Maybe you’re not from the frigid climate of the Midwest, so allow us to welcome you to the magic of a Cleveland spring — a time when 51 degrees signals the season for short sleeves, beach walks and drop-top convertibles.
Sure, it might still be a little chilly, but that’s no reason to keep your winterized skin under wraps. Plus, spring is the perfect time to visit Cleveland as residents everywhere climb out of their caves and hit the great outdoors to peruse, booze and eat their way to a banging summer bod.
Here’s how to do it in 48 hours.
Before heading out, ALWAYS be sure to check each location’s website or call ahead for individual business operating hours and safety procedures.
Image courtesy Cleveland Botanical Garden
History runs deep in Cleveland, so get acquainted early by pulling up a patio seat at Yours Truly in iconic Playhouse Square. Family-owned and operated, this local mini-chain serves up everything that breakfast dreams are made of, including their famous Killit Skillet: two eggs, bacon, sausage, golden hash browns with onion, green pepper, mixed cheese and toasted ciabatta.
Cruise over to the Cleveland Botanical Garden where you’ll find 11 different outdoor areas, each with their own special charm. The latest addition is the Kitchen Garden, a stretch of culinary herbs and plants that’ll whet your whistle and get your brain geared up for lunch.
But first, don’t leave without taking a trip through The Glasshouse, an indoor section of the gardens that mimics the deserts of Madagascar and the rainforests of Costa Rican. Alongside indigenous plants from those regions, you’ll also rub elbows with over 50 species of native butterflies, birds, reptiles and amphibians.
There's nohting like dining al fresco in the springtime, when the air is cool, crisp and sweet smelling. While it's not a picnic, hitting E. 4th St. and the fantastic patio at Saigon is the next best thing. This authentic Vietnamese eatery serves up unbelieveable flavor through traditional cooking techniques. Their pho is phenomenal, the stir-fry's to die for and their rice and rice noodle dishes are light and perfect for early afternoon dining.
Spring is the perfect time to snag a spot on your FitBit challenge leaderboard — without getting embarrassingly aggressive on the gym’s treadmill. So, take a walking tour through Cleveland’s downtown, one of the most architecturally rich places in the city. Hit up Tours of Cleveland for a two-hour learning sesh through The Land.
For dinner, get yourself to Il Rione Pizzeria, a humble shop with a cult-like following. If you haven’t noticed a trend yet, businesses in Cleveland love to repurpose old buildings and Il Rione is no different. The 1917 brick-walled former pub now turns out simple New York-style pies with high-caliber, no-frills toppings. Fan favorites include the Clam Pie and the classic Margherita, plus the Blood Orange Salad with goat cheese, pistachio and mint.
It’s not a trip to Cleveland unless you’ve downed a few local craft beers. And, Terrestrial Brewing Company makes a strong case for a top spring pick. Housed in a chic industrial building with a myriad of windows, light pours in from all angles, but it’s the patio seating that’ll catch your eye and beckon you outside. Overlooking Edgewater Park and Lake Erie, there are few places better to throw back a few signature IPAs, pet a couple of dogs and soak in the first rays of the season.
Whatever you do, do NOT head back to the hotel to call it a night. Instead, stay outside and enjoy that refreshing sping air coming off the lake for just a little longer. A short trip down the road at Lakewood Park stand the famed Solstice Steps, a newer addition to the park that has quickly become a nieghborhood favorite. Take a seat on the enormous stone steps on either the upper or lower promenade and watch the sun sink slowly into Lake Erie.
Keep the island vibes rolling with a nightcap at Porco Lounge and Tiki Room, a fun dive thematically decorated with tropical flair serving up inventive cocktails using fresh-squeezed juices and house-made mixers. This joint is pretty tiny and fills up fast, but it’s worth the wait to close out the evening on a high note.
Channel the romance of Paris to kick off your morning at Le Petit Triangle Cafe in Ohio City. The adorably quaint cafe opens at 10, so sleep in like a true Parisian artist before snagging a coveted sidewalk seat. Order an espresso and a croissant or opt for the heartier buckwheat crepe stuffed with decadent boursin cheese and smoked salmon.
Continue your artistic daydream with a morning of retail therapy in the Gordon Square Arts District, a two-mile stretch of independent businesses in Cleveland’s Detroit Shoreway neighborhood. Get lost in the modern, handmade jewelry at Océanne, pick up a new purse at fine leather retailer Fount, or stop into Artful Living for holistic teas and unique home goods.
If your sweet tooth wasn’t satiated at breakfast, pop into Brewnuts for a donut infused with local beer. Just be warned: these babies usually sell out by midday.
Head next to the Hingetown district of Ohio City where the James Beard-nominated delicatessen Larder awaits your arrival. Helmed by an ambitious trio of chefs, Larder is located in a reclaimed fire house that pays homage to the neighborhood’s past.
On the menu are any number of Eastern European-inspired delights, including fall-apart-tender pastrami, koji fried chicken and a rotating collection of fermented pickles and krauts. With a classically trained pastry chef also on staff, you won’t want to leave without sneaking a piece of babka or one of the deli’s black and white cookies.
Hop on board a 15-person-powered Cleveland Cycle Tours bike and peddle around town learning about Cleveland’s diverse history while periodically stopping to imbibe at the local watering holes. If you’re traveling solo, it’s possible to buy an individual seat and meet a few new friends.
After working up an appetite on the bike, check out Barrio’s huge patio for tacos and margs. The menu features “build-your-own” options with vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free choices clearly marked, so everyone eats happy at this relaxed spot.
Afterwards? Two words: ice cream. Tremont Scoops reopens in the spring, signaling the end of the winter doldrums with 24 flavors, ice cream sandwiches and chocolate-covered bananas.
What’s a visit to Cleveland without getting in on some CLE sports fun? Catch the Guardians in action at Progressive Field and root, root, root for the home team with all the rest of The Land's diehard fans.
To round out the night, make a pitstop at The Spotted Owl. This old-school tavern is modernized for the current day, but you’ll still feel like you’ve stepped back in time. Their cocktail wheel makes it easy to communicate your drinking desires, ensuring you’ll end up with a new favorite bevvy before the evening ends.