Here it is, the 21st century already, and I had little idea of the amazing happenings on the other side of my adopted state of Ohio.
When I was little, back in the Stone Ages, Cleveland was known universally as the buckle of the Rust Belt. Why? Its claim to fame throughout much of the 20th century lay in its rise as an Industrial monolith. Terrific for the American economy… not so much for Cleveland. Factories belching out smoke and all manner of industrial pollutants ain’t pretty. The “Mistake on the Lake”, as Cleveland was dubbed, eventually offered up a gritty cityscape of the usual urban decay.
But no more!
Thanks to the ongoing efforts of public and private partnerships throughout the area, Cleveland has become a true renaissance town. The northeastern Ohio city has reinvigorated its stretches of forests, beaches, rivers, and even waterfalls. Once an environmental nightmare – the Cuyahoga River caught fire in 1969 – today the landscape comprises cleaned-up pinnacles of natural beauty.
There is a wealth of amazing attractions and activities here, rivalled only by the wealth of the city’s captains of industry of decades past. You will have a grand time simply planning a visit, let alone actively participating in the awesome stuff to do.
Cleveland rocks, indeed!
Discover exactly why Cleveland rocks as you tour its world-renowned Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. The term “Rock & Roll” was coined right here on the banks of Lake Erie, so it makes sense that the city is home to this terrifically entertaining museum. I know that “rock & roll” as a musical genre, despite its roots in teenage angst and rebellion, holds little interest to many young people of today. Even so, let your parents get their geek on within the seven floors of interactive content and unique rock memorabilia. You’ll find cool connections between the history of rock and the riffs of present-day popular artists such as Sia, Bruno Mars, The Arctic Monkeys (Hi, Alex), and many more.
The Cleveland Museum of Art, thanks to the generous patronage of all those wealthy industrialists, happens to be one of the finest art museums anywhere. Amazingly, it costs nothing to attend. Visitors love the museum itself, which centers around a handsome lobby. Each exhibit starts and ends within the lobby, so it’s easy to use the space as a meet up if everyone strikes out on their own. The medieval armor (featuring snicker-worthy codpieces) and weaponry exhibit is a special treat for all but especially for young folk, who will also enjoy the interactive camera technology that sets you up making your own 2-D and 3-D art.
On the other side of 9th street from the RNRHOF, check out the USS Cod Submarine Memorial; you won’t have too much walking around too do within its claustrophobic confines. I mean, how much do we owe these dedicated 97 navy men who lived in frequent terror on this relatively tiny sub during World War II for over two months at a time? It’s a fascinating exhibit that all Americans should experience in order to appreciate just a small but significant facet of our exemplary armed forces.
Peer back a little further into history at The Arcade Cleveland, an architectural treasure downtown that dates back to the end of the 19th century! This glass-enclosed, multistory visual feast is a must-see, and it stands within easy walking distance of Quicken Loans Area, Progressive Field and/or the Public Square. One of the country’s first indoor shopping malls, the Arcade demands you take a seat with a steaming latte, cappuccino or hot chocolate. Close your eyes, and imagine yourself amongst the bustle of upscale Cleveland during the turn of the prior century.
Delicious stuff to eat lies within easy Uber distance at Cleveland’s own Little Italy neighborhood. Kick Chef Boyardee to the curb, because you can’t go wrong enjoying your pasta at any number of the authentic Italian kitchens to choose from. The quaint ambience of the area will enchant, whether you dine indoors or out. After your meal, enjoy a stroll amongst the art galleries, coffee shops, boutiques and bakeries. The Italin treats are out of this world!
If you’re at all like my family and me, one of the aspects of Christmas we look forward to the most is the annual A Christmas Story marathon on TBS. Did you know the exterior of Ralphie’s house – The A Christmas Story House – was shot right here in Cleveland? And that you can not only visit said house, but have it all to yourself if you book an overnight there as well? The house has been redone inside to match the movie, and it’s filled to the brim with selfie-enticing touchable props, including everyone’s favorite, the F-R-A-G-I-L-E leg lamp! A museum with the real props from the movie sits across the street. Save your ticket stub for a 10% discount at the fabulous Rowley Inn restaurant on the corner.
Moving on to some fun stuff, be sure and check out the vintage pinball machines at your beck at call at the Superelectric Pinball Parlor. Situated within the buzzing Cleveland Arts District, the Parlor features over 20 games of the cool variety that your grandparents would have played on their first date. You can easily find out what’s on hand by perusing the list of available machines on their website. Also on hand is a FREE vintage jukebox with some serious retro tunes.
In keeping with the vintage gaming theme, why not unplug for a while? Put yer dang cell phone and its execrable junk-food themed game apps away, and stay a while at the Tabletop Board Game Café. Why aren’t these cafes on every street corner everywhere, I demand to know! Anyway. Only five bucks gets you in, and you can choose amongst an array of dozens if not hundreds of board games to play amongst your friends or total strangers. Everything from the classics (think Monopoly, Sorry and Clue) to the new stuff like Cards Against Humanity is here along with tasty food. What a fantastic way to relax and while away a rainy afternoon!
If the weather is nice, feel free to forfeit your Monopoly riches and head directly to Edgewater Beach, do not pass go, do not collect $200. Sit and enjoy a picnic on the fine sands of the shores of Lake Erie, or walk/bike/run along lovely paths with views of the skyline. Swimming in the lake is mostly encouraged – the water is shallow enough for all but the smallest kids. However, there may be signs prohibiting it so be sure and look for them, first! This beautiful jewel of the Cleveland park system is very well kept, and there is plenty of parking available.
If even more adventure and excitement is what you crave, I highly recommend the 5 zip lines, dozens of obstacles and beautiful vantage points amongst the tree tops at the Go Ape at Mill Stream Run Recreation Area. Such a fun and exhilarating way to burn off energy! The Tarzan swing looks especially unique and enticing. As always with outdoor attractions, check first for important safety regs and answers to all your questions.
How would you spend a day “rocking out” in Cleveland? Let me know in the comments. Rock on!