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If there’s one thing Clevelanders are aware of (or heard us rave about), it’s that the Cleveland Metroparks are luscious landscapes with endless trails and activities. But while those parks are all great, there are plenty of other green spaces around Cleveland that deserve some much-needed love and attention. They might not be as vast as the Metroparks, but these little spaces are just as worthy and quaint as the rest. Don’t sleep on these amazing pockets of green in CLE.
If you’ve driven past the massive Free Stamp sculpture before, you should probably know that you’re cruising past Willard Park. It kinda sneaks up on you, but it’s a green space with a pretty remarkable fountain in the center in between Lakeside Ave and East 9th Street. Plus, there are plenty of benches, trees for shade, and it’s within walking distance for all you downtown Cleveland workers.
Cleveland Mall, which is broken down into Mall A, B, and C, isn’t your typical mall. Sorry, there’s no food court or Finish Line in this “mall.” It’s literally three green spaces in between East 9th Street and West 3rd Street purposed with adding a little natural life in the middle of a concrete city. As a note: Mall A is also known as Veterans Memorial Plaza (you’ll notice the Memorial Fountain at its center). And you may hear people call Mall C “Strawbridge Plaza.” In short, it’s just a chill area of greenery to give us city folk a taste of nature.
Voinovich Bicentennial Park at the North Coast Harbor is a rather scenic spot in downtown Cleveland. Besides being on the outskirts of some of Cleveland’s coolest restaurants, it’s also next to FirstEnergy Stadium (go Browns), the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and even sand volleyball courts. In the warmer months the green space is home to North Coast Namaste (FREE lakefront yoga) and Pilates on the Pier. But if you’re not down with downward dog, you can always lay out a picnic or just watch Lake Erie’s blues and greens (okay, and sometimes brown).
The Eastman Garden is as adorable as it sounds. In between a sea of city structures, the reading garden sits just outside of the Cleveland Public Library on Superior Ave. Grab a book from the library or just eat some lunch while soaking up some rays in the middle of a hectic afternoon. There are plenty of trees and benches to make you forget you’re in the middle of a big city.
If you’ve been to Walnut Wednesday (the yummy food truck gathering), then you’ve heard of Ralph J Perk Plaza. This green space can be whatever you want it to be; your home away from home, your lunch break, or just a solid place to people-watch. There are so many small events and gatherings held in this stretch, so be sure to keep your eyes peeled.
The Flats are totally the place to be these days, and Settler’s Landing is a strong reason why. The waterfront green space not only has a dog park for your pup to do its own thing, but it also has a cement trail to walk along the water. Come here for a picnic or even to run sprints up the small hills that lead down to the water. Settler’s Landing should not be ignored.
We weren’t lying when we said the Flats was the place to be; we’ve also got Rivergate Park on Merwin Ave. This 6.5-acre park runs along the waterfront, where you’ll catch a bunch of people kayaking or boating. You’ll also run into a few restaurants, like Merwin’s Wharf. Feel free to work out here, meet someone for lunch, or just stop by to sit and stare across the water.
Second to the Cleveland Metropark system, the Cleveland Cultural Gardens is the next best thing (like Diet Metroparks). The park consists of 26 mini gardens that run along Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. The gardens celebrate the world by designating respective gardens to each culture.
If you’re down for a little history lesson while enjoying a green space, Fort Huntington Park is just the place. Right in between West 9th Street and Lakeside Ave., this small, square of grass, trees, benches, and statues of accomplished leaders from The Battle of Lake Erie (yes, that’s actually a thing) awaits. And as of recently, the park now also has a memorial for Cleveland police officers who gave their lives while on duty.