Want to make the coldest days in Cleveland some of the coolest (see what we did there)? Here in Cleveland, wintertime is basically an excuse to get fully immersed in arts and culture, tip back some warm drinks and build a snowman or two. So get those layers on, grab some hot cocoa and let's go.
Breakfast Start your morning in artsy Tremont with morning vibes from Loop Cafe. This coffee shop is smaller — but for good reason. It is one part coffee shop, one part (mostly indie) record shop and one part art gallery, three of Cleveland’s favorite things. And, if vinyl shop hopping is your thing, then check out some of these locations.
Morning: Sledding on a tiny plastic shield down a steep hill not really your thing? We agree. Let us recommend something exponentially better: tobogganing. We’re talking legit tobogganing down a bona fide toboggan chute. To be clear, that’s a 700-foot tobogganing chute that’ll have you going down at hill at speeds of up to 50 miles per hour (but who’s counting). It happens throughout the winter at the Chalet in the Cleveland Metroparks Mill Stream Run Reservation.
Lunch: Cleveland’s own “Iron Chef” Michael Symon has a slew of incredible restaurants in Cleveland. The most approachable of his repertoire are his B spot restaurants, which feature Symon’s signature burgers, bologna, brats, beer and bourbon. All the good things in life.
Afternoon: Get to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park’s Winter Sports Center at the Kendall Lake Shelter and you’ll be able to rent snowshoes and cross-country skis, as well as take workshops and learn about specialty trails.
Or, if you’re looking for something that packs a little more adrenaline, the snow calls skiers to Boston Mills & Brandywine where you can ski, snowboard and snow tube on 18 trails. The two next-door resorts in the Akron area feature lifts, rental equipment and lodges to keep warm.
Dinner: LockKeepers is the dining equivalent of your favorite winter scarf that takes the bite out of winter. Head south to this spacious Valley View eatery for a glass of vino and a piping-hot bowl of pasta while you watch the snow gracefully coat the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.
Evening: Clevelanders really love this one, so we promise you will, too. When it’s too cold outside, catch a show at Playhouse Square. It’s the second largest theater district outside of New York City, which doesn’t really doesn't hit you until you’re actually standing there scoping all the theatres and dozens of shows happening within mere steps of each other. Whether you’re into standup comedy, Broadway musicals or touring concerts, it’s a great way to spend the night in CLE.
Late Night: Return to the glam days of underground barhopping at Society Lounge, when an evening of drinks was an event in and of itself. Enjoy this speakeasy’s snug décor and extensive cocktail selection — all of which focus on those little details. From the Moscow Mules served in copper cups to the ice cubes in their Old Fashioned, Don Draper would be seriously jealous.
Image Courtesy Cleveland Monsters
Breakfast: Winter in Cleveland isn’t too bad when you’ve got a big, hot mug of something delicious in your hand. Stop by Erie Island Coffee Company on East 4th Street in Downtown Cleveland for the best hot chocolate (and coffee) in The Land. Erie Island can personalize each hot chocolate to your unique preferences and diet needs. And, if java is your thing, Cleveland’s got plenty of shops with your name on them. Check ‘em out here .
Morning: Four floors filled with contemporary art from around the world, surrounded by rimex steel panels inside one of the most architecturally satisfying buildings in the country will quickly erase any winter blues. Take a stroll at MOCA Cleveland for appreciation of, and inspiration from, art without limits. Did we mention it's free?
Lunch: You can’t come to Cleveland without a visit to Melt Bar & Grilled, where they make magic happen between two slices of bread with the enchantment of cheese. Stop by any of their ten locations across The Land and you'll quickly understand how this concept went from a little hole-in-the-wall to a nationally recognized eatery featured on The Food Network and The Travel Channel in just a few years.
Afternoon: University Circle isn’t afraid to embrace its inner "Old Man Winter." In fact, centrally located in Wade Oval park during the wintertime, you’ll find the Rink at Wade Oval. This unique polymer-surfaced ice skating rink attracts tens of thousands of visitors ever year. Skate, hold hands with your plus one, share a hot chocolate and maybe even scope a museum or two afterwards.
Late Afternoon: Need a little vacation from reality? Head over to the Cleveland Botanical Garden where you can spend some time inside the indoor glasshouses, which mimic the environments (and temperatures) of a Madagascar spiny desert or a Costa Rican rainforest.
Dinner: Complete with seven rooms available for overnight accommodations, the historic Washington Place Bistro & Inn is a hidden gem in the Little Italy neighborhood. Perhaps a little surprising for where it’s located, Washington Place serves up an American-style menu packed with upscale comfort foods along with a wine list that’s likely to impress your date. What makes it great for wintertime? The cozy restaurant is inside a restored brownstone, so it just feels like home.
Evening: A night out at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse to watch the Cleveland Monsters is actually quite a fete — especially considering the team is actually pretty good. A primary affiliate of the Columbus Blue Jackets in the American Hockey League (AHL), the Monsters are one of the most popular minor league hockey teams in the country. They draw everyone from night-on-the-town hipsters, to families with swaths of kids and even some hockey-loving blue hairs.
Late Night: Grab a game board, order a beer and let the snow fall. The Side Quest in Lakewood is a great place to let winter pass while you’re busy having fun. Self described as a place that “focuses on all things geek, nerd and pop culture,” The Side Quest is the ultimate come-as-you-are destination. After all, a place that has Mario Mondays, YouTube Bingo and Free Comic Book Day is why this place is a huge Cleveland favorite.