10 Of My Favorite Reasons To Visit Cleveland

10 Of My Favorite Reasons To Visit Cleveland

Cleveland's great for the whole family!
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I am a world traveler. I have been to three different continents, traveled to over 20 states in the United States and at least six countries. I lived in New Jersey for seven and a half years and visited New York City frequently. I'm not saying this to brag, but I am simply saying this to prove that I have traveled quite a bit in my 19 years of life, and while I am no travel expert, I can say that without a doubt, Cleveland, Ohio is a wonderful city to travel to and visit. Maybe I'm biased because I've lived in a suburb of Cleveland (or what I claim to be a suburb of Cleveland) for over ten years now. However, I have seen many beautiful places in my lifetime, and while the weather is not the warmest, nor my favorite thing about the city of Cleveland, there are many other things that Cleveland can offer to tourists.

10. Little Italy

Little Italy is around 20 minutes away from the city of Cleveland and has been noted as one of the top ten Little Italys around the United States. With its unique culture that has both modern and traditional tastes of Italy, a multitude of festivals, and tons of art galleries, Little Italy is the perfect place to wander around for a nice evening out. Start off your night with dinner at one of several fantastic Italian restaurants, take a stroll along the art-walk (if it is open) and then head for dessert at one of the many famous Italian bakeries. For a real treat, visit more than one bakery and try a cannoli from them to see if you can settle the never-ending disagreement on which bakery is best.

9. Great Lakes Brewing Company

Okay so I am not 21 and therefore cannot legally consume alcohol, however, I know that Clevelanders are a big fan of good beer. More specifically, Clevelanders are a fan of Great Lakes Brewery Company, the first brewpub and microbrewery in the state of Ohio. The brewpub also gives tours on weekends of its facilities and shares the rich historical background of the site and company with its visitors. I might still have a little less than two years, but I can't wait until I turn 21 and can have a pint of beer at Great Lakes Brewing Company to celebrate a beloved Cleveland tradition.

8. University Circle


University Circle is one square mile and "home to world-renowned museums, prestigious universities, nationally recognized hospitals, eclectic restaurants, beautiful parks, and cozy spaces." There are over eight museums and galleries including a natural history museum, a museum of contemporary art and an institute of art. There are several places to hear beautiful music in gorgeous locations, cultural and botanical gardens to take a stroll in, many historical landmarks and unique eats.

7. The Cleveland Orchestra and Severance Hall

Opened in 1931 and known as one of America's greatest orchestras and a world-renowned orchestra. In addition to being a great orchestra, the Cleveland Orchestra lives in one of the most beautiful concert halls. I might be a little biased though because I graduated high school in Severance Hall, which definitely makes classical music fans jealous of my close connection with the venue.

6. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame opened in 1985 and has since brought millions of dollars and visitors to the city of Cleveland, a place which some people now consider the "Home of Rock and Roll". With new inductees every year, the Rock Hall is forever changing and making adaptations to their exhibits and galleries. The exhibits in the Rock Hall include but are not limited to cities that have a major music history, focus on individual artists (in the past there has been an exhibit on Bruce Springsteen), Cleveland's legacy within the rock and roll genre and protests rooted in music.

5. Westside Market

Over 100 years old and recently named by Food Network Magazine "Best Food Lover's Market" in America. With over 100 vendors selling a variety of yummy treats like meats, cheese, bread, baked goods and a bunch of fresh produce, this indoor and outdoor market is always bustling. "Clevelanders love the West Side Market like that loud, colorful great aunt who has ties to the Old Country. She's brash, one-of-a-kind, completely unapologetic and the absolute best to show off to your friends!"

4. Playhouse Square

Playhouse Square is the nation's second-largest performing arts center (second only to Broadway in New York City). And in more recent history, Playhouse Square is the world's most expansive and expensive restoration project in the performing arts world. Known now for its extraordinary outdoor chandelier, Playhouse Square's one of a kind architecture and design attracts millions every year for the over one thousand shows performed annually. I can almost guarantee that every traveling Broadway play or musical has been to Playhouse Square (and Hamilton will be there soon, too!).

3. Cleveland Museum of Art

Known nationally and internationally for its exquisite collections of Egyptian and Asian art, the Cleveland Museum of Art is always expanding and bringing art and visitors from around the world to its doors. In addition to its impressive collections, the CMA is the fourth-wealthiest art museum in the United States and is one of the most visited art museums in the world. There are works of art by Monet, Degas, Caravaggio, Botticelli, Rodin, Van Gogh, Warhol and so many more. And what makes it even more unique, the museum remains free to the general public and has since its opening in 1913.

2. Food

So, why is Cleveland's food scene one of the country's best food scenes and only continues to get better? Well, to put it simply, we have New York City quality food (and better) for better prices! We have everything from burgers to Mexican food, steak to grilled cheese, pierogis to polish boys and everything else in between. If you are looking to try new food and expand your taste buds to new horizons, come to Cleveland for its incredible and vast food scene.


And perhaps the most important thing about Cleveland, and my personal favorite thing:

1. The Camaraderie

Cleveland, better known to Cleveland sports fans as Believeland, is a place where die-hard fans are created. We celebrate things like a 0-16 season and throw one of the biggest parades in sports history when we win a championship. We stick together through thick and thin and believe in the possibility of the next season. Unlike most sports fans, Cleveland fans don't give up or pick another team to cheer on. Plus, there's nothing like being in another state and finding someone from Cleveland.

