10 Things to See and Do in Cleveland

As home to the world-famous Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, there’s no doubt that Cleveland rocks. But, there’s a lot more to discover in the grand city on the shores of Lake Erie. From water sports on the lake and a world class amusement park with 17 roller coasters to one-of-a-kind museums and a beautiful national park that’s just outside city limits, Cleveland is full of surprises that make for a fun and fascinating visit.

10. Tower City Complex

The shopping and entertainment complex known as Tower City in the heart of downtown on Cleveland’s Public Square is a testimonial to the city’s rise in recent years. The historic Higbee’s department store building was re-purposed in 2012 when it opened as the Horseshoe Casino, which takes advantage of the 1920s building’s Art Deco décor to offer a classic casino feel that’s different from most casinos.  Almost 100 shops and restaurants are part the Tower City complex, ranging from Morton’s Steakhouse and Hard Rock Café to Subway and Foot Locker. The Ritz-Carlton Cleveland and Renaissance Cleveland hotels also lend an elegant touch to the entertainment center, where Segway and walking tours depart. The 52-story Tower features an observation deck on the 42nd floor with sweeping views of downtown and Lake Erie. Tickets are only $5 for access to the deck, where you can see for 30 miles on clear days.

Tower City Complex Cleveland

9. Great Lakes Brewing

Cleveland, like other cities, has seen the craft beer craze catch on in a big way recently. The one that got it all started is Great Lakes Brewing, Ohio’s first and most celebrated microbrewery. Many of Great Lakes’ brews are among Ohio’s most popular craft beers, including its Burning River Pale Ale and Dortmunder Gold Lager, while others are only available at its outstanding brewpub. The brewpub and brewery are located in Ohio City, one of Cleveland’s oldest neighborhoods located across the Cuyahoga River from downtown. The brewpub is housed in an historic brick complex and serves excellent pub-style food in several spaces including a tree-lined beer garden along a cobblestone street. Its beautiful tiger mahogany bar once hosted Eliot Ness, the famous leader of the ‘Untouchables’ law enforcement team that battled infamous gangster Al Capone.  Brewery tours are offered and a gift shop sells Great Lakes and Cleveland memorabilia.

Photo by: Great Lakes Brewing
Photo by: Great Lakes Brewing

8. Cleveland Botanical Garden

The Cleveland Botanical Garden is a 10-acre oasis located in the city’s delightful University Circle cultural district. The Smith Glasshouse anchors the complex as the only conservatory in the U.S. to house two distinct biomes. The rain forest of Costa Rica is adorned with butterflies and lush plants including exotic avocado, coffee and chocolate trees, while the adjacent spiny desert of Madagascar is a dry ecosystem with equally exotic succulents and chameleons. Outside, there are a variety of dazzling themed gardens to explore, including Japanese, rose and herb gardens. There is even a children’s garden with a treehouse and paths for exploration. The garden recently merged with the nearby Holden Arboretum to create the 13th largest public garden in the country. Holden offers over 2,000 acres of protected forests and 20 miles of hiking trails.

Cleveland Botanical Garden

7. Lake Erie and Cuyahoga River Excursions

Cleveland’s waterfront location where the Cuyahoga River meets Lake Erie means lots of options for getting out on the water, especially since both bodies of water have improved substantially in recent years. The Nautica Queen and Goodtime III excursion boats operate a regular schedule of sunset, dinner and entertainment cruises on Lake Erie most of the year from near downtown. Anglers have a wide choice of guides and charter boats to choose from as they seek to battle walleye, perch and steelhead, and the East 55th Street Marina offers a large pier that juts out into the lake. Great Lakes Watersports rents jet skis on the west bank of the Cuyahoga River in the Flats entertainment district, and renters can zip past the city skyline and onto the lake. Outfitters also rent kayaks for self-guided and guided tours on the lake and Cuyahoga and Rocky Rivers.

StonePhotos / Shutterstock.com
StonePhotos / Shutterstock.com

6. Cleveland Museum of Art

The Cleveland Museum of Art’s collection of almost 45,000 pieces spans 6,000 years of artistic achievement with a decidedly modern twist, all while charging no admission fee. Located in University Circle, the museum recently completed an extensive renovation and expansion that added digital technology to help visitors find and explore art from its collection more quickly. The marquee new attraction is the Collection Wall, a 40-foot, interactive, multi-touch wall that showcases over 4,100 works from the museum’s permanent collection. The wall changes every 40 seconds to display various works that are grouped by theme and type. Visitors can open as many as 20 separate interfaces simultaneously across the wall, which is the largest such ‘MicroTile’ screen in the U.S. Visitors can even save their favorites on their iPad or iPhone by using one of the wall’s eight docking stations. There are now six interactive displays at the Museum.

Cleveland Museum of Art

5. West Side Market

Just across the Cuyahoga River from downtown Cleveland is Ohio City, one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods and home to West Side Market. Housed in a sprawling 1912 brick building that features a 137-foot clock tower, the market has over 100 vendors, making it one of the largest such markets in the country. The amazing selection of goods is a foodie’s dream, with fresh produce, flowers, nuts, spices, fine meats and cheeses, seafood, exotic ethnic foods, gourmet specialty items and ready-to-eat treats. The West Side Market celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2012 and has been featured on the Travel Channel and Food Network. It’s open every day except Sunday. While the market is the main attraction in Ohio City, the quaint neighborhood also has several unique shops and restaurants housed in restored historic buildings. It’s a great place to wander around for a morning or afternoon.

psching / Shutterstock.com
psching / Shutterstock.com

4. Pro Football Hall of Fame

The Pro Football Hall of Fame is only a short drive from Cleveland, home to some of the most rabid football fans who root on the Browns from the Dawg Pound at FirstEnergy Stadium. Among the Hall’s newest and most popular exhibits is the Lamar Hunt Super Bowl Gallery that opened in 2009 with interactive video kiosks and artifacts that highlight every Super Bowl’s great plays and best players. The gallery’s Super Bowl Theater is a multi-media extravaganza that explains how the Super Bowl became America’s most popular sporting event. Other exhibits detail football’s history, highlights and progression. The exhibit displaying the various Super Bowl rings that have been awarded to the game’s victors over the years is an especially impressive display. One exhibit even allows visitors to test their knowledge of the game at the Hall’s trivia challenge as well as play the EA Sports Madden Football video game.

Zack Frank / Shutterstock.com
Zack Frank / Shutterstock.com

3. Cedar Point Amusement Park

Cedar Point Amusement Park is actually in nearby Sandusky on the Lake Erie shoreline, but Cleveland claims it anyway and for good reason. The second-oldest continuously operating amusement park celebrated its 146th season in 2015, and it’s better than ever with over 150 rides, shows and attractions. The big attraction at Cedar Point is its 17 roller coasters that zip along on a mind-boggling 10 miles of tracks. The park’s fastest coaster is the Top Thrill Dragster that takes those who dare along the track at 120 mph. New in 2015 is the Rougarou, a thrill-inducing floorless coaster. Cedar Point also has three unique carousels including one of only three operating D.C. Muller carousels in the world. The massive park has more than three miles of midway that are illuminated by 1.6 million LED lights.

