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IntroductionAll joking aside, there's a lot more to Cleveland than polka, bowling and kielbasa. Thanks to a multi-million-dollar revitalization effort, this Lake Erie port has earned new respect as a center for business, culture, recreation and entertainment. The proof is evident across the lakefront, from the gleaming pyramid of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to the giant wind turbine at the Great Lakes Science Center to the state-of-the-art Cleveland Browns Stadium. Look for the 52-story Terminal Tower on the skyline and you'll find Tower City Center, a multiplex of shops, offices, restaurants, two hotels and a rapid-transit hub. From here, an indoor skyway leads to the Gateway Sports Complex, home of the Indians at Progressive Field and the Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena.
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In DepthIn 1796 surveyor Moses Cleaveland picked his townsite on Lake Erie. Only three of his malaria-ridden group agreed to remain, but the town grew slowly until the late 1820s.
By 1832 the Ohio and Erie Canal was completed, and Cleaveland, the northern terminus, had doubled its population. Over the next 10 years it grew by almost 500 percent. It also acquired a trimmer name when The Cleaveland Gazette and Commercial Register had to drop a letter from its masthead.
During the 1800s Cleveland was an important stop on the Underground Railroad. The city's port provided a route to freedom across the Canadian border for slaves fleeing the South.
With the canal came Cleveland's first wave of immigrants, the backbone of its labor force. The city transformed from a bustling port to a shipping and industrial giant. The Civil War halted the city's progress, but the subsequent demand for iron spurred new growth. Fortunes were made in shipping coal, limestone and iron ore; in manufacturing steel and iron; and in communications, railroads and oil. From 1910-20 Cleveland was the country's second largest center for automobile production. Behind this growth were great industrialists like John D. Rockefeller, the world's first billionaire.
The Cleveland Union Terminal complex with its 52-story Terminal Tower was built in the 1920s. Tower City Center, a three-level mall, now fills the former railroad station. Key Tower (formerly Society Center) on Public Square, opened in 1992; at 948 feet tall with 57 stories, it is Ohio's tallest building.
The city is headquarters for more than 20 major corporations—including American Greetings Corp. and The Sherwin-Williams Co.—and many smaller companies. Case Western Reserve and Cleveland State universities as well as The Cleveland Clinic, which administers some of the world's most advanced medical treatments, are other intellectual highlights.
Cleveland's ample natural beauty offers year-round recreation opportunities in the form of its more than 23,000 acres of metropolitan parks districts; the surrounding rivers, streams and lakes; and nearby Cuyahoga Valley National Park.
For culture, you can't beat University Circle. This neighborhood's large cluster of cultural goodies includes the Cleveland History Center, the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, and the Cleveland Museum of Art as well as the Cleveland Orchestra, which plays at the exquisite historic Severance Hall.
Visit some of Cleveland's neighborhoods. The Historic Warehouse District offers dining and entertainment with a backdrop of 19th-century architecture. Little Italy is a charming area with restaurants, bakeries and art galleries. In summer 2015 The Flats East Bank, a riverfront area once known for heavy industry that is now a mixed-use district, was expanded to include additional office, dining, entertainment and residential space along with a public park and an extensive riverfront boardwalk.
Jacobs Field (now Progressive Field) and the adjacent Gund Arena (now Quicken Loans Arena), homes of the Cleveland Indians and Cleveland Cavaliers, opened in 1994. The Cleveland Browns moved to Baltimore in the late 1990s but returned in 1999 to play at the new state-of-the-art Cleveland Browns Stadium (now FirstEnergy Stadium), reenergizing the city's dedicated fans.
Progress continues. Public Square's major 2016 upgrade included green spaces, event areas and a fountain that becomes an ice rink part of the year.
By CarCleveland sits in the middle of a “Y” formed by two of the nation's major transcontinental routes: I-90 and I-80. I-90 passes through the heart of the city, bringing traffic along the lakeshore from the east; I-80 channels motorists from the interior through the southern suburbs. From the west, these routes combine over the Ohio Turnpike, with the “Y” beginning at neighboring Elyria.
Both highway systems interchange with important intersecting routes for easy access to the suburbs, and I-90 links conveniently to important city streets. Other supplemental east-west roads are SR 2, US 6 and US 20. These routes primarily serve local traffic, but also follow some of the major city arteries.
Downtown Cleveland is the northern terminus of I-71 and I-77, which bring traffic from the southwest and the south, respectively. I-490, south of the city, provides a connector for I-71 and I-77. SR 176 also channels traffic from the south connecting to I-480 and I-71. Approaching the city, each interchanges frequently with other routes, including I-80 (toll), before joining I-90 near the city's center.
