Summer is when Cleveland really shines. The sun bounces off Lake Erie as boats cruise by, everyone’s windows are open and the Metroparks are ripe with lush, green trees and gorgeous, blooming flowers.
Only in town for a couple of days? Here’s how to make the most of a Cleveland summer.
Get your caffeine fix at Phoenix Coffee, a light-soaked cafe that features a rotating cast of coffees from around the world and a solid selection of breakfast pastries to fuel you for what’s to come.
On Saturdays, tag along on a tour of the Gateway District’s incredible architecture. On Sundays, photographers and history buffs flock to the tour of Canal Basin Park, an impressive stretch of greenery along the Cuyahoga River.
After touring the neighborhood, head into Ohio City for a little afternoon patio dining on the sprawling courtyards behind Market Garden Brewery and Nano Brew. Both spots serve a smorgasboard of local beers on tap. Bring the SPF and your appetite.
Now it’s time to soak in the waterfront vibes at Whiskey Island, a low-key hotspot on the banks of Lake Erie. Whiskey Island is a Certified Wildlife Habitat, but it’s more well-known for its sand volleyball courts and lively daytime bar.
Hop a quick car ride to Lakewood for an outdoor dinner at Salt+. Helmed by a James Beard-nominated chef, Salt’s small-plate-style menu is best shared so you can try a little of everything. It’d be a huge mistake to skip the cocktails, which include impeccably executed classics and something called Saturday Morning Cartoons (a Fruity Pebbles cereal milk punch).
Cleveland’s a music town and Jacobs Pavilion at Nautica is where you’ll find loads of Clevelanders bopping their heads all summer. Catch an outdoor show by big name musical acts while watching the massive barges journey down the river.
Within walking distance of Jacobs Pavilion is Flats East Bank. From games at Punch Bowl Social to the dueling pianos at The Big Bang and the fist-pumping crowds at outdoor club FWD, there are plenty of activities — and libations — to keep you going until the wee hours of the morning.
Start on the east side at Luna Bakery, a specialty spot where nearly everything is made in-house with seasonal ingredients. Luna’s serves up a robust AM selection of paninis, crepes and egg dishes, so there’s something for everyone (even if you’re gluten-free).
Luna is located near Coventry Village, a Cleveland Heights neighborhood that’s home to a quirky collection of walkable shops. After getting your retail on, pay a visit to nearby Cain Park, a performing arts park where you’re likely to stumble upon a live concert at the outdoor amphitheater. Or, head down Mayfield Road to scope the history and architectural glory that is Lake View Cemetery.
With one of the best patios in the city, French restaurant L’Albatros Brasserie is a must for lunch. Order up a fantastic rosé while you nosh on pate, fromage and their elegant pizzas, or a heartier meal like cassoulet or duck confit.
Leave your faux-French Riviera for the glistening waterfront along Lake Erie. Take a short drive down to Great Lakes Watersports by Music Box Supper Club in The Flats to rent a kayak or pontoon boat for a unique way to experience Lake Erie and the Cuyahoga River (and scope some serious skyline views of the city, too).
Trust us, we're going to keep this dinner a little lighter for a reason. Head to Herb'n Twine in the Lorain Avenue Historic District for one of the most inventive, flavorful sandwiches you'll find anywhere, or head across the street to the Seti's Polish Boys truck and try one of Cleveland's signature eats.
What summer evening would be complete without ice cream? So, hightail it over to Mason’s Creamery for a scoop (or three) of their house-made goodness. Choose from the standards or opt to go outside the box with one of their more innovative flavors, such as taro or Thai iced tea. Don’t skip the waffle cone! (See why we went with sammies for dinner?)
If you think shuffleboard can’t be considered a competitive sport, you’d be dead wrong. At Forest City Shuffleboard, located a short walk back to Lorain Avenue, the game becomes an alfresco team sport when the garage doors open and jovial competitors head to the indoor and outdoor deck courts for a night out. This is Cleveland, so naturally the whole thing is fueled by craft beer and cocktails. And for that, you’re welcome.
NOTE: Our itineraries are created by authors who absolutely adore Cleveland. For those scheduling travel plans throughout Cleveland, be sure to check hours and availability at these recommended locations. After all, we don’t want you to miss a minute of the fun.