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History books would tell you that Cleveland, Ohio’s glory days came — and went — in the early 1950s.
The city hit a record population of more than 900,000, the Cleveland Indians and the Cleveland Browns both won national titles, and Alan Freed had just coined the term “rock and roll.” The runaway success of the first-ever rock and roll concert at the Cleveland Arena in 1952 made the city a place where trends were born.
But as the city’s trendsetting reputation subsided, locals continued to do what locals do. They opened restaurants and shops in cultural pockets that defined the city’s neighborhoods.
The younger generation continues to open new businesses, which riff off of Cleveland’s ethnic core, while also infusing a slightly new flavor into the city’s neighborhoods. The eclectic charm of Cleveland’s neighborhoods makes the city especially alluring.
While visitors usually have a passing familiarity with the North Coast District, home of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, areas beyond Cleveland’s downtown core are equally worth a visit. Ohio City, just west of downtown, offers a residential feel and is where the historic West Side Market makes its home. East of downtown in University Circle is the nation’s largest concentration of cultural and medical institutions within one square mile, including the Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland Museum of Natural History and Severance Hall, the winter home of the Cleveland Orchestra.
No matter where visitors begin their explorations, it won’t take very long before they start to interact with locals who are setting Cleveland’s newest trends, all while loudly singing the praises of a city they once left and now love.
Getting Around:The Greater Cleveland Rapid Transit Authority (RTA) operates several rapid transit lines, which connect riders to almost any destination in the area.
When to Go:Cleveland has four distinct seasons, each offering unique activities. In September, when temperatures start to cool off, visitors can still enjoy Lake Erie but can also catch the excitement of both the Cleveland Indians and the Cleveland Browns.
Where to Stay:The Ritz-Carlton Cleveland: Located in downtown, The Ritz-Carlton Cleveland’s Be a Rock Star package starts at $279 per night and includes tickets to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and two complimentary “rocktails” in the lobby lounge. www.ritzcarlton.com
InterContinental Suites Cleveland: Cleveland’s only “wellness-focused” hotel, the InterContinental Suites Cleveland is located on the Cleveland Clinic campus. The “Cleveland Plus” package starts at $245 per night and includes two attractions passes and complimentary transportation to the University Park area. www.intercontinental.com
Where to Eat:Although dining options are nearly limitless, locals swear by the West Side Market, Cleveland’s oldest publicly owned market. In addition to some 100-plus vendors selling produce, meats and snacks, the West Side Market Cafe is a popular spot for breakfast. www.westsidemarket.org
What to Do:Through Feb. 26, 2012, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame presents “Women Who Rock.” The exhibit explores the women who changed the face of rock, from early groundbreakers such as Bessie Smith to contemporary voices including Lady Gaga, whose meat dress is a highlight of the exhibit. www.rockhall.com