My Downtown Cleveland Neighborhood Guide will share my favorite things to do, places to eat, and of course the best photo ops. There is 9 districts or neighborhoods downtown but I am going to cover them the way I think of them as some areas just aren’t as interesting. Also, the districts are so nearby that sometimes it’s hard to tell which restaurant is in which district and so on.
The first stop on my Downtown Cleveland Neighborhood Guide is the Northcoast Harbor. Home of museums, sporting arenas, lakefront parks, and amazing city & lake views.
There’s not a lot of restaurants in this particular area, but you can enjoy Mexican food on the pier at Neuvo Modern Mexican & Tequila Bar.
Visit the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and immerse yourself in the coolest music history
Have fun at the Great Lakes Science Center with hands-on exhibits and an awesome dome theater
Hang out on the Steps of Voinovich Bicentennial Park and watch the lake
Catch a volleyball game on E9th pier
-Take a photo of the Cleveland Script Sign in front of the Rock Hall and Cleveland Skyscape
-Get amazing lake views from E9th Street Pier, bonus level visit during sunset
-Great lake views from the lawn of the Rock Hall
-Downtown Skyline from the Voinovich Bicentennial Park stairs
The Flats – East & West Bank
The Flats were once the epitome of downtown fun. While I was just in my early 20’s when The Flats lost its party scene luster, it’s recently seen a renaissance along with the rest of Cleveland. Back in the day, you’d see Old River Road on the East Bank of The Flats lined with people ready to party. There were nightclubs, music venues, and late-night dining establishments. You could take the water taxi across the crooked Cuyahoga River to the West Bank of The Flats for even more partying. I was told people would dock their boats along the river’s edge, and others would dock their boats to them, creating a chain of boats that extended the partying into the river.
These days, there’s a new section of the East Bank of the Flats that lays north of the Shoreway. Restaurants, entertainment, and a new, cleaned-up path along the river’s edge. There are also far more residential and office buildings and a hotel. The Flats still has some of the original party spirits, but it’s far tamer than it was in the ’90s and earlier. Definitely worth a mention on my Downtown Cleveland Neighborhood Guide.
Collision Bend Brewing Company brewery right on the river’s edge
27 Club Coffee popular coffee shop by local musician Machine Gun Kelly, with lots of pink and very Instagrammable scenes.
Lago East Bank Italian restaurant
Lindy’s Lake House coastal eats, riverside
Truman’s 216 burgers, fries, and other comfort foods
Beerhead Bar & Eatery so much beer – from 500 bottles and 40 on tap, something for everyone
-Have fun playing games at Punchbowl Social, from bowling, darts, billiards, foosball, and more.
-Take a dip, or dance the night away at FWD Nightclub, a nightclub with a pool on the river’s edge
-Play Bocce while enjoying a cool breeze from the river at Backyard Bocce
-Catch some live music at The Odeon concert club
-Walk along the river’s edge taking in the river views
-Have dinner and a show at Music Box Supper Club on the river’s edge of the West Bank
-Rock out to your favorite band playing with the river as a backdrop at Jacob’s Pavilion at Nautica (us locals still just call it Nautica)
-Go under the sea at the Greater Cleveland Aquarium
-Take a cruise on Lake Erie with the Nautica Queen and enjoy dinner as well
There are so many photo ops around this area. You’ve got incredible river views mixed with a lot of historic buildings and newer construction that looks great on Instagram.
-Photograph the bridges, there are so many bridges and they look so cool. From a distance for scale, but up close for the details. (P.S. See if you can find the Leif Erickson Viking Head bust on the West Bank near a bridge)
-The replica Guardian’s of Traffic located next to an office building on the west bank.
-If you hang out on the Superior Viaduct that goes over the flats, you can get some incredible ariel views.
-Capture the old architecture and hints of the past on Old River Road, East bank.
E4th Street Area
My Downtown Cleveland Neighborhood Guide would be incomplete if I didn’t include this popular street. One of the first areas of Downtown that started to revive itself in the East 4th Street area. While not necessarily a district, its popularity and uniqueness earn its own mention. Full of some of Cleveland’s best restaurants and entertainment, it’s the perfect street for a date night or fun night out with friends. I’ll include some of my favorite surrounding attractions, too.
Citizen Pie Roman Cafe for a yummy slice of pizza unique from all the other options out there
Butcher and the Brewer Communal dining with shared plates.
Society Lounge prohibition-era inspired speakeasy that’s not-so-hidden
Zocalo Tequileria yummy Mexican food in a uniquely decorated space
House of Blues New Orleans inspired dishes with a concert hall attached
Dinner & Bowling at The Corner Alley
Enjoy a comedy show at Hilarities when you’re craving a good laugh
Catch dinner and a show at The House of Blues for an evening of music and fun
Across the street where Euclid meets E4th, take a stroll around The Arcade, a most beautiful historic mall
-The street in general is the best photo op. Every direction, every part of the street has something great to photograph.
-Building details – there are some really unique architectural details all over this street.
-Nearby at The Arcade – it’s gorgeous inside.
The historic Gateway District is where you’ll find the baseball and basketball arenas as well as a castle and old cemetery. The restaurants are more geared to sports fan gatherings than fancy date nights or casual eats. This area also encompasses the East 4th Street area but I kept that separate as it has so much to it on its own.
The Clevelander Cleveland’s favorite sports bar
Whistle & Keg Brewery & Beer Hall
Thirsty Parrot Caribbean Cantina
re: bar a trendy downtown bar focused on art, music, and creativity
Barrio Tacos yummy, build your own tacos, bowls, and more.
