As American travelers consider closer-to-home and clean-conscious destinations for weekend getaways or as part of a road trip, visitors to Cleveland can explore an array of new offerings in 2021. From a signature national sporting event to world-class arts and culture, the city welcomes visitors to experience a range of socially distance-friendly activities and outdoor experiences, including the state’s only National Park.
A citywide CLEAN COMMITTED program offers piece of mind for travelers, with more than 600 local businesses agreeing to enhanced safety and cleanliness practices. The practices were developed in partnership with the region’s healthcare leaders, including Cleveland Clinic, The MetroHealth System and University Hospitals. Visitors can consult an online directory to view participating restaurants, attractions, hotels and other businesses that are dedicated to providing clean environments and employing safe practices.
NEW ATTRACTIONS, EXHIBITS AND EVENTS
SPORTS AND RECREATION
- NFL Draft
All eyes will be on Cleveland when the city hosts the 86th NFL Draft, taking place April 29-May 1. As long as it is safe for all participants and spectators, the NFL Draft and the NFL Draft Experience, a free football festival where fans from all teams can enjoy interactive exhibits, autographs sessions and more, will return to an in-person event in 2021. NFL fans will experience one of the country’s great football cities as well as a city that’s defined by and known for its passionate residents, culture and rock ‘n’ roll.
- Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Festival
Fans of the gridiron will descend upon Canton, OH – a short drive from Cleveland – for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Enshrinement Festival, scheduled for August 5-9, 2021. Fans can see and interact with their icons as more than 100 Gold Jackets (living Hall of Famers) return each year to be a part of the Enshrinement Week. This year’s event will feature a separate, rescheduled ceremony for the Class of 2020 in addition to a new Class of 2021.
ARTS & CULTURE
- Cleveland Museum of Art
The museum provides both a dynamic digital experience and a safe physical space for visitors to engage firsthand with works of art. In addition to the Museum’s Open Access initiative, which enables art lovers the ability to share, collaborate, remix, and reuse images of 30,000 public-domain artworks from the CMA’s world-renowned collection, the Home is Where the Art Is suite of digital tools provides multiple ways to engage with works of art, including special exhibits, a biweekly “Close Looking at a Distance” live conversation that examines a specific work of art and a reverse image search tool that uses Artificial Intelligence to match visitor’s images to artworks from the Museum’s collection.
- Cleveland International Film Festival
The 45thCleveland International Film Festival (CIFF), being held online April 7-20, will consist of hundreds of films, post-film conversations and Q&As with filmmakers and a slew of activities to make the online Festival a robust experience.
- Karamu House
The country’s oldest African American producing theater created an ongoing series of original productions available for online streaming. The series, Freedom After Juneteenth, was developed as an artistic response to the recent murders of Black Americans through music, dance and spoken word. Each episode focuses on a specific topic, including the trauma caused by police brutality and the power of voting.
- The City is Our Museum
LANDStudio developed The City is Our Museum initiative to shine a light on the artworks that exist throughout the city. The first-released tour is a loop through the neighborhoods of Ohio City and Detroit Shoreway and highlights the trails, parkland, murals, sculptures, tunnels and buildings that give these neighborhoods their unique character. Additional tours that can be experienced on a bike, on foot or even by car will be introduced throughout the year.
- The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame
- 2021 Induction Ceremony
The 2021 Induction Ceremony is set to take place in November, bringing rock’s greatest stars and biggest fans to Cleveland to celebrate. The Class of 2021 inductees will be announced in early 2021.
- It’s Been Said All Along: Voices of Rage, Hope & Empowerment
The Rock Hall’s newest exhibit, It’s Been Said All Along: Voices of Rage, Hope & Empowerment, showcases musical and visual artists that have created art as a response to unspeakable tragedy and to promote social justice. Artifacts include Aretha Franklin’s Valentino dress worn during her first appearance at Radio City Music Hall, a jumpsuit worn by James Brown and Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power” lyrics. Director of Curatorial Affairs Nwaka Onwusa explained, “we want to show what the power of rock ‘n’ roll looks like in the face of segregation and racism. These artists have stood above all that and done it elegantly.” Visitors can also experience the exhibit online with a virtual exhibit walk-through and an official Spotify playlist.