James Marvin Phelps / Shutterstock.com
James Marvin Phelps / Shutterstock.com

2. Cuyahoga Valley National Park

National parks are few and far between in the eastern U.S. but Ohio has one right outside Cleveland. Cuyahoga Valley National Park spans 33,000 acres along the Cuyahoga River between Akron and Cleveland. There are more than 125 hiking trails in the park to a variety of overlooks, meadows and waterfalls including the 65-foot Brandywine Falls. Cycling is the main attraction as more than 20 miles of prime bike paths meander through the park on the original Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath, where several historic sites tell the history of the 308-mile canal that connected Lake Erie and the Ohio River when it was completed in 1832. Cyclists and hikers often use the historic Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad that runs through the park to take them back to the trailhead they where they began their journeys. Cross-country skiing on the towpath is popular there in the winter as well.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park

1. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum

You don’t have to be a huge rock music fan to marvel at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum on downtown Cleveland’s lakefront. The Wow Factor kicks in as you’re approaching the landmark building, designed by renowned architect I.M. Pei, which is anchored by two glass pyramids and a 160-foot tower overlooking a large outdoor plaza. All the soaring glass windows and high angles of the pyramids create a stunning visual display inside, where the world’s largest single collection of rock memorabilia is showcased. There are special exhibits about Elvis, The Beatles, Pink Floyd and other rock icons that include priceless artifacts such as dozens of vintage guitars and the handwritten lyrics of some of rock’s most famous songs. Numerous visual and listening stations tell a rich story of rock’s most famous artists, and the expansive museum shop sells one-of-a-kind souvenirs and hard-to-find CDs and vinyl albums.

Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock.com
Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock.com

15 Underrated Destinations in North America & Caribbean

Let’s face it, some famous places are so famous, it’s impossible to enjoy them anymore. They have become time consuming forced marches through hordes of tourists that kill the charm or grace of even the greatest destinations. As a result, we’ve compiled a list of the most underrated destinations where travelers don’t have to worry about getting caught up in the hustle and bustle of tourist traffic and can take a moment to enjoy the scene. We’ve even likely named a few you’ve never heard of! Although, you better act quick because there are warnings to heed as some of these places are beginning to grow. The New York Times recently noted that the lovely, uncluttered island country of St. Vincent built a $250 million dollar airport with non-stop flights to cities on both sides of the Atlantic. And the largely untouched Yellowstone National Park is even breaking ground and building hotels! On the reverse end of all this construction, a positive trend is emerging, especially among young travelers, it involves an interest in sustainable tourism, away from the destructive environmental footprints of tourist culprits like huge cruise ships. So here is the list of places that deserve more lovin’, respect and interest than they’re getting.

15. Tulsa, Oklahoma

Beautifully set on the banks of the Arkansas River in the foothills of the Ozarks, Tulsa was the Oil Capital of the World after they hit the first gusher in 1901. The subject of many country songs, the old oil capital has now diversified into technology sectors. It has two highly regarded art museums, plus professional opera and ballet companies. Whether by luck or design, Tulsa’s impressive enclave of Art Deco buildings remained intact and oil money went to renovations and additions. They’re building a whole new waterfront with more museums to come including the Route 66 Experience in honor of the city’s legendary status of the birthplace of one of the world’s most famous highways.

Ffooter / Shutterstock.com
Ffooter / Shutterstock.com

14. Saint Kitts Island, Caribbean

­With its neighbor and sidekick Nevis known as the decadent playground of the idle rich, St. Kitts is looking to go up market from its usual cruise ship fare, as well at the price of some of its informality and unspoiled assets. Entrepreneurs with big plans for huge marinas, big name hotel chains and golf course builders are all passing through the new private jet terminal. A development called Kittitian Hill calls itself an innovative exercise in sustainable living with menus ‘foraged’ from land and sea. They claim Irie Fields is the world’s first edible golf course. ‘Instead of the usual shrubs and trees, you’ll find organic crops and trees bursting with fresh fruit. Smart water management and an abundance of crops will all serve to reduce the course’s environmental impact’. Built on a former marijuana farm, Irie is also an island word for being at peace. Obviously named by someone who has never golfed. But intriguing nonetheless.

St. Kitts

13. Taos Ski Valley, New Mexico

Taos hasn’t rated in the big time ski resort list, but it’s staking its claim. Its underdevelopment has been one of its many charms, but now previously inaccessible expert runs are being opened up, the most notable being Kachina Peak with an elevation of 12,500 feet. Snowmaking capacity has been enhanced. The base village is in the process of upgrades, though cranky traditionalists might call them downgrades. The town itself has maybe 7,000 permanent residents. It is a completely charming place with an artists’ colony and a strong native presence. The simple southwestern food is propelled to great heights by local green chili sauce and access to fresh Pacific seafood not far away. In between skiing seasons, it is a wonderful place for strenuous hiking and sightseeing. The great British author D.H. Lawrence spent some time here in the 1920’s, a testament to the presence of sights and sensibilities that stir the soul. The Times advises ‘visit while it’s still manageable’. Julia Roberts bought a spread here. Consider yourself warned.

Photo by: Kevin Muncie via Flickr
Photo by: Kevin Muncie via Flickr

12. Quebec City, Quebec

They have a brand spanking new arena and a down payment on a National Hockey League franchise to renew their bitter rivalry with Montreal which goes far beyond the ice. So visitors will just have to make do with the UNESCO World Heritage Site’s impeccably preserved 17th century Old Town, gourmet French and Quebecois cooking, alongside some fabulous skiing at Mont Ste Anne and kite-flying on the Plains of Abraham. The Marche de Vieux Port is a foodie flash mob every weekend. Visit Notre Dame de la Victoire, a church built to celebrate an audacious victory over the British in 1642. Have a drink at the bar in the old Chateau Frontenac and enjoy the sumptuous views of the lower St. Lawrence and the Ile d’Orleans. The Winter Carnival is the best and biggest on the continent and the summer music festival is worth a detour as well. The list goes on and on with more enchantment at every turn.

Quebec City

11. The Catskills, New York

As recently as 2012, travel media were writing the Catskill’s obituary. For half of the 20th century, the Catskills were called The Jewish Alps. The Borscht Belt referred to the food, the clientele and a whole genre of comedy. Superstars like Woody Allen, Joan Rivers and Mel Brooks honed their skills at the legendary Grossinger’s Hotel, entertaining the Jewish clientele who flocked to the resort when many others denied them entry. Now the resurrection is underway with chic boutique hotels, snappy restaurants with uber-style—it has decider Vogue Magazine’s blessing of the Phoenicia Diner and Woodstock Way’s luxurious cabins.

The CatSkills, NY

10. San José del Cabo, Mexico

San José is the more mature, refined sibling of Cabo (Cape) San Lucas. The beaches and ocean is the same, just the people on them are perhaps a bit older and a good deal less hung over. It is joining the ever-growing trend to having more environmentally responsible tourism with Flora Farms, a resort with an organic garden in the foothills of the Sierra de la Laguna Mountains. Try the Farm Julep made with fresh watermelon juice. There is also a level of sophistication to engage the mind as well as the liver. Smart boutique hotels, good restaurants and art galleries showcasing Mexico’s best. This place offers a satisfying all-round vacation with a different far more satisfying version of the all inclusive.

