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The Ohio & Erie Canal once ran from Cleveland, at Lake Erie, south to the Ohio River near Portsmouth. Its oldest section cuts through Cuyahoga Valley National Park, just east of the river. Much of the canal is in tact and has been developed as part of the national park (see my page on the national park for more on that), but the old towpath (the road that vehicles used to tow boats along the canal) has been developed as a mixed-use path.
The path currently (construction is continuing to extend it all the way to Lake Erie) begins at Harvard Avenue on the far south side of Cleveland and currently ends in northern Akron. There is limited parking available at the northern terminus though, so it's often best to access it from Rockside Road or points further south. Rockside Road and south is part of the national park while north of Rockside Road is private land and mostly industrial.
You can either bring your own bike or rent a bike. Century Cycles (http://centurycycles.com/) is the easiest company to rent from to bike the towpath trail. The store is in Peninsula, which is about midway along the current path routing, so you can choose to bike north or south from here. Most people seem to bike south, but north is just as enjoyable. The downside of renting a bike is, of course, the cost. Century Cycles charges by the hour, so it can add up. You also have to return your bike before the store closes (which, in the summer, is well before dusk) or pay an additional fee and figure out what to do with the bike until they open.
The trail is mostly hard-packed gravel, mostly flat, and is roughly 50% shaded. It is shared-use, so you must always yield to pedestrians. The trail is much, much less crowded on weekdays, but is usually not ridiculous with crowds on other days. There are also several at-grade crossings with roads, although traffic on these roads is minimal. There is water and restrooms available at the national park visitors centers at Hillside Road and Boston (Boston Mills Road crossing). Additionally, at Boston, there is an old gas station run by the National Park Service where free air is available, as well as snacks available at a store across the street.
The towpath trail additionally connects you to a number of other trail systems, including Cleveland Metropark's trail system referred to as the "Emerald Necklace," (http://www.ohiobikeways.net/emerald.htm) which will take you east and north to Chagrin Falls and west and north to Lake Erie via the Rocky River Reservation, both at a junction south of Route 82. This provides access to an enormous system of trails, all with minimal interaction with cars.
Written Aug 2, 2011
Address: Rockside Road & Canal Road
In my opinion, Lake Erie is one of Ohio's most important and most underutilized resource. In the Cleveland area for example there is pathetically little public greenspace along the Lake for residents and visitors to enjoy. And it is the most beautiful attraction this State has to offer.
For a little outdoor adventure try sea kayaking on Lake Erie. There is no better place in Ohio to sea kayak. If you are an experienced paddler with your own boat you can go it alone or if looking for a rental, lessons or a kayak tour check out "41°North", a sea kayaking outfitter in the Cleveland area. They typically have 2 to 3 kayaking tours per week in the spring through fall months. *UPDATE (the owner of 41°North emailed me with updated hours - rental center is open 6 days a week in the summer mnths,weekends only after Labor Day and close in October).
Favorite tours include half day tours like the Cleveland Rocks! Downtown Tour where you can view the Cleveland skyline and kayak under the Rock Hall of Fame, the Lakewood Cliffs and Coves trip, and full day trips where you are ferried out to Lake Erie's islands and explore them via sea kayak.
Warning: If you want to rent your own kayak by the hour, 41°North currently only rents them on the weekends. I don't know of anywere else to rent them other than 41°North, but there could be.
Warning: If you decide to go it alone on the Lake please be prepared. Lake Erie is a rather shallow lake (as far as the Great Lakes are concerned) and weather and lake conditions can change rapidly resulting in sizable waves and dangerous conditions. There is also a lot of boat traffic on the lake so watch out.
Updated Jun 24, 2011
One of Lakeview Cemetery's don't miss monuments is the one to President James A. Garfield, America's 20th President. Lasting only 6 months in office due to assassination (actually shot at 4 months and lived another 2 critically wounded), Garfield's was the 2nd shortest term of any U.S. President.
Garfield served as an officer in the Civil War and in the U.S. House of Representatives before the Presidency. He is the only Representative to move to the Presidency.
Garfield's reputation is marred by stories of scandal and misconduct; however, a new book that I have not yet read largely refutes such assertions. I plan to read it (I am reading all of the Presidential biographies) and will report back once I am finished.
The Monument itself is impressive (and purportedly haunted) and also supposedly the country's first true mausoleum. During business hours and on weekends you can go inside. Inside are beautiful stained glass, murals and mosaics, and a statue to the late President. You can climb a winding staircase to a top balcony and have a beautiful view of downtown Cleveland. You can also descend to the basement where the President and his wife are laid to rest.
The Monument also contains a ballroom of all things. Although this is blocked off and not open to the public. How I would love to see that!
Updated Apr 4, 2011
Address: 12316 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio 44106
For a great view of downtown from the shores of the North Coast, head to Edgewater Park just west of the Cuyahoga River and downtown. During the day the park is safe and well manicured. I have never been there at night?
A lot of people fish from the shore and a pier. A hike/bike trail runs through the park and there is even a little snack stand that sells hot dogs and chips during the summer months. There is also a sand beach available for swimming, but one must be cautious of high bacteria counts within the lake (days when bacteria levels are unsafe for swimming are posted at the beach).
My wife and I like to pack a picnic lunch (with foods purchased from West Side Market if possible) and eat it sitting on the large sandstone boulders piled up along the shore to prevent erosion. When strong winds come out of the north and northwest it can be just like sitting somewhere at the ocean.
