Ohio is an important swing state when it comes to the presidential election, as well as the birthplace of eight former U.S. presidents, such as Willliam McKinley and Warren G. Harding. And for the third time in American history, politicians from all over the country will flock to Cleveland for the Republican National Convention on July 18.
When voting isn’t in session, make the most of your time in this city with quite a past. Stay overnight at a 20th-century French Gothic mansion, dine inside a former speakeasy from the Prohibition era, and witness gravestone art at a historic cemetery. Keep reading for more Cleveland spots you don’t want to miss while there—especially if you’re a politico looking for a history fix.
West Side Market
Located in the historic neighborhood of Ohio City, this shopping center is the oldest operating public market in all of Cleveland. When the high-ceiling industrial space opened its doors in 1902, it had over 100 stands selling a range of produce and goods, similar to the number of vendors that serve customers there today. This international foodie hub sells everything imaginable—from homemade Monk cakes at Cake Royale to traditional bratwurst sandwiches at Frank’s Bratwurst. And with so many businesses available on a daily basis, you’ll never run out of options.
Taking the title as Cleveland’s oldest restaurant, this longtime Italian joint opened in the middle of Prohibition as a speakeasy, serving liquor in coffee cups. What started as a converted family home with a small menu expanded into a full-fledged restaurant, complete with a menu highlighting old-school Italian fare—from spaghetti and meatballs to veal parmigiana. And with tiramisu and cannolis on the menu, saving room for dessert is a must.
Rock & Roll Hall of Fame
The city’s community has embraced rock and roll ever since the genre was born in the mid-20th century, and it continues to do so through its Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. The first museum dedicated to the hard-rocking music’s history is housed inside a dual-triangular-shaped glass building designed by China-born I. M. Pei. Visitors can check out permanent exhibitions, like “The Beatles” and “The Roots of Rock and Roll,” along with events such as artist interviews, film screenings, and live performances. Another reason you should go? Visiting the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Museum is free during the RNC.
Lake View Cemetery
A cemetery might not be on the top of everyone’s Cleveland bucket list, but this site—also known as “Cleveland’s Outdoor Museum”—is a history buff’s dream. Visit the gravestone of the 20th U.S. President, James A. Garfield, plus several other notable names: John D. Rockefeller (founder of Standard Oil), Carl B. Stokes (mayor of Cleveland), and Eliot Ness (Untouchables leader). And the graveside art is worth a visit alone, such as the angel perched on the mausoleum for the Haserot family, famous for their canned good business.
The Kimpton Schofield Hotel
This past March, the 122-room historic hotel celebrated its grand reopening after five years of renovations, which blend new details into the preserved 1902 building. Named after its original architect, Levi Schofield, the property showcases its past through the original terra-cotta exterior, prints of vintage matchbooks, and old marquee sign lamps with movable letters. Among the new unique amenities, the hotel embraces the city’s rock and roll links with its complimentary loaner guitar program, which lets guests sign out an acoustic guitar to play in the lobby or the comfort of their own room.
Housed inside a mansion built in 1910, this 60-room boutique hotel was purchased and reopened as the Glidden House in the late 20th century. The property is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and shows its age through original red brick and French Gothic architecture. Not only does the Glidden House embody history, but so do the surrounding attractions—from the Cleveland Museum of Natural History to the Western Reserve Historical Society, both five minutes down the road from the hotel.