Downtown Cleveland

East Fourth Street
East Fourth Street Photo courtesy Erik Drost Flickr/CC

Cleveland's epicenter today would be unrecognizable to anyone who hadn't seen it in five years. Development has arrived with great velocity and astounding results on just about every corner. From Heinen's breathtaking renovation and the litany of posh apartments to East Fourth Street, a sparkling new Public Square, and the ever-burgeoning Flats East Bank, there's never been a better time to live, work or play downtown. Some 20,000 now call it home, and thousands more flock in for entertainment. A slew of bright, modern hotels welcome visitors drawn to the bustling district that is home to some of the city's best restaurants, bars, theaters and attractions.

Must See

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame might feel like one of those things Clevelanders take for granted. But we should all be paying more attention, and stepping through the doors. The Hall is oh-so-much more than a museum, which isn't to knock its collection: Do be sure to check out the Beatles' exhibit, the Rolling Stones exhibit and the Hall's Right Here, Right Now! collection that showcases items from modern luminaries not yet eligible for induction. But the Rock Hall offers so much more. From concerts, talks, films and interactive exhibits, there's always something new, something to learn, something to experience. Don't miss the Power of Rock, a spellbinding exhibit featuring video footage and sounds that make the whole room shake.

Must Eat

Cleveland barbecue? Yup, Cleveland barbecue. It wasn't a thing until Michael Symon opened Mabel's BBQ on East Fourth Street. Channeling Cleveland's culinary roots into the immense, timeless and time-honored tradition of American 'cue, the Iron Chef crafted a menu with smoky tastes both familiar and new. There's brisket, naturally, as well as ribs and chicken, but there are also Polish Boys, lamb ribs, beef ribs (note: Don't miss the beef ribs) and assorted snacks made from just about every part of a pig that you can name.

Must Drink

Craft beer fans know Shaun Yasaki from his days manning the brewhouse at Platform Beer, where he helped develop that brewery's flagship brands. Now they come for his creations at Noble Beast, the name of which is a reference to the style of beers he likes to brew. Noble, classic styles from Germany and Belgium are countered by more beastly modern American styles. He works from a 10-barrel Portland Kettle Works brewhouse positioned squarely in the middle of the space, a wonderfully renovated two-story operation with a friendly vibe. You won't find dozens of beers on tap here, just a small but wonderful selection that showcases his technical prowess. Also, many of his beers are session-level, a welcome trend if we must say so ourselves. The small draft menu is complemented by a tight food menu from chef James Redford, who turns out nachos, corn dogs and sandwiches that rise above standard brewpub fare.

Must Go

It might seem obvious, but if you've never caught a show at Playhouse Square, read on. (Even if you have, read on!) The impending Hamilton ticket blitz is getting all the word-of-mouth attention lately, but there's so much more to our theater district. Playhouse Square is the nation's largest performing arts complex outside of New York City, and the thrill of going to see a touring Broadway musical in one of its elegant theaters really never gets old. There's something old-timey about it, you know: a night on the town. But it's not just Broadway musicals you'll find at Playhouse Square. With nine distinct venues, programming includes (but is by no means limited to) comedy acts, variety shows, literary lectures, a summer cinema series and concerts. There's something happening every night of the week, and with competitive ticket prices and discounted season bundles, seeing high-caliber performing arts has never been as classy nor as comfortable. Yes, and there's a massive chandelier.

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