Other routes from the south include SR 8, SR 21 and US 42, which are used chiefly by local traffic. Upon entering Cleveland, these roads constitute some of the principal thoroughfares.
I-271, forming an irregular arc between I-71 and I-90, provides a bypass around Cleveland's east side. I-80 (the Ohio Turnpike), I-480 and I-271 that bypass the city to the east and south, provide connections for I-90 corridor traffic.
Street SystemCleveland's streets are in a grid pattern that centers on Public Square, from which all major avenues radiate. Euclid Avenue is the major business thoroughfare, running from the square through downtown to the eastern suburbs. Ontario Street, running north-south through Public Square, divides the city into east and west. North-south routes are numbered streets, while the majority of east-west thoroughfares are named avenues, roads or boulevards. Right turns on red are permitted unless otherwise posted.
ParkingOn-street metered parking is available. Meters operate Monday through Friday from a minimum of 20 minutes to a maximum of 4 hours from 7 a.m. or 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. The cost to park at a meter ranges from 50c to $1 per hour. Parking is available in the municipal parking lot on the Memorial Shoreway (SR 2) just east of the 9th Street exit; this affords easy access to the Waterfront Rapid Transit Train serving Tower City Center, The Flats and other Cleveland attractions. Parking lot and garage charges can vary from $2 to $10 daily, and up to $25 for special events. Park and ride lots are at some RTA stations.
About the City
Sales TaxThe local sales tax is 8 percent. The city lodging tax is 5.5 percent (less in suburbs). Cars rented at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport are subject to an 8 percent parking tax, a $6-$25 motor vehicle lessor tax, an 11.1 percent concession fee, a 60-cent per day energy recovery fee, a 15-cent per day license fee and a transportation fee up to $16 per day (transporting cars to airport location costs more than transporting to locations in greater Cleveland).
Whom To Call
Police (non-emergency)(216) 623-5000
Time and Temperature(216) 931-1212
HospitalsCleveland Clinic, (216) 444-2200; St. Vincent Charity Medical Center, (216) 861-6200; University Hospitals Case Medical Center, (216) 844-8447.
Where To Look and Listen
NewspapersThe Plain Dealer is published in the morning. The suburbs receive the daily Sun News.
RadioCleveland radio station WTAM (1100 AM) is an all-news/weather station; WCPN (90.3 FM) is a member of National Public Radio.
Visitor InformationDestination Cleveland Convention and Visitors Bureau 334 Euclid Ave. CLEVELAND, OH 44114. Phone:(216)875-6680 or (800)321-1001
Air TravelCleveland Hopkins International Airport (CLE) is 13 miles southwest of downtown via I-71. Lakefront Lines Cleveland, (216) 267-8282 or (800) 543-9912, provides private van and minibus charter service daily 5 a.m.-11 p.m. Van service is $55 per hour (3-hour minimum), which includes a fuel surcharge and taxes. Minibus charter fares average $65-$85 per hour (3-hour minimum); reservations are required. Taxi fare to downtown averages $30-$50. Select RTA rapid transit trains provide service to downtown from about daily 4 a.m.-1:15 a.m.
Rental CarsHertz, which offers discounts to AAA members, has a counter at the airport and at 3663 Park East Dr., Beachwood; phone (216) 831-3836 (Beachwood), (216) 267-8900 (airport) or (800) 654-3080.
Rail ServiceThe Amtrak station is at E. Ninth Street and Cleveland Memorial Shoreway; phone (800) 872-7245.
BusesGreyhound Lines Inc., (800) 231-2222, is at 1465 Chester Ave.
TaxisCabs are available at the Public Square taxi stands or can be ordered by phone. Rates average $2.75 for the first one-eighth mile and 28c for each additional one-eighth mile. The average fee for waiting is $18-$20 an hour. A $1 fuel surcharge also is added to the fare. Companies include Ace Taxi, (216) 361-4700; Americab, (216) 881-1111; and Yellow Cab, (216) 623-1500.
