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Cleveland, Ohio Travel Guide

Food, Art, and History of Cleveland

Severance Hall, home of the Cleveland Orchestra
Severance Hall, home of the Cleveland Orchestra


Dining in Little Italy
Dining in Little Italy

After a long day spent exploring Cleveland's downtown, today the focus is on the East Side, beginning with the city's own Little Italy. Early mornings here are a dieter's nightmare, as the aroma of freshly baked goods fills the air. It's also where Clevelanders, both young and old, congregate at sidewalk tables to sip espresso. For an early morning treat, both Corbo's Bakery and Presti's Bakery on Mayfield Road offer a delectable assortment of pastries, cookies, cakes and other desserts. Mind you, there's a quick fix that will help burn off some of those early-morning calories; the neighborhood is also home to one of the city's largest concentrations of local galleries, which are all in walking distance. Stop in to see the colorful paintings and sculptures at the Brian Jones Festivo Gallery, or the international and local blend of eclectic artwork at the Pennello Gallery. Fashion mavens will want to stop by Anne Van Hauwaert Design boutique, located in an old schoolhouse complex.

If you choose to stick around Little Italy for dinner, Michaelangelo's is a gem located in a diminutive former farmhouse. There, chef Michael Annandono, who trained in Piedmont, offers a tempting menu highlighting the rustic, beautiful simplicity of northern Italian cuisine in a casually elegant dining room.

For some fine art, Little Italy is minutes from University Circle, where you will find the Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Cleveland Botanical Garden and Severance Hall, home of the Cleveland Orchestra. All four sites are in walking distance from each other.

Cleveland Botanical Garden
Cleveland Botanical Garden

Although it may sound morbid, the nearby Lakeview Cemetery is a great place to visit. Minutes from Little Italy—originally, Italian immigrants settled in the area as stonemasons to help build the cemetery—Lakeview is a delight for historians, architects and horticulturalists. Founded in 1869, the cemetery occupies a sprawling 285 acres, and is modeled after the grand garden cemeteries of France and Victorian England. Check with the front office when you arrive, as there are many guided tours and literature available, which tell the stories and identify the locations of many of the cemetery's famous residents, such as president James Abram Garfield, John Davison Rockefeller and Elliot Ness. Unlike at most cemeteries, guests are encouraged to explore the grounds.

Less than one mile from the cemetery is Coventry Village, long known as among the city's most eclectic and vibrant neighborhoods. Here you'll find great spots for lunch, including Mint Café, serving authentic, inexpensive and delicious Thai cuisine, and Tommy's, a Coventry institution, offering plenty of healthy dishes for vegetarians and carnivores alike. After lunch, its time to explore the jumble of eclectic stores and restaurants that will entertain even the most reluctant of browsers. Unlike many shopping districts, this one caters equally to the interests of both sexes, from antiques to hipster clothing boutiques to booksellers to a fabulously old-school hardware store. Start by indulging your inner child and browse the goods at Big Fun, which specializes in toys, games and other childhood knickknacks from bygone eras. Bookworms will enjoy paging through the myriad tomes at Mac's Backs Paperbacks. Venture across the street and to City Buddha. Owner Larry Collins winters every year in Indonesia, where he and his wife discover and design most of the items in this incense-scented store. Not to be missed is the enormous selection of affordable accessories.

Shoppers in search of some chic new duds, will want to stop by Brigade, a sleek, space devoted entirely to fashion-insider labels, American Apparel, The Above Boutique and Heart & Sole, a boutique that offers the latest in sneakers and graphic T-shirts.

For a night out in the area, Coventry is home to the Grog Shop, which hosts many of today's top independent artists, and B-Side Liquor Lounge, the place where hipsters dance to the stylings of influential DJs from across the globe. If you're in the mood for a more low-key evening, La Cave du Vin is an underground oasis with more than 500 wines by the bottle, 70 by the glass, and close to 200 beers available. If the task of choosing the right libation for your tastes seems too daunting, the staff is well versed, and more than happy to help guide you.

Cleveland Museum of Art

A five-minute drive east of Coventry will take you to historic Shaker Square. If you can avoid the temptation of eating in Little Italy, Shaker Square, despite its relatively small size, is home to a wealth of dining options. A five-minute drive east of Coventry will take you to historic Shaker Square. If you can avoid the temptation of eating in Little Italy, Shaker Square, despite its relatively small size, is home to a wealth of dining options. Sample through chef Douglas Katz’s menu of simple, seasonal foods, innovatively presented using the best quality ingredients at Fire Food & Drink or enjoy tapas-style dining at Sasa, replicating the popular izakaya eateries of Japan.

After dinner, the Cedar-Lee neighborhood, only a few miles from Shaker Square, offers additional entertainment options. The Cedar-Lee Theatre is one of the few remaining independent cinemas in town, highlighting international and lesser-known films. During the summer, visitors also may be able to catch a show at Cain Park, an outdoor concert and theater venue, located in the center of a sprawling park complex.

Continue to Day 3


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The skyline of Cleveland, Ohio

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* Severance hall image by Roger Mastroianni / (c) Roger Mastroianni / courtesy of; other images courtesy of

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