What to do in Lakewood

Cleveland Outings


Shreyas Banerjee/The Observer

You can catch many entertaining acts at Mahall’s in Lakewood, such as the indie soul artist Ginger Root (above).

Shreyas Banerjee, Executive Editor

Sometimes the outings that you least expect are the ones that you enjoy the most. A few weeks ago, I got a text out of the blue from a friend who said he was visiting the Cleveland area for the day. Within a few hours I found myself on the other side of town with him enjoying a concert of aggressive elevator music in a retro-themed bowling alley/bar/performance venue. These are the sorts of experiences you can only have in Lakewood, Ohio. Lakewood is a suburb of Cleveland, bordering on the northwest side, but it feels just as cosmopolitan as any area in the city proper. Filled with great restaurants, cool shops and fun attractions, there is plenty to do. Lakewood is also extremely walkable and contains an extensive bike lane system, making it a model for the rest of Northeast Ohio. While students of Case Western Reserve University hardly make it out of University Circle, let alone the other side of the river, the trip is well worth the effort. Getting out and exploring the Cleveland area can be one of the most rewarding experiences available for CWRU students, and it also makes for a good break from the constant studying and work that accompanies being on campus. I hope this guide will assist in your own Cleveland outings.


How to get there:

It is an unfortunate reality that it is hard to get to Lakewood from CWRU if you don’t have a car. While CWRU is on the easternmost boundary of Cleveland, Lakewood resides near the westernmost area of the city. As such, taking public transportation to Lakewood is long and arduous, with the trip taking about an hour. If you intend to do so, take the RTA Red Line rapid transit train from either the Little Italy-University Circle station or the Cedar-University station. After quite a few stops, get off at the West Boulevard-Cudell station and then take the 26-26A bus all the way to the Detroit Avenue and Bell Avenue stop. You’ll be right in the heart of Lakewood and can go any which way on foot from there. If that all sounds like a bit much, I’d recommend just finding a friend with a car or taking an Uber—it’s about a 25 minute drive.


What to do:

Once you are there, the world—well I suppose just Lakewood—is your oyster. As I stated before, there are tons of things to do and places to visit. If it’s a nice day, I recommend starting with a visit to Lakewood Park, which is right on Lake Erie and the many coin-operated telescopes provide stunning views of the Cleveland skyline from afar. There’s also a skate park, a swimming pool, tennis courts, a performance space that often has bands playing and a beautiful promenade from which you can enjoy the lake views. The highlights of the park, however, are the Solstice Steps, which are giant concrete steps where you can watch the setting of the sun over Lake Erie each evening. It’s a great place to just hang around and enjoy the end of the day.

Walking south from there, you arrive in central Lakewood, which is filled with great restaurants from across many different cuisines. I recommend hitting up Thai Kitchen, El Carnicero, India Garden, Harlow’s Pizza and Buckeye Beer Engine. Though not a restaurant, La Plaza Supermarket, a Latino grocery store, contains a taquería within that makes the best tacos and burritos in Cleveland, bar none. If you want a quicker bite, Lakewood also contains the Lakewood Truck Park, which always has two different food trucks stationed there, rotating on a daily basis. Next to the trucks are plenty of seating areas, both indoor and outdoor, where you can enjoy your meal. There are also plenty of great coffee shops to check out, whether you want a good cup of joe or just a nice, vibey study space. Favorites of mine include the Root Cafe, Brewella’s, Goodkind Coffee and the fittingly named Caffeine.

Beyond that, Lakewood also features various establishments that all provide unique experiences. Shopping in Lakewood is always a treat, with various themed stores, including the  antique and novelty store Cleveland Curiosities, candy store Campbell’s Sweets Factory and various local bookstores and comic book stores. However, the local business that you probably want to check out the most is Mahall’s—the retro bowling alley/bar/music venue I previously mentioned. There you can have some of the most fun you’ll ever have in the Cleveland area. Local, national and international music acts all come to Mahall’s to perform, making it a great place to catch some live music—I caught a show of city pop band Ginger Root when they came in and the experience was electric. They also hold various themed events, such as “Taylorween,” a Taylor Swift Halloween party being held this Sunday, Oct. 30. Every weekend, without fail, there is always something exciting happening at Mahall’s, but it’s also just a great place to bowl if that’s your thing.

There’s plenty more to do in Lakewood—I didn’t even mention all the great themed bars and the amazing nearby metropark, the Rocky River Reservation—and all of it is worth visiting. It makes for a great break from CWRU’s bubble, even in spite of the time and effort required to make the trip.