Cleveland is well served by mass transit but we were on the tail end of a six month trip traveling around the US National Park system and to get all our gear from place to place, our car was the best option.
D got stuck driving from Goose Island Brewing in Chicago to our eventual room in LaPorte, Indiana the previous night. It was only about 70 miles but with the rain coming down pretty hard, it took longer than it might otherwise. We stayed at the very simple but friendly Cassidy Motel there and two people were never so happy to find a room on a cold wet night. So, I was more than happy to drive the morning leg to Cleveland. It was about 280 miles and took roughly 4 hours, getting us there for lunch.
D was her ever sweet self driving from Great Lakes Brewing in Cleveland to our friends' place in Pittsburgh which took 2 hours and was about 125 miles.
When driving in Cleveland, you may sometimes notice that, on wider, two lane streets, people will pull up next to you at lights and even ride next to you for a distance. This is what's known as "rush hour lanes" and, even though it's not marked, it's legal and general driving practice in Cleveland.
Take note of it also when parking on major streets, as there are often restrictions on parking during rush hours on these streets in order to allow this sort of travel. There are usually "No Parking" signs indicating the hours in which parking is not permitted.
Cleveland is one of the few cities in the country that is truly intermodal: different forms of transit directly connect to one another.
The RTA's Red Line runs right into the airport terminal on the western edge of the city while the Lakeshore Line drops you off right next to the Amtrak station Downtown. The center of everything is Tower City, where the majority of the bus routes begin, for those areas not accessible by the rail system.
Cleveland streets can be very confusing, especially around University Circle and even Downtown. It's better to stick to the larger streets and freeways and follow the signs, which are present in most tourist areas. But take a minute to plan your route before you go anywhere because traffic lights often have no street signs, lanes randomly end and streets split off with no signage, so it's best to know exactly what you're coming up against before heading out.
One thing to remember is that the numbered streets run north-south despite their names, so "East 55th" actually refers to a north-south street running the 55th block east of Downtown.
Don't worry a whole lot if you make mistakes though. Cleveland drivers are actually very courteous and understanding for the most part.
Things to know!
I take the bus everyday and everywhere. I don't drive!!
The public transportation in Cleveland is pretty good. There are buses to everywhere including nearby suburbs with great shopping! Connections are pretty good. They can be late at times. During rush hours downtown in a pain to get in and out of and the buses will run late a majority of the time so leave early if you are on a a schedule!
1. buses are crowded during the morning (7-9am coming into downtown) and evening (4-6pm leaving downtown) rush and you may have to stand.
2. Oneway fare for local buses is 1.50, rapids are 1.75 and trolleys, loops and circulators are .75. Up to three children under age six can ride free when accompanied by a fare-paying adult
3. An all day pass, which covers all riding options, is 3.50. All day passes can be bought on the bus. They expire at 3am. Have exact change!
4. The RTA customer service center is in Tower City Center. It is located on he lowest level where you can board rapids from downtown. You will find an info desk open until 5pm and schedules. Also there are atm-like machines to buy farecards. www.riderta.com has all the info you need!!
5. Some buses run less frequent after 6pm on weekdays and the majority of the buses run slow on saturdays and sundays. Be sure to check the schedules!
The Nautica Queen is probably the finer of the two cruise boats on the Cuyahoga. My friend and I recently went on a dinner cruise, on a Thursday night, and it was busy! Food was served buffet-style, and it was actually very good. especially the cheeseckae with rich strawberry sauce (even had a the seeds). You can dress however you please, but my friend said that business casual was suggested, when he was looking up cruise info. There's usually crew members around frequently, especially on the outer decks, and the captain gave us a pre-shove-off narration, including safety standards, which I don't recall with the Goodtime, although I could be wrong. Anyway, the cruise was a lot of fun even though the waves were too choppy to beyond the breakwall, the food was delicious, the music was great!
View the website for schedules, menu, pricing and such.
The Nautica Queen is located on the East bank of the Flats, next to the Powerhouse.
