A few weeks ago, I visited another small mid-western city – Cleveland. I’ll be honest, other than Hot in Cleveland I had no further reference to this town. Nor did I really care. And I think this is a shared sentiment among my fellow Chicagoans. No offense Cle. Besides passionate sports fans and nice people, I didn’t hold further expectations. So, I hopped on the megabus and made the trip. What I found was a smaller version of Chicago sans the cosmopolitan element or the pretension. It was refreshing!
The first thing I noticed is all the construction that is underway in Cleveland. Another feature are the bridges that connect this city. They can look quite romantic at night as the lights are reflected on the river. Comparisons are inevitable and I couldn’t help but notice that Cleveland and Chicago have a few parallels. For instance, Cleveland’s answer to Lake Michigan is Lake Erie. However Chicago’s Mr. Michigan cannot brag about sunsets the way Mr. Erie from Cleveland can. The views from Edgewater Park during sundown time can be breathtaking. Both Cleveland and Chicago have a vibrant musical scene. Fun fact: the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is located in Cleveland. Both cities are also made up of unique neighborhoods. I visited the beach and large park at Edgewater, the iconic West Side Public Market + the craft beer breweries/restaurants (including Great Lakes) of Ohio City, the posh newly unveiled Punch Bowl Social (a restaurant, bar, bowling alley & barcade fusion) of the yuppie Flats and artsy Gordon Square where I enjoyed a great al fresco lunch at Luxe, a charming little bistro.
I truly enjoyed the mini getaway to Cleveland partly due to its people. I got the impression that Clevelanders are a more down to earth, laid-back, friendly bunch than Chicagoans. It seemed nobody was trying to prove anything to anyone. And you know what? That feels really really nice. Not to say that Chicago is that bad when compared to say L.A. or New York, but we’re stuck up and snobby for Midwest standards (rightfully so, of course. Just take a look at our stunning skyline ;). But, it felt liberating to just be. Without any airs of pretension. So, if you live in the Chicago area and are looking for an interesting, historic and cultural place to get away to, consider Cleveland and/or Milwaukee!