48 hours in the Cleveland art scene

Cleveland is a city built around art, from indie galleries filled with homemade items to gigantic historic institutions curating the classics. If you’re interested in seeing Claude Monet’s impressionist paintings or Mark Mothersbaugh’s experimental style, we’ve put together a two-day schedule just for you.

Day 1


Make sure to eat your most important meal at Playhouse Square’s Yours Truly.  Wake yourself up with a handcrafted Nitro cold brew and try the signature Notso fries and Killit Skillet. 


The Cleveland Museum of Art (CMA) is a short bike ride or Uber ride away, with over 45,000 works of art spanning 6,000 years. One of the last Rodin-supervised casts of “The Thinker” is here, as well as Monet’s “Water Lilies.” And you know what’s the nicest thing about the CMA? Its permanent collection is always open to the public for free.


There’s no need to travel far for lunch. The Cleveland Museum of Art has its own restaurant Provenance which is located within the museum. The acclaimed chef Douglas Katz’s upmarket food options frequently reflect the art on show at the museum. For example, during a traveling exhibition showcasing Monet, the restaurant created a special menu. It included a lemon lavender cake and delicious flowers and herbs which acknowledged the artist’s love of painting gardens.

Early afternoon

The beautiful onyx architecture of the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland (MOCA) anchors the Uptown section of University Circle. It’s a non-collecting museum, so there’s always something new in the realm of contemporary art on display. Andy Warhol, Jim Hodges, and Claes Oldenburg have all had exhibits at the museum in the past. Admission is always free on a daily basis.

Late afternoon

The Cleveland Institute of Art’s Reinberger Gallery promotes professional artists while also serving as an educational resource for students and teachers. You’ll find inspiration from newer voices in the art world here. There is multi-media, multi-sensory work that really breaks norms and challenges reality inside these galleries.


Tommy’s is a neighborhood favorite in Cleveland Heights’ fashionable Coventry neighborhood. Its delicious food and excellent milkshakes are the things to go for here. With a variety of options ranging from falafel to wraps to meat pies, the menu attempts to suit both carnivores and vegans/vegetarians.


Add a little pizzazz to your night with a visit to the Waterloo Arts Gallery and Waterloo 7 Studio/Gallery. Both are located along Waterloo in Cleveland’s up-and-coming Waterloo Arts District on the east side. This distinctive part of town is an artsy hotspot, with a renowned music club, vinyl record buying, vintage clothing, and cool little cafés all along the road.

Day 2


Breakfast Grumpy’s Cafe in Tremont serves a hearty platter of corned beef hash or a giant stack of pancakes to start the day off correctly. If any of the artwork on the walls appeals to you, feel free to inquire about purchasing it.


Calicchia Studio and Doubting Thomas Gallery are just two of the scores of small galleries springing up between restaurants and houses in this area; known as the epicenter of Cleveland’s indie arts scene. Walkabout Tremont, an art walk occurring the second Friday of each month, is one of the best times to visit.


Drive five minutes to Hingetown in Ohio City for lunch at Saucy Brew Works. Lunch should include a New Haven- or Saucy-style pizza and a flight of their brewed-on-site artisan beers.


Take a short walk to Transformer Station, an art and photography gallery with ever-changing exhibitions. Go inside and you’ll find thought-provoking photographic exhibits as well as modern art curated by the Cleveland Museum of Art. The building, which used to be an electrical substation, was converted into an exciting venue for modern art. And, even better, entry is completely free.

Just a few feet over the street is SPACES, a modern art gallery housed in what used to be the Van Rooy Coffee Building. Each season, SPACES hosts three different exhibit programs, all of which feature new work by artists. Expect to see some truly mind-blowing work at this gallery, which focuses on artists that explore and experiment.

Travel west to ARTneo, a facility dedicated to preserving, researching, collecting, and exhibiting outstanding visual art from the Northeast Ohio region. Inside, you might find everything from a single artist’s painting collection to a rotating show of paintings, prints, and sculptures by a number of different artists.


78th Street Studios, a four-story building with art galleries, creative spaces, and even recording studios, is just a short walk up the street. This isn’t some posh art gallery – it’s housed in a former automobile production facility. The facility is a  fantastic place to learn about the indie art community. Each month on the third Friday, there is a special art festival with food, beverages, and over 60 small businesses.


Relax after a long day with one of Market Garden Brewery & Distillery’s many superb beers, such as the famous Prosperity Wheat or Citramax IPA. The food, which is produced with locally sourced ingredients, is just as popular as the beer selection. One of their famous Scotch Eggs is a good way to start, then move on to the rest of the menu.

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