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In Cleveland, we’ve got world-class experiences without the world-class ego. And for that, you’re welcome.
World-class experiences without the world-class ego.
Here in Cleveland, we’ve got beef cheek in our pierogi, truffles on our hot dogs and beer in our donuts. Balance.
Whether you’re into the thread count of your linens or just a place to crash for the night, we’ve got a hotel room with your name all over it.
You know those places only the locals know? Let our experts help you find them with free maps, itineraries and insider tips.
History hasn't always been easy on us. But pressure can create diamonds. Come check out our gems.
Forget “you get what you pay for” — we want great experiences, but we’re often strapped for cash (student loans + bills = womp womp). We certainly don’t want to skimp on romantic weekends, but we’ve got to treat bae and your bank account with tender love and care. Good news: as one of America’s favorite affordable getaways, Cleveland has a ton of things to do that are free or budget-friendly.
Here’s how to do it …
Image © Cody York
Start the day right by fueling up on excellent, inexpensive and inclusive diner food at Tommy's in Coventry, where they do right by customers who are vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free and meat-eaters alike. It also happens to have an adorable aesthetic. Scope local art and keep an eye out for famous diners (there have been a lot, including Alicia Keys, Ellen DeGeneres and Danny DeVito). Might we suggest you grab one of their legendary milkshakes...with two straws? Because, love.
Cash factor: Breakfast and a beverage will run you less than $10 per person.
Head east for a quiet morning at Lake View Cemetery. Take a date to a graveyard, you ask? Yeah, sounds like a romance-killer (so to speak), but it’s actually an amazingly beautiful 285-acre park, perfect for hand-in-hand strolls. Even better, there are opportunities abound to show off your smarts and impress your date with historical references as you visit the final resting places of President Garfield, John D. Rockefeller, Garrett Morgan and Eliot Ness.
Cash factor: As they say, you can’t take it with you. So, we see no need for it here, either. It’s free.
Nearby University Circle is a hotbed for culture, attractions and education, so, naturally, it has plenty of brain food. Stop for lunch at The Jolly Scholar, where nearly everything on the (rather large) menu is under 10 bucks. If you happen to have one of our Cleveland Brewery Passports, you can get it stamped here.
Cash factor: Plan to spend $10 per person, plus a couple brews.
Art museums can sometimes be stuffy, expensive and unwelcoming. But the Cleveland Museum of Art is sooooo the opposite of all of those things. A huge, enclosed atrium welcomes you to a permanent collection filled with more than 45,000 works of art spanning 6,000 years, including Monet’s famous lily pad oils, ancient hot-bod Grecian statues, and 100 very vivid images of Marilyn Monroe thanks to Andy Warhol. You’ll find kids and hipsters mixed with professionals and octogenarians here — all types of people fall in love with this incredible, casual, renowned museum.
Cash factor: The permanent collection is completely free. Yes, that is rare indeed for one of the top art museums in the country.
Romantic Little Italy beckons with its authentic Italian vibe, bakeries, mom-and-pop shops and restaurants. Take a stroll along Murray Hill before dining at Guarino’s, a longtime Cleveland staple owned by a Sicilian family that preserves the tastes of the motherland. Bonus: free parking!
Cash factor: Everything is under $20, with most dishes running in the mid-teens.
Treat yourself to dessert at one (or two) of Little Italy’s delectable bakeries. Get into a lover’s quarrel over which is better: the cannolis at Corbo’s or the cassata cake at Presti’s.
Cash factor: Everything is a la carte and a couple bucks, so budget risk correlates to self-control. Good luck.
Time to let your hair down and go super casual. Hoopples is one of those places that captures the essence of a city. With a great skyline view of Cleveland and a friendly, rock ‘n’ roll vibe, you’ll feel right at home while downing some suds to round out your night.
Cash factor: For boozers on a budget, the drinks are nice and cheap.
West Side Market Cafe sits inside the beautiful, historic West Side Market (who'd've guessed?). Sunday brunch consists of a variety of ethnic options representative of the multicultural stalls inside the market itself — because that's where the ingredients come from, after all. Choose from huevos rancheros, Hungarian hash or Belgian waffles before taking a stroll down the aisles of the West Side Market. Not there on a Sunday? Breakfast is served Monday - Saturday until 11 a.m. and is just delish.
Cash factor: Less than $10 per person will get your day started right.
Did you know Cleveland has beaches? Yeah, really. Beautiful ones, too. Edgewater Park has one such beach where you can walk with your toes in the sand, listening to Lake Erie waves lap up on the rocks. Take a romantic walk along the coastline, sit under the swaying willow tree on the water’s edge and grab an ice cream cone or beverage at The Beach House in warmer months. Colder months offer a stunning, dramatic setting and an opportunity to cozy up with a warm blanket and a hot coffee to take in the mighty majesty of our lovely lake.
If you're looking to go a little more inland, get into the woods at one of the 17 other Cleveland Metroparks, where you can bike, hike, kayak, fish or birdwatch (if that’s your thing). During winter, you can handfeed chickadees at the Brecksville Reservation, take a thrilling toboggan ride at the Mill Stream Run Reservation and winter hike to Squires Castle.
Cash factor: Entrance to all parks is free.
How do we even describe Happy Dog? It’s like you’re a kid and you just want a hot dog. But, the adult in you says, “Wouldn’t it be cool if it had pimento cheese on it?” Then the kid in you pops back up and says, “How about Froot Loops on top instead?” And then the adult says, “OK whatever, but we’re also getting a beer.”
And that’s Happy Dog. Oh, plus arcade games and occasional live music. Take your date to this bar/happy place for a new twist on an old favorite, including 50 topping options. Pro tip: Good for vegans, too — they have delicious, animal-free menu items.
Cash factor: Plan on about $10-15 per person if you do it right. That'll get your tail wagging.
Cleveland is a great place to spot public art, including the lovey-dovey mural of two love birds on the Veteran’s Memorial bridge at Detroit and West 25th Street. Take a walk around the city to catch sight of the many, many pieces of street art including murals, sculptures and rotating installations.
Afterwards, head over the bridge to take advantage of the views from the Terminal Tower Observation Deck. At 42 stories above Public Square, it gives you a great excuse to cling to your sweetie while taking in the sights of Downtown Cleveland, the Cuyahoga River and the lake. It’s only open from noon - 4 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, so don’t miss your window.
Cash factor: Street art viewing is always free, and the Terminal Tower Observation Deck will set you back $5 apiece.
Don’t miss happy hour at Pier W in Lakewood, just west of Cleveland. Widely known as the Cleveland restaurant with the best views, this romantic gem has floor-to-ceiling windows and sits on a cliff above Lake Erie with a downtown skyline view to drool over. Regular menu prices can get up there, but the happy hour (4-6 p.m. Saturday, 4:30-6 p.m. Sunday) is insane, giving you and your plus-one the chance to try some incredible small plates, wine and cocktails at deep discounts. Pro tip: Get there early — happy hour is only served at the bar and is first-come, first-served. Another pro tip: Stop up on the rooftop patio for a great photo op.
Cash factor: You can get full (plus a drink) for $20 per person with strategic ordering.
Close out your Cleveland getaway with a funky, fun night of bowling at Mahall’s in Lakewood. It’s an all-the-way throwback bowling joint where you keep score by hand. Tasty bar food and live music complement the atmosphere for a totally welcoming, chill, fun date night that is oh-so-Cleveland. Matthew McConaughey even spent an evening here while in town filming a movie. Alright, alright, alright.
Cash factor: Bowling is $4, shoes are $2 and most of the food is under $10.