Also accessible from Edgewater Park is Whiskey Island, which is becoming a park in its own right. The Cleveland Port Authority at one time was going to convert this island (made from fill dredged from the Cuyahoga River) into a gravel storage area. Luckily for us, the City has decided otherwise and the park will be permanently protected as greenspace. Whiskey Island's waterfront sits behind the Cleveland Harbor breakwall and at the northern terminus of the island sits an abandoned Coast Guard station that will hopefully be restored to its prior condition.
Updated Apr 4, 2011
Address: 6500 W. Memorial Shoreway, Cleveland, Ohio
I don't know if there is anything like this elsewhere. Discover yourself. A museum on human health. Fully interactive, the museum allows you to learn about your health and lifestyle. Yuo'll find out how your body works in a fun way. Yes, kids like it, because that's when I first visited the place.
Hours: M-F 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.; Sa, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.; Su noon - 5 p.m.
Updated Apr 4, 2011
Address: 8911 Euclid Ave, University Circle
CLSP is a large network of parks along the lakeshore of Cleveland. They are not inter-connected, but are close enough. Edgewater park, just West of downtown, is very popular. It's very expansive, and you'll likely see kite flyers, cyclists, fishers, soccer games, a beach crowd, picnics, etcetera. A friend of mine and I recently tried the Wheel Fun pedal vehicles. Although a tad pricey per hour, it was fun! Edgewater is divided into the upper and lower section. The upper section has a lot more trees and a very large pavilion, so it is better for large picnics. The lower section has more wide-open space, and is where you'll see the kite flyers, and occaisional soccer games. Don't miss out on the pier on the lower section! Great views of the water and the city. :) I personally do not recommend swimming from the beaches! The water is dirty, and you can swim in cleaner water from beaches further to the East and West. Edgewater is bordered by some good & troubled neighborhoods, so don't be alone there at night. The best way into the park is to take Rt. 2/The Shoreway past the W 48th St. exit. Once past there, you'll see on/off ramps to take you into the park. I recommend visiting! And definitely see the website listed below, because there really is a lot to the park system.
Although I have been to the other smaller parks, I didn't spend as much time there as that I was biking my way along the Cleveland Lakefront Bikeway (not fun when there's wind). Therefore, I don't feel qualified to say much about them. However, be careful as you go Eastward, because bad neighorhoods are in proximity to most of the parks.
Updated Apr 4, 2011
No trip to Cleveland is complete without going to gawk at our Free Stamp! It is a Cleveland icon! :) Many people around here either like it or don't; it's kitschy or ugly; depends on who you ask. Nonetheless, it's a novelty experience and much worth going to gawk at. You can even walk right up to it, as well.
Updated Apr 4, 2011
Yes, there are things to do at this small lakefront airport. :)
There are numerous exhibits from the Internatinal Women's Air & Space Museum scattered in the lobby, including an old biplane from the barnstorming era... I am not recalling what type, though. Also, the IWASM museum itself is very worthy of investigating: You can look at old trophies from the National Air Races that were once held here in Cleveland, browse the library and gaze over other historical artifacts; volunteers are on-site in the office, too. There's even some sections of the consoles from MCC at the Jonhson Space Center sitting outside the office! Buttons and everything! Very cool. :] There are no admission costs to go into the IWASM museum nor to wander through the exhibits in the lobby.
You can also sit along the big glass windows and watch the airplanes... Ya never know what really unique ones will suprise you with an appearance.
Most people aren't aware that there's these interesting things to do there at BKL. :)
Security is on site, though. Terminal entrances are adjacent to the parking lot.
Updated Apr 4, 2011
Address: Burke Lakefront Airport
If you have read some of my posts, you will know I am a photography fiend, so I always include great areas to shoot photos. In Cleveland, anywhere on Euclid Ave one will find many opportunities for some nice architecture pics with plenty of statues and interesting neon lighting. So go have fun, and watch out for those sneaky homeless, sorry, but these guys are aggressive.
Written Mar 30, 2010
Who would have guessed that one of Christmas times most beloved movies, A Christmas Story, was filmed in the heart of Cleveland. Not only that, the house that was the center of the film has been perfectly restored to look as if Ralphie should be waking up on Christmas morning every day of the year.
You can view the outside of the house and its infamous backyard, where Ralpie shot his eye out and resting place for the leg lamp, for free. You can also get into the gift shop across the street for free and they have some surprisingly fun items. The movie A Christmas Story is always rolling on a TV in the gift shop - what lucky workers!
You must purchase tickets ($8 for adults, $6 for children and children under 6 free) to view the inside of the Christmas Story house and to get in the museum across the street, which houses movie props, costumes and other memorobilia.
The movie is actually based on a book by Jean Shepherd "In God We Trust All Others Pay Cash", which I must admit I have not read.
The neigborhood that the house is in is not in good condition - rather rough. Parking can also be difficult. We parked on street a block away and took our chances with running into the neighborhood bully Scut Farkus and his toadie Grover Dill. If you don't want to walk, the neighbors next door (including the Bumpuses) do allow parking in their yard for a price.
Is it a tourist trap? Yes, but a darn good one. Worth every penny in my opinion. And the house's website below has extensive movie information and trivia - worth the price of admission alone.
Updated Dec 31, 2009
Address: 3159 W 11th St, Cleveland, Ohio 44109
Phone: (216) 298-4919
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