San Jose del Cabo, Mexico

9. San Antonio, Texas

There is so much to see and do in America’s seventh-largest city, San Antonio. With over 20 million people visiting every year the tourist economy is booming. People flock to this city not only to remember Battle of the Alamo­, though they do that too, this famed battle site completely overshadows the city’s other UNESCO World Heritage Site, the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park with the ruins of four Spanish mission churches dating from the early to mid-nineteenth century. The River Walk is a must and recently grew 500% in length to a full 15 miles. It is celebrated in the country’s musical heart. The legendary blues player Robert Johnson recorded here. It is the “Guitar Town”, home of the great singer-songwriter Steve Earle and Lyle Lovett who sings of his love for his ‘San Antonio Girl”.

f11photo / Shutterstock.com
f11photo / Shutterstock.com

8. New Orleans, Louisiana

The year of 2015 is a somber milestone for New Orleans. A decade has passed since the devastation of Katrina. There will be memorials in honor of the victims, but also much pride to show how far the city and its people have bounced back. There are extra helpings of gumbo and jazz at the beautiful brand new venue of the People’s Health New Orleans Jazz Market which was built in dedication to the city’s greatest achievement: the creation of jazz. The South Market has got the resto/condo/boutique treatment, but the city’s unmistakable personality endures. In this time of reflection, go a little more native, beyond the cuisine clichés, a little couche-couche for breakfast, or try some comfort food like rice and beans and the aperitif called the official Cocktail of New Orleans, the Sazerac, named for the cognac that is its base.

Photo by: Bill Staney via Flickr
Photo by: Bill Staney via Flickr

7. Squamish, British Columbia

The city calls itself “where the oceans meet the mountains”. There is no outdoor adventure activity that can’t be found here – mountain biking, kayaking, white water rafting, wind and kite surfing. It is an acclaimed destination for rock-climbing on the 2000 foot Stawamus Chief mountain which towers 600m (almost 2000 ft) above Squamish, as the 2nd tallest hunk of freestanding granite in the world, after the Rock of Gibraltar. But the most recent addition to attract some of the millions who flock to nearby Whistler is the Sea to Sky Gondola that takes visitors up 3000 feet in 10 minutes to a separate network of high alpine trails to hike and snowshoe. The Gondolas website promises “breathtaking views of the mountains and ocean below”. That is a gross understatement. Each year Squamish plays host to one of North America’s largest convocations of bald eagles who hang out in Squamish during the winter.

Stawamus Chief Mountain

6. Campeche, México

Campeche has everything. It’s a UNESCO World heritage Site. Nearby Mayan ruins perhaps 3000 years old and jungle biosphere that is also declared a UNESCO World Heritage site. Well preserved Spanish colonial architectures from the 17th century on, some of which have been turned into charming hotels. Not to mention the great seafood! Yet it remains relatively well-know bypassed perhaps for Yucatan’s hyper-popular beaches. The ruins of Calakmul, including the imposing five pyramids lie under the forest canopy teeming with monkeys and toucans. The Times seductively promises visitors “can experience a solitude unthinkable at tourist-clogged Maya sites like Chichén Itzá”.

Campeche Mexico

5. Cleveland, Ohio

Wait let me get my glasses. I thought it said Cleveland. It’s actually true! It’s no longer the ‘Mistake by the Lake’. The city has reconnected to the waterfront with the renovation of the warehouse district, The Gordon Square Arts district has a gaggle of spiffed up theaters – the stage kind. Waterfront warehouses are being transformed and the glassy geometric new home to the Museum of Contemporary Art is the height of sophistication. One wouldn’t expect the iconic symbol of Rust Belt decline to have miles of hiking and biking trails, but it does. And don’t forget the Hall of Fame. Go Cavs.

Cleveland Flats

4. Miami, Florida

South Beach has become the ultimate in North American chic. Loads of celebs, designer hotels and elegant restaurants. It is now larger and if at all possible, becoming more chic. They have hired Norman Foster and Rem Koolhaas, two of the world’s greatest living architects, both winners of the Pritzker Prize, the Nobel Prize of architecture, so this will be something to see. Designer giant Tommy Hilfiger bought the historic Art Deco gem, the Raleigh Hotel which has been famous since it opened in 1940. Did you hear that? It was the sound of a lot of coin being dropped. When future archaeologists find the ruins, they will think it the Versailles of Florida Panhandle, the center of a society dedicated to above all, conspicuous over consumption.

Fotoluminate LLC / Shutterstock.com
Fotoluminate LLC / Shutterstock.com

3. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Caribbean

It is everything you could want in a Caribbean getaway. Superlatives like ‘idyllic’ and ‘unspoiled’ are often used. Divers love the coral reefs and Saint Margaret beach is one of the nicest on the planet. There’s not that much to actually do on the tiny country’s 32 islands, unless you’re one of the one per cent who have private islands and hidden mansions. There’s not that much riveting history, architecture of culture really, except for the one that preaches of blissful relaxation in an impossibly beautiful setting. However, they did shell out a quarter of a billion dollars for a new airport with nonstop flights to and from North America and Europe. Might be good to see it before everyone else does.

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

2. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Yellowstone National Park is the oldest National Park in the United States dating back to 1872. A 500 room lodge is being modernized. A few ‘sustainable’ lodges are opening making the home of Old Faithful a more welcome destination to spend more time in. It is staggering to know that most of the world’s geysers are here. Within the confines of the duty to protect and preserve this treasure, the Park Service is partnering with local nonprofits to responsibly open up the venerable park for both accommodation and exploration. There are new hiking and biking trails. You can take your own snowmobile tour for the first time in over a decade. And veteran visitors swear it is even more spectacular in winter.

Yellowstone National Park

1. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

No seriously. It’s a different way to build a city into a popular destination. Sure, there are famous things to see. The Liberty Bell, the Rocky statue on the Library steps.  But there’s not much of the ‘biggest this-’ or ‘oldest that-’. It’s more about creating a very engaging urban space. It’s a very livable, people-friendly functional urban space with European overtones. Which is saying a lot for a city whose previous contributions to American culture were cheese steaks and the most notorious sports fans in the country. There are free yoga classes on the Race Street Pier in the home of hockey’s Broad Street Bullies. Fairmount Park is the largest city park in the United States, bigger even than Central Park, and very runner/rollerblader/cycler friendly. It must be said pockets of shameful poverty remain. But cities in the world without a regrettable blemish are rare. A civilized city to savor.

Philadelphia Pennsylvania

The 10 Best Children’s Museums in America

In a country that loves innovation and learning it is no surprise that America is home to over 200 children’s museums and it is no wonder that millions of visitors flock to them every year as they offer incredible exhibits, engaging facilities, hands-on learning and fun for adults too. Nearly every city has a children’s museum, but if you want to experience the best of the best, we have rounded up our top 10 in America. From the largest children’s museum in the world to a renovated fish market, there is no excuse not to visit one of these incredible museums in America.

10. Please Touch Museum -Philadelphia, PA

With a name like “Please Touch”, it’s no wonder this is one of the best children’s museums in all of North America. This museum truly invites children to learn through playing and interacting with exhibits. Each section of this museum is designed to create learning opportunities that are completely fun and interactive. The six-themed exhibits include a mini Philly neighborhood, an Alice in Wonderland exhibit, a mock supermarket, construction zone and medical center. Kids love the halls of doors and mirrors, circular mazes and fairytale garden. Don’t forget about taking a ride on the 1908 carousel before you leave. With fair admission prices and enough fun to last all day, don’t miss out on this awesome museum.

