$0: Hot Salsa Saturday, Pinatas Mexican Restaurant
At 10 p.m. on Saturdays, Pinatas Mexican Restaurant (near Case Western Reserve University) turns into a full-on salsa dance party. Latin nightclub dance music —salsa, bachata, kizomba, merengue, reggaeton — blasts onto the dance floor and keeps people moving all night. If you've never tried, salsa dancing is one of the most fun types of motion. A Cleveland Salsa Passion instructor is on hand at 9 p.m. for lessons if anyone is feeling like they might need a few pointers. Better yet: The beginner lessons are free. This is a perfect spot for date night or even for a group of couples. Grab an order of the camarones del pacifico post-dance.
11611 Euclid Ave., 216-721-9599, pinatasmexicanrestaurant.com.
$0: History, Ukrainian Museum Archives
Tucked unassumingly along Kenilworth Avenue in Tremont, the Ukrainian Museum Archives offer an up-close look at an important part of Cleveland's ethnic history. Check out the museum's online exhibits to get a sense of what you can see in person. The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday. From the oral history project organizers: "Of particular interest are testimonies involving Ukrainian-American life and the immigrant experience, recollections of growing up in Cleveland, organizations, challenges faced by newly arrived Ukrainians, recollections of World War II, and recollections of Displaced Persons Camps."
1202 Kenilworth Ave., 216-781-4329, umacleveland.org.
$0 to $25: Our World-Class Museums, University Circle
We could break this listing out into multiple write-ups, but that's a slippery slope to just writing a whole book about all the amazing experiences our museums offer. To wit, you could certainly make a day of visiting the museums in University Circle — the Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland Museum of Natural History, the Children's Museum of Cleveland, the Western Reserve Historical Society Museum, and so on — but that'd be difficult. Give each place its own daylong excursion, and fill your summer weekends with the rich history of Northeast Ohio. There's a reason why our world-class museums are often the first things Clevelanders mention when called upon to defend their city as the coolest spot in the U.S.: It's because you can't just beat the best. (Also: special shout-out to the atrium at the Cleveland Museum of Art, which ranks as one of our favorite rooms in the whole city.)
$0: Asphalt Cinema, West Park
West Park's Impett Park has some nice fields and what not, but it's not a huge destination. And yet, during the summer months, it plays host to the ever-popular Asphalt Cinema. Billed as an "evening of music, art, games, and prizes that ends under the stars with a family friendly movie," Asphalt Cinema is a mini-outdoor theater. It's BYOLC — Bring Your Own Lawn Chair or expect to sit in the grass. The summer schedule includes screenings of The Lego Movie (June 19), Frozen (July 17) and Big Hero 6 (Aug. 21). Admission is free, and concessions will be available for purchase.
$10: All Shows, Near West Theatre
With a new, bright-blue home on Detroit Avenue in the heart of Cleveland's Gordon Square Arts District, you can't miss Near West Theatre, nor should you miss any of the fine musicals they put on (and have been putting on, since it was a youth theater back in the '70s). The pitch for NWT has always been that it takes regular folks from the neighborhood, puts them on stage and makes magic happen. Go see one show here and you'll know that to be the case. Its first show in its new home was a nonstop sellout and unqualified crowd-pleaser. Next time tickets go on sale, buy early and often to see some miraculous performances that truly redefine "community" theater. Tickets are $10 ($8 for kids).
6702 Detroit Ave., 216-961-6391, nearwesttheatre.org.
$0: Brews & Prose, Market Garden Brewery
What's cheaper than a literary reading, right? Join some of the region's finest literary luminaries as they read from published and unpublished work in this monthly Ohio City reading series. It has kickstarted a few other monthly readings as well — the Lighthouse Reading Series at CSU, for instance — but this one's the original, the one that reminded us how optimally beer is suited for listening to (otherwise droning) writers. In the basement of Market Garden Brewery, this one's in the thick of the action. And it's still got one of the best deals in town: buy a book, get a free beer.
1947 West 25th St., brewsandprose.com.
$9: Movies, Cleveland Institute of Art Cinematheque
Interested in French cinema? Historic directors unavailable on Netflix or Amazon Prime? Low-budget American indies with cult potential? Foreign series from a particular region or era or aesthetic school? The Cleveland Institute of Art Cinematheque has you covered. Tickets are $9 — a pretty penny on our affordable summer to-do lis — but this is one of the nation's finest repertory movie theaters, and it's a Cleveland gem that everyone should experience. Plus, in their swanky new home at the Cleveland Institute of Art, seats are finally comfortable! Check out the "Lang Noir" series in June!
