Nicholas DeRenzo

Ian Hunter may have sung that “Cleveland Rocks” in his 1979 hit, but for a few decades there, Northeast Ohio’s once-dominant industrial hub was looking a little more rocky than rock and roll, even earning the nickname The Mistake on the Lake. In the intervening years, however, the Forest City has undergone a renaissance that might make Florence jealous, thanks in no small part to the megawatt charisma of LeBron James. Breweries have sprouted up like weeds, landscape architects are transforming urban spaces, and old factories are now home to galleries, theaters and music venues. A city of neighborhoods, Cleveland has never lost sight of its Eastern European–tinged steel-town roots, meaning you’re never far away from a cold beer and a plate of kielbasa or pierogies — even if they may be made by a celebrity chef these days.