A new urban vernacular has hit the streets. “Friend-Dates” or “Frates” is when two people go out on what is for all appearances a “date” but without the intimacy or pressure of intimacy that a normal date has. Frates can take the form of common interesting activities, events or venues that both parties do not feel comfortable seeing alone. Think of it as dating “without benefits.” Be forewarned, some frates can end up as marriages lasting 35 years and more. Check out some of the most popular frates in Cleveland.
West Side Market
1979 W. 25th St.
Cleveland, OH 44113
(216) 644-3387

With a history of over 100 years, the West Side Market is THE place to purchase the freshest food available from one 104 vendors. Spend an afternoon perusing the offerings of the various stalls with a special eye on the delectable and unusual. Vendors can give you tips on preparation and cooking techniques. Finish the frate off with a home cooked dinner for two. Market hours are Monday and Wednesday, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. and now with hours on Sundays 12 p.m. to 6 p.m., closed Tuesdays and Thursdays.

The Cleveland Museum Of Art (Photo By Mark Horning)

The Cleveland Museum Of Art

Cleveland Museum Of Art
11150 E.Blvd.
Cleveland, OH 44106
(216) 421-7350

At the Cleveland Museum of Art the first Friday of each month is designated as MIX at CMA. This event is an ever changing evening of art, music, and mingling designed for the 18 and older crowd. Each MIX features different demonstrations, performances, artists, crafters, poets, or exhibits. There are also special tours and activities provided. The museum is even open to suggestions for future program ideas. A cash bar is supplied and food is available for purchase. Tickets to MIX are just $15 per person and sell out quickly.  MIX at CMA is the first Friday of each month from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Related: Best “Paint And Sips” In Cleveland

Mahall’s Bowling Alley
13200 Madison Ave.
Lakewood, OH 44107
(216) 521-3280

The pins started dropping in 1924 and have not stopped since but this is not your father’s bowling alley. Although they offer shoe rentals and free bowling ball usage as the other alleys, what makes Mahall’s different is that it has a fully stocked bar as well as live music and performances most nights. Think of it as a live concert/theater bar with a bowling alley attached. They even have salsa dancing some evenings. The menu is kept simple yet tasty with burgers, fries, tacos, house chips with salsa, popcorn, hot pretzels and fried chicken (by the piece or dinner style).

Related: Ask A Cleveland Expert: Best Ways To Find New Music

Cleveland Metroparks Zoo And Rainforest
3900 Wildlife Way
Cleveland, OH 44109
(216) 661-6500

The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is one of the best all around Zoo locations in the country. Take an entire day to tour the rain forest exhibit as well as African Elephant Crossing, Wolf Lodge, Australian Adventure (complete with an awesome tree house and Station House), Wilderness Trek and Circle of Life Carousel to name a few. You may need two days to see it all. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.

Cleveland Gladiators Arena Football
The Q Arena
200 Touchdown Drive
Cleveland, OH
(216) 440-2222

It’s a rock concert with a football game attached. Arena football is fast, furious and high scoring due to the shortened field and cushioned out of bounds. Catch a football in the stands, it’s yours to keep. This is a great place for a frate that will not kill your entertainment budget (unless you buy something to eat or drink).

Mac's Books (Photo By Mark Horning)

Mac’s Books

Mac’s Backs Books
1820 Coventry Road
Cleveland Heights, OH 44118
(216) 321-2665

Poetry readings, meet the authors evenings, book signings, book clubs and writing workshops are just part of the surprises to be found at Mac’s Books. Three floors of new and used books and magazines make a trip there an adventure in literature. Mac’s Books carries classics, mysteries, science fiction, contemporary fiction and non-fiction. Bring a friend a browse to your heart’s content. Hours are Mondays through Thursdays 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays 10 a. m. to 10 p.m. and Sundays 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Mark Horning is a freelance writer covering all things Cleveland. His work can be found on Examiner.com.