The Goodtime 3 is an extremely popular sightseeing option. People from the outliying suburbs and beyond board this ship for the cruise that lasts roughly and hour or so. This cruise ship is the least classy of the 3 ships at the Cuyahoga, but is still a good option if you can't afford to go on the Nautica Queen. There's three decks, and the boat can host 1000 passengers. You're free to roam the decks, and bring a camera because you'll be viewing some great scenery. I'm disappointed at the plastic chairs outside, and then those tacky metal-frame chairs inside, like from some dank bar. It doesn't have the classiest atmosphere or design, but does a good job with it's primary purposes: providing great views of downtown and the Cuyahoga River, lots of dance music, decently stocked bars; lots of open space on the decks. The indoor sections are climate-controlled, too. There are also lunch cruises, private chartering options, dance cruises and general sightseeing tours.
The dock is located at the E 9th St Pier, downtown, in Voinovich Park. There's parking by the Ninth street/Rt. 2 ramps, on the pier (good luck finding a spot there), or at nearby Burke Lakefront Airport.
The Greyhound station downtown is GROSS. Don't eat at the cafeteria if you're not dying of starvation (that's what I thought and bought a prepackaged pastry). A recent article reminded me of how much that I disliked much of the experience. There's a variety of panhandlers, drug dealers and violent types that hang around; politely dismiss anyone that approaches you other than an actual employee. It is so horribly run down and you'll be able to ell that it once was much nicer... Use the bathrooms at your own risk, too. The upside is that it is a cheap way to travel but it drops you off just on the fringe of downtown so get your stuff and get out of there when you arrive.
If you're going to fly GA into Cleveland, the prime access point is BKL, downtown. There's two FBO's: MillionAir & Avitat. Fueling is 100LL & JetA, tiedowns are available (bring spoilers if you've got them!), Enterprise car rental service is available at Avitat, and be on the lookout for seagulls; there's a high population around the airport. BKL is a very acommodating airport; you'll likely enjoy flying in. :)
Cleveland Hopkins Airport (CLE on your baggage claim tickets) is the major airport going in or out of Cleveland. It is served by all of the major airlines, but is a hub for Continental. It has been recently renovated, including runway expansion and food and shopping places. So it is pretty nice now.
Like all airports, this one has its downside. Snow. The folks up there are pretty quick about getting the snow off the runways and are really quick when it comes to de-icing the planes. But, there is always that chance that your flight will be delayed, or worse!
True story, I once had to spend a night in Concourse A because all of my flights were indefinately delayed because of snow. This is common among all Northern Airports, so don't feel it is a reason to avoid seeing the city.
The Cleveland Walking Tours company seems to be a good way to learn about the history of Cleveland while being physically active at the same time! You'll get to see some historical sites close-up and not from a bus or something similar. It might be a good option for a traveller here, because it allows you to see alot in a very structured time frame.
I've not personally participated, because... I live here. ;) I can get to these places anytime. Anyhow, you'll be covering a good amount of ground, so bring your walking shoes and a camera.
If you're going to tourist about *downtown*, I highly recommend walking or bicycling, maybe even take buses if you're not too proud. Driving is a frustration because there's lights everywhere, especially with the many intersections around Public Square, and lots of buses which make many stops. Be sure to bring a lock & chain for your bicycle, too. ;) Also if you drive, park in a garage, and stay out late, be sure you know when the garage closes or your car is stuck! Myself and a few friends would know. ;)
It has plazas to stop to take gas, to lunch and to get information to a visitor information center.
The block letters mention the location of these plazas.
This layout, similar to the European motorways, avoids to take an exit to search often at several miles a restaurant or a gas station (without sufficient direction generally).
Either fly or Drive. There are plenty of freeways to going to or through Cleveland so you can get there on one from just about any direction. Cleveland Hopkins International Airport is a hub airport and is always busy.
While there is mass transit and a limited train system, the most practical way to get around is with a car.
Unfortunately, I had to go over on a private plane with a nurse for Jim . . . That was an experience . . . Scared stiff
The guys that work at the Omni had introduced me to a driver named Dave on one of our earlier trips to the clinic . . . He was absolutley the best . . . He would take me to get videos, flowers, anything I wanted . . . He would even just stop by the hospital and visit Jim . . . If you ever are in need of a great driver, just go to the Omni and ask them to get you in touch with Dave
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