway

If University Circle is Cleveland’s international art capital, Gordon Square Arts District (along the Detroit Shoreway) is the city’s bohemian quarter. Institutions like the Cleveland Public Theatre and the Capitol Theatre draw the terminally arty and interesting to local stages and indie cinema. The hip and hungry seek out bistros and bars from Happy Dog to Spice Kitchen + Bar, and urban greenery like the lakefront’s Edgewater Park attracts everyone from dog-walkers to desperate surfboarders, while Gordon Square’s old homes and elegant mansions create a stately backdrop.

3 Must-Do Things:

  1. Polka Happy Hour and choose from 50 house-made toppings to garnish your hot dog at Happy Dog.
  2. Slurp on classic fountain drinks at Sweet Moses Soda Fountain & Treat Shop.
  3. Stop by Third Fridays at 78th Street Studios for local fine art and good conversations.

Directions from Downtown:

Take the Detroit-Superior Bridge west onto Detroit Avenue. Go 1 mile. Between West 45th and West 85th St. RTA Bus #45 from downtown Public Square to W. 65th St. and Detroit Ave. Cab fare: $10-15 from downtown.

Downtown Lakewood

On the shores of Lake Erie, Lakewood’s great bars, grand old mansions, and fine selection of shops and green space attract Cleveland’s young workforce and its old money. Relaxing parks balance Detroit Avenue’s bustling commerce, making downtown Lakewood both bike- and pedestrian-friendly for shoppers and movers. An awesome selection of eats, such as gastropubs Melt Bar and Grilled and Deagan’s Kitchen and Bar, are flanked by an excellent and artsy retail community, with native boutiques like Paisley Monkey and Cotton Luxury Appointments.

3 Must-Do Things:

  1. Get up-close and personal with Rocky River and Lake Erie on a kayak rented from 41° North. Go on your own, or partake in one of their guided tours.
  2. Dine and drink al fresco on Buckeye Beer Engine’s patio, where burgers are the specialty. If you’re a vegetarian, their Portobello mushroom or homemade spicy black bean patties are fantastic as well.
  3. Beat high scores on Donkey Kong and Frogger at the super-retro 16-Bit Bar+Arcade as you sip cocktails aptly named “Kevin Bacon,” “Cyndi Lauper,” or “Punky Brewster.”

Directions from Downtown:

Take Route 2 West until it turns into Clifton Ave. Follow Clifton Ave. and turn left on Warren Rd. Turn right on Detroit Rd. RTA Bus #26 from downtown Public Square to Detroit Ave. and Andrews Ave. Cab fare: $15-20.

West Park

The party moves to Kamm’s Corners after the downtown parade on St. Patrick’s Day. Irish pubs attract barflies with Gaelic football, rugby, and live Celtic music, while walkers explore hobby shops, Sunday famer’s markets, and the historic Alger Cemetery, resting place of Oswald Kamm (that guy the community’s named after). Nestled between Downtown and the airport, it’s a great locale to grab a Guinness or eat everything from Irish to Italian.

Three Must-Do Things:

  1. Shop Carol & John’s Comic Book Shop for new releases and back issues.
  2. Listen to live music at area pubs, including P.J. McIntyre’s, Public House, West Park Station, and Backstage.
  3. Catch an animated movie in the park at Asphalt Cinema every third Friday in July and August at Impett Park. Join the hula hoop contest, try your hand at painting, or dance the night away.

Directions from Downtown:

Take Lorain Avenue west: go 9 miles. Arrive at the intersection of Lorain Ave. and Rocky River Dr. Or, take I-90 west for 10 miles, exit onto McKinley Ave. and turn left, then turn left again onto Riverside Dr. (Rte. 237). Go 1.3 miles to the intersection of Lorain and Rocky River Dr. RTA RedLine westbound to West Park Station. Bus #49 to Lorain and Rocky River Ave. Cab fare: $24-28 from downtown.

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