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24 Hours in Cleveland

Cleveland, or “The Land,” as LeBron James, the star of its 2016 NBA Championship team calls it, is the new darling of the American Midwest, with standout professional sports teams, cutting-edge medical care (you’ve no doubt heard of Cleveland Clinic), world-class arts and culture, and a booming restaurant scene that puts much larger cities to shame. Cleveland’s residents are smart, fun and business-savvy, and full of pride for their city. If you have only one day in The Land, here’s where to rub shoulders with the best of them.

Day

1

MORNING
  • Healthy Start.

    Stroll over to Public Square, 6.5-acre urban park in the heart of downtown, for breakfast at Rebol, an ultra-hip eatery with a people-watching patio and an obsession for local, organic and non-GMO foods (even the ice is purified). Try the Bulletproof Coffee, which claims to provide extra energy from coconut oil and butter, and a Breakfast Bol, a power meal containing two fried eggs, goat cheese, sweet potato, mushroom, bok choy and onion.

  • Storybook Garden.

    Visit University Circle, a neighborhood 4 miles from downtown with one of the highest concentrations of arts and culture in the nation. Linger at Cleveland Botanical Garden, where you’ll find 10 acres of lush gardens and an 18,000-square-foot greenhouse supporting 350 species of plants, 50 species of animals and hundreds of butterflies.

Day

2

MIDDAY
  • Interactive Art.

    Also in University Circle, the Cleveland Museum of Art ranks among the best in the country with more than 45,000 pieces in its permanent collection, including Dali, Monet, Renoir and Warhol. Don’t miss the high-tech Gallery One and its interactive touch-screen lenses that enable visitors to paint and sculpt.

  • Market Munch.

    You’ve most likely never seen an urban market in the U.S. like Cleveland’s West Side Market. Founded in 1912, it’s one of the few European-style central markets left in the country, with more than 100 vendors selling food only (no arts and crafts). Literally every ingredient you’ve ever needed is here, from the mundane to the gourmet, along with plenty of drool-worthy prepared foods for a lunch on the go.

AFTERNOON
  • Christmas Forever.

    For fans of the 1983 cult classic “A Christmas Story,” there’s no Cleveland attraction more charming than the 19th-century Victorian that was used for the exterior scenes of Ralphie Parker’s house in the quirky comedy. A fan restored the house in the trendy Tremont neighborhood in 2006, and it’s open daily for tours.

  • Rock On.

    Cleveland’s hottest attraction is undoubtedly the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, the world’s largest collection of rock-and-roll artifacts. It’s downtown on the shore of Lake Erie, with seven whopping levels to explore, where you’ll find storied items like Michael Jackson’s sparkly glove and Lady Gaga’s meat dress. But first, stop and admire the exterior — I. M. Pei’s dazzling architecture, a powerful pyramid-shaped design, mirrors Pei’s own work on the Louvre expansion.

  • The Latest Craft.

    Since the Great Lakes Brewing Company opened its doors in 1988, Cleveland has become one of the Midwest’s most influential craft beer hubs. For happy hour, visit the city’s newest, Collision Bend Brewing Company, on the east bank of the Cuyahoga River in the white-hot Flats District. Order a flight — a sampling of four Collision Bend beers — and make sure one of them is the Lake Erie Sunset, a blood-orange American wheat.

EVENING
  • Cleveland’s Iron Chef.

    It’s no longer a secret that Cleveland’s dining scene rivals that of nearby Chicago. Chef Michael Symon — Cleveland native, James Beard Award winner, Iron Chef and co-host of ABC’s “The Chew” — first brought the city into the national spotlight with Lola, a New American eatery, in 2000. He has since opened other notable restaurants in Cleveland, but Lola, in the East Fourth Street dining zone, remains his flagship. Don’t miss the Beef Cheek Pierogi appetizer, a hat tip to Cleveland’s Eastern European roots.

  • Top Theater.

    Playhouse Square, Cleveland’s theater district, hosts nine major live stages in a one-block radius, making it the largest performing arts center in the United States outside of New York City. It is one of the few venues in America that can support a three-week run of a Broadway performance. Check with the concierge at The Ritz-Carlton, Cleveland for the latest performance recommendations and tickets.

  • Nightcap with the Locals.

    Parnell’s Irish Pub in the Playhouse Square District is where Clevelanders go after the show for a fine whiskey or a perfectly poured pint. It’s also a favorite local haunt for live music, played until the wee hours of morning.