Ah, Thursday night — the only truly social night of the week. It’s the night when babysitters are booked, friends convene, and drinks are imbibed. There are no family obligations to fulfill, no amateurish weekend crowds to elbow through — and the possibilities are endless. The night starts after work and ends whenever you want. In any city. All over the world.
This week, we’re presenting the perfect Thursday night in Cleveland.
Cleveland might not be the first place you think of when choosing a vacation spot — but if you don’t visit, you’re missing out. Besides the obvious draws like The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and the A Christmas Story House and Museum, there are a plethora of new and exciting things to see and do. Earlier this year, the Cleveland Institute of Art finished a $75 million dollar renovation that includes a three-story atrium, added art galleries, and an auditorium for the Cleveland Cinematheque. Hotels seeing an influx of millennial and business travelers are sprucing things up to keep pace. The Kimpton just finished a $50 million dollar zhuzhing that includes 24 luxury apartments while a $260 million Hilton is set to open in 2016 – just in time for the Republican National Convention. Clearly, there’s a lot going on in this not-so-sleepy city.
3 p.m.: Check into the Hyatt Regency Cleveland at The Arcade. Located within walking distance from the entertainment district (First Energy Stadium, Progressive Field, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Playhouse Square, and Horseshoe Casino — to name a few spots), this hotel is the best use as a home base during your visit. Built in 1890, this Cleveland landmark is part of The Arcade, a five-story shopping mall that was one of the first in the nation. The lobby, with filigree-style railings, lit lampposts, and a Victorian-era iron-and-glass vaulted ceiling, looks like a cross between the Main Staircase of the Titanic and a turn of the century Parisian concourse. And if design doesn’t do it for ya – then its tony spa will ensure a relaxing stay.
Photo: Rock & Roll Hall of Fame
3:30 p.m.: Head straight for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. You’ll only have a couple of hours before this iconic museum closes for the night (at 5:30 p.m.) – so have a plan of attack because there’s a lot to see! One popular stop is the Beatles exhibit, which features the most comprehensive collection of band artifacts including Paul McCartney’s handwritten arrangement for “Birthday,” a personal birthday card to John Lennon from Ringo Starr (who was just inducted this year), and clothes worn by the Fab Four. Other highlights: the interactive “One Hit Wonder” kiosks where visitors can listen to recordings of hit songs by fleeting artists, and memorabilia from legendary artists like Elvis, Janis Joplin, and The Rolling Stones. Tickets are $22 (adults) and $13 (children).
6 p.m.: You’ll have worked up quite a thirst and Jukebox, a tavern-esque bar in the Hingetown area, is just the spot for a pre-dinner drink. A unique take on bar food (perogis, jerky, and Cajun cheddar popcorn) and a carefully curated beer/cocktail list draws customers in, but it’s the actual jukebox that keeps them coming back. The catalog rotates monthly featuring a fresh mix of new releases, customer suggestions, songs from bands that are currently playing in Cleveland and Rock & Roll Hall of Famers. In a time of Spotify, Pandora and YouTube, listening to your favorite song on an old-school jukebox while tipping back a craft beer makes this bar soooo worth the trip.
Photo: Flying Fig
8 p.m.: Time to eat. The Flying Fig restaurant is a great place to get an authentic taste of Cleveland. The intimate eatery has been a huge supporter of sustainable agriculture and the farm-to-table movement. The menus are ever-evolving with dishes made from locally sourced, seasonal offerings. Two must-orders: the artisanal cheese board and the grass-fed burger. The gnocchi is also a fave. In the city for a few days? Their brunch is buzz-worthy, too.
Photo: Facebook/Mitchell’s Homemade
10 p.m.: In 1999, two local brothers Pete and Mike Mitchell thought it would be fun to make ice cream for a living and opened up their first scoop shop. Today, there are nine locations. The flagship Ohio City spot features a state-of-the-art 6,000+ square foot production kitchen that handcrafts small batches of ice cream made with local ingredients and grass-fed dairy. Classic faves include Rocky Road, Bing Cherry Chocolate, and Caramel Sea Salt, and there are limited-edition creations like Toasted Hazelnut and Lemon Black Raspberry Yogurt. They even offer vegan ice cream made with coconut milk.
10 p.m.: You’re in the city that coined the term “rock and roll,” so it better have an impressive music scene to back that up — and it does. Cleveland is a must-play for many bands on tour. Check out the lineups at venues including House of Blues, the Agora, and Beachland Ballroom.
Photo: Prosperity Social Club
Midnight: Before heading to bed, the best place to grab a nightcap is the Prosperity Social Club. The bar has a retro charm, featuring a kitschy game room with an old-school bowling ball machine, vintage board games, and shuffleboard that customers can play. But the best part? On warm summer nights, the outdoor patio is the perfect spot for throwing back some of its (strong) specialty cocktails, like a Lemon Drop-Tini or a Stone Fruit Bourbon Sour.
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