People are often surprised to learn that AP is based in Cleveland. But with cheap rent, great food, Midwestern hospitality and a pretty stellar music scene, it’s the perfect little big city. If you’re coming to the APMAs, why not make a mini-vacation of it and see what Cleveland has to offer? From the best grilled cheese you’ll ever eat to a toy store that sells classic childhood games, here are the AP editors picks for what to see, eat and do when you stop by our city. For more staff picks and APMAs information, check out our APMAs FAQs page.
WHAT TO SEE
Cleveland Museum of Art
11150 East Blvd.
If you’re looking for a low-key way to spend your Sunday afternoon before the hubbub of the APMAs, or you want to unwind before starting your drive back on Tuesday, spend a couple hours at our city’s beautiful art museum. For the excellent price of free, you can peruse the museum’s massive halls and see art from Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol, Salvador Dalí and more. If it’s nice outside, be sure to check out the sculpture garden. –Brittany Moseley
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
1100 E 9th St.
The Rock Hall is an absolutely essential stop for anyone who considers themselves fans of music, period. Remember: Your APMAs ticket gets you free admission to the Rock Hall the day of the show, and they open at 10 a.m., which will give you tons of time to see all the incredible rock artifacts before heading back to your hotel room and changing for the ceremony that night. –Scott Heisel
Rocky River Reservation
located in Cleveland, Lakewood and Rocky River
At both locations where I’ve lived since moving to Cleveland, I have had the fortune of being within walking distance of one the many Cleveland Metroparks. While Edgewater Park may be closer to downtown, I would personally recommend taking the trek to the Detroit Road side of Rocky River Reservation, which is where the Rockcliff Springs Fitness Trail begins. The trail, with recurring workout stations, runs adjacent to the river and through the woods, which makes for both a scenic and shaded walk, which is definitely more comfortable on our hot, humid July days. It’s the perfect place to refocus and reflect. –Cassie Whitt
West Side Market
1979 W. 25th St.
It’s a Cleveland landmark, as well as the freshest place to eat. (Two things you can’t say about McDonald’s.) The West Side Market is home to over a hundred vendors dealing in everything from fresh produce, quality meats and seafood, excellent pastries and assorted ethnic foods, four days a week. You don’t have to be cooking in your hotel room to enjoy the facility; You can experience the vibrant hustle and bustle of the marketplace (impress your friends with your ability to haggle over the price of a bag of Bing cherries) while getting your lips around some of the city’s most savory creations. Amazingly fresh produce, awesome gyros, crepes so flavorful they make French nationals weep, exotic pickles and melt-in-yo’-mouth beef jerky are a scant few things that make WSM one of CLE’s great destinations. –Jason Pettigrew
WHERE TO SHOP
11512 Clifton Blvd., Cleveland & 1814 Coventry Road, Cleveland Heights
Remember all those awesome toys you wanted when you were a kid but your parents wouldn't buy for you? Big Fun has ’em. Need a Whoopie Cushion or hand buzzer to prank your bestie? Big Fun has you covered. Want to buy a novelty board game called Fart: The Game for your wife's birthday? Big Fun's got your back. (I know about that last one from personal experience.) These vintage toy stores are chock full of craziness, and you can find pretty much anything there, as proven by the video we shot with Reggie And The Full Effect earlier this year, where we challenged James Dewees to buy all the instruments he needed for a performance of “37” spending only $100 at Big Fun. (He pulled it off, by the way!) –Scott Heisel
Carol & John’s Comic Book Shop
17462 Lorain Ave.
With a large selection of back-issues, books, trade editions and collectables, as well as fresh comics and graphic novels, Carol & John’s has been repeatedly ranked among the best comic book stores in Cleveland. Go there a few times and their friendly staff are likely to know you by face, name and taste. If you’re just coming for a day, take time out to peruse their selection and pick up new reading material. If you’re from the area, I would recommend setting up a pull-file for your favorite new titles and their variants. –Cassie Whitt
11508 Clifton Blvd.
Don’t let the small storefront fool you: Flower Child is teeming with vintage goods. You could easily spend a day in the store working your way through its labyrinth of rooms. Whether you’re looking for retro furniture, a vintage fur stole or some colorful Troll dolls to add to your collection, Flower Child is a one-stop shop for all things vintage and fabulous. –Brittany Moseley
My Mind’s Eye
16010 Detroit Ave, Lakewood
Where else in the city could you get Paramore’s broken-vinyl pressing of “Ain’t It Fun” and all of Century Media’s recent Godflesh reissues? Nowhere. My Mind’s Eye is the record store for people who like it loud, stocking metric tons of metal, punk, hardcore, garage rock and other genres, as well as a huge selection of used vinyl. We guarantee you will discover something in their racks, whether it’s an obscure 7-inch, a reissue box set you never knew existed or your next favorite band. Pro tip: There’s a reason why AP editors camp out there the night before Record Store Day officially begins. –Jason Pettigrew
WHERE TO EAT
13715 Madison Ave., Lakewood
The first time I discovered Angelo's was two months after moving to Lakewood back in 2004, when I took a girl I had a crush on there for dinner. The pizza was great; the conversation, not so much. I never asked her out again, but I did order Angelo's literally the very next day—that's how amazing it is. Order the pan crust and thank me later! (PS: If you dine in on the day of the APMAs, you'll get to experience the wonder that is Half-Price Pizza Mondays. Don't blow it.) –Scott Heisel
5801 Detroit Ave.
My first memory of Happy Dog involves whiskey, pimento mac and cheese atop French fries and bloody Christian Bale destroying Jared Leto with an axe. That’s not to say anyone actually got murdered the first time I went there, but I did watch American Psycho projected on a screen from the basement bar as a band played. But, we’re here to talk food, and for those of us who don’t eat meat, Happy Dog’s amazing field roast vegan Italian sausages are delicious. And not only that, but you have 50 widely varying toppings to choose from including some downright zany ones like Froot Loops, chunky peanut butter and Hot Fries. –Cassie Whitt
14718 Detroit Ave., Lakewood
When bands come by our office before their Cleveland gigs, they usually ask us to recommend a place to eat. And before I can hear the “e” in that last word, I pull out my phone to show off Melt’s culinary pioneering in the realm of grilled cheese. The décor is hip but working class, the beer list is grand and the creations are something to behold, from the Black Cat (blackened catfish with pepper jack) to the Melt Challenge (three levels with 13 different cheeses). While touring with Senses Fail in 2009, guitarist Heath Saraceno accompanied an AP editor (one who was fond of eating his feelings) to Melt and wrote about his experience on his Tumblr. You should taste what you’re missing. –Jason Pettigrew
1867 W. 25th St.
We may not have the best sports teams, but here in Ohio we do have the best ice cream. (Although I might be a bit biased.) When you’re in Cincinnati, get a scoop at Graeter’s. If you’re in Columbus, stop by Jeni’s for waffle cone full of salted caramel. And when you’re in Cleveland, you have to go to Mitchell’s. Started by two Cleveland brothers in 1999, Mitchell’s makes small batch ice cream with only the best ingredients and dairy straight from local farms. Whether you’re looking for a unique seasonal flavor (strawberry jalapeno, Great Lakes porter chocolate chunk) or going for a classic (cookies & cream, rocky road or my favorite, chocolate peanut butter cup), Mitchell’s has it. –Brittany Moseley