Sitting on the shores of Lake Erie, Cleveland is about as Midwest as Midwest gets. Part of a cluster that includes Akron, Youngstown, Canton and Toledo, Cleveland is no longer Ohio's biggest city (a distinction that now belongs to Columbus), but it is Ohio's center of culture and activity.
It is hard to imagine many places in the world having undergone the type of face-lift Cleveland experienced over a 15-year period. From the 1980s to the mid-1990s, the dirty, damp and dingy steel town was transformed into a shiny new lakeside spectacle. A skyline once filled with smokestacks now boasts glowing towers, shiny stadiums and a host of modern museums and shopping centers.
Located down the hill from downtown on the very near-west side of the city, the Flats has been reborn with the rest of the city. The clean-up of the once-burning Cuyahoga River has coincided with the emergence of this entertainment district. Highlighted by such establishments as
Centered around the prestigious Case Western Reserve University, this enclave about 4 miles east of downtown is a haven for museum-goers, as well as those looking for quaint shops and cozy eateries. Home to no fewer than nine museums, including
One of the oldest neighborhoods in the Cleveland area, Ohio City was originally settled by German and Irish immigrants. Today, it's home to more than 15 ethnic groups, making it the most ethnically diverse neighborhood in the city. This was also the birthplace of football legend John Heismann. Ohio City also includes the Market Square District and the
Located about five miles from Lake Erie, directly south of downtown, Tremont is populated by mostly Greek families. This area treats you to some of the best views of downtown Cleveland and the Flats. Enjoy a show at the
East Side and West Side
Such "new" suburbs as Westlake, Rocky River, Bay Village, Strongsville and Middleburg Heights represent a good portion of the population that left Cleveland but did not go very far. This booming area continues to grow, with the sprawl continuing as far west as Vermilion and beyond and as far south as Medina. Cleveland Heights, Shaker Heights, Newburg Heights, Maple Heights, Cuyahoga Heights and Garfield Heights highlight an area of ethnically diverse communities. Newer "burbs" such as Solon, Brecksville and Sagamore Hills bridge the gap between Cleveland and Akron, which sits about 25 miles to the south. Travel east or west from downtown and you will find the signs of urban flight: strip malls, fast food stores and every other chain retailer imaginable.
In a city nicknamed the "Rock and Roll Capital of the World," it does not take a wild imagination to figure out what people do for entertainment. But despite the moniker, which conjures images of guitars, smoke and fire, rock concerts and exhibitions only account for a small sampling of the entertainment scene.
The latter half of the 1990s was a tumultuous time for Cleveland fans. It saw the death and rebirth of the Cleveland Browns football team, who first moved to Baltimore and became the Ravens, then were resurrected in the form of an expansion team. It saw the resurgence of the Cleveland Indians, who were transformed from perennial basement dwellers into an annual powerhouse. The Cleveland Cavaliers continue to play in the NBA.
The Cleveland area boasts some of the best public golf access in the country, home to more than 100 courses, while neighboring Akron hosts the annual World Golf Championships NEC Invitational at Firestone Country Club.
Cleveland is the site of the world-renowned Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. The Cleveland Museum of Art and the Museum of Contemporary Art offer a chance for guests with all tastes to see their favorite works. The Cleveland Museum of Natural History provides a scientific view of history, while the Great Lakes Science Center, the Rock Hall's next door neighbor, offers the best of interactive experiences.
From such major venues as the Blossom Music Center, down to the tiniest local spots like the Odeon, the city boasts plenty of places for performers and fans to share an evening. And glam and glitter are far from the only shows in town. The Cleveland Orchestra is one of the world's finest performing groups. Catching them playing a home gig is the tough part, as the Orchestra's players are routinely touring the world. Blossom is the summer home of the Orchestra, with performances held on at least a weekly basis.
The rock scene is generally confined to a handful of places. Blossom, with its 5,000 seat amphitheater, turns to mother nature for most of its seats, with the lawn having room for about 15,000. In the Flats area of downtown, Nautica Pavilion, a small outdoor arena, holds summer concerts, while the Odeon tends to host up-and-coming acts. The occasional specialty show can be caught at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, though it is more about celebrating music than listening to it. If you're more interested in dancing to music than listening to it, head to Scripts Nightclub in the Flats for some of the city's hottest evening entertainment.
