Cleveland, Ohio, has an abundance of famous attractions to lure visitors to the city. Between the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Cleveland Museum of Art and the popular sports venues, people have constant reasons to come from miles around. But, if you search a little deeper, you will find at least seven unexpected delights scattered throughout the city. Some would even call them quirky places that are intriguing to those who desire a more memorable experience.
1. The FREE Stamp nestled in Willard Park
Located only two blocks from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, one of the heaviest quirky discoveries to be found in downtown Cleveland is the world’s largest rubber stamp near the harbor in Willard Park. Designed by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, the red Free Stamp weighs 75000 pounds (34 t) and is 28 feet tall (8.53m) and 48 feet long (14.6m). The stamp is across from the Civil War Soldiers and Sailors Museum and was originally intended to stand upright, representing the freedom of slaves. After it was dismantled and spent several years in a warehouse, the stamp was reestablished in the park and repositioned on its side pointing toward the British Petroleum corporate offices. When the stamp was reinstalled, the city could not fund the process, but British Petroleum took on the expense. So, this is indeed a “free” attraction for visitors to Cleveland.
2. Colorful public art in Ohio City neighborhood
The Cleveland neighborhood of Ohio City has dozens of ethnic shops, cafes and coffeehouses that are popular with the locals. Among them are the iconic West Side Market and Cafe and Larder Delicatessen and Bakery. Between those two eateries and even meandering through the streets radiating from them, area artists have created enticing and whimsical works that add to the fun, multi-cultural vibe.
The project is under the direction of Cleveland Foundation’s Creative Fusion, Street Art Edition, and is primarily in the Hingetown section of Ohio City. The long-range plan will include both painted and photographic murals as well as sculptures.
Some of the more striking examples already on display include a flying tiger with three eyes and a large slice of pizza with melted cheese. You will happily get in your daily exercise while looking for all of the others.
3. Dittrick Museum of Medical History on the campus of Case Western Reserve University
Focusing on women’s reproductive health, birth control and midwifery methods through the years, the Dittrick Museum of Medical History at Case Western Reserve University is filled with artifacts and images, some of them rather graphic. Other areas of medical history are also on display, such as surgical instruments, nursing uniforms, x-ray machines and an iron lung. The museum is most suitable for children over the age of 12.
Admission to the museum is free, and it is open to the public Monday through Saturday.
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4. The world's largest outdoor chandelier in the Playhouse Square
Playhouse Square is among the largest performing arts centers in the United States. It boasts five theaters dating back to the 1920s and a calendar of 1000 events each year. Holding court in the middle of the main Playhouse Square intersection is the GE Chandelier, said to be the world’s largest outdoor chandelier, hanging above East 14th Street. You will definitely want to take a selfie with that brilliant light fixture over your shoulder.
5. Severance Hall and Blossom Music Center
The Cleveland Orchestra is considered by many to be the top orchestra in the United States. Their major performance venue, Severance Hall, is an architectural masterpiece, and the orchestra’s summer venue, Blossom Music Center in Cuyahoga Falls, draws thousands for the popular outdoor concerts.
Do yourself a favor and schedule a tour of Severance Hall or better yet, plan to attend a performance. Their Fridays@7 series feature hour-long concerts and are great for those who think they aren’t fans of live, orchestral music. This Cleveland Orchestra is guaranteed to captivate audiences with its sound and skill and make lots of new fans in the process.
6. Lake View Cemetery, Wade Chapel and a memorial to a United States President
Lake View Cemetery, at 12316 Euclid Avenue, is on the east side of the city. Since its founding in 1869, hundreds of notable Cleveland citizens have been laid to rest at Lake View. Two particular points of interest on the grounds, however, are the Wade Memorial Chapel and the Garfield Memorial.
Wade Memorial Chapel was named for Jeptha Wade who founded The Western Union Telegraph Company. The stunning interior was designed entirely by Louis Comfort Tiffany and his studios, known internationally for stained glass.
James A. Garfield Memorial is the place where the 20th President of the United States is buried. Symbolic panels, life size sculptures and stained glass window panes depict important events in Garfield’s life, and the staff on hand will gladly provide more information.
This cemetery is a fascinating attraction for history lovers.
7. Eateries drenched in local flavor
Grumpy’s Cafe at 2621 West 14th Street in the Tremont section of town is the place voted to have the Best Breakfast in Cleveland, but in addition to breakfast, Grumpy’s serves weekend brunch, weekday lunch and dinner on Friday and Saturday evenings. Early in the day, diners will find a generous assortment of omelets, pancakes, French toast, benedicts and traditional breakfast favorites. For lunch and dinner, the choices range from sandwiches and salads to full meat and vegetable plates, burgers and bowls. Grumpy’s knows its clientele, so expect a full house when you visit.
Larder, a Curated Delicatessen, can be found at 1455 West 59th Street in the Ohio City area. The building it inhabits served as the Ohio City Fire Station for almost 125 years. The menu touts fare that is “highly seasonal” and incorporates the best of fresh ingredients to be found in NE Ohio. In addition to other sandwiches, there is a daily wurst, the chef’s selection of homemade sausages. The fresh rye, challah and chocolate babka breads will have you salivating from the smells, even before you taste them.
West Side Market Cafe, at 1979 West 25th Street, serves breakfast, brunch and lunch seven days a week and stays open until 6:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. It is hard to say which is more important, the cafe or the large, ethnic market, but it is easy to say that both are extremely popular and will give you a glimpse into the diversity of Cleveland’s heritage and people. The Market has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1973, and in 2008, it made the list of “10 Great Public Places in America.” West Side Market Cafe would be a good choice if you want to try pierogis for the first time, but the menu has other delicious choices for sampling regional cuisine.
Sports, rock music legends and way beyond
Cleveland’s sports teams may keep the city in the news, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame lures thousands every year, but there is so much more to enjoy in this remarkable city. Neighborhood eateries provide glimpses of life and culinary preferences of Clevelanders, but there are museums and numerous other cultural offerings that are exceptional in their quality. Cleveland will surprise you with its diversity and attractions to please interests of all kinds.
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