Known as “the Courtesy City,” Willoughby is a charming suburb of Cleveland located in Lake County. Home to plenty of green space, the town also provides a small city-like atmosphere. Located less than 30 minutes from Cleveland, the city has a rich mix of history with a nice helping of independent businesses and culinary spirit. Residents and visitors alike enjoy the mix of festivals, shops and attractions, making Willoughby a perfect location for all ages.
Restaurants & Nightlife
For something a bit more special, Lure Bistro is an intimate and unique venue with the best sushi in town, plus an impressive selection of wine and weekly specials. Patrons enjoy everything from date night menus with a “world tour” three-course meal for two at an insanely reasonable price to clam-bake events in the fall. An ideal spot for a date or special dinner, Lure's location in downtown Willoughby makes for a romantic setting, perfect for an evening stroll.
Sports fans will enjoy the atmosphere and culinary options at Brindaliers Bar & Grill, a hometown salute to the city’s biggest teams. The venue’s name is a mix of the Cleveland Browns, Indians and Cavaliers. The pride doesn’t stop there, as the bar offers weekly tailgate celebrations and events for every sporting event imaginable. The reasonably priced menu doesn’t disappoint with a mix of standard bar food like nachos and gourmet pizza. Signature sandwiches feature catchy names and tasty ingredients; check out the Cleveland Philly. This venue specializes in fun, with a party room that hosts birthday parties and a regularly scheduled trivia night.
As far as nightlife goes, everyone heads to the downtown Willoughby scene. The college-age crowd flocks to 1899 Pub for its low-key atmosphere. The neighborhood bar feels like a rare find with a jukebox full of hits, outdoor patio and cozy wooden interior that makes it a comfortable spot to grab a craft beer and relax. Other popular nightlife destinations include Willoughby Brewing Co., famous for its site-brewed beer including the award-winning Peanut Butter Cup Coffee Porter. The beer-loving crowd really lets loose on weekends when DJs and local bands are on tap. For live music lovers, Mullarkey’s Irish Pub offers entertainment every weekend, along with an authentically Irish spirit and pint specials. Olivor Twist is a favorite for those looking for a more civilized approach to unwinding with a relaxed yet modern atmosphere and a martini list that will make you dizzy before your first sip. From low key to high energy, the city has an establishment and cocktail that fits every mood.
History & Culture
Rich with history, the city of Willoughby was created in 1778 when a gristmill operator and a local tribe of Erie Native Americans settled along the area. By 1835, the village was officially named Willoughby and was the birthplace of historic buildings that now make up the downtown area.
At the Willoughby ArtsFest, held every July, artisans line the streets displaying everything from handmade jewelry to pottery. Canine companions are welcome in this pet-friendly town. Farmers markets and art walks are also held regularly in the warmer months. Come winter, the entire downtown Willoughby district is decked out in lights and attracts community members from near and far to the annual tree lighting. The Fine Arts Association offers educational programs in visual arts, dance, theater, music and even music therapy. Performances and cultural activities are held year-round for students and the public to enjoy.
The best way to get around Willoughby is definitely by car. Highways to and from the Cleveland area are easily accessible. Taxis are a good choice if you are out enjoying the local bars, however it is a good idea to call ahead for one as empty taxis are not easy to come by on the street. Uber is an option as well. Expect to pay for parking in downtown Willoughby. Laketran and Cleveland RTA provide public transportation for those without a vehicle or are looking for a hassle-free commute into Cleveland. While cars are the preferred method, many residential streets in the area are walkable and include biking lanes.
The cost of living in Willoughby is mid-range when it comes to the average. The median rent for a one-bedroom residence is around $655, depending on the location and amenities. For higher-end apartments, rent comes in at close to $1,000. At your local pub, expect to pay $3 for domestic beers and $4.50 and above for imports or craft beers. In a car-dominant town, gas prices come in lower than the national average.
Willoughby has your standard home-goods stores but is also becoming an independent retailer destination. A Bit of Skirt is home to trendy accessories and clothing, while Blue Envelope Boutique specializes in custom-made invites and gifts for all occasions. The store offers a variety of items representing the state of Ohio, Cleveland and the city of Willoughby. High-end stationary and paper goods are also offered.
Farmers markets can be found in the downtown Willoughby area from spring to early fall, offering affordable homegrown fruits, vegetables, jams and even handmade soaps. A gigantic Giant Eagle is always packed to the brim with residents scoring the latest deals on their grocery list.
Over the past several years, improvements have been made at all city parks, which continue to receive admiration from visitors and local residents. Modern playground equipment, renovated picnic pavilions and new restrooms are a welcome sight for those who enjoy the outdoors.
Parks and recreation activities are not lacking in Willoughby. Filled with a generous amount of green space and health facilities, Willoughby offers a variety of options to achieve optimal mind and body wellness. Classes and programs are tailored to suit all generations, from children to seniors. Two outdoor pools in the city -- one on the north end at Osborne Park and one on Euclid Avenue -- draw in residents and community members from other cities looking to cool off. A rare nine-hole disc golf course is also offered at Osborne Park, open from sunrise to sunset overlooking Lake Erie. The Walkin’ Willoughby program gets all activity levels out and about with 21 designated walking courses throughout the city.
Todd Field is popular for community sports and sledding in the winter. Offering a playground and hills to roll down, this location is always packed with kids and parents. The Cleveland Metroparks’ North Chagrin Nature Center is a great location to unwind in all seasons. You’ll see families celebrating under the open-air pavilions and plenty of locals walking their dogs or strolling along with babies next to serious joggers.