Public TransportationThe Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA) offers bus and train service. Rail service runs from Cleveland Hopkins International Airport to the Tower City Rapid Transit Station on Public Square and continues to the Louis Stokes Station at Windermere in East Cleveland as well as from Tower City Center to points in Shaker Heights. The Waterfront Line transports visitors to popular attractions Mon.-Fri. 6:30 a.m.-midnight; weekends and holidays 9 a.m.-midnight. There are more than 60 connecting bus routes, including free downtown trolleys operating Mon.-Fri. 7-7 (the C-Line Trolley runs Mon.-Fri. 7 a.m.-11 p.m. and Sat.-Sun. 11-11). The HealthLine is a Bus Rapid Transit system running along Euclid Avenue and beyond from Public Square to Louis Stokes Station at Windermere. One-way train or bus fare is $2.50; $1.25 (senior citizens and disabled passengers). An all-day pass costs $5.50. Passes can be purchased at fare machines at train stations. For details phone the RTAnswerLine: (216) 621-9500 (Mon.-Fri. 7-6, Sat. 8-4:30) or TTY (216) 781-4271.
EssentialsIf you remember the theme song to “The Drew Carey Show,” then you already know that “Cleveland rocks.” But see for yourself at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum (751 Erieside Ave.). The massive collection of stage outfits, concert posters, instruments, handwritten lyrics and personal items tells the always interesting and often juicy history of rock and roll. When you need a little break from wandering galleries, have a seat in the theater where a trio of screens continually plays clips and music of each inductee.
Cleveland rocks in more ways than one, and you don’t have to go far to see how. Right next door is the Great Lakes Science Center (601 Erieside Ave.), where you can explore hundreds of science exhibits as well as the NASA Glenn Visitor Center, chock full of space history. The center is right on Lake Erie; head outside to tour the Steamship William G. Mather .
Visit The RainForest at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo (3900 Wildlife Way). The re-creation of tropical rain forests is a visual and aural delight with a waterfall and simulated thunderstorms in addition to the 600-plus animals in residence. Once you experience this environment, you’ll better understand the importance of saving the world’s rain forests, which is the goal of this exhibit.
If you’re a fan of “A Christmas Story” you’ll have a blast at A Christmas Story House & Museum (3159 W. 11th St.). Tour the house, where some scenes were filmed, and check out the movie props and memorabilia.
Spend some time in University Circle (4 miles east of downtown). In addition to medical and education facilities (including the Cleveland Clinic, Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Institute of Art), University Circle is renowned for its many cultural sites, including the next four on the list.
The Cleveland Museum of Art (11150 East Blvd.) has just undergone a long renovation and expansion project. Like the rock hall, the art museum’s collection is amazing in quantity, quality and diversity. A highlight is the European arms and armor collection.
Explore the Cleveland Museum of Natural History (1 Wade Oval Dr.) galleries for a jam-packed crash course in archeology, astronomy, ecology, geology, human evolution and prehistoric life as well as Ohio’s native plants and animals.
Spend some time relaxing at the Cleveland Botanical Garden (11030 East Blvd.), where each season brings its own reason for visiting. Many of the individual gardens, like the Japanese and restorative gardens, are designed with serenity in mind, but one is intended to promote activity: the Hershey Children’s Garden, which features a maze and tree house.
Local history is front and center at The Cleveland History Center (10825 East Blvd.). One of the center's highlights is the Crawford Auto Aviation Museum. Temporary exhibits of clothing and textiles are always on view as well.
Experience the area’s beautiful natural scenery and recreation opportunities at one of the 18 reservations making up Cleveland Metroparks.
Admire the city’s architecture and public art either on a self-guiding tour (pick up a brochure at Cleveland Visitors Center, 334 Euclid Ave.) or guided Trolley Tours of Cleveland (2000 Sycamore St.) tour.
Mingle with Clevelanders at the West Side Market's (1979 W. 25th St.) more than 100 vendor stalls.
Theater in Cleveland is a pretty big deal. Not counting New York’s venues, PlayhouseSquare (1501 Euclid Ave.) is the country’s largest performing arts center. You probably didn’t expect to read that! Now that you have, though, plan a night at the theater during your time in the city.
ShoppingTower City Center , 230 W. Huron Rd., is a shopping, dining and entertainment complex surrounding a modernized commuter rail station. Skylights, light and water shows, marble staircases, historic brass storefronts and a glass dome accent the three levels of retail stores and eateries. The Arcade , 401 Euclid Ave., was one of the first indoor malls in the country. This 1890 landmark has been renovated to include a hotel but continues to offer a variety of shops and boutiques. Galleria at Erieview , 1301 E. 9th St. at St. Clair St., offers a small collection of shops and galleries. Shaker Square, at the junction of Van Aken Boulevard, Shaker Boulevard and E. 130th Street, offers shops, food and entertainment.
Antique Row, Lorain Avenue from W. 25th to W. 117th streets, and Detroit Avenue from Westwood Avenue to W. Clifton Boulevard, are popular with antiques hunters. Those seeking the novel may want to check out the offerings in The Cop Shop, The Cleveland Police Museum's gift shop at 1300 Ontario St.; the shop is open weekdays 10-4. The Little Italy neighborhood offers shops and galleries along Murray Hill and Mayfield roads.
