Best urban neighborhoods in Cleveland & Akron

by | Feb 12, 2014 | Neighborhoods & Housing

Although the cities of Cleveland and Akron have dozens of individual neighborhoods, our focus is on areas that appeal to our core clients: corporate professionals relocating to NE Ohio who want an urban environment with a pedestrian friendly feel and easy access to lots of city amenities (shops, attractions, restaurants, museums). Two of the best sources for detailed info on city of Cleveland neighborhoods are:

And a great source for Akron neighborhoods is:

So, whether you want to live in a walkable urban neighborhood, or you just want to visit some of the more developed spots in the city on weekends to explore or dine out, here are our picks:


Ohio City just west of,  and walkable to, downtown , Ohio City is one of the fastest growing neighborhoods in Cleveland. With great access to public transit (RTA stop on Lorain near W. 25), lots of housing choices ranging from affordable apartments to 150 year old Victorian homes to brand new 4-story townhomes with rooftop decks overlooking the city skyline, Ohio City is anchored by the 100 year old Westside Market, consistently rated one of the 10 best public markets in the country (our version of Pike Place Market in Seattle). This “cathedral to food” has almost 100 stalls where vendors sell produce, dairy, meat, prepared foods and every kind of ethnic delicacy you can dream of. Open 4 days a week, all year long. And dozens of restaurants, shops & bars are clustered near the market, many of W. 25th and Market Streets. Ohio City Inc, the non-profit community development organization that helps to guide the neighborhood along, took our team out for a driving tour of the area in early December ’13 to share the latest. Highlights included learning about their focused efforts to create residential housing options on Detroit Road between W. 28th and W. 40th. Rentals in this neighborhood range from old warehouses converted into lofts (Federal Knitting Mills Building) to brand new construction like Mariner’s Watch (62 one & two bedroom apartments opening late 2014).   And the Cleveland Museum of Art recently opened a westside outpost called Transformer Station, which showcases contemporary works & photography and it is located in Ohio City’s Hingetown neighborhood (northern section that is the “hinge” between Ohio City & the Detroit/Shoreway neighborhood)

photo courtesy Tremont West Development Corp.

photo courtesy Tremont West Development Corp.

Tremont –  Although the historic district in Tremont is only about 10 blocks X 10 blocks wide, it is packed with things to do. Upscale restaurants & bars like Iron Chef Michael Symon’s Lolita, sit side by side with beer & shot joints like Hotz (founded in 1919). Hundreds of visitors come to Tremont on the 2nd Friday of every month for Art Walk and many independent shops sell clothing, wine, furniture and gifts. Lincoln Park, a full city block sized pocket of green space in the middle of the neighborhood has a pool, park benches and Arts in August offers summer performances that attracts those with lawn chairs and picnic dinners to enjoy free opera, ballet and Shakespeare.  Some of the most well attended block clubs in the city of Cleveland create a true sense of neighborhood. Homes range from modest cottages to century homes on the park. There are 25 churches in one square mile, a testament to ethnic migration patterns that created Tremont over the last 200 years. The most iconic is St. Theodosius Russian Orthodox Church (wedding scene from Oscar winning Deer Hunter movie filmed here), who onion domed rooftop can be seen for miles.
Gordon Square Arts District –  Anchored by the many entertainment options near the intersection of W. 65th & Detroit, Gordon Square is a subset of the larger Detroit/Shoreway neighborhood just west of Ohio City and just 10 minutes by secondary roads to downtown Cleveland. Chef owned restaurants & bars, The Capital Theater (popular and indie films), the progressive and edgy Cleveland Public Theater, independent shops and great access to the lake via a walkway that goes under the nearby Route 2 provide residents & visitors with many options for their free time.  A very diverse integrated neighborhood in every sense of the word, in the last 5 years new housing options were also added to the mix to attract young professionals and empty nesters who wanted maintenance free condos and townhomes close to Lake Erie. The Shoreway Building, currently under renovation to turn this former warehouse into loft apartments is just one example. Battery Park is another.  And the third Friday of every month the nearby 78th Street Studios opens its doors with live music, food options and dozens of galleries all housed in a former American Greetings warehouse, where cool Clevelanders mix and mingle.
Edgewater Park – Located at the end of Route 2 (AKA The West Shoreway), Edgewater abuts the Lakewood, the first suburb west of Cleveland, hugs Lake Erie and has many old gracious manions, it feels more like a suburb than most of the city neighborhoods.  Edgewater & Cliff Drives have the most expensive homes, including houses with sweeping views of Lake Erie and the downtown skyline that would make those from Chicago or Boston clap their hands with glee when they hear the prices compared to what they are used to. Edgewater Beach’s management was taken over in 2013 by the Cleveland MetroParks, which will only mean good things for this park. Pockets of dining, shopping and nearby nightlife makes this area walkable and hundreds of rentals, from multi-story apartment buildings to half of a house are available, creating a neighborhood that ranges from executives with six figure jobs to members of the hospitality industry.