Photo by: Jim, the Photographer via Flickr
Photo by: Jim, the Photographer via Flickr

9. Port Discovery -Baltimore, MD

This 80,000 square foot museum resides in a renovated fish market and is truly one of the anchors of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. It just so happens that the Walt Disney Company Imagineers designed many of the exhibits here, so you just know they have to be pretty amazing. Kids interested in farming will love the Down on the Farm exhibit where they can milk cows, plant seeds and brush the tail of a real horse. For the active explorer don’t miss the three-storey treehouse where they can crawl through tunnels, explore a whole room of balls and cross narrow rope bridges. The HiFlyer hot air balloon is one of the favorites as kids get to experience a 15-minute ride above the Inner Harbor. Travel back in time to Egypt in the 1920’s, read one of the 3,000 books or join in a sing-along at this incredible children’s museum.

Photo by: Paul Roth via Flickr
Photo by: Paul Roth via Flickr

8. COSI: Center of Science and Industry -Columbus, OH

This is one of the few children’s museums that actually keep adults just as entertained as their kids and is a welcome relief from the normal kid’s museums. COSI has established themselves as a leader in innovation and features a number of awesome exhibits, including a working television station. The daily live show is a hit among all visitors and features such acts as real rats playing basketball. The 10,000 square foot area for kids under first grade was designed by early education experts and is perfect for the little ones to crawl, play and learn. From exploring space and energy to learning how the mind works to playing with gadgets, this museum takes visitors on a journey through science and innovation. A bit more expensive than others on this list, it is well worth it to visit.

Photo by: COSI Colmbus' Dynamic
Photo by: COSI Colmbus’ Dynamic

7. Minnesota Children’s Museum -St Paul, MN

Over six million parents and kids have visited this museum since it set up shop in downtown St. Paul and it remains one of the most loved children’s museums in all of North America. Here it is all about immersive experiences and encourages children to run and crawl through representations of Minnesota’s different natural habitats. This museum is actually promising to get even better with a $28 million renovation and expansion that is set to be complete in 2017. For now though it is pretty awesome and offers an array of experiences including a water-centric exhibit that allows kids to race boats down flowing streams and make their own recycled paper. A pretend neighborhood and art on the rooftop are hits among the kids. Watch for this museum to become even better in the next few years, but make sure to visit now to experience how awesome it already is.

Photo by: minnemom via Flickr
Photo by: minnemom via Flickr

6. Boston Children’s Museum -Boston, MA

This award-winning museum has been operating for over 100 years and offers plenty of fun for the whole family. This museum welcomes guests with its huge 40-foot high red-and-white milk bottle out front. It is one of the only museums to really focus on toddlers and preschoolers, with attractions such as the rock climbing wall that caters to kids aged three to five years old. A favorite permanent exhibit with kids is the Construction Zone, an exhibit allowing children to jackhammer, walk on high beam girders and ride in a real bobcat. Back in 2007 this museum became the city’s first “green” museum with its eco-friendly addition and landscaped waterfront park. The fully functional Japanese house, the three story climbing structure and the countdown to Kindergarten room are all huge hits among visitors. Families are welcome to bring in food into the lunch room or dine outside on the Milk Bottle Plaza, a great alternative for budget conscious families.

Photo by: Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism via Flickr
Photo by: Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism via Flickr

5. Children’s Museum of Denver -Denver, CO

It first opened in 1973 in a converted school bus but since has expanded into one of the best children’s museums in all of North America. Kids who love to build things will head right over to the assembly plant where they can use screwdrivers, saws and clamps to create their own one of a kind creation, which they can then take over to the art studio to paint. The fire station has to be a favorite as it features a real fire truck, 911 call centers, dispatch station and even a fire pole. The new outdoor adventure is a whopping 30,000 square feet of dynamic outdoor fun featuring ruins and forts, caves, hills, bridges and streams. A zip line, sand dunes, tunnels and waterfalls will keep kids running all day long. Stay tuned for new exhibits coming in late 2015, such as a teaching kitchen, three story climber, hands-in water lab and extreme energy station.

Photo by: Chlidren's Museum of Denver
Photo by: Chlidren’s Museum of Denver

4. The Strong -Rochester, NY

It calls itself the national museum of play and this awesome 100,000 square foot museum certainly makes well on that promise. One of the most popular exhibits with both kids and adults alike is the year-round indoor butterfly garden that features lush tropical plants and over 1,000 free-flying tropical and native butterflies. Between the aquariums, the toys hall of fame and the reading adventureland, it can be hard to choose what to visit first. Wee ones will go nuts for the Sesame Street exhibit as well as the life-sized dollhouse. Comic book heroes, e-games, a rock wall and a theatre complete with a stage are just a few of the permanent exhibits that kids go wild for. There are also plenty of food choices in the spacious food court or a sit-down style restaurant in the atrium, making sure everyone’s needs are met.

Photo by: Lee Ruk via Flickr
Photo by: Lee Ruk via Flickr

3. Children’s Museum of Houston -Houston, TX

This elaborate children’s museum recently doubled its size to 90,000 square feet and features both inside and outside exhibits. Kidtropolis is a highlight for kids, a huge pretend city where kids run the show and features its own bank, news center, vets office and more. It was designed to help kids understand occupations and economics and go with the expectation that your kids will never want to leave. Several outdoor galleries include a weather station and watery flow station which is a hit on those hot and humid days. The invention convention encourages budding inventors to create their own gadgets while the TV studio lets kids see themselves on camera, read scripts from the anchor desk and work the control panel. The smaller kids under three won’t be left out as they have their own padded play area and awesome ball bit. A bargain at just $9 for adults and kids, this museum is definitely worth checking out.

Photo by: sikeri via Flickr
Photo by: sikeri via Flickr

2. Brooklyn Children’s Museum -Brooklyn, NY

This New York City landmark is the world’s first and oldest children’s museum and remains one of the best in North America. It features over 100,000 square feet of exhibit space and costs only $9 to explore. The Neighborhood Nature exhibit is a hit among kids as they can explore the natural habitats that can be found throughout the nation, such as woodland fields and ocean tide pools. Youngsters will enjoy the 1,700 square foot totally Tots Area where they explore the sand spot, baby patch and peek-a-boutique. The museum features nearly 30,000 natural history specimens and cultural objects that will thrill both parents and kids. The coolest thing about this museum may just be the entrance, located underground in the side of a hill through an authentic 1905 New York City trolley kiosk.

Photo by: Rubenstein via Flickr
Photo by: Rubenstein via Flickr

1. Children’s Museum Indianapolis -Indianapolis, IN

It is hailed as being the best children’s museum in all of North America and the massive facility that measures over 472,000 square feet does not disappoint. It sits on 29 acres and is the largest children’s museum in the entire world. The Dinosphere exhibit is perhaps the favorite of all and features a working paleontology lab, hands-on simulated fossil digs, life-size simulated dinosaurs and one of the largest collections of real fossils and dinosaur art in the nation. Also this museum has a working 1927 carousel, the largest water clock in North America and a 130-seat planetarium. It is all about hands-on learning here and children are encouraged to touch, play and learn as they make their way through this huge museum. If you happen to be out of town visiting, make sure you spend at least an entire day here.

