I Heart My City: Joe’s Cleveland

Joe Baur is a writer and filmmaker with a passion for travel, craft beer, and adventure. His work has taken him all over the world, but for this Cleveland native, there’s nothing better than coming home. Here are a few of Joe’s favorite things about the pride of Ohio, the Forest City.

Follow Joe’s story on his personal website and on Twitter @BaurJoe.

Cleveland is My City

When someone comes to visit me, the first place I take them is Ohio City, an artisan neighborhood just over the Cuyahoga River from downtown. First, we head to the 100-year-old West Side Market for surprisingly filling falafel at Maha’s. We then play “eeny, meeny, miny, moe” to pick which brewery we’ll stop at to wash down lunch.

Fall is the best time to visit my city because Cuyahoga Valley National Park offers the best views of the changing leaves. Bike down the Towpath Trail from Cleveland to Akron for — you guessed it — more beer at Thirsty Dog before heading home on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad.

You can see my city best from the rooftop of Black Pig. Munch on the roasted chicken breast with crispy potatoes and house bacon as the Terminal Tower lights the night sky.

Locals know to skip the Horseshoe Casino and check out the “Classical Revolution” at Happy Dog instead.

Native Cleveland, in awesomely gritty North Shore Collinwood, is the place to buy authentic, local souvenirs.

In the past, notable people like John D. Rockefeller, Carl Stokes, and Eliot Ness have called my city home.

My city’s best museum is the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame because despite the inherent irony of glamorizing rock’s most notorious rebels in a glitzy museum, it’s a comprehensive display of music history that can swallow an entire day.

If there’s one thing you should know about getting around my city, it’s to take the Rapid and bring a bike onboard for a little extra freedom.

The best place to spend time outdoors in my city is Perk Plaza when the food trucks are out for Walnut Wednesdays.

My city really knows how to celebrate the Fourth of July because you can hear fireworks blasting throughout several neighborhoods as Clevelanders of every stripe come out to celebrate.

You can tell if someone is from my city if they’re excited to tell you about Cleveland, good or bad.

For a fancy night out, take your significant other out to dinner at Crop Bistro, housed in the grandeur former United Bank building from the 1920s, and marvel at the ornate artistry on the ceiling.

Just outside my city, you can visit Chagrin Falls. The mid-19th-century downtown area is filled with shopping and great views of a natural waterfall plummeting into the Chagrin River. Find your inner-zen at Yoga by the Falls, and treat yourself to one (or more) of Jeni’s “splendid” ice cream flavors.

My city is known for being “The Mistake on the Lake,” but it’s really finding a renaissance at the heart of its gritty Rust Belt core.

The best outdoor market in my city is North Union Farmers Market.

Grumpy’s is my favorite place to grab breakfast, and Bar Cento is the spot for late-night eats.

To find out what’s going on at night and on the weekends, read Cleveland Scene Magazine.

My city’s biggest sports event is a Cleveland Browns home opener. Watch it at Cleveland Browns Stadium (First Energy? Never!) in the heart of the Dawg Pound. Here we go, Brownies. Here we go! WOOF-WOOF!

When I’m feeling cash-strapped, I head to PJ’s Luncheonette for a breakfast wrap, or Edison’s Pub for the nation’s best ‘za (you heard right, NYC and Chicago).

To escape the crowds, I go for a bike ride west along Lake Avenue through Lakewood and Rocky River.

If my city were a celebrity (or character) it’d be Charlie Chaplin’s Tramp because no matter how bad life dishes it, we find a way to smile.

The dish that represents my city best is anything with pierogies and Great Lakes Christmas Ale is my city’s signature drink.

Terminal Tower is my favorite building in town because it symbolizes everything Cleveland was and can be again.

The most random thing about my city is that not only is the inventor of the traffic light from Cleveland, but the first one was installed on Ontario Avenue near Public Square.

Beachland Ballroom is the best place to see live music, but if you’re in the mood to dance, check out Touch Supper Club.

Burning River Fest could only happen in my city.

In the spring you should grab a pussy willow or squirt gun and celebrate Dyngus Day in Detroit-Shoreway where polka music echoes throughout Detroit Avenue.

In the summer you should go to Wade Oval Wednesdays in University Circle for live music and food trucks.

In the fall you should watch or partake in the Head of the Cuyahoga Regatta.

In the winter you should go snowshoeing at Squire’s Castle in Cleveland Metroparks’ North Chagrin Reservation.

If you have kids (or are a kid at heart), you won’t want to miss “Boo at the Zoo” at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo.

The best book about my city is Rust Belt Chic: The Cleveland Anthology by Richey Piiparinen because it allows Clevelanders to define life in Cleveland.

When I think about my city, the song that comes to mind isBurn On” by Randy Newman. It’s the only time Cleveland has been referred to as the “city of magic,” and we’ll be forever grateful for that.

In 140 characters or less, the world should heart my city because Cleveland is family.


  1. mitchell folk19
    April 15, 2014, 8:46 am

    cleveland is a real beutiful city that grew over the years

  2. Dracha Arendee
    Cleveland, Ohio
    February 26, 2014, 7:14 am

    Greater Cleveland expands role of being the International Center of the Environmental Art Movement as a ‘Cultural Industry’, to foster civic identity, cultivate jobs and tourism, and brand Ohio Environmental Arts and Culture District in the Bioregion”

    In 2012, as part of the 25 Year Iceality Silver Revelation, the Greater Cleveland Area was recognized as the Global Home of the Environmental Arts Movement by American Cultural Ambassadors David and Renate Jakupca of the the International Center for Environmental Arts (ICEA).

    The Global Home of the Environmental Art Movement is the region in Northern Ohio that is noted for its growing concentration of Sustainable Design and Technology Industries. Geographically, the region occupies the same area as the Greater Cleveland Area where it is centered and where most of the companies are located. It is in the northeastern part of Ohio, an area stretching from the south end to Akron-Canton, Lorain in the west and Youngstown in the east.

    It is visualized as the home for many of the world’s largest technology corporations, as well as thousands of small start ups working on a sustainable future. The term ICEALITY refers to the region’s original innovator, the International Center for Environmental Arts (ICEA), the environmental arts pioneer, but it eventually expands to all sustainable practices, and is now generally used as a metonym for the global cultural of peace sector. Environmental Art is now considered as the cornerstone of the modern sustainable global Environmental Art Movement and this concept is now replicated by artists, architects, urban planners and sustainable organizations throughout the World, reflecting a still growing global audience.

    According to Ambassador Renate, “It as a process of transformation for Cleveland from the rust belt to a place where, Economics and Culture combined with leading edge technology, thriving entrepreneurship, financial investors and pioneering organizational styles to provide the background for the most profound inquiry ever into the Nature of Peace that will affect our planet’s very evolution for centuries to come.”
    Google Reference Link:
    “Greater Cleveland being the International Center of the Environmental Art Movement “

  3. Tom
    Washington, DC
    February 24, 2014, 7:13 pm

    Great article, except the first traffic light was at Euclid and E 105th, not at Public Square

  4. Jean Coleman
    July 18, 2013, 9:59 am

    Hi, Joe,

    Thanks for the information.

    I was born in Cleveland and went to the public schools when there was such a thing as “Major Work”. I began learning French in the fourth grade and have kept up the language ever since.
    We moved to Idaho when I was a freshman in high school, but I still have some of my father’s family in and around Cleveland. We visit occasionally, but I’ve never discovered the city as an adult. As a child the schools took us to Carnegie Hall and the Art Museum. My public school experience was fantastic.
    Perhaps we’ll visit more in the future. Thanks again. Jean Coleman