Chocolate Bar some very unique deserts and entrees/
Cathy’s Gourmet Ice Cream Sandwiches yummy cookies with ice cream in between
Colossal Cupcakes get the cupcake milkshake and thank me later
Taco Bell Cantina it’s not the epitome of fine dining, but it is a novelty. You can get yourself a frozen slushie alcoholic beverage, too.
Wahlburgers Whose your favorite New Kid? Was it Donny? Mine was, and now he has a restaurant that my 10-year-old New Kids fanatic self would have definitely wanted to go to.
Progressive Field: Several local restaurants have food stands such as Melt, Barrio, Sweet Moses, Happy Dog, Momocho, Ohio City Burrito, Dynomite Burger, Great Lakes Brewing Co. to name a few.
Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse: Fahrenheit, Rocco’s, Symon’s Burger Joint, Launch Test Kitchen, Flour Pizza Co, Quaker Steak & Lube to name a few.
-Stroll through Erie Street Cemetery and get lost in history
-Catch a baseball game at Progressive Field (or, as the locals will forever call it, Jacob’s Field)
-Watch the Cavs play a game or catch a show at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse (or as the locals still call it “The Q”)
-Check out the historic Grays Armory, a castle-like armory in downtown Cleveland
-Photograph the history in Erie Street Cemetery and Grays Armory
-Lots of nice architecture and buildings in the area that would make great photographs
Known to be the largest theater district outside of NYC is our Playhouse Square. Home to ten theaters, many restaurants, and new living spaces, Playhouse Square is a fun place to visit for dinner and a show, or just to gawk at the largest outdoor chandelier in the United States. Visit the official Playhouse Square site for more info here.
-Catch a show at one of the ten theaters
-Enjoy dinner at one of the fancy restaurants
-Enjoy outdoor fun events (seasonally dependant)
-Admire the biggest outdoor chandelier in the US
-Gawk at the incredible beauty of the theaters’ interiors
-The biggest chandelier in the US makes for great photo ops
-The entire district looks amazing at night with all the lights on
–Playhouse Square vintage style sign above the buildings
Once known as the Financial District, this neighborhood now mixes cool, new residential areas and is a popular destination for food trucks. This area also includes some of Cleveland’s newest hotels and residential areas and one of the coolest grocery stores around town, a major to-do on my Downtown Cleveland Neighborhood Guide.
Bets part of the Schofield Hotel and some delicious food! They also have outdoor tent spaces for safe dining during the pandemic. I can’t wait till it feels safer to eat indoors as it looks so beautiful inside!
Azure part of The 9 hotel, Azure boasts amazing rooftop views for cocktails and light eats.
Adega a more upscale modern dining experience
Masthead Brewing spacious brewery just on the outskirts of the Ninetwelve district
-Visit the Heinen’s on Euclid & 9th – a local grocery chain built in the old Cleveland Trust building with an incredibly beautiful glass-enclosed rotunda. The most beautiful grocery store out there.
-Have a staycation at the new, stylish hotels The 9 or The Schofield
-Within short walking distance from Playhouse Square, E4th Street, North Coast Harbor
-Enjoy the green space at Perk Plaza
Read more about our Cleveland staycation at The Schofield here
-Marvel at the variety of architecture from NeoClassical, to Modernist, to Brutalist-style, and take photos
-Photograph your brunch as you eat it in a cute little tent at Bet’s
-Visit the downtown Heinen’s rotunda for an unforgettable grocery store experience (look up!)
Cleveland’s Public Square
This is where you’ll find Public Square in the heart of Downtown Cleveland, the Mall, an outdoor grassy space, the downtown branch of the Cleveland Library, and more.
Check out the huge list in the Gateway District which is nearby
Hang out in Public Square during the summer you can get some fun in the splash pool, or ice skate during winter when it’s transformed into a lighted wonderland.
Visit the Soldiers & Sailors monument
Chance your luck at Jack Casino built within a historic downtown building you might recognize from A Christmas Story
Head up to the Terminal Tower Observation Deck for incredible views that span all of Cleveland
Cleveland’s first neighborhood and also a National Historic Landmark is the Warehouse District. Originally a residential area then became more commercial after the Civil War, the Warehouse District spans 43 acres with over 70 buildings with some of the best Victorian-era architecture in the US. These days the Warehouse District has found a balance between residential, business, and entertainment. Check out the district’s official website here for even more info.
Camino Taco & Tequila for Mexican food
Insomnia Cookies yummy cookies delivered late into the night
Mallorca Spanish & Portuguese cuisine
Cleveland Chop more than a steakhouse, according to their slogan
Filter Coming soon a unique restaurant with a focus on sharing your experience on social media.
LULO Kitchen and Juice Bar Latin American Fusion Cuisine and some very Instagrammable food and interior
Tomo Sushi and eccentric hibachi
27 Club Coffee I’m torn if I consider this in the Warehouse District or the Flats but mentioning again because it’s a cool spot by Cleveland’s Machine Gun Kelly and has a thing for pink, so I’m a fan.
-Party at one of the several night clubs that line West 6th Street
-Have dinner at one of the many restaurants in the area
-Get coffee and pink themed eats at Machine Gun Kelly’s coffee shop 27 Club Coffee
-The Lake – City mural under the Shoreway bridge
-The cool, old Victorian-era architecture of the Warehouses and buildings
One district not mentioned on my Downtown Cleveland Neighborhood Guide is the Campus District. Primarily because I don’t know as much about the area or what to recommend. It’s primarily the downtown colleges.