Photo by: Snassek via Flickr
Photo by: Snassek via Flickr

6 U.S. Rollercoasters Every Thrill Seeker Needs to Ride

First they’re up, then they’re down, they’re fast and they’re rarely slow – coming in all combinations and themes, rollercoasters are known as one of the most popular attractions across the country. There’s just something about the thrill of plummeting at incredible speeds – with strangers, of course – that brings people to pay money and stand in line. Sometimes for hours at a time – just to make their way to the top of the ride. Even those who “aren’t rollercoaster people” still get in on the fun, visiting theme parks and watching (likely in terror) as so many others strap themselves to gigantic pieces of metal and take incredible plunges. All in the name of a good time.

But which coasters are labeled as the best? And what makes them as such?

6. Millennium Force, Ohio

Force is the key word behind this monster – with a max height of 310 feet, riders reach a whopping 93 miles per hour throughout their ride. And if that’s not enough to get your blood pumping, since its induction in 2000 (hence the name), it’s broken six world records. It was the first coaster in the world to reach higher than 300 feet, and before dethroned, was once the tallest and fastest ride in the entire world. It’s steepest point is a 45-degree drop, just one of the features that has earned it nine awards for being the number one steel roller coaster. For anyone stopping in Sandusky, Ohio at its home in the Cedar Point Amusement Park, it’s a must-ride.

Photo by: Jeremy Thompson via Wikimedia Commons
Photo by: Jeremy Thompson via Wikimedia Commons

5. Intimidator, North Carolina

Another steel contraption, this version is held in Carowinds Plaza near Charlotte, North Carolina. It was built in 2010 and gets its name from the late Dale Earnhardt, who has known for intimidating his opposing NASCAR drivers with a single glance. And trust us, all it takes is a single glance at this coaster and you’ll be questioning your decision to ride it. Its crowning points include a 232-foot hill, reaching speeds of 80 miles per hour, and hitting more than 5,000 feet of track. At just over five years old, this coaster has been ushering in guests since its induction and doesn’t look like it’s slowing down anytime soon.

Photo by: Carowinds
Photo by: Carowinds

4. Nitro, New Jersey

Any Six Flags fan knows these parks go the distance with each of their coasters, and Nitro is no different. Located in New Jersey at the New England Six Flags, this ride is listed as the fastest in the entire Northeast and the tallest in the state of New Jersey. To date it’s earned 11 top-five awards since its opening in 2001, and hitting top-15 achievements every year of its lifespan. Top speeds reach 80 miles per hour, which keep riders rushing for more than two solid minutes of movement. For anyone loving speed and the thrill of a new coaster, Nitro is a must stop on the coaster list.

Photo by: Six Flags
Photo by: Six Flags

3. Cannibal, Utah

Despite its name, Cannibal is a safe – albeit, still thrill-worthy – coaster. Lagoon Amusement Park in Farmington, Utah is its home, serving up guests a whopping 116-degree drop, a stat that lists it as one of the steepest drops in the entire world. And get ready to hold onto your pants – this coaster is so new it’s not even open yet. Keep your eyes open the next time you’re in Utah – or make a special trip just to ride this thing. It’s that incredible. Folks are already planning a coaster-based trip – all they need is for Cannibal to open its doors!

Roller Coaster

2. The Voyage, Indiana

Riding this wooden coaster will certainly feel like a voyage – the thought of putting together such a ride makes us exhausted just thinking about it. (Seriously, it’s made from wood!) Speeding riders along since 2006, this attraction holds the record for most air time on an all wooden ride, with 24.3 entire seconds under its belt. It also won an award for “best new ride” in 2006. Since its opening year, this coaster has earned multiple “best wooden roller coaster” titles. It’s a must try for Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari guests, located in Santa Claus, Indiana. (With a town name like that it has to be fun, right?!)

Photo by: Holiday World & Splashin' Safari
Photo by: Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari

1. New Texas Giant, Texas

Since 2001, the New Texas Giant has been offering steel rides in replacement of its wooden predecessor, which was first dubbed Texas Giant. New construction was announced after the original became rough and brought in fewer riders. With steel tracks, however, rides are smoother, albeit just as fast (if not faster) and just as extreme. The New Giant is known for its 147-foot drop, vertical angles of 79-degrees, and lasting for nearly three and a half minutes. Whether or not Six Flags at Arlington, Texas in already on your coaster radar, it certainly should be!

Photo by: SixFlagsTexasGiant-3988 via Wikimedia Commons
Photo by: SixFlagsTexasGiant-3988 via Wikimedia Commons

The 14 Best Theme Parks in the World  

Theme parks are known for their thrilling drop towers, exhilarating rollercoasters, exceptional shows, and breathtaking attractions. For anyone who loves to visit theme parks, it is good news to know that they are only getting bigger, better, and even more exciting. New technology is making roller coasters faster, taller, scarier, and smarter. These parks invite you to take a ride on the tallest coaster in the world, see if you are brave enough to ride the rails backward and spend the day with the entire family having fun. Prepare yourself for a serious adrenaline rush and discover the best 12 theme parks in the world!

14. Europa Park, Germany

The largest park in Germany and second most popular behind Disneyland Paris lies in Rust, south-western Germany. Europa Park which is currently celebrating its 40th anniversary features a total of 12 rollercoasters plus tons of other thrill rides, water rides, entertainment, and shows. Kids will definitely enjoy such attractions as the Panorama Train which takes passengers on a ride around the entire park, or the 4D Magic Cinema. The 17 unique areas of the park represent different European countries offering both fun and education for your young ones while exploring this incredible park.

13. Carowinds, North Carolina

This amusement park is actually part of both North and South Carolina; originally built to try and bring the two states closer together. The newest ride in 2015 is by far the most thrilling ride in the park. The Fury 325 reaches a height of 325 feet making it the tallest Giga Coaster in the world. Riders will reach speeds up to 95mph and enter into both North and South Carolina on this three-minute and twenty-second mind-bending ride. Other epic rides include a slingshot that shoots riders 300ft into the air reaching speeds of 65mph and the first stand-up roller coaster in the South. A wonderful kid zone complete with rides and coasters completes this awesome family theme park.

12. Kings Island, Ohio

This adventure park is full of record-breaking rides and controversy and still, today remains one of the most thrilling parks around the world.  It is hailed as the largest amusement park and waterpark in the Midwest and has received an award for having the world’s best kids area complete with over 18 themed ‘Peanuts’ attractions. It is also home to the longest inverted roller coaster in the world along with the longest wooden coaster, making it perfect for adrenaline junkies. Sadly the one and only wooden coaster with a loop were shut down in 2012. Visitors to this park shouldn’t miss out on Dinosaurs Alive; an attraction that features over 65 life-sized dinosaurs in a Jurassic Park setting. Offering over 80 rides, a newly renovated waterpark, 14 coasters, and a slew of family fun activities; this Midwest Park is not to be missed.

11. Belantis, Germany

Although this theme park has only been around since 2003, it is quickly becoming one of the best in the world. Favorite thrilling rides at this park include a log ride through Europe’s only pyramid that stands at 38 meters high and a super steel coaster that is among the world’s tallest. Control your own destiny rides are a unique twist to this park with boats and airplanes being steered by the riders; choosing how exhilarating of a ride you want to take. The park already features over 60 attractions in eight themed worlds, complete with two picturesque lakes. Belantis also happens to be the only theme park in the world where you can get your Segway driving license. It also boasts the only off-road quad course at a theme park and Europe’s only tilt tower. With plenty of room to expand and plans to bring even more attractions, this theme park is one to keep an eye on as it gets bigger and better.