The West Side Market at W. 25th Street and Lorain Avenue sells fresh fruit, vegetables, meats, fish, poultry, cheese and ethnic foods Mon. and Wed. 7-4, Fri.-Sat. 7-6 and Sun. noon-6. Coit Road Farmers Market is at Coit Avenue and Woodworth Street and offers Ohio produce and products. It is open Sat. year-round 8-1 as well as Wed. 10-1, June-Oct.
Trip down memory lane at b. a. Sweetie Candy Co. Inc. at 6770 Brookpark Rd. The candy warehouse has a huge inventory, including nostalgic brands.
Some of the Victorian houses in Ohio City serve as boutiques and antique shops. On select Saturdays from June through October, the district hosts music and an urban art market in Market Square.
In the surrounding suburbs are shopping centers and malls offering such department stores as Dillard's, Macy's, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue and Sears as well as many smaller shops. Among the more popular malls are Beachwood Place, 26300 Cedar Rd. at Richmond Road in Beachwood; Great Lakes Mall, 7850 Mentor Ave. in Mentor; The Shoppes at Parma, 7899 W. Ridgewood Dr. in Parma; Great Northern Mall, 4954 Great Northern Mall at I-480 in North Olmsted; and SouthPark Mall, 500 Southpark Center in Strongsville. The site of the former Westgate Mall in Fairview Park is now the home of Westgate, an open-air shopping center at the intersection of W. 210 Street and Center Ridge Road/US 20.
The local vicinity also offers further shopping opportunities. Legacy Village Shopping Center is in Lyndhurst, 1 mile west of I-271 Cedar Road exit at 25333 Cedar Rd. The village features a main street reminiscent of a 1950s-era small town and includes Crate & Barrel and Restoration Hardware among its many stores and eateries. There are more than 80 shops in the outdoor shopping area of Crocker Park, a quarter-mile south of I-90 Crocker Road exit in Westlake. At Coventry Road in Cleveland Heights between Mayfield and Euclid Heights roads, colorful shops and boutiques offer offbeat clothing, artworks and crafts.
In Rocky River, Beachcliff Market Square, 19300 Detroit Rd., offers upscale retailers and eateries. Also in Rocky River is Old River, on Old Detroit and Wooster roads, where shops specialize in gifts, antiques, spa services, gourmet food, wines and specialty clothing.
Performing ArtsThe world-renowned Cleveland Orchestra performs mid-September through early June in historic Severance Hall, opened in 1931, in the University Circle area and at the open-air Blossom Music Center in Cuyahoga Falls early July through Labor Day weekend; phone (216) 231-1111 or (800) 686-1141 for tickets. Food is available at both facilities, and the patrons of Blossom Music Center can opt to bring a picnic.
The Cleveland Chamber Music Society performs at the Plymouth Church October through May. The Cleveland Contemporary Players, performing in the Music and Communications Building of Cleveland State University, gives concerts of contemporary music; phone (216) 802-3054 for scheduled programs.
Musical events are presented regularly at various sites across the city, including The Cleveland Music School Settlement, Quicken Loans Arena, the Wolstein Center at Cleveland State University and the civic auditorium at Lakewood High School.
The students and faculty of the Cleveland Institute of Music as well as visiting artists perform a variety of musical types—including chamber, orchestra and opera—throughout the year on campus (11021 East Blvd. in University Circle) and at other locations in the city; phone (216) 791-5000 for schedule information.
PlayhouseSquare , on Euclid Avenue between E. 14th and E. 17th streets, is a performing arts complex that began in the 1920s with five theater, vaudeville and movie venues: Ohio Theatre, State Theatre, Allen Theatre, Connor Palace Theatre and Hanna Theatre. In the 1970s these theaters were saved from demolition by the community. Today the complex boasts nine performing spaces, including the Westfield Insurance Studio Theatre inside the Idea Center at PlayhouseSquare. Among the types of performances offered are Broadway shows, opera, concerts, comedy, family shows and dance programs. PlayhouseSquare is home to resident companies DANCECleveland, Opera Cleveland, Great Lakes Theater Festival and Tri-C. For ticket information phone (216) 241-6000, or (800) 766-6048 outside the Cleveland area.
PlayhouseSquare recently jazzed up its neighborhood with the outdoor GE Chandelier, which suspends 44 feet above the E. 14th Street and Euclid Avenue intersection. As you can imagine, this 20-foot-tall beauty is a must-see at night.