Shaker Square –  Created by the Van Swerengin brothers in the 1920’s, this neighborhood is anchored by the octagonal outdoor shopping mall (one of the first in the country) of the same name, Shaker Square. The RTA’s Green & Blue Line light rail Rapid trains run through this district making trips to downtown and the airport a breeze. Restaurants (Fire is our favorite) a multi-screen movie theater and shops that provide everything from dry cleaning and a pharmacy to an independent toy store keep this area busy night and day.  Every Saturday morning the North Union Farmer’s Market holds the best farmer’s market in Cleveland, hands down. Historic condo and apartment buildings like Moreland Courts provide luxury living for those who no longer want the upkeep of a single family home but are not ready to leave gracious living provided by gorgeous old buildings like these.  Dozens of rental buildings from very affordable to high end, and because this is just 10 minutes from the Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals, it appeals to many interns and residents at these hospitals. Larchmere Blvd. just two blocks north of the Square is filled with independent shops & restaurants including antique stores.
University Circle –  The cultural hub of Cleveland, packed with museums, educational institutions and social service and health care complexes, University Circle just recently added a healthy does of upscale residential options to its mix. Those who want to be able to walk to work at a museum, the Cleveland Clinic or University Hospitals all have that option in this neighborhood. We devoted a posting on our blog devoted to this area previously, which provides more detail here.

UpTown neighborhood - photo courtesy MRN Ltd.

UpTown neighborhood – photo courtesy MRN Ltd.

Little Italy –  Many times University Circle & Little Italy are described as the same neighborhood as they touch boundaries and overlap in a few spots, but there are slight differences. Little Italy has a dozen side streets with single family homes (which rarely come on the
market) and a restaurant row which is centered at the intersection of Mayfield Road and Murray Hill. Empty nesters in high-end townhomes, college students living in the top half of a double with two roommates and 3rd generation Clevelanders live side by side and add to the charm. Many of the properties listed on Unviversity Circle’s great website could be considered Little Italy as well. Holy Rosary Catholic Church dominates the street and has a Pre K-8th grade  Cleveland Montessori School that appeals to many professionals who work nearby and is very multi-cultural with more than a dozen languages reflected in its student. Every August the entire neighborhood is turned into a street festival for the Feast of the Assumption, where thousands of visitors fill  the streets to eat all things Italian!


Downtown Cleveland – the fastest growing residential influx is into the downtown Cleveland neighborhood.  While subdivided into many distinct areas in downtown (Warehouse District, The Flats, Theater District, Gateway District, etc.), each one is only 4-5 blocks from a lot of fun restaurants, the ballparks, Lake Erie, theaters, etc). There is high occupancy (90%+) so it’s challenging to find an apartment/condo in downtown, but not out of the question. Here is a link to the earlier posting that is devoted to this neighborhood.

 Akron’s Highland Square –   Known as one of the more eclectic areas of Akron, Highland Square is a mix of urban hipsters, the arts community and young professionals. Multi-story apartments form the 1920-30’s mix with modern high-rises in this densely populated (compared to the rest of Akron) area. The main drag is West Market Street and many of the older apartment buildings are along North Portage Path. Very Progressive (John Kerry’s campaign headquarters was here in the 2004 Presidential election) and it has a strong LGBT community. The historic Highland Theatre provides an anchor, an arts festival draws 10,000 visitors every summer and a giant Indian head statute on  reflects this areas heritage as the western boundary between white and Native American lands in the 1700’s.
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