Having access to a car is a blessing in Oberlin. Of course, one doesn’t need a car to survive here, because there are always so many things to do on campus. But of course, sometimes boredom does kick in, you need a change of scenery, and it’s really nice to get out once in a while. Luckily, Oberlin has something called “Enterprise Car Share” where you can rent a car for a reasonable price for a few hours! Many students also have cars. Be friends with them.
Cleveland has long held the title of “The Mistake on the Lake.” However, I would rather call it “The Underrated Gem on the Lake.” I actually listened to a podcast about how the media unnecessarily blew this up back during the Cuyahoga River fire, which wasn’t anywhere near as bad as reported and was comparable to river fires in other cities. Cleveland has been growing and cleaning up for the last several years. Earlier this year, I attended the Cleveland Sustainability Summit and learned about all the ways that Cleveland is working to improve the environment. This year’s theme is “Vital Green Space.” Cleveland is building huge expanses of bike trails through the city. Isn’t that awesome?
The Cleveland Metroparks are also the largest expanse of metroparks in the nation. I feel guilty for not experiencing more of Cleveland while I’ve been a student here, but next year I may be living in the city and experiencing it even more. Cleveland is not huge; but it’s an incredible cultural hub. More money is spent on arts in Cuyahoga County (Cleveland) than in 99% of other counties in the United States – can you believe that???
Here are some of my favorite things about Cleveland:
The Cleveland Orchestra: one of the nation’s TOP orchestras. Every weekend, they’re playing SOMETHING and that something is usually an INCREDIBLE something. In the past two months, Mitsuko Uchida has played Mozart piano concerti, Daniil Trifinov has played Prokofiev 2nd Piano Concerto, the orchestra has played Tchaikovsky's Pathetique, Beethoven’s “Emperor” Concerto, Ravel’s Concerto for the Left Hand, so many incredible performers…. I can’t even comprehend it… I wanted to go every weekend! But unfortunately I couldn’t make it to all of them. The Cleveland Orchestra is always a wonderful experience, and pair it with dinner in University Circle and you can make it a night out. The Cleveland Orchestra is located in University Circle, right next to Case Western Reserve University, and so of course there are so many nearby restaurants of all different cuisines. My favorites are the two ramen restaurants! And many students here are crazy about Kung Fu Tea (bubble tea!).
The Cleveland Museum of Art is one of the nation’s TOP art museums. Do you see how many times I’m using the word “top” when I talk about Cleveland? The best part of The Cleveland Museum of Art? It’s free!! I have to admit, I haven’t been there as much as I would have liked to… I went for an event called MIX (basically a dance club in the middle of the museum atrium, where you could also survey the art on a Friday evening!).
West Side Market: a huge indoor marketplace in Ohio City in Cleveland’s former train station. I love going here and just walking around.
Crocker Park: closer to Oberlin than Cleveland! This is every student’s favorite place to shop. It’s basically an outdoor mall/promenade with many stores and restaurants. My favorites are H&M, Nordstrom Rack, Charming Charlie, Trader Joe’s, and so many more. My friend and I have a tradition of always going to B Spot after we’ve shopped ourselves out. They have the BEST burgers – even vegetarian ones! Close by is Great Northern Mall, so if you’re not happy with the store selection at Crocker, you can always hop on over to Great Northern for round 2 of shopping.
The beach!! Did you know Cleveland actually has beaches? Okay, it’s not Hawaii, but it’s actually really nice. About 20-30 minutes away in each direction: Vermillion, Lorain, and Bay Village all house public beaches that you should definitely check out when it’s actually warm during the first and last months of classes.
The tiny towns of Northeast Ohio: there are some interesting little farm towns with deserted gas stations and the like. There’s always something to explore, even when you think you’ve seen it all…
Little Italy for good Italian restaurants and a cool vibe! Close to Case Western.
Playhouse Square has a lot of shows going on. I have yet to see one, but did you know that Cleveland has the second largest theatre district in the United States?!? Also there’s this really cool huge chandelier at Playhouse Square and you’ve got to see it.
Coventry Street: some cool shops! Big Fun houses old toys and items that you’ve completely forgotten were a part of your childhood.
Lakewood, Ohio: okay, I really like it here. It’s very close to my church so I often stop by my favorite vegan café, The Root Café (which looks very much like something I would find in Oberlin), and listen to music/drink good tea/read their copies of old National Geographics from the ‘40s and ‘50s.
Cedar Point: complete other direction from Cleveland, located in Sandusky. Cedar Point is the best amusement park that I’ve ever been to. You must go!!!
Put-in-Bay/Kelly’s Island: kind of more difficult to coordinate visiting, but these are both islands you can visit by water taxi off the shore of Lake Erie. It’s a really nice get-away, but also hard to fit into an Oberlin schedule. Maybe the few days before school starts?
Restaurants in Ohio City, Tremont, Lakewood, Cleveland Heights, etc. There are so many good places to eat, and I still want to check many of them out.
Metroparks! Rocky River Reservation and many more… apparently Cuyahoga National Park (only an hour from Oberlin) is beautiful. I keep meaning to go!!
These are just the excursions I can think of right now. If you have any other questions about where to go or what to do in Cleveland, I can’t promise I’m an expert but would love to answer your questions as best I can.