The Cleveland Play House was established in 1915 as America's first permanent regional theater company. The original facility at 8500 Euclid Ave. was built in 1927 and housed two theaters. A 1983 expansion was designed by internationally acclaimed architect Philip Johnson and made it the country's largest regional theater complex. In 2011 the company kicked off the season at a new facility located at PlayhouseSquare's Allen Theatre Complex at 1407 Euclid Ave. The season runs September through May, with productions ranging from the classics to new plays and from comedies to musicals; phone (216) 241-6000.
Also established in 1915 was Karamu House. The company offers multicultural performances and programs at 2355 E. 89th St.; phone (216) 795-7070.
The Gordon Square Arts District is an emerging arts scene on Cleveland's West Side; it is home to Cleveland Public Theatre, (216) 631-2727, at 6415 Detroit Ave. Near West Theatre, (216) 961-9750, performs community theater at 6702 Detroit Ave. The 1921 Capitol Theatre has been restored and now shows independent, foreign and documentary films on three screens.
Cleveland Shakespeare Festival puts on about a dozen performances of free outdoor plays from mid-June to early August in Cleveland and several surrounding cities; the Cleveland venues include Lincoln Park.
SightseeingThe Terminal Tower , at 230 W. Huron Rd. and surrounded by Tower City Center, was built 1927-30 and is considered the showpiece of Cleveland's lakefront. The remodeled concourse of this 52-story city landmark contains restaurants, shops, movie theaters and two hotels. The observation deck is open Sat. noon-5 and Sun. noon-4, mid-Apr. to late Dec. Guests can purchase tickets the day of the tour (if available) from the Guest Services desk on the first level.
Boat ToursGoodtime Cruise Lines
Food ToursTaste Cleveland Food Tours
Industrial ToursGreat Lakes Brewing Co.
Trolley and Train ToursCuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad offers train excursions through Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Trips include scenic tours of the valley and round-trips to Akron destinations.
Walking ToursStop by the visitor center at 334 Euclid Avenue for a “Walk Cleveland” brochure. It contains a map with details for a self-guiding tour of Cleveland's architecture and public art.
Self-guiding walking or driving tours are good ways to experience the restoration of Ohio City on Cleveland's west side. A separate municipality that was later annexed, Ohio City is a neighborhood of old Victorian houses, many of which now house boutiques, restaurants and antique shops. Most Saturdays in June, July and August, the district hosts music and an urban art market in Market Square. Many of the neighborhood's restored homes open their doors to the public during the annual “Evening in Ohio City” celebration held the second or third Saturday in May. Brochures about the area are provided by Ohio City Inc., 2525 Market Ave., Suite A, Cleveland, OH 44113; phone (216) 781-3222.
EventsIn addition to its many cultural and historic landmarks, this destination hosts a number of outstanding festivals and events that may coincide with your visit.
Every season offers a wealth of events in Cleveland. The International Exposition Center (I-X Center) near Cleveland Hopkins International Airport plays host to the Mid-America Boat Show in January and then The Great Big Home and Garden Expo in February.
The Cleveland Auto Show is held at the I-X Center (late February to early March), and one of Cleveland's most popular traditions, the St. Patrick's Day parade , is held March 17. The Geauga County Maple Festival in nearby Chardon features crafts, parades, carnival rides, contests and the Sap Run marathon in late April.
In May the Tremont Greek Fest , near downtown Cleveland, offers a variety of Mediterranean cuisine.
Parade the Circle Celebration is an art parade that takes place in June in University Circle, the heart of the culture area of Cleveland. Also in June, the Tri-C Jazz Fest showcases local and regional jazz artists at PlayhouseSquare.
Early July is marked by the Star-Spangled Spectacular , which features performances by the Cleveland Orchestra and a fireworks display. Nearby Cleveland Heights offers music and art during mid-July's Cain Park Arts Festival .
In mid-August the Feast of the Assumption is held in the Little Italy section of Cleveland (also known as Murray Hill). Also in August is the Cuyahoga County Fair , one of the largest fairs in the state, at the fairgrounds in nearby Berea. On Labor Day weekend the Cleveland National Air Show takes place at Burke Lakefront Airport. Throughout the downtown area in late September, the Ingenuity Festival of Art and Technology mixes performing and visual artists with inventive technology creations. Little Italy residents and visitors celebrate Columbus Day with the annual Columbus Day Parade in October.
The Christmas season is welcomed by Winterfest , a holiday lighting program at PlayhouseSquare and fireworks display held the Saturday after Thanksgiving.
See all the AAA recommended events for this destination.
Places in Vicinity