The small city of Bedford Heights sits about 16 miles southeast of Cleveland, Ohio. The area was once a bustling stagecoach stop, a place where china, furniture and heavy construction equipment were manufactured. Business owners built their stately homes nearby in what is now called the Presidential District. Baseball fans might know that Cleveland Indians star rookie pitcher Jim Rittwage called Bedford Heights home. Until the end of the 1970s, Bedford Heights was primarily an Italian-American community, but the neighborhood is now culturally and ethnically diverse.
Restaurants & Nightlife
You can find the usual assortment of fast food and chain restaurants in Bedford Heights, but why go there when there are more interesting places to try? For instance, check out one of the local favorites, Zeppe's Tavern and Pizzeria. The menu includes pizza, of course, but they also have subs, pasta, wings and a long list of entrees you do not usually find in a pizza place. Choose from beef medallions, pork chops, filet mignon, grilled salmon or chicken marsala.
Another popular option is South East Gears and Cheers, a museum and diner in one. Dine in a reconditioned vintage car dating from the 1940s. Unique motorcycle-related memorabilia from around the world hangs on the walls. Weather permitting, eat outside on the large patio. The menu includes the usual array of appetizers, sandwiches and soups, but you can also feast on tequila chicken pasta, jambalaya or mussel Provencal, just to name a few. Leave room for some strawberry margarita cheesecake or molten turtle bundt cake. Locals take their families to this restaurant, but in the evenings they hang out with their friends as the place takes on a different atmosphere with a DJ and karaoke every Friday night and live entertainment on Saturday.
Speaking of evenings, travel a bit east to Village Martini & Wine Bar in Chagrin Falls for a more upscale late-night bar. The outside looks pretty ordinary, but inside you will find fine dining, a long wine list and great music that lasts into the wee hours of the morning. Take your friends along and have some fun.
History & Culture
The land that became Bedford was once part of the Western Reserve of Connecticut. The first permanent settler, Daniel Benedict, named the place Bedford in honor of his native home in Bedford, New York. Bedford incorporated in 1837. Bedford Heights broke away in 1951 and became an independent village, earning city status in 1961.
Residents of the Bedford Heights area appreciate the arts. Every September they host an art show called Weekend of the Pooka: A Celebration of the Arts. The event takes place in Bedford Commons, in neighboring Bedford. What is a pooka? According to locals, a pooka is a "gnome-like creature that loves to paint, read, sing and dance." The weekend is filled with arts, music, dance and of course, lots of good food.
Sidewalks exist in some parts of the Bedford Heights but not in others. There are no bike lanes. Beware of traffic as you walk and ride around the neighborhood. Plenty of free short-term public parking can be found in the downtown area.
Residents of Bedford Heights with their own vehicles have easy access to I-270 and I-480, both of which run close to the middle of the neighborhood. Those without vehicles or who prefer not to drive can call for a cab or ride an RTA bus, which makes many stops in the area. The Uber car service can also be used with a smartphone, giving residents another transportation option.
If you want to travel outside of the area, you can access the Amtrak train line in nearby Cleveland. For a flight out, board a plane to several major cities in the United States via the Akron Canton Regional Airport.
The overall cost of living in Bedford Heights stands about 4 percent higher than that of Cleveland. Grocery and transportation costs are the same for both, but housing in Bedford Heights runs about 14 percent higher than in Cleveland. It costs an average of about $620 per month to rent a one-bedroom apartment.
A one-way RTA bus pass costs $2.25, or $5 to ride all day. A monthly pass can be purchased for $85. Gas tends to stay about 11 percent lower in Bedford Heights than the national average. Expect to pay about $5 for a pint of beer in local restaurants and pubs.
Residents of Bedford Heights buy their groceries from a number of local supermarkets including Giant Eagle, Walmart and Midland Foods, some of which are in the Southgate USA Shopping Center, a local strip mall where residents shop for food as well as household items.
Shoppers from Bedford Heights looking for fresh seafood can find plenty of it at Farm House Foods. Although it sounds like a farmer's market, they sell only raw, fresh seafood or cooked seafood for take-out. Fresh produce can be found at Miles Farmers Market in nearby Solon, just over 3 miles southeast of the neighborhood. This indoor market stays open year-round and offers fresh produce, cheese, meats and bakery items.
Boutiques are rather hard to find in Bedford Heights, but wedding planners go to the Red Carpet Boutique for all things bridal. They can help you locate everything you need to make the entire bridal party look special for the big day, from dresses to shoes to veils to flowers.
For stylish yet eclectic women's fashions, residents of Bedford Heights make the short trip to Cleveland Heights to shop at Blush Boutique. There they can browse a collection of designer clothes and accessories. Cleveland Magazine named the shop their Best Boutique (East) in 2013.
If you are looking for that special something, you have a good chance of finding it in Cleveland's Little Italy, known as the city's culinary and fine arts neighborhood. The neighborhood, famous for its boutiques, galleries and restaurants makes it the perfect place to find one-of-a-kind items for yourself, your friends or your home.
Although the area lies only a short distance from several different parks, the only park actually in Bedford Heights is the Bedford Reservation, part of the Cleveland Metro Parks system. It covers parts of Bedford Heights, as well as Bedford, Oakwood, Walton Hills and Valley View. Its 2200-plus acres offer a variety of vegetation and terrain, from towering trees to beautiful flowers to a steep gorge with a waterfall along Tinker's Creek. It encompasses nine different trails totaling nearly 30 miles. Bridle Trails, the longest, runs for 14.1 miles through the woods. A.7 mile-long trail has been designated as a physical fitness trail due to its tough terrain. Residents go there for all types of recreation: hiking, biking, horse back riding, picnicking and bird watching. Depending on the weather, you can play golf or engage in cross-country skiing or snowshoeing. The kids can play in the playgrounds throughout the park. Pets are permitted, but leashes are required.
2014 marked the 50th year of the Bedford Strawberry Festival held in Bedford Public Square. The festival celebrates all things strawberry-related but it has so much more to offer - ethnic foods, a car show, arts and crafts, raffles, singers, dancers and magicians. Park for free with no admission charge.