10. Hershey Park, Pennsylvania

This is one of the best theme parks for the entire family and features some of the best chocolate in the country. The grounds are well kept, the rides are top of the line and there is something for everyone to experience. A waterpark, many thrilling rollercoasters, and enough chocolate paraphernalia to keep your mouth watering all day long is what awaits you here. New in 2015 is the much anticipated Laff Trakk coaster, the country’s first indoor, spinning, glow-coaster. The Laff Trakk takes families through a vibrantly colored modern funhouse in a spinning car that reaches speeds up to 40 mph. As an added bonus when you visit this park you also get free admission to the nearby ZOOAMERICA, definitely worth checking out.

9. Holiday World and Splashin’ Safari, Indiana

Part theme park and part waterpark, this is Southern Indiana’s thrill destination. This theme park boasts that it was the first of its kind, opening in 1946 as Santa Claus Land. Here you will find family-friendly service, complete with free soft drinks, free Wi-Fi, free parking, free sunscreen, and Santa Claus; every single day. Did we mention that it also has the two longest water coasters in the world? Don’t forget about the nation’s first launched wing coaster and the fact that this park has been voted for ‘Cleanest Park in the World’ for more than a decade. This park truly focuses on a family with lots of shows and rides that cater to the little ones but they don’t forget about the thrill seekers; making it the best of both worlds for visitors.

8. Six Flags Magic Mountain, California

A whopping 19 roller coasters give this park the world record and it doesn’t disappoint in terms of excitement and thrills. Bigger and better is the motto at this park and in 2015 a new wooden steel hybrid coaster will be the first of its kind; allowing riders to race from start to finish on dueling tracks and features a Zero-G Roll during this thrilling four-minute ride. Over half of their coasters are rated at the top of the thrill intensity meter but that doesn’t mean there is a lack of family activities as well. The park is separated into 9 zones each with its own distinct rides, attractions, and foodservice venues. This is one busy park and it’s best to try and visit mid-week to avoid long lines and crowds.

7. Beto Carrero World, Brazil

Beto Carrero World makes this list as it’s the largest theme park in all of Latin America. The sprawling 14-kilometer park sits in Penha Brazil and was brought to life by Brazilian businessman Beto Carrero. The park is divided into 9 sections, each with thrilling rides and vibrant entertainment and shows. Part of the allure of this theme park is that it also features a zoo where children and animal lovers alike can get up close and personal in the petting zoo or check out the horse show. In 2012, this facility formed a partnership with Dreamworks and Universal Studios, bringing some well-known favorites to the park in the form of the Madagascar Circus Show and you’ll also find your favorite characters like Shrek and Kung Fu Panda roaming the park ready to take photos with fans.

6. Knoebels, Pennsylvania

This free entry park welcomes families of all ages, including four-legged friends to have a day of fun without breaking the bank. It remains to be one of the best theme parks in the world with its old-fashioned feeling, powerful coasters, and homemade apple dumplings topped with vanilla ice-cream. A high-end steel coaster was added in 2015 that features four upside-down twists and a 90-degree free fall, adding to the already thrilling lineup of rides. A day of fun is guaranteed for the little ones in the family with plenty of gentle rides, carousels, and swings. Rides here are priced individually and range from $1.00-$3.00 or visitors can purchase a ‘ride all day’ pass that gives them access to all the rides, all day long. Old meets new here in this ultra family-friendly park that offers affordable fun, without sacrificing any of the excitement.

5. Six Flags Great Adventure, New Jersey

Pit Stock / Shutterstock

Part amusement park and part safari attraction; this huge theme park offers exciting fun for the whole family. Daredevils will want to head to the Golden Kingdom section to try out the Kingda Ka; the world’s tallest roller coaster as of the year 2015. The Drop of Doom; the tallest drop ride in the world is also housed here and on clear days the skyline of Philadelphia can be seen from the top. A unique aspect of this park is the Safari Off-Road Adventure where you can get up close and personal with over 1,200 animals from six different continents. Visitors will have the chance to feed the giraffes or take a zip line adventure at Camp Aventura, the main stop on this ultimate safari. Great live shows, music concerts, family rides and a visit from the Looney Tunes makes this an ultimate adventure.

4. PortAdventura, Spain

The largest theme park in Spain is full of exhilarating roller coasters, towering waterslides, and home to the future Ferrari World. The park is divided into six different themes complete with coasters, family rides, shows, and restaurants. Visitors come from all over the world to experience this theme park as it is the largest and most visited in all of Spain.  For those brave enough to try the Shambhala: Expedición al Himalaya expects to whip down at 83 miles per hour on the tallest hypercoaster in Europe. Or head to the water park where the tallest free-fall waterslide sits at a whopping 31 meters tall. This park just announced that in 2016 FerrariLand will be coming and featuring the highest roller coaster in Europe along with amazing attractions and exhibits. Parades, fireworks, and incredible shows round out this awesome theme park.

3. Cedar Point, Ohio

David McGill 71 / Shutterstock

Known as the roller coaster capital of the world it is no surprise this exhilarating park offers much in the way of fun and adrenaline. It is often cited as the best park for ‘grown-up kids’ as one can spend the entire day riding the coasters. This park has won numerous awards and set many records for having the most coasters over 200 feet, the most visited seasonal amusement park in the US, and more. Eleven out of their seventeen coasters are rated at the highest thrill level including the highest and longest steel wing coaster in the world. Drop towers, screaming swings, log flume rides and upside-down twisty thrillers are all part of the appeal here.

2. Universal Studios, Florida

Craig Russell / Shutterstock

Universal Studios has long been known for its amazing rides, shows, and attractions that are growing bigger and better with each year that passes. Harry Potter, The Simpsons, Men in Black, Shrek and so many other characters appear at this park in thrilling rollercoasters, hilarious 3D rides, and live shows. Visitors to this park should be sure to check out Orlando’s tallest roller coaster, the Rip Ride Rocket. Not only can you pick your own music but this coaster also features several exciting, “never been done” elements, including the world’s first non-inverting loop. This theme park can be explored for days on end and by bundling your ticket with the next park on this list; you can explore the top two best theme parks in the world over a matter of days.

1. Universal’s Island of Adventure, Florida

VIAVAL TOURS / Shutterstock

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened back in 2010 and remains one of the most popular attractions in the world, thus making this theme park number one on our list. Fans can jump aboard one of the many rides that bring Harry Potter to life or have a sip of Butter Beer in the replica tavern. Besides Harry Potter though, this theme park offers other amazing rides, shows, and attractions. Escape the jaws of a T-Rex, ride high through Dr. Seuess’s imagination and swing above the streets in 3D with Spiderman. The cutting-edge rides and attractions bring magic to life for anyone of any age. Cheer on the heroes of the shows, get splash happy on one of many water rides and ride on the famous Hogwarts Express in a land full of imagination, creativity, and the most fun you will have in your life.

 

10 Things to See and Do in Ohio

Ohio, nicknamed the Buckeye state, is the 7th most densely populated state in the U.S. and the 34th largest by area. The name comes from the Algonquin word ohi-yo which means great river or large creek. The state links the Midwest and Northeast and so is within a one-day drive of half of North America’s populous making it an affordable place to vacation for much of the continent. When driving through Ohio, you will note that much of the state is quite flat, but that does not mean that it is boring. Fun and adventure can be had in most areas of the state without too much research needed. Cedar Point, Hocking Hills State Park, Wright Brothers National Memorial and other very popular points of interest are found in what seems to be the central hub of North America.

