When you think of Cleveland, the first things that come to mind may be the Browns, the Cavaliers, the baseball team soon to be formerly known as the Indians, or the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. What you may not know is that the port city located on the southern shore of Lake Erie is fast emerging as a favorite Looper waypoint.
Cleveland has been called many things since Moses Cleveland set foot there in 1796, but nowadays, you'll most often hear Cleveland referred to as the "Rock and Roll Capital of the World" or "The North Coast."
If the Port of Cleveland had a mantra, it would be “work hard, play hard.” Scarred in 1969 by an infamous oil slick fire, the basin has experienced a comeback, thanks in large part to an environmental movement to clean up the polluted Cuyahoga River and reinvent the industrial lakeshore into an area where Clevelanders are proud to work and play. Today, Cleveland offers Loopers an eclectic mix of land-based and waterborne experiences. The river is bustling with traffic, from kayaks to 700-foot freighters, and the vibrant social scene includes eateries and bars along the riverbank, also known as “The Flats.”
Locals recommend spending at least three or four days to enjoy the full immersion experience. High on your punch card is the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, housing the world’s largest collection of musical instruments, rare concert paraphernalia and other industry artifacts. Edgewater Park, a Cleveland Metroparks facility with 9,000 feet of shoreline and a beautiful swimming beach, is among the most popular hangs, with plenty of food and booze, and a summer concert series.
Speaking of booze, the greater Cleveland area is home to more than 70 breweries, ranking it among the largest brewing regions in the United States. Playhouse Square, the second-largest performing arts venue in the country (New York’s Lincoln Center is the first), hosts more than 1,000 annual events. Other highlights are the Cleveland Museum of Art, Botanical Garden and Museum of Natural History.
Hungry? “The Polish boy,” a kielbasa smothered with french fries, barbecue sauce or hot sauce, and coleslaw, is a Cleveland staple. Grab one at the food trucks rolling around the city, perhaps as you stroll by A Christmas Story House (made famous in the holiday classic A Christmas Story). There, you can see Randy’s dreaded snowsuit and Ralphie’s Red Rider BB gun, or buy your very own major award leg lamp.
Lake Erie affords superb opportunities to catch a stunning sunset or absorb the city skyline. You can enjoy the annual Cleveland National Air Show over Labor Day weekend from the water as the Blue Angels or the Thunderbirds scream by overhead. But keep an eye to the sky; the average depth of Lake Erie is 62 feet, and the western basin averages around 24 feet. If a storm pops up, you’ll want to head for harbor, as the lake can get choppy in a hurry. On the plus side, the depth is perfect for exploring the 8,000 estimated shipwrecks scattered throughout the lake. (Yeah, keep an eye on that depthsounder.)
Cleveland offers a number of public and private marinas, many with reciprocity to other clubs. Try the East 55th Street Marina, which accommodates vessels 16 to 40 feet long, or Edgewater Marina, which takes boats 24 to 40 feet plus. Both are full-service marinas.