From indie galleries stacked with handmade wares to the grandiose historic institutions curating the classics, Cleveland is a city centered around the arts. So, if you're the type of person who wants to see the French impressionist art of Monet or the experimental style of Mark Mothersbaugh, we've got a two-day itinerary with your name written all over it.
Breakfast: Start the day off with a hearty breakfast at Yours Truly, Cleveland's favorite family of local diners. After 40 years of filling our bellies with “Breakfast All Day,” Playhouse Square’s Yours Truly keeps it fresh with homemade Nitro cold brew as well as classics like Notso Fries and their stick-to-your-ribs Killit Skillet.
Morning: A short bike ride or Uber ride brings you to the Cleveland Museum of Art (CMA), which features more than 61,000 pieces of art spanning 6,000 years. This historic institution is home to one of the last Rodin-supervised casts of "The Thinker," as well as one of Monet's "Water Lilies." The best part about the CMA? Admission to its permanent collection is always free.
Lunch: No need to venture too far for lunch. The Cleveland Museum of Art has its own restaurant, Provenance. The upscale menu offerings from celebrated chef Douglas Katz often reflect the art on display within the museum. For instance, during a traveling exhibition featuring Monet, the restaurant developed a special menu that showcased the artist's love of painting gardens with edible flowers and herbs, as well as a lemon lavender cake.
Early Afternoon: TThe Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland (MOCA) anchors the Uptown area of University Circle in its stunning onyx building. It's a non-collecting institution, which means they're always showcasing something new in the contemporary art world. In the past, the museum has featured the works of Andy Warhol, Jim Hodges and Claes Oldenburg. Daily admission is always free.
Late Afternoon: Reinberger Gallery, located at the Cleveland Institute of Art, supports professional artists while also serving the students and faculty as an educational resource. It's inside these galleries that you'll uncover some inspiration from the newer voices in the art world – through multimedia, multisensory work – that tests boundaries and questions reality.
Dinner: After a full day of exploring, reward yourself with dinner at Tommy's. Set in Cleveland Heights’ hip Coventry neighborhood, Tommy’s is a neighborhood staple known for good grub and one mean milkshake. (Rolling Stone said so.) The menu aims to please both carnivores and vegans/vegetarians with a wide array of selections – from falafel to wraps to meat pies.
Evening: Add a little oomph to your night with a visit to the art galleries along Waterloo in the up-and-coming Waterloo Arts District on Cleveland's east side, Waterloo Arts Gallery and Waterloo 7 Studio/Gallery. This unique part of town is an indie hotspot, boasting not only art but also an iconic music club, vinyl record shopping, vintage threads, and cool little eateries along the corridor.
Breakfast: Our second day takes us to the west side of Cleveland. Get the day going on the right foot with a big plate of corned beef hash or a huge stack of pancakes from Grumpy's Cafe in Tremont. Also, if any of the art on the wall tickles your fancy, feel free to inquire about making it your own.
Morning: Take a break from the big arts institutions with a jaunt through Tremont's art galleries. Known as ground zero for Cleveland's indie arts scene, this place has dozens of little galleries popping up in between restaurants and homes, like Calicchia Studio and Doubting Thomas Gallery. One of the best times to visit is during Walkabout Tremont, an art walk held the second Friday of every month.
Lunch: Take a five-minute drive to Ohio City's Hingetown for lunch at Saucy Brew Works. Devour a New Haven- or Saucy-style pizza for lunch along with one (or a whole flight!) of their brewed-on-site craft beers.
Afternoon: Walk about a block to find Transformer Station, a contemporary art and photography museum with frequently rotating exhibits. Inside, you'll often find thought-provoking photography exhibits as well as contemporary art that's been curated through the Cleveland Museum of Art. The building itself was transformed from an electrical substation into an intriguing, curated setting. And, good news, admission is absolutely free.
Across the street,you'll come eye-to-eye with SPACES, a contemporary art gallery in what was once the Van Rooy Coffee Building. SPACES has three ever-evolving exhibit programs that all feature new work from artists each season. The gallery focuses on artists who explore and experiment – so expect to experience some really mind-bending art.
Head a little farther west and experience ARTneo, a facility that aims to preserve, research, collect and exhibit significant visual art of the Northeast Ohio region. Inside you might find anything from an individual artist's painting collection to a rotating exhibition of paintings, prints and sculptures from various artists.
Evening: A quick ride up the street brings you to 78th Street Studios – home to four floors of art galleries, creative spaces and recording studios. Located inside a former automobile manufacturing building, this isn't some fancied-up art space. Instead it's an incredible place to immerse yourself in our indie art scene. Visit on the third Friday of each month for a specialty art event with food, drinks and lots of small businesses.
Dinner: Wind down from the long day with one of the many fine brews at Market Garden Brewery & Distillery, like the popular Prosperity Wheat or Citramax IPA. The food is as beloved as their beer menu, made with locally sourced ingredients. Start with one of their famed Scotch Eggs, then move on to the Smash Burger, a Cleveland-style pan pizza or one of their featured entrees.