The afternoon began with a drive through winding, rural roads in Ohio. From family farms and stables, to upscale estates, we enjoyed getting a glimpse into a life quite different from the one we are living in Los Angeles. But it wasn’t until we came upon the charming village of Chagrin Falls, Ohio that we were compelled to park and explore.
While technically a suburb of Cleveland — it is only 25 miles (or so) away from downtown — Chagrin Falls feels like a world unto itself. The pace is slower, and the interactions are frequent. You will see people greeting each other on the street and there are photos of players from the local high school’s sports teams in the windows of the Main Street businesses. Just as you are taking in the beauty of the historic commercial buildings and community feeling, you hear it. You hear the rushing of the water.
In the midst of the town runs the Chagrin River, and its now famous waterfalls greet the curious on either side of the bridge that connects the north and south sides of town. Green park space runs along the river, as do restaurants and other businesses. How often do you get those kinds of views when you shop?
What should you do with only an hour or two to visit?
Start by walking down Main Street.
The businesses right on the street seemed to be largely independent/locally-owned shops and restaurants. From Rick’s Cafe to clothing boutiques, you’ll notice the friendly vibe and the fact that many of the proprietors know their clients by name. While chains do exist nearby, Main Street is clearly for the locals.
Head for the river.
There’s a path that runs through the park and along the river. It’s not far, and it is well-arranged so that the path is not a challenging one to navigate. It looked like a carnival was being packed up at the end of the park when we visited, while kids cavorted on the playground not far from the riverbank. When we came to the logical stopping point, rather than returning the same way, we followed the side path up to the local library and then out to the neighborhood street to continue our explorations.
Investigate the historic homes.
Once out on the side street, we became aware of exactly how many restored homes and commercial buildings were around us. Gorgeous specimens from the mid-1800s to early 1900s line the street, and, in fact, they can be found throughout the town. Chagrin Falls was incorporated in 1844, so it should not have been a surprise, and yet, we delighted in each find. I only wish I had taken more time to take photos as we wandered.
Stop for a drink or nosh by the river.
We chose Jekyll’s Kitchen as our spot. They do have dinner servings down on a patio that overlooks the river, as well as access to look-out points for those who just want to take a moment and breathe it all in. Happy Hour was incredibly reasonable (I think my wine was only $4), and we took it upstairs at the bar to enjoy the people watching (there is also an upstairs patio near a fireplace for brisk fall evenings).
If you have more time, be sure to check out the village website and plan your visit around one of the many community events. Don’t be surprised if it feels a little like stepping back into time – in the best possible way.