Today’s travel guide was written by Paul Hoehn ’14 for last year’s Reading Days. It was just so super we had to bring it back.
You may know it as the “mistake on the lake,” but the real mistake would be not visiting Cleveland sometime during your four years at Kenyon. Sure, It’s become known for its struggling economy and that time the Cuyahoga River caught on fire (come on people, that was like forty years ago!), but Cleveland has a lot to offer. It’s only an hour farther away than Columbus and certainly worth the cost of the extra gas. Reading days provides the perfect opportunity for you to branch out from your usual Columbus/Easton day trips and explore this glistening metropolis to our north.
For many tourists, Cleveland’s list of attractions begins and ends with The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. While the admission is pretty steep ($22), it’s definitely worth visiting at least once, if only to realize how small all of your favorite rock stars must have been to fit into those outfits. For an experience that is a little more quintessentially Cleveland, head over to The West Side Market. I once told my parents never to take me there ever again, but I was five years old and had probably just walked through the back alley where they throw the rotting vegetables. Traumatic memories aside, the market has a huge variety of stands carrying everything from fresh produce to fully prepared meals. For more local flavor, check out Coventry, a neighborhood in Cleveland Heights full of locally-owned shops and restaurants. As liberal arts students, I know that none of you would feel fulfilled without a stop at one of Cleveland’s many museums. Luckily, nearly all of these cultural institutions are located in an area known as University Circle. Although we also have a natural history museum and botanical gardens nearby, the real cultural gem is the The Cleveland Museum of Art. I’m pretty sure it’s, like, a really big deal. At least someone in Harriet the Spy thought it was. The museum is undergoing massive expansions and will not fully reopen until 2012. However, many of the museum’s galleries are still open, including an incredible contemporary collection and the ever-popular armor gallery. The best part of the museum? Admission is free.
If all this sightseeing has you working up an appetite, don’t worry. Cleveland’s got your back. Little Italy is just a short walk down Mayfield Road from University Circle. You’ll know you’re headed in the right direction when you pass under a bridge that is home to a perpetual mud puddle and emerge surrounded by murals. If you’re driving, Trattoria Roman Gardens is a good choice because it has a parking lot. Otherwise, you really can’t go wrong wandering into whichever restaurant seems most appealing. Wherever you end up eating, be sure to grab some cannoli at Presti’s Bakery for dessert. If Italian food isn’t your thing, try Melt Bar and Grilled. With locations on both the East and West Sides, this restaurant’s gourmet grilled cheese creations are a godsend for those of us struggling to adjust to the new papers at the Panini press at Peirce.
So, like, go to Columbus if you really want to. It’s fine. But never forget, New York may be the big apple (and Columbus may be the state capital), but Cleveland’s a plum.