10. Funny Bone Comedy Club

The Funny Bone Comedy Club is a franchise comedy club with locations in over 25 markets in the United States and is still expanding making an uproarious impact wherever it opens. The first Funny Bone opened in Pittsburgh, PA and has been in operation for over 30 years. Big names like Jerry Seinfeld, Tim Allen, Drew Carey and Rosanne Bar, to name-drop a few, have graced the clubs with their delightful comedy shows. They also feature new, up-and-coming talent as well as local talent in each of their locations.

Funny Bone Comedy Clubs can be found in several cities in Ohio such as Columbus, Dayton and Toledo. You can enjoy some casual cuisine while watching a show but guests must be age of majority to be admitted. The Dinner and Show Package includes preferred seating (as opposed to first come first served), a non-alcoholic beverage, salad and your choice of entree, plus all taxes and gratuity. The restaurant offers a full menu where you can order your meal prior to or during every show. For a gut-busting good time, the Funny Bone is a fabulous choice.

Randy Miramontez / Shutterstock.com
Randy Miramontez / Shutterstock.com

9. Beer Tasting and Tours

Northern Ohio is home to many breweries and events focusing on beer and beer tasting.  The Cleveland Beer Bus, for one, will take you around to visit three of the great Cleveland Breweries while educating you on their operations and giving you the opportunity to sample their fine-tasting beers. They will also schedule tours in other cities.

The Great Lakes Brewing Company hosts free brewery tours on Fridays and Saturdays but drop-ins are limited so you’ll want to plan ahead and reserve your spot on the tour. Private brewery tours for up to 20 people are also available at a nominal cost from Monday to Thursday. You can also attend a Private Beer School with a minimum of 20 people where you will receive a graduate t-shirt, beer glass and more. There are many more brewery tour companies and breweries throughout Ohio that host tours, tastings, classes and more. If you love beer, you can’t go wrong on one of these tours.

beer tasting

8. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Located in downtown Cleveland on the shores of Lake Erie, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is a museum dedicated to the music industry and the birth of rock and roll. Cleveland was chosen as the home for the museum because disc jockey, Alan Freed was the first person to use the phrase “rock and roll” and was responsible for heavily promoting the genre. The city was also the location of the first major rock and roll concert – Freed’s Moondog Coronation Ball. Many big names like David Bowie and Bruce Springsteen followed suit in the 70s and 80s.

There are seven levels to the building where exhibits from different places, artists and eras are on display. You will see and hear exhibits featuring The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix and many other rock legends. You will want to plan to spend quite a bit of time at the museum because of the expanse of the building, the numerous exhibits, films, audio tracks, souvenirs and other attractions in that you won’t want to miss.

Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock.com
Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock.com

7. Ohio Theatre

Located in Columbus, the Ohio Theatre is a performing arts center and is known as the “Official Theatre of the State of Ohio”. In 1928, the museum operated as a movie palace and was spared from demolition in 1969 when it was completely restored and declared a National Historic Landmark in 1977.

The theatre building is famous for its magnificent architecture with each room having a unique theme, like “Africa Corner” which was the decorator’s favorite. It also features lush men’s and women’s lounges with separate smoking and telephone rooms. The theatre seats 2,779 and was originally a movie theatre until its last movie, “Play Dirty” with Michael Caine was shown there. Live shows and concerts were hosted to raise money to keep the theatre open and eventually became one of the earliest restorations of a movie palace for use as a performing arts center in the United States. It is an amazing and beautiful piece of American history to behold and experience.

American Spirit / Shutterstock.com
American Spirit / Shutterstock.com

6. Cuyahoga Valley National Park

The Cuyahoga Valley National Park is a U.S. National Park in Northeast Ohio that runs along the Cuyahoga River between Akron and Cleveland. The park spans 20,339.22 acres (8,231 hectares) and is the only national park in the state of Ohio. The Iroquois name Cuyahoga translates to “crooked river”.

The park has many trails for hiking or bicycling through it to sop up the scenic beauty including the crushed limestone along portions of the Towpath Trail. Other popular attractions in the park include waterfalls, rolling hills, steep narrow ravines, lush farmlands and winding rivers. The Ledges are cliffs where you can relax watch a stunning sunset and absorb the scenery and wildlife that is abundant in the park below. In the winter months, sled riding is a popular activity. The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad runs along the towpath from Rockside Rd. to Akron where passengers can get off to explore the area at any of the six stops along the way.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park

5. A Christmas Story House

A Christmas Story House, a museum located in Cleveland, Ohio, is aptly named after the movie “A Christmas Story” where the 19th century Victorian house was featured and is open to the public year round. The house in the film was located in Hohman, Indiana, a fictional town modeled after Hammond, Indiana. Only the exterior of the house was featured in the film. Cleveland’s Higbee Department Store was also featured in the movie.

A Christmas Story House has been restored to look exactly as it did in the movie and directly across the street is A Christmas Story House Museum featuring original props, costumes, hundreds of behind-the-scene photographs and memorabilia from the movie. After visiting the house and museum, you can pick up some great gifts, movie memorabilia like the leg lamp and souvenirs from the museum gift shop. If you watched the movie, this is your opportunity to feel like you are a part of it when you are surrounded by props and movie setting.

Photo by: A Christmas Story House Museum
Photo by: A Christmas Story House Museum

4. Cleveland Museum of Art

The Cleveland Museum of Art is an art museum found in Cleveland’s east side on the southern end of Wade Park. It is home to more than 43,000 works of art from all over the world. Touted as one of the wealthiest museums in the nation, general admission into the facility is free of charge. Wade Park features an outdoor gallery in the Wade Park Fine Arts Garden.

The museum’s collection is divided into 15 departments: Chinese Art, Modern European Art, African Art, Drawings, Prints, European Painting & Sculpture, Textiles & Islamic Art, American Painting & Sculpture, Greek & Roman Art, Contemporary Art, Medieval Art, Decorative Art & Design, art of the Ancient Americas and Oceania, Photography and Contemporary Art. The Ingalls Library, also housed in the museum, is one of the largest art libraries in the United States. With such an extensive and diverse art collection, the Cleveland Museum of Art appeals to most anyone who appreciates artistic talent.

Cleveland Museum of Art

3. Kings Island

Kings Island is a 364-acre amusement park located in Mason, Ohio about 24 miles northeast of Cincinnati. The park features over 80 rides including 14 roller coasters, a 33-acre waterpark and live shows. It is normally open from April to Labor Day and reopens on weekends in September for Halloween-themed events. It is the second-most visited amusement park in the United States behind Cedar Point and has won the Gold Ticket Award for 13 consecutive years for having the “Best Kids’ Area” in the world.

Action Zone is a 100-acre section of the park featuring a Lion Country Safari by monorail. Dinosaurs Alive! features more than 60 animatronic life-sized dinosaurs that make you feel like you’ve stepped back into prehistoric times. There are bumper cars, a favorite attraction at most amusement parks. Many of the rides that are common in other amusement parks are found here but the extras make this a gem to visit.

 

drpnncpptak / Shutterstock.com
drpnncpptak / Shutterstock.com

2. Hocking Hills State Park

Located near Logan, Ohio in Hocking County is Hocking Hills State Park featuring a narrow deep gorge, waterfalls, amazing rock formations, caves and cliffs. The Park is divided into five sections: Old Man’s Cave, Cedar Falls, Ash Cave, Cantell Cliffs and Rock House. There are about 200 campsites in the park -most being equipped with electricity and other amenities if you plan on staying there and the campground is in close proximity to hiking trails.