- Class of 2020 Inductee Exhibit
The newest inductees—Depeche Mode, The Doobie Brothers, Whitney Houston, Nine Inch Nails, The Notorious B.I.G. and T. Rex—are featured in The Class of 2020 exhibit. The gallery is filled with rare items, including custom guitars, iconic outfits and an installation recalling Nine Inch Nail’s 1994 Woodstock performance.
- Play It Loud: Instruments of Rock & Roll
After a premier at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, “Play It Loud” took residency at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in November 2019. The exhibition follows rock music’s monumental impact on society and culture through the instruments and sounds that defined its voice. Featuring more than 130 instruments from artists like Chuck Berry, The Beatles, Elvis, Jimi Hendrix, Joni Mitchell and The Rolling Stones, the exhibition displays many instruments for the first time outside of a performance setting and celebrates the unique role instruments play in shaping the musical genre.
- Cleveland Orchestra
The Cleveland Orchestra, hailed as America’s best by The New York Times, has recently brought back live performances to their home at Severance Hall. The In Focus concert series is a new, original series of digital concerts that music-lovers around the world can stream on-demand across a variety of platforms through Adella, the Orchestra’s video streaming service. The digital streaming of concerts will continue throughout the winter and spring, affording fans the ability to enjoy the complete 2020-21 season’s performances from home.
- Brite Winter
The annual winter art and music festival is extending beyond a one-day celebration and will fill the winter months with visual art, live music and connections both with virtual programming and at small outdoor settings throughout January, February and March.
NEW RESTAURANTS & BREWERIES
Cleveland’s culinary scene highlights the more than 100 diverse ethnicities found throughout the city. Recently opened eateries (many with take-out and delivery options) include:
- EDWINS Too (November 2020)
Building on the success of the EDWINS Leadership & Restaurant Institution, which offers formerly incarcerated adults a comprehensive hospitality training program and a pathway to employment, founder Brandon Chrostowski has introduced EDWINS Bakery and EDWINS Butcher Shop. The newest offering, EDWINS Too, will focus on fine-dining and prix-fixe menus developed with a monthly chef-in-residence that will work with the team to craft menus. “In these less than ideal times…we are doubling down on the EDWINS mission. This is our solution and our greater calling right now,” states Chrostowski.
- Bar Oni (October 2020)
Chef-owner Matthew Spinner replaced his fine-dining Japanese bistro in the Tremont neighborhood with a more casual, Japanese sports bar, Bar Oni. Beer, cider and cocktails are served with a menu the features skewers of grilled meat, tempura-fried vegetable sides and other Japanese pub specialties.
- Home Bistro (August 2020)
Cleveland native Chef Victor Morenz relocated his popular Chicago restaurant Home Bistro to Cleveland’s Little Italy neighborhood. The New American-style bistro features seasonal, ingredient-driven fare for dinner and weekend brunch.
- Citizen Pie Roman Café (August 2020)
Known for his wood-fired Neapolitan-style pizza at Citizen Pie, Chef Vytauras Sasnauskas opened Citizen Pie Roman Café on East 4th Street, a popular entertainment destination in Downtown Cleveland. Roman Café is modeled after Rome-based eatery Bonci and specializes in light-as-a-cloud, Roman-style Pizza al Taglio. The Café also partnered with local coffee brewer Six Shooter Coffee to provide a variety of espresso beverages, cold-brew coffee on tap and more.
- Betts (August 2020)
Located at the Kimpton Schofield Hotel, Betts serves classic American dishes with an emphasis on freshness, quality and whole foods in a colorful, casual dining space. The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, dinner and weekend brunch, and a grab-and-go cooler offers fresh sandwiches, healthy snacks, craft beer and wine. Lucky guests will be seated at a table with a Bubbles Bell for on-demand sparkling wine service.
- Sixth City Sailor’s Club (August 2020)
The nautical-themed cocktail bar and restaurant, Sixth City Sailor’s Club, brings a touch of whimsy to Downtown Cleveland’s cocktail scene. The menu features alcoholic slushies, draft cocktails, and seafood classics like a lobster roll and poke bowls while an expansive courtyard patio, arcade games and billiards tables add to the fun.
- Summer House (March 2020)
Summer House offers guests spectacular views of the lakefront and downtown skyline from a prime vantage spot on the Lake Erie shore. The bright and airy space features a seasonal-scratch kitchen with small plates and a Mediterranean twist on the classics.
