Posted by: rkurzweil | 06/15/2010

Cleveland, OH

I recently came back from a trip to Cleveland, OH. I know what you are thinking. Why Cleveland? I got asked that question a lot. It’s hard for the city to recover from its “mistake on the lake” reputation. My reason for going was primarily to visit a good friend of mine that I had not seen in years, and to go to what many consider the best roller coaster theme park in the country – Cedar Point. Anything else would be a bonus.

I have to say that with one exception (I got a ticket from a very surly officer), I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Cleveland. It is actually a very pretty city set on Lake Erie. And it has a lot to offer. Sure – it is not New York or LA, but that does not mean it should be overlooked.

Of course, as this was my main goal, the first thing my friend and I did was to go to Cedar Point. This is a little over an hour west of Cleveland, in a town called Sandusky. It did not disappoint. The roller coasters were incredible. We also lucked out on the weather – it was comfortably in the low 70’s and overcast. So we were not baked in the sun. We also did not encounter long lines (a big plus). The longest we waited for a ride was about 30 minutes. But most of the time, we waited 10 minutes or less. Two of the coasters in particular were amazing – the Millennium Force and the Magnum XL200. They both have drops upwards of 200 feet and travel over 60 mph. What a rush!!!

Millennium Force @ Cedar Point

After a long day at the park, my friend and I went to a quiet dinner at a place called Aladdin’s Eatery. The food was so good. They have an extensive menu of Middle Eastern food (mainly Lebanese). We liked it so much, we went back later in the week.

The next day was supposed to be stormy all day. Thankfully, the weather forecast was (as usual) completely wrong. It was sunny and clear and about 70 degrees. Just spectacular weather! We decided to go to the Cleveland Botanical Gardens. Since I am a member of the Wildflower Center in Austin, I was able to get us in for free. The normal admission is $8.50 a person. It is definitely worth it. The first thing you do is go through a series of glasshouses. They are filled with great vegetation and plants, but more importantly, they are teeming with butterflies. There were dozens and dozens of them flying around us. We sat in there for about an hour enjoying the show.


We then walked around the rest of the gardens. It was so peaceful and relaxing. It is not a huge garden, but it is very easy to get around and has some very nice areas (Japanese Garden, herb garden, rose garden, etc.) I think it is worth your time if you are into flora and fauna.

Next, we went across the street to the Cleveland Museum of Art. This is a HUGE museum that has apparently been undergoing renovations for some time (which are due to continue into 2012). You have to walk around a lot of closed off areas to get to the exhibits that are open. But again, it was worth the time – especially since there is no charge for this museum. There were great works from the Old Masters going from the early 20th century back to the 17th century. My favorite was a small section of cubist paintings and a section on American Impressionists. There was a painting of Fifth Avenue that was so cool. I loved it!

Fifth Avenue - Childe Hassam (American Impressionism)

The Red Kerchief - Claude Monet

The area that the Museum and Botanical Gardens are in is called University Circle. Case Western Reserve is in the middle of it. We walked around a little bit of the campus. It was also quite beautiful. Nearby is a place called the Glidden House. It was the home of the founder of Glidden Paints and was built in 1910. It is now a beautiful hotel. Not a lot to actually see, but the building itself is quite lovely.

On another day, we visited the Lakeview Cemetery. I know – very macabre. But actually, many cemeteries are quite interesting to visit. This one has a monument to President Garfield, as well as his tomb. The monument towers over the surrounding areas. You can walk through it and see the beautiful mosaic domes and mosaic marble floors. The crypt is below and there is a statue of the President right as you enter.

Garfield Monument

Also in the cemetery is the Wade Chapel, which was designed and built by Louis Comfort Tiffany. Of course it has a Tiffany Window, but it also has dual glass mosaics (on opposite walls of the chapel). The light fixtures and banisters are also quite stunning. It is a small chapel, but very beautiful.

As we were driving out of the cemetery, we passed the grave of Elliot Ness, the famous federal agent who brought down Al Capone.

We then decided to go downtown to get something to eat. We ate at the Terminal Tower. I don’t know if this is the tallest building in Cleveland, but it sure looks like it might be. The area around it is very clean and inviting. So many large cities have dirty downtowns. Not Cleveland. The Tower has a bunch of shops, a theater and many restaurants. Unfortunately, the shops were not terribly interesting. But the architecture is, including the train station that is inside (and I imagine gives the tower its name).

Nearby is the Old Stone Church. This congregation dates back to the early 1800’s, though the building is not that old. The current building was restored in 1884, after a devastating fire. I love the juxtaposition of this old church and the modern buildings around it.

Old Stone Church and Terminal Tower

Near the Church is a building called The Arcade. It is a Victorian indoor mall that dates from the end of the 19th century. It is beautiful. Again, the draw is the architecture, not the shopping. The place was empty – which is a real shame. It is a historical gem. It was one of the first large-scale indoor shopping centers in the United States.

The Arcade

We also walked around several interesting neighborhoods – Little Italy and Coventry. Both are filled with great restaurants and very interesting shops. Again, the weather was so nice, so it was great to just walk around.

I know that Cleveland is probably not high on anyone’s list of places to visit. But its reputation is not deserved. It is a beautiful city with lots of interesting things to do. The people are incredibly nice and friendly. If you find yourself nearby, do yourself a favor and explore it. I enjoyed it thoroughly.

To see some of my photos, click here.


  1. Interesting and well written. Makes me want to visit Cleveland, even though roller coasters and I don’t really get along all that well…

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