Cover Image Credit: http://clevelandphotos.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Cleveland-Skyline-with-Powerhouse.jpg

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I Visited The "Shameless" Houses And Here's Why You Shouldn't

Glamorizing a less-than-ideal way to live.
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After five hours of driving, hearing the GPS say "Turn right onto South Homan Avenue" was a blessing. My eyes peeled to the side of the road, viciously looking for what I have been driving so long for, when finally, I see it: the house from Shameless.

Shameless is a hit TV show produced by Showtime. It takes place in modern-day Southside, Chicago. The plot, while straying at times, largely revolves around the Gallagher family and their continual struggle with (extreme) poverty. While a majority of the show is filmed offsite in a studio in Los Angeles, many outside scenes are filmed in Southside and the houses of the Gallagher's and side-characters are very much based on real houses.

We walked down the street, stopped in front of the two houses, took pictures and admired seeing the house in real life. It was a surreal experience and I felt out-of-place like I didn't belong there. As we prepared to leave (and see other spots from the show), a man came strolling down on his bicycle and asked how we were doing.

"Great! How are you?"

It fell silent as the man stopped in front of the Gallagher house, opened the gate, parked his bike and entered his home. We left a donation on his front porch, got back to the car and took off.

As we took the drive to downtown Chicago, something didn't sit right with me. While it was exciting to have this experience, I began to feel a sense of guilt or wrongdoing. After discussing it with my friends, I came to a sudden realization: No one should visit the "Gallagher" house.

The plot largely revolves the Gallagher family and their continual struggle with (extreme) poverty. It represents what Southside is like for so many residents. While TV shows always dramatize reality, I realized coming to this house was an exploitation of their conditions. It's entertaining to see Frank's shenanigans on TV, the emotional roller coasters characters endure and the outlandish things they have to do to survive. I didn't come here to help better their conditions, immerse myself in what their reality is or even for the donation I left: I came here for my entertainment.

Southside, Chicago is notoriously dangerous. The thefts, murders and other crimes committed on the show are not a far-fetched fantasy for many of the residents, it's a brutal reality. It's a scary way to live. Besides the Milkovich home, all the houses typically seen by tourists are occupied by homeowners. It's not a corporation or a small museum -- it's their actual property. I don't know how many visitors these homes get per day, week, month or year. Still, these homeowners have to see frequent visitors at any hour of the day, interfering with their lives. In my view, coming to their homes and taking pictures of them is a silent way of glamorizing the cycle of poverty. It's a silent way of saying we find joy in their almost unlivable conditions.

The conceit of the show is not the issue. TV shows have a way of romanticizing very negative things all the time. The issue at hand is that several visitors are privileged enough to live in a higher quality of life.

I myself experienced the desire and excitement to see the houses. I came for the experience but left with a lesson. I understand that tourism will continue to the homes of these individuals and I am aware that my grievances may not be shared with everyone -- however, I think it's important to take a step back and think about if this were your life. Would you want hundreds, potentially thousands, of people coming to your house? Would you want people to find entertainment in your lifestyle, good and bad?

I understand the experience, excitement, and fun the trip can be. While I recommend skipping the houses altogether and just head downtown, it's most important to remember to be respectful to those very individuals whose lives have been affected so deeply by Shameless.

Cover Image Credit: itsfilmedthere.com

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As An Original Northeasterner, I Grew To Love The South And You Can, Too

Where the tea is sweet, and the accents are sweeter.

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I'm not Southern-born. I'll come right out and say it. I was born in Connecticut and moved to Atlanta when I was 9 years old. I didn't know a single thing about the South, so I came without any expectations. When I got here, I remember that the very first thing I saw was a Waffle House. I thought it was so rare to see whatever a waffle house was but little did I know there was a WaHo (how southerners refer to Waffle House) every two miles down the street.

There is such a thing as "southern hospitality," and it's very pleasant for a newcomer to see. Southerners are raised with such a refreshing sense of politeness, and their accents are beautifully unique. It brings a smile to my face when I hear a southern accent because it's such a strong accent and one of my favorites. They answer your questions with "Yes, ma'am" or "No, ma'am" in the most respectful tone. I remember feeling so grown and empowered just because I got called ma'am. Southerners' vocabulary and phrases really have its ways of integrating into your own vernacular.

Before I came to Georgia, I never really said words like "Y'all" and "Fixin' to" but it's definitely in much of what I say now. I can tell when I go back up north to visit family that some of what I say may sound a little off because the dialect is very different. I find no shame in it, though, and neither should any southerner.

The weather in the South isn't so bad, in my opinion. Sure, there is very high humidity, but after living here for 10+ years, you learn how to deal with it. However, there's nothing like the summer thunderstorms. I love stormy, rainy weather and it rains quite often in the south, so when my birthday in July rolls around, I look forward to seeing that rain. It's the most peaceful weather to me and inspires me to write even more.

I could go on and on about the amazing fried foods here or the iconic yet insane Atlanta traffic, but those aren't what make me love the South. The people of the south are so different from up north but in the best ways. Everyone is so expressive and creative, as well as their own unique self. Southerners aren't the shaming kinds of people, but instead the kind who embrace who you are from the start. There's a fierce loyalty and a strong sense of appreciation that is just unmatched by any other place. No matter where I go, I always find comfort in knowing that I'll be coming back to this place I'm proud to call home.

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