When it comes to the performing arts, The Rock and Roll Capital has a lot more to offer than just music. Several venues, many at the extensive Playhouse Square, are the sites for plays, musicals, concerts and a variety of other revues. The Allen Theatre and State Theatre bring in top traveling performances and host local shows.
Those wanting to stray off the beaten path a bit will be interested in the Cleveland Play House, as well as the Cleveland Public Theatre. Both are home to comedies and musicals, local and national, with performances year-round. Opera fans can enjoy a fantastic show at the Cleveland Opera.
Cinema and Comedy
The Great Lakes Science Center features an Omnimax Theatre, with a domed 60-foot screen and virtual reality productions. The Omnimax runs movies daily, typically offering multiple showings.
Those seeking a laugh or two have a handful of choices as well. Hilarities 4th Street Theatre, located on the west side of downtown, features top local comedians. You can also grab a meal there. The Flats is home to the Improv, which attracts national acts as well as local comics. Again, laughs are not the only thing on the menu, as the Improv is also a restaurant.
The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, with its Rainforest attraction, draws thousands of visitors annually. Geauga Lake's Wildwater Kingdom, in Aurora is one of the nation's best venues for thrill-seekers.
Few cities, if any, have endured reinvention as many times as Cleveland, Ohio. Founded by Moses Cleaveland (the "a" was dropped from the city's spelling in 1831) and incorporated as a city in 1837, the city evolved from a frontier town in the 18th-century to a booming center of industry in the early 20th-century. Today it is a capital of service, technology and industry. Over the years, the city has become famous, and infamous, for many things. From the notorious burning river in the late 1960s to the current status as Rock 'n' Roll Capital of the World, with the I.M. Pei-designed crown jewel Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum on the revitalized shore of Lake Erie, Cleveland has a history that is nothing if not storied.
Shortly before it became a city, Cleveland was host to two significant historical events. In 1831 James A. Garfield was born. He would become the 18th President of the United States before being assassinated just six months after taking office. A year later, in 1832, the Ohio and Erie Canals opened, connecting Lake Erie with the Ohio River and allowing industry to thrive. Cleveland steadily outgrew its frontier infancy as steel factories and other forms of industry began dotting the landscape.
Cleveland remained a booming industry town until the early 1900s, when the Great Depression gutted the city. By 1933, a third of the city's residents were unemployed. But the Depression was only the second-worst economic quandary the city endured. The worst came in 1978, when the city became the first in America to default to the federal government. The crisis lasted nearly a decade before the city's economy became soluble again in the late 1980s.
By 1950, Cleveland's population reached a zenith of nearly 950,000. The population has steadily decreased since. Once the nation's fifth-largest city, by the year 2000 Cleveland had dropped to 23rd, with a population of 478,000. However, in 1950, as the city's population peaked, there were 1.4 million people living in Cuyahoga County, which is the same number there are today. People were just moving to the suburbs. From Rocky River, Strongsville, Westlake and Berea on the West Side, to Garfield Heights, Solon, Mayfield Heights and Cleveland Heights on the East Side, nearly everyone in the area still calls himself or herself a Clevelander.
During the last century, Cleveland laid claim to several events of national significance. Jesse Owens, the phenomenal track and field star, was born in Cleveland. He later went on to humiliate Hitler at the Berlin Olympics in 1936. In 1954 Marilyn Sheppard, the wife of a prominent local doctor, was murdered. These events surrounding the case spawned national headlines. The investigation is still going on today, and spurred two TV series and a motion picture all bearing the name "The Fugitive."
