By Zoë Nelson
Eager to soak up the last bits of summer, I woke up one morning a few months ago and decided to go to the beach. I had been to a few local beaches before, dotted along Lake Erie, but the shores were rocky, and there wasn’t really anywhere to sit. I had heard of a beach called Edgewater that was about 30 minutes away, the same as my normal drive to downtown Cleveland. Even more than the beach, I had been wanting to try some local soup dumplings. I had just visited Chinatown in Toronto, so I was eager to see what Cleveland’s restaurants had to offer..
I grabbed a towel and sunglasses and left for Cleveland around 10:30 am. Part of me was expecting to be disappointed – it’s an Ohio beach after all. However, as we pulled up to the sparkling beach lining the outer edge of the city, I was amazed. The entire shore was covered in hot, golden sand. To my right, there was an enormous tree casting shade over a path of smooth rocks as the waves washed over them. To my left, the shore curved around to the other end of the city (which looked sort of like Miami from a distance). The water was more blue than I had ever seen the lake, as if someone had just mixed cerulean and indigo paints together. I had not planned on swimming, but the sun was so swelteringly hot that I decided to take a dip. I changed into my swimsuit in the convenient bathroom/changing room, which connected to a larger building with a bar (which was closed) and rooftop porch with seating. I splashed around in the waves for a little bit before drying off, then I hit the boardwalk to catch a glimpse of the city beyond the water.
After visiting Edgewater, I was ready for some soup dumplings. After a quick Google search, I discovered a nearby place called LJ Shanghai (between New Chinatown and Asiatown). The vibe was pretty casual, and we were seated almost immediately. In addition to some thick Shanghainese noodles, we ordered many servings of soup dumplings. They arrive steaming, and smelled delicious. The biggest struggle was managing to eat the dumplings without them falling apart and the soup spilling out, but overall they tasted exquisite.
We had planned to go home afterwards, but as we walked back to the car near the Tower Press building, we were drawn inside, partly hoping to delay the end of the day. As we followed the maze of hallways on the first floor, we discovered a small café (Artefino Cafe), almost completely hidden from sight. Although I was stuffed with Chinese cuisine, I was tempted by the enormous cookies and smell of hot coffee. I ordered a chocolate chip cookie and a Mexican hot chocolate. Something interesting I noticed about this café was the unique art on the walls. I did more research afterwards and discovered that they support local artists by putting their work on display, hoping to gain recognition so they can kickstart their careers. This includes paintings, jewelry, and photography, which is all for sale.
As you are reading this, summer is over, but you can still go to the boardwalk at Edgewater to gaze at Cleveland from a distance- and of course, dine at LJ Shanghai and Artefino Cafe. In fact, fall is the best time of year to grab a steaming coffee and check out some local artwork. As the leaves begin to fall, the city becomes the perfect place to explore. Cleveland has many hidden gems – all you have to do is look. If you want to have a fun, relaxing weekend with friends or family (without breaking the bank), consider using this article, one of my favorite days spent in The Land, as a guide.
Above left: on the street outside of Artefino Cafe; above right: view from the Edgewater boardwalk; below left: Edgewater beach; below right: Artefino Cafe (artefinocafe.com).