11141 East Blvd., 216-421-7450, cia.edu/cinematheque.
$6: Movies, Cleveland Cinemas
Just remember, the early part of the week is the best time to go see a film at Cleveland Cinemas — the Capitol Theatre, the Cedar Lee, Shaker Square and Tower City. Monday, admission is only $6. Tuesday, Marquee Rewards members get free popcorn! And Wednesday is happy hour, when all beer is half-off. Sure the recliners at AMC and the XD screen at Valley View are primo, but where else can you get locally programmed cinema (indie and mainstream) with alcohol and discounts? Nowhere, that's where.
2163 Lee Road, Cleveland Hts., 216-321-5411, clevelandcinemas.org.
$0: Third Fridays, 78th Street Studios
Art, art and more art in one of the coolest venues in town. What more could you ask for? Down on the westward fringe of Detroit-Shoreway, in the old American Greetings HQ, 78th Street Studios hulks with an unassuming industrial vibe. It has become a bona-fide hub for artsy fartsyness in town and every third Friday, from 5 to 9 p.m., you get a free visitor's pass. The galleries are eclectic and wild, bursting with color and energy. There's always wine and apps on hand and, chances are, you'll bump into somebody you know. Tourists and locals alike love the flavor and energy of Third Fridays. If you haven't been, make it a top priority this summer.
1300 West 78th St., 216-536-2200, third-fridays.com.
$0: Tremont Art Walk
Tremont was sort of Cleveland's original "arts district." It was here, in the post-industrial slump, that bohemians flocked en masse and set up galleries and bars to feed the various muses. For more than 20 years, Tremont has been hosting a monthly walk to celebrate the artists, and it has grown into a major monthly event. It's all free! Snag some free wine at one of more than 30 participating galleries and restaurants, enjoy the weather, and then have an app or a beer at one of the bajillion Tremont bars that you'll encounter on your stroll. Oh, and hey, don't forget to buy some art! There's a few new galleries this year, so get excited to peruse.
$0: Standup Comedy, Various Locations
Cleveland's preeminent standup comedy promoter (and one of its most prolific performers and hosts), Ramon Rivas is constantly on a Cleveland tour. His weekly show at Reddstone is, sadly, no more. (Gone also is the weekly "Accidental Comedy" show at Hofbrauhaus). But Rivas and the Chucklefck standup gang are still telling jokes on a weekly basis all over town. For starters, check out the open mic at the Underdog (in the Happy Dog's illustrious basement) every Sunday evening at 8. Ramon and a handful of regulars also host other comedy so stay abreast of all the local comedy happenings on the website, and be sure to hit all the other weekly shows, Hilario at Barrio and Market Fresh Comedy at Market Garden too.
$0: Cleveland Shakespeare Festival, Various Locations
Always free, and always entertaining, the Cleveland Shakespeare Festival is offering two shows this summer throughout the Cleveland area. On Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays between June 5 and June 28, they'll be performing The Life of Timon of Athens. On Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays between July 17 and August 2, it's The Merchant of Venice. All shows start at 7 p.m., and it's held outdoors: Bring a chair or blanket. Check the website for locations.
$0: Money Time Learning Center and Money Museum, Federal Reserve Bank
You don't need to shell it out to learn about it here: admissions, programs and tours are free at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland's Learning Center and Money Museum. They've got exhibits on financing America's wars, currency from around the world, and the regulatory process.
1455 East Sixth St., 216-579-3188,clevelandfed.org/learningcenter.
$0: History With a Side of Nature, Lakeview Cemetery
Essentially a 285-acre outdoor museum of Northeast Ohio's history, Lakeview Cemetery is both educational and inspirational. Check out the massive James A. Garfield Monument (the Romanesque/Gothic/Byzantine-style building houses the former president's body), the beautiful Wade Memorial Chapel, or the final resting places of notable people like John D. Rockefeller, Elliot Ness, Carl B. Stokes, Harvey Pekar and other folks who helped make the city what it is. It's open from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. in the summer; roam the grounds alone or schedule a free walking or bus tour in advance (a $5 donation is recommended).
12316 Euclid Ave., 216-421-2665, lakeviewcemetary.com.
$0: Art, Walk All Over Waterloo
Every first Friday of the month, the various businesses and galleries in the Collinwood neighborhood throw open their doors as visitors get a taste of the eclectic street. New attractions include Loren Naji's Satellite gallery, which joins the Maria Neil Art Project, the Waterloo Arts Gallery and others in making Waterloo one of the premier arts neighborhoods in Cleveland.