Cleveland, Ohio, is a city of believers who are full of hope, optimism, and unwavering loyalty—and not just among frustrated sports fans waiting for a Cleveland Indians World Series championship. Thanks to celebs like chef Michael Symon and basketball great LeBron James elevating the city's eminence in food and sports, Clevelanders are finally shaking their underdog mentality and taking pride in the many great things their city has to offer.
When to Go
Tourists visit year-round, but prime season falls between April and November. The coastal city benefits from temperate breezes rolling off Lake Erie in the summer, when the beaches, parks, and trails buzz with activity. The energy continues through leaf-peeping season when Cleveland glows with a blaze of fall color. Winter brings lake effect snow, known to dump several feet of white powder on the east side of the city while leaving the west side unscathed.
The sheer volume of ethnic and arts festivals in the city ensures there's always a reason to revel or raise consciousness. Other highlights include spring's Cleveland International Film Festival and its well-curated lineup of topical documentary and narrative films from around the globe. Summer blooms with Parade the Circle, when an eclectic cast of colorful characters promenades through the streets. In early fall, IngenuityFest celebrates innovation through art and technology.
What to Eat
In Cleveland, a sausage isn't just a sausage; it is a symbol of the city's Eastern European roots. Depending on the butcher's origins in the Old World, the label might read kielbasa, kobasica, kovbasa, or kolbasz, but only the Polish version goes into Cleveland's signature sandwich. The Polish Boy starts with a grilled kielbasa, placed on an open-faced hot dog bun layered with coleslaw, french fries, and barbecue sauce (or hot sauce).
Souvenir to Take Home
Take home a taste of Cleveland from Ohio City's West Side Market, where the local foodies and food entrepreneurs go for inspiration and raw ingredients. You'll find an assortment of packable prepared foods, such as beef jerky from Czuchraj Meats and Campbell's gourmet popcorn—particularly the caramel and cheddar blend called Dichotomy.
Sustainable Travel Tip
Stock up on eco-friendly biodegradable skincare products before you head to a Lake Erie beach. Plastic nanoparticles found in sunscreen, lotions, and other personal care products harm aquatic plants and animals found in and around the Great Lakes.