If a good story - the white-knuckle, breath-holding kind - was worth a gold coin, Cleveland could bank at Fort Knox. Colorful tales of Northeast Ohio wrap around its gleaming architecture, line vibrant neighborhoods, splash its shoreline and come to life in attractions and museums.
Here's how to spend 48 hours immersed in Cleveland's history.
Breakfast: Enter the West Side Market, a food lover's paradise, with its maze of family-owned vendors selling everything from fresh meat and vegetables to baked goods and fragrant flowers. This place has been an institution for more than 100 years and was once where turn-of-the-century immigrants came to purchase their homeland staples. Any menu item from the West Side Market Cafe will keep you full until lunch.
Morning: Head lakeside for the U.S.S. COD, a real submarine used during World War II. Located in North Coast Harbor on Lake Erie, the submarine is open for tours and is packed with all sorts of historical information, cool gear and fascinating stories. Or, walk the interior of the prominent Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument in Public Square featuring a 125-foot ornate column, carved of polished, black Quincy stone, topped with a grand statue, commemorating the Cleveland veterans of the Civil War.
Lunch: Want to see the bar (complete with bullet holes) where legendary crime fighter Eliot Ness dodged bullets from troublemakers? Check it out during a lunchtime stop at Cleveland's Great Lakes Brewing Company.
Afternoon: Pay homage to the stories of the Holocaust—and the people who lived them—at the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage “Stories of Survival” exhibit.
Dinner: Go upscale at the Marble Room Steak & Raw Bar located downtown. Inside the historic Garfield Building (1845) at Euclid Avenue and East 6th Street, Marble Room was once home to the opulent lobby of National City Bank, which opened in 1915. Today, you can dine in the grandiose 10,000-square-foot dining room or at the original deposit slip tables in the bar.
Evening: Head east to the Karamu House, the oldest African American theatre in the United States. Shows at the newly renovated venue typically run between Thursday and Sunday. It's best to check online for ticket costs and showtimes.
Breakfast: Take a bite out of a vast selection of dishes named after the customers who helped Tommy's Restaurant thrive for more than 40 years at this hip, laid-back joint.
Early Morning: More than just a graveyard, the 285-acre Lake View Cemetery is an outdoor sculpture museum filled with gardens, incredible architecture and historic tributes honoring the likes of President James A. Garfield, John D. Rockefeller, Elliot Ness and more.
Late Morning: Pop over to University Circle, home of the Cleveland History Center. Immerse yourself in Cleveland's history through costume archives, photographs, memorabilia and an auto-aviation museum. Get schooled on local legends and lore, then take a spin on the Euclid Beach Grand Carousel for a carefree throwback to days of yore.
Lunch: Guarino's, a mainstay of Cleveland's Little Italy neighborhood, offers throwbacks to the old-school Italian dishes that have been served there since before Prohibition. It's also the first established restaurant in Cleveland.
Afternoon: Head to League Park, the original home base of the Cleveland Indians, as well as the MLB's oldest existing ball grounds. Not only was the 1920 World Series played there, but Babe Ruth smacked his 500th dinger there. Plus, it's ground zero for one of the city's lesser-known championships: The Cleveland Buckeyes won the 1945 Negro League World Series there. The restored ticket house is now the Baseball Heritage Museum.
Dinner: We could all use a sandwich. Treat yourself to a gourmet ‘wich at nearby Black Box Fix, where the name “OMG Hoagie” says it all. Stick around in the GlenVillage shopping district for great products from black-owned businesses.