Exploring the Historic Neighborhoods of Cleveland Heights, University Heights and Shaker Heights

Exploring the Historic Neighborhoods of Cleveland Heights, University Heights and Shaker Heights

- in August 2016, Featured

Located east of downtown Cleveland and just minutes from the cultural meccas of University Circle and Little Italy, the neighborhoods of Cleveland Heights, University Heights and Shaker Heights are perfect for families.

Their rich histories and modern amenities make the heights communities highly sought after by potential residents and frequently visited by those seeking entertainment and culture, as well as world-class restaurants and unique shopping.

Outdoor Adventure

Combined, the three communities offer endless options for outdoor fun.

Between its five parks — Cain Park, Caledonia Park, Cumberland Park, Denison Park and Forest Hill Park — Cleveland Heights offers swimming, tennis courts, a biking and jogging path, a skate park and sports leagues. The Cleveland Heights Community center features an Olympic-sized ice rink; a gymnasium with two full-sized basketball courts; a fitness center, a four-lane indoor track; and the Senior Activity Center.

For its residents, University Heights’ Purvis Park and Municipal Pool offers swimming, a playground and picnic amenities. On track to be completed this year is Community Park, which will feature a gazebo and pavilion, as well as several children’s play areas.

Shaker Heights has nine public playgrounds including Horseshoe Lake Park, which features a play structure and swings for children, two pavilions, and 1.3 miles of wooded trails for hiking, walking and biking. Thornton Park offers recreational opportunities year-round, from a 50-meter pool, basketball hoops and baseball diamonds in warm temperatures to a great sledding hill for snowy winter days. The ice arena is open all year long for skating lessons, hockey and figure skating.

The Nature Center at Shaker Lakes lets visitors explore various habitats filled with many species of wildlife in an urban setting. With two hiking trails, educational programs and exhibits, it’s a can’t-miss attraction for nature lovers.

Designated as a “Bicycle Friendly Community” in 2016, Shaker Heights has been proactive when it comes to developing options for bike travel. The city offers on-road bike routes that connect major points of interest such as parks, schools and shopping areas, as well as several bike-friendly paved trails at various parks throughout Shaker Heights.


The heights neighborhoods also provide options when it comes to performing arts. University Heights sponsors a free outdoor summer concert series, with performances at John Carroll on Thursday evenings through Aug. 11.

The city of Cleveland Heights owns and operates Cain Park (cainpark.com), which houses Alma Theater, an outdoor, covered theater perfect for off-Broadway performances; the outdoor, covered Evans Amphitheater, with a stage that welcomes performers ranging from local talent to national bands; and the Audrey & Harvey Feinberg Gallery, an indoor art gallery that displays the works of local artists.

Shopping & Dining

Between the three heights neighborhoods, there’s no shortage of retailers and restaurants.

In University Heights, stop at University Square, a vertical mall and attached parking garage, as well as neighboring Cedar Center Plaza, for dozens of well-known retailers.

Cleveland Heights is known for its 11 distinctive shopping areas tucked into neighborhoods throughout the city. Check out the Cedar Lee district for more than a dozen restaurants ranging from vegetarian to barbecue, burgers to fresh seafood, Mexican and Thai to Chinese. For shopping, the district is home to contemporary art gallery HeightsArts, fair trade boutique Revive, treatmaker Mitchell’s Fine Chocolates and more. In addition, the Cedar Lee Theatre has attracted moviegoers since it opened in 1925.

The Coventry Village district is home to many unique shops, a few of which include Big Fun, which offers collectibles, gags and vintage toys; Cleveland Candle Co.; In the 216, seller of local, handmade items; fair trade store Passport to Peru; and Record Revolution, which carries music, clothing and more. If your family works up an appetite shopping, try one of more than a dozen eateries, including bd’s Mongolian BBQ, where your kids can pick the ingredients in their meals; Tommy’s Restaurant, with an eclectic and wide-ranging menu; and Piccadilly Artisan Yogurt, which offers a selection of ice cream, yogurt and sorbet.

Shaker Heights also has several areas that feature retail and dining, including Larchmere, with historic buildings that have been repurposed into antique and arts shops and unique restaurants, like the Larchmere Tavern; Fairmount Circle, a mix of restaurants and retail near the John Carroll University campus; and Chagrin and Lee, home to Shaker Heights’ civic center as well as retail options like Heinen’s and Shaker Hardware, plus several restaurants.


When it comes to education, the heights neighborhoods offer a wealth of options.

The Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District (chuh.org) operates seven elementary schools, two middle schools, one high school — which currently is undergoing a complete renovation — a career and technical education consortium, an alternative options school, an early childhood learning center and a school for students with emotional needs.

The aptly-named University Heights is home to John Carroll University (sites.jcu.edu).

Shaker Heights City School District (shaker.org) includes six elementary schools, one middle school and one high school. Shaker Heights also is home to several private options: Hathaway Brown, which educates girls in grades K-12 and boys and girls in the Early Childhood Program; Laurel School, an independent day school for girls in grades K-12, with a co-ed Pre-Primary program; St. Dominic School, a Catholic co-ed elementary school serving grades K-8; and the Lower School and Middle School campuses of the all-boys University School.

The Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library (heightslibrary.org) operates four branches: Coventry Village, Lee Road, Noble Neighborhood and University Heights. It also offers the Heights Knowledge and Innovation Center (HKIC), a 4,000-square-foot space at the Lee Road branch that is designed to support the technological and workspace needs of local businesses, nonprofits and individuals. The library system offers rich programming for all ages.

In addition to materials, special events, programs and classes, Shaker Heights Public Library (shakerlibrary.org) is a great resource for researching neighborhood homes and local history as it houses the Local History Collection, in the library’s main branch on Van Aiken Boulevard.

For more information about things to do and see in each neighborhood, visit:

Cleveland Heights — clevelandheights.com

University Heights — universityheights.com

Shaker Heights  — shakeronline.com

About the author

Denise Koeth is Digital Content Manager for Northeast Ohio Parent. She oversees content on the NortheastOhioParent.com website and manages the brand’s social media activity. Denise grew up in Northeast Ohio and she and her husband are currently raising their two boys here.

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