Staying on Campus Over a School Break? It Doesn't Have to Suck

Can't spend spring break in Florida because you got called for Cleveland jury duty like I did?

Whatever the case may be, you're going to spend a school break on campus. Which isn't a bad thing, because when classes end, your falling in love with Cleveland can truly begin.

Lake Erie may not be a light blue ocean whose waves stroke infinite beaches of fine sand, but it's a damn fine local alternative. One of the Cleveland script signs resides in Edgewater Park, and with picnic tables and grills, it's a great spot to potluck with friends, play outdoor games, hit the beach and, of course, get burnt as all hell.

If the wholesome nature found in Cleveland Metroparks isn't your scene but you appreciate a boardwalk with a beautiful view of the Cuyahoga River and great eateries, spend a day in the Flats. Grab some drinking buddies and get on a booze cruise, bring some fancy foodies to try some oysters at Alley Cat, or enjoy both local and big-name musicians at Big Bang Dueling Pianos Bar, Music Box Supper Club and Jacobs Pavilion at Nautica.

If food is what revs you up, Cleveland's Little Italy is home to the area's most authentic Italian food and some of the most historic establishments in the Cleveland food scene. Conduct an informal taste test of Presti's and Corbo's bakeries and decide which reigns supreme, treat yourself to dinner at classic restaurants like Guarino's, Maxi's or La Dolce Vita. After your splendid meal, visit art galleries and quaint shops and maybe even experience one of Little Italy's frequent festivals.

Also spend some quality time at the special markets Cleveland has to offer, including Galluci's Italian Food Market, Park to Shop in Asia Town's Asia Plaza and the famous West Side Market.

Without wasting all that time on essays, problem sets and studying, there's finally time to conduct some experiments in the kitchen. Hit up the venerable West Side Market, Saucisson or Ohio City Provisions and get busy in the kitchen.

For those with a sweet tooth and nothing else, there's no shortage of candy and ice cream shops in Cleveland. Mitchell's Homemade Ice Cream's flagship store in Ohio City levels up. Not only does the store have two floors and all the ice cream flavors you could want, but it also showcases how the classic ice cream is made.

Malley's Chocolates also sweeten any excursion from the east side to the west side. The chain's pastel pink color scheme brings you back to childhood. And the Alice in Wonderland theme that pervades the Lakewood store enhances your chocolate-savoring and ice cream-eating experience after a long day of bowling and live performances at Mahall's.

Meantime, Piccadilly Creamery, the slowly expanding ice cream store chain, is all about the experience. The shop is known for its whimsical energy, supply of board games and its unique, organic ice cream flavors frozen by liquid nitrogen to order, right in front of your eyes.

Still, lots of Clevelanders claim that Sweet Moses Soda Fountain & Treat Shop in Gordon Square makes the best ice cream in all of Ohio. Whether you agree with that or not, its old-fashioned homemade ice cream, authentic Bastion-Blessings soda fountain and overall aesthetic make it an iconic destination sure to throw you back to "the day."

The Gordon Square Arts District itself is a thrilling place to visit, as you can play at a pinball parlor, gorge on donuts infused with craft beer, visit a record store and see plays at Blank Canvas Theatre, Near West Theatre or Cleveland Public Theatre, as well as admire art galleries at 78th Street Studios.

But if you could only visit one place while on a break, Downtown Cleveland is it. With the arcades, East Fourth Street, Playhouse Square and more, shops, entertainment and restaurants galore await you. If you feel like blowing some of the money you don't have in a swanky setting, Tower City's Jack Casino allows you to feel like a high roller for a hot second.

For those of us who enjoy watching men beat the shit out of each other, the three main sports teams that Cleveland knows — and sometimes loves — all play in their own arenas downtown, just minutes from each other. The Indians, Cavaliers and Browns all offer legendary entertainment in their own ways, and no classes means you can day drink and support your local sports teams in person.

Even though there's a never-ending list of exciting things in Cleveland, breaks are also a chance to finally relax and focus on yourself: something most college students don't do often. Taking care of yourself means taking advantage of your campus' free gym, pool, recreation rooms and more. You'll also probably have most of the campus to yourself, so spending breaks at school is really just time to play.