An Incomplete and Highly Autobiographical List of Cleveland Recommendations
I was born and raised in Cleveland, living there until I moved to Lawrence, Kansas five years ago. Many of my best and silliest memories are in Cleveland and its surrounding environs, so I will try to distill that into about 500 words of what to do in your free time around Heartland Fall Forum. I’m not including bookstores because I already know all of you will find a way to visit the Forest City’s incredible practitioners of our trade. There are so many more things that I can’t include (the right kind of writer can talk about his hometown forever) so come find me at Heartland and I can give you a personalized prescription.
Hyatt Regency at the Arcade
I got married in this hotel, which is now the Heartland overflow hotel. If you’re not staying there it’s worth a walk down Euclid to see the majestic 100-foot glass ceilings of the world’s most glamorous shopping mall. It’s not super vibrant on the retail or food court front these days, but this is a spot for an absolutely ace Cleveland selfie.
The West Side Market
When I was a grad student and actually had free time during the week, I’d go to the West Side Market on Wednesday or Friday mornings and pig out. This huge brick temple to food (all of my favorite places in Cleveland have high and dramatic ceilings) is a pilgrimage for anyone who likes to eat. There are many culinary wonders in here, but I wouldn’t miss the Beef Jerky at JJ Meats, the Falafel at Maha, and the pierogies at the Pierogi Palace. Yes, Cleveland has a Pierogi Palace. Can’t you see why I love this town? As it turns out, we took a few engagement pictures at West Side Market, one of which features us blissfully looking at some fish.
Great Lakes Brewing Company
I miss this beer often. They don’t distribute to Kansas. The Christmas Ale at GLBC has a following that can only be called religious, and I make sure to pack a bunch in my suitcase every time I visit during its season. I don’t think it’s out yet, but that’s not to say the other offerings aren’t delicious. The food is good, too. This place has been around forever, and they know what they’re doing. I watched the US Women’s Soccer Team win a world cup in the basement here.
Cleveland Museum of Art
This is a bit of a hike from downtown but if you can swing it, it’s totally worth it. The collection is stellar and the building is gorgeous. Plus, it’s free. There’s a Monet water lilies painting here that’s part of a triptych alongside one at Kansas City’s art museum. The poet and narrative fan in me loved this resonance when I moved from Cleveland to Kansas. Also, yes, the main atrium has an absolutely bonkers ceiling.
Michael Symon, Cleveland celebrity chef, opened a “Cleveland-style” BBQ restaurant on E 4th Street, a pedestrian mall with several bars and restaurants, many of which are good. One thing I learned after I moved to Kansas is how fun it is to argue about BBQ. So go to Mabel’s and have a spirited debate over whether “Cleveland-style” BBQ is even a thing.
There’s a strong chance the Cleveland Indians will be playing the AL Wild Card game on October 2nd, the first night of Heartland. It very well may be at Progressive Field, an absolute gem of a ballpark a few blocks from the Renaissance. If they win this game they’ll play game 1 of the ALDS Friday October 4th, the last night of Heartland. This may also be in Cleveland. It could be an interesting time to be downtown if they win. If they lose, you’ll experience the very VERY Clevelandish feeling of being disappointed in our sports teams, which has happened to me at both of the Heartland Fall Forums I’ve attended so far. It’ll only be a bit more intense this year.