When people ask me where I'm from and they actually mean what city and state as opposed to my nationality, my response is sometimes met with "Oh, I'm sorry." Despite the rudeness of that condescending sympathy, I usually smile and say, "Well, I'm not. I'm glad that I was raised in an environment consisting of fresh air, peace and quiet, friendly people, a favorable cost of living, and grass." I must admit that most of my adult life was spent outside of Cleveland. I had to move for employment and educational reasons, as did most of my friends from high school. However, I'm glad to hear that Cleveland is on the up and up, and that the brain drain seems to be slowing down. For example, the starving artists who have been priced out of Brooklyn, NY are now moving to Cleveland, which has a burgeoning art scene. Also, there has been an influx of investments in tech startups and movies being filmed in Cleveland, including the Fast and the Furious 8. When I visit my parents, I barely recognize the once dead after 5pm and unsafe downtown, which now has a casino, a fancy grocery store housed in a historic building, a number of new shops and restaurants, and a growing number of tourists. My dad told me a story about a shop owner who had a restaurant downtown in the 80's and early 90's, which was robbed so frequently that he sold it. Then less than a year later, the city broke ground on the Cleveland Indians stadium across the street from his old restaurant...
A lot has changed in Cleveland, but there are still some things that have stayed the same. Below I will outline some of my favorite things to do in my hometown.
In high school, I frequented Coventry Road, which has cool alternative stores such as Passport to Peru, Big Fun, Marc's, and a few bong and smoking pipe shops...for all of your "tobacco" smoking needs, and the Inn On Coventry is a great place to get brunch. Marc's is the best thing known to man. It's a local chain grocery store that sells name brand items, but significantly discounted. The only downside to shopping at Marc's is that they only accept checks, cash or Discover cards. I rarely carry cash, never carry my checkbook, and only have a Visa card. Coventry is located in Cleveland Hts., which is where I attended high school, and the area around my alma mater has some of the most beautiful and majestic homes I've ever seen. I recommend driving or taking a jog around the Shaker Lakes Park area, the scenery is gorgeous and the homes are magnificent.
Any Cleveland travel guide is incomplete without mentioning Slyman's Deli and The Westside Market. Slyman's has THE BEST CORNED BEEF I'VE EVER HAD! I've been to Katz in NYC and many other deli's across the nation, and I've only been impressed by one deli located in Miami. I now refuse to order corned beef anywhere else because I know that I will be disappointed. It can be 0 degrees outside and there will still be a line out of the door because Slyman's is just that good. So here's a little insider knowledge: you can order a box of corned beef shavings to go, which is cheaper than ordering a sandwich. But note that they have limited quantities, so get there early. The Westside Market, which opened in 1840, is a Cleveland staple and landmark. You can get fresh produce, cheeses, meats, desserts (including a great selection of cannolis in a variety of flavors), fudge, coffee, pastas, etc. The area around the Westside Market used to be really sketchy (still is a little bit) but I've noticed some new upmarket restaurants and businesses.
Stay tuned! Next, I will cover some quaint towns outside of Cleveland, vintage shopping and eateries, and fantastic ethnic restaurants. So now I will leave you with this classic Cleveland spoof...I'll admit some parts are true, but things are changing for the better.
Slyman's corned beef always makes me smile!