- Half Moon Bakery (January 2020)
Empanadas steal the show at Half Moon Bakery, which opened in January 2020 by husband-and-wife team Gerson Velasquez and Lyz Otero. Celebrating their Puerto Rican and Guatemalan heritage, Half Moon features three different styles of empanadas with numerous filling options as well as traditional Cuban and tripleta sandwiches. Flan cakes, specialty cupcakes and quesitos round out the bakery offerings.
SOCIALLY DISTANT & OUTDOOR EXPERIENCES
Cleveland offers a variety of activities that meet visitors’ preferences for increased safety as they return to traveling. When seeking outdoor experiences and activities and spaces that allow for social distancing, travelers can consider the following.
- Urban Outdoors
With Lake Erie in its front yard and a National Park in its backyard, visitors to Cleveland can easily access outdoor adventures. Perfect for hiking, biking, birding or simply relaxing, the 33,000-acre Cuyahoga Valley National Park is led by the mighty Cuyahoga River that snakes through a wilderness of verdant trees, valley landscapes and historic farms. Much of the history-rich Towpath Trail, which follows the route of the legendary Ohio and Erie Canalway, also winds through the park. The sprawling and picturesque Cleveland Metroparks encircle the city of Cleveland with nearly 23,000 acres of greenspace in 18 reservation with numerous trails, waterways and lakefront settings for outdoor recreation.
- Indoor Gardens
Visitors looking for a quick escape to nature, especially during the winter months, can warm up at indoor gardens throughout the city. Cleveland Botanical Garden is home to 10 acres of beautiful outdoor gardens and an 18,000-square-foot glasshouse featuring a Costa Rican rainforest full of lush plants, butterflies and birds, and the desert of Madagascar, where prickly plants and out-of-the-ordinary blooms and animals reside. Visitors can escape to an endless summer at Rockefeller Park Greenhouse which showcases global-inspired gardens, native Ohio plants and tropical exotics in thematic indoor and outdoor gardens. The RainForest at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo showcases more than 10,000 plants and over 600 animals from the jungles of Asia, Africa and the Americas. The two-acre, two-level habitat is one of the largest of its kind in the country and features bird species flying freely overhead, a 25-foot waterfall and a tropical rainstorm exhibit with thunder and lightning effects.
- Tours & Passports
To help visitors organize their plans and encourage self-guided exploration, new passports are available in the Destination Cleveland app. In addition to the popular Cleveland Brewery Passport, new passport themes include urban outdoors, iconic sights, free in CLE and arts and culture. Local tour providers also help visitors get a lay of The Land with updated practices and offerings. Tours of Cleveland provides guided walking tours with limited group sizes to help maintain social distance and requires participants to wear masks. The popular Downtown Highlights Walking Tour covers the history of Cleveland and its iconic buildings along with tales of Cleveland’s most famous residents. SEE CLE offers two-hour guided tours of various historical, cultural and entertainment sites throughout the city that can be personalized to travelers’ interests and available time. With the new “Follow the Guide” option, visitors may drive their own vehicles while following a tour guide SUV and hearing a guided tour via cell phone.
- Create-Your-Own Night in the Bookstore
Visible Voice Books welcomes groups of up to eight people to reserve a private shopping experience at the bookstore in the historic Tremont neighborhood. While enjoying exclusive browsing time, guests can also sample wine and dine on scratch-made pizza from the bookstore’s downstairs’ neighbor, Crust.
Over the next five years, Cleveland is slated to host some of the largest sporting, arts & culture and rock ’n’ roll events. Here’s a look at what’s ahead.
- 2022 NBA All-Star Game
The National Basketball Association’s top talent will head to Cleveland to compete in the 2022 NBA All-Star Game at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. This is sure to be a star-studded February weekend as top names in sports, music and entertainment flock to The Land to see and be seen at the slam-dunk contest, celebrity game and rising stars competition.
- 2024 NCAA Women’s Final Four
After hosting this Championship in 2007, Cleveland will again welcome the NCAA DI Women’s Basketball Tournament Final Four in 2024 at the Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.
- 2024 Solar Eclipse
It will be a blackout in Cleveland on April 8, 2024 as the city is in the direct path of the Total Solar Eclipse. Ohio will be one of just 13 states left in the dark as the Moon passes between Earth and the Sun. The darkness will be longest in Northeast Ohio, for an estimated 3 minutes and 52 seconds.