Cleveland is home to some of the country's best sports and entertainment centers. With Progressive Field (formerly Jacobs Field), Quicken Loans Arena (formerly Gund Arena), and the Cleveland Browns Stadium, new homes to the Indians, Cleveland Cavaliers and Cleveland Browns respectively, sports fans have a lot to choose from. These sporting centers also played a major role in the revitalization of downtown. Quicken Loans Arena, along with Blossom Music Center, Nautica Pavilion and The Odeon Concert Club, holds major concerts, ice shows and other various productions. Playhouse Square draws many top traveling performing shows, and Severance Hall is home to the Cleveland Orchestra, considered by many the best group of its nature in the world. Down the road in Aurora is Geauga Lake's Wildwater Kingdom, a great place for some summer fun.
For years, the Terminal Tower was the defining figure of the Cleveland skyline. It still rises above the train station, but now hosts Tower City Center, home to some of the city's best shopping. Major hotels, such as The Renaissance Cleveland Hotel, the Cleveland Marriott Downtown at Key Center, the Hyatt Regency Clevelandat The Arcade and the Radisson Hotel at Gateway surround the skyscraper. Across the street visitors will find the new Hard Rock Cafe, a sign that a city is moving forward if ever there was one. The Galleria at Erieview and The Arcade join Tower City as places where everyone visiting or working downtown can spend some time.
These days the Key Tower (also known as Society Tower), a Manhattan-style skyscraper that solidifies Cleveland's place as a major American city, dwarfs the Terminal Tower. Beneath it are other sparkling new landmarks, such as the ballparks, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum and the Great Lakes Science Center, which give Lake Erie boaters a completely new skyline. Inland, the Cleveland Metroparks system includes four parks and numerous trails that allow Greater Cleveland to maintain a country feel in the shadows of a major city. A booming golfing scene, with more than 100 public courses within a 45-minute drive of downtown, brings even more green to the city of Cleveland.
However, no spot in town epitomizes the rebirth and vitalization of Cleveland as much as the banks of the Cuyahoga River. After catching fire on June 22, 1969, the Cuyahoga was the laughing stock of America. It is now the aesthetic centerpiece of downtown and separates the business district from The Flats, home to the "North Coast's" most thriving night activities.
It has been a long time since Moses Cleaveland first set foot on the shores of Lake Erie, and Cleveland has come a long way. Judging by the advances and enhancements of the last decade or so, the city is not done yet and the future is as bright as ever.
Downtown Cleveland has become a prime area for development, business, and of course, hotels. The downtown skyline has changed dramatically with the addition of skyscrapers touting big business, the largest of which is the Key Tower.
At the foot of the Tower, just off Public Square, sits the chic Cleveland Marriott Downtown at Key Center. The Marriott is just one of numerous upscale establishments within a short walk of Tower City Center, which is located atop Cleveland's main train terminal, a mere 15-minute train ride from Cleveland Hopkins International Airport. Other choices in the immediate vicinity include the luxurious Hyatt Regency Cleveland at The Arcade, Embassy Suites on 12th Street and the Hampton Inn Downtown.
Those in town for a ballgame or concert at Progressive Field or Quicken Loans Arena will find the Radisson Hotel at Gateway very convenient. The Renaissance Cleveland Hotel at Tower City Center is also near the arena, as is the Ritz-Carlton. Play-goers will find they can enjoy luxurious accommodations at the Wyndham Cleveland Hotel at Playhouse Square. Those not wanting to venture far from the airport need not worry. As with any good international airport, Hopkins is surrounded by hotels, such as the Marriott Cleveland Airport.
Cleveland has a wealth of cozy bed-and breakfasts to choose from. Closer to downtown, folks can sleep and eat at the Brownstone Inn, Clifford House, and Stone Gables.
Sheraton Airport Hotel Cleveland and Radisson Hotel Cleveland Airport are the top selections for travelers who want to stay just a short shuttle ride from the airport. Another good option is the deluxe Marriott Cleveland Airport, notable for its lush golf course and on-site restaurants.
Outside the City
Out in the suburbs, along with the standard chains, are several above-average places to lodge. On the east side is Embassy Suites. About 25 miles due east of Cleveland is the Punderson Manor State Park Resort and Conference Center, which includes several different lodging options, from rooms in the Manor House to cottages for rent. For a relaxing experience, head out to Mario's International Hotel and Spa, or try something more homey at the Emerald Necklace Inn in Fairview Park west of Cleveland.