People don't tend to notice things on their home turf like outsiders do. Well, Cleveland, I'm your outsider. You have a lot of good things in your city which you may have overlooked, but I saw them.
Who am I? Just a radio DJ from Pittsburgh - before all you Browns fans start the trash-talk, hear me out.
My girlfriend and I recently took a weekend trip to your great city, and we had a blast. My girlfriend is a Patch editor in the Pittsburgh region, and she asked me to blog about our trip, so I did. A Patch editor from Cleveland saw my blog, and asked me to repost it for all of you. Below is what I wrote about back home in Pittsburgh about your city:
Many Pittsburghers have a total disdain the city of Cleveland - the "Mistake on the Lake." My girlfriend and I like to take weekend trips once in a while and we decided "why not Cleveland?"
In actuality, Cleveland is very much like Pittsburgh. Once you get over your football-rivalry-induced hatred, you will find a clean, vibrant city with plenty to do.
Everything in downtown Cleveland seems to be either a short walk away or quick ride on the "Rapid" - Cleveland's mass transit rail.
Cleveland has public art everywhere. Statues and fountains adorn the many public squares downtown. The city has an eclectic mix of neoclassical, Gothic and modern architecture. You can spend an entire weekend just looking at buildings.
One thing that surprised us is that there are no fast food places anywhere downtown. No McDonald's, no Burger King, no Wendy's anywhere.
What Cleveland does have is steakhouses. We went to John Q's Steakhouse, just a five-minute walk from our hotel. John Q's is a traditional steakhouse - the interior is all heavy oak and plenty of sports memorabilia line the walls. I had the porterhouse, my girlfriend had a Delmonico, both cooked just right with a nice sear on the outside and juicy in the middle. For dessert, I highly recommend the apple walnut pie.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is in the heart of downtown Cleveland. Some of my friends in radio complain about the inside politics of who gets inducted into the Hall of Fame, but it is nonetheless the best collection of music memoribillia I've seen. It is next to Cleveland Browns Stadium, right on the shore of Lake Erie.
My girlfriend and I are beer geeks, and when we travel, we enjoy visiting microbreweries. Cleveland's Great Lakes Brewing Company is a juggernaut of the craft beer scene and a must-see for any beer lover. The food there is amazing as well.
Fifty yards away from Great Lakes is the Market Garden Brewery & Distillery. Market Garden is one of the better brewpubs I've visited, with innovative, quality beers and a great menu as well. The Market Garden Ohio Beef Burger is one of the best burgers I've had, ever. Topped with a spicy aioli, Havarti cheese, pickled onions and a sunny-side-up fried egg, this burger alone was worth the trip.
Next door to Market Garden is the historic West Side Market, one of the largest indoor farmers markets in the United States. Every type of fresh meat, produce and baked good can be found at the West Side Market.
The Cleveland Museum of Art is a ten minute drive from downtown and admission is free - yes, free! Get some culture on the cheap and appreciate some of the world's greatest works of art, just 10 minutes from downtown.
Cleveland's West 6th Street is much like Pittsburgh's East Carson Street. Full of bars and night clubs, it's a great place to go for a night out. Be sure to check out The Nauti Mermaid, a bar with a quality beer selection, amazing menu and a cool vibe.
Cleveland is a great city. It's close enough for a day trip and removed enough for a weekend getaway. There's so much to explore in Cleveland, my girlfriend and I will have to go back.
We do plan on coming back, too. We're going to load up next time at the West Side Market. Just want to say thanks, Cleveland, for a great time. And thanks for not keying my car for having a Steelers licence plate frame!