The area has many attractions and activities for visitors that include cabins, restaurants, a zipline, canoeing, boating, rock climbing, swimming, hunting and fishing, archery, air tours and more. The picturesque scenery, cascading waterfalls, awesome cliffs and amazing caves make the park a unique natural wonder to behold. You can hike or mountain bike through the area on a guided tour and maybe even have the privilege to see some of the wildlife living there like white tailed deer, wild turkeys or box turtles. There are daily events and programs held at the park so you don’t miss the best places to see.

Hocking Hills State park

1. Cedar Point

Located in Sandusky, Ohio, Cedar Point, also known as “The roller coaster capital of the world”, is a world-class 365-acre amusement park which opened in 1870 and is the second oldest operating amusement park in the United States. The park is home to a record-breaking 72 rides featuring 16 roller coasters which ties it with Canada’s Wonderland for having the second-most roller coasters and has received the Golden Ticket Award 16 years in a row for being the “Best Amusement Park in the World”. It is usually open every day from May through to Labor Day in September and then open on weekends until the beginning of November.

The Millennium Force roller coaster is known as the best steel roller coaster in the world and is a must-experience for anyone who loves heart-pumping thrill rides. With all the roller coasters in the park though, there is no shortage of thrills. There are also areas specifically designed to cater to younger guests with shows, kid-size rides and games.  You can check out some of the water rides, family rides, or cool off at Soak City Waterpark. Live entertainment and great food will round out your visit to this incredible vacation destination.

James Marvin Phelps / Shutterstock.com
James Marvin Phelps / Shutterstock.com

The 10 Best Winter Sports and Where to Find Them

Depending on your perspective, wintertime is either a time to sit at home and hibernate or it’s the time to kick into high gear and really participate in some high action, fun and exhilarating sports. The fact is that participating in sports is one of the best things you can do as a tourist when you’re traveling the world and the wintertime shouldn’t stop you from doing it. It’s for the people who love winter, sports and traveling that we present this list of the 10 Best Winter Sports and Where to Find Them. Some of these sports are meant to provide you with relaxation and fun for the whole family, while others are meant to challenge you to be at your very best, because no matter what your goal is when you’re participating in sports one thing is for sure, you can visit some of the most beautiful places in the world and create memories that will last forever once you’ve had the chance to visit some of these jewels of winter sports. Here’s the list…

10. Snowshoeing

Have you ever had to walk outside after a winter blizzard only to notice that your feet are buried in the snow and you’re practically waist deep and unable move? Alright, we’re exaggerating a little bit here, but that very challenge we humans have faced probably contributed to the invention of snowshoeing. A snowshoe is like a big giant tennis racket that’s tied to the bottom of your foot and spreads your weight evenly across the snow, allowing you to move through treacherous terrain in the wintertime without falling into the white powder.

It can be a truly exhilarating aerobic exercise, and definitely is a fun sport to participate in during the dead of winter. Krvavec, Slovenia offers its famous Igloo Village as one of the great places in the world to participate in snowshoeing. It offers a huge stretch of Alpine landscaping that remains completely untouched. The whole village is basically a network of tunnels that connect you to hotels, bars and restaurants as well, which makes for an all-around tourist’s paradise for avid winter athletes.

Michal Szymanski / Shutterstock.com
Michal Szymanski / Shutterstock.com

9. Dog Sledding

Dogs are awesome. They’re friendly, cuddly and man’s best friend, but they can also be quite fierce and reliable when called for, especially when it comes to battling through winter weather. Of course the little beagle that you have at home isn’t really going to protect you or get you anywhere in the middle of the wilderness in the wintertime, but a pack of Huskies would certainly do the trick.

The bottom line is if you want an exhilarating experience that you’ll never forget, you should definitely try dogsledding. A pack of dogs chained to a sled running through trails can really get the speed going and your adrenaline rushing. The best place in the world for it is in Greenland through Greenland Explored. This place offers you the real deal; a chance to go dogsledding with Inuit guides. You can go on a day trip or a trip that lasts several days with the guide, the dogs and an in-depth tour that gives you loads of information and fun facts about what you’re seeing. It’s really a once in a lifetime winter sport experience.

Dogsledding

8. Ice Fishing

There really is nothing like going fishing when you want to relax, especially in the summertime with a cold beer in your hand, assuming of course that you’re not drinking and boating at the exact same time. However, there is something to be said for fishing in the wintertime. Ice fishing can be fun too, especially if you’re a kid and your dad’s really into it and asks you to skip school to go with him on a trip, (like a certain writer at EH once did).

Now as much as the cool kids don’t exactly skip school to go ice fishing, it really is a thrilling spin on a hobby normally reserved for summertime. One of the best places in the world that you can go and do it is Cold Lake in Alberta. You’ll have the opportunity to catch fish there weighing upwards of 18 pounds! Cold Lake is located right on the border of Alberta and Saskatchewan in Canada. You can fish for walleye, pike and whitefish. What most of what you manage to nab out of the water may not weigh 18 pounds, catching a 10-pound fish is not uncommon.

sandrexim / Shutterstock.com
sandrexim / Shutterstock.com

7. Snow Sculpture Competitions

No matter what your experience level participating in winter events and sports may be, there’s a good chance we can probably all agree that snow sculptures and the concept of them is just amazing. If you can say that you have an appreciation for that kind of art, then you’ll be absolutely blown away by the sights you can see at the Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival in China. The festival includes the world’s biggest ice sculptures and is considered the biggest event of its kind on the planet.

To see sculptors from all over the world challenge themselves mentally in terms of the cool designs and amazing images they can conjure up through their art and also challenge themselves physically in terms of being able to put together so many amazing pieces in perfect detail is just incredible to witness. If building ice sculptures was a sport, these artisans would be the top athletes in the world. One visit there will inspire you to try it yourself without a doubt. The festival celebrated its 30th anniversary last year and it seems to only get bigger and brighter every year.

The Curious Travelers / Shutterstock.com
The Curious Travelers / Shutterstock.com

6. Tobogganing

Remember back in the day when you were a kid and you would slide down a really big hill close to your home on a sled in the dead of winter and never want it to end? Well the sad fact of life is that what goes up must come down, so eventually the incredible speed, the wind blowing through your hair and the fun of being a little bit scared and exhilarated all at the same time had come to a halt. The good news is that while there is no such thing as a never-ending downhill slope, you can get pretty close to one if you go to the Wildkogel Sledding Arena in Bramberg, Austria.

This tobogganing haven is located in the western part of Austria and it’s probably the biggest tobogganing hill in the world. It takes approximately 30 to 50 minutes to go all the way down the course. The entire course is floodlit until 10 PM every night and it’s open from mid December through March. With a course this long it’ll feel like an eternity of tobogganing fun (almost).

Tobogganing

5. Snow Tubing

Not to be confused with tobogganing of course, snow tubing is a little bit different. For one, you can spin around in circles while you’re going down which makes it way more fun. Secondly, you can go downhill after midnight thanks to Midnight Madness. At least that’s the case if you’re at Mad River Mountain in Ohio. No doubt there are many places that offer big-time slopes you can go down on a tube from Japan to Germany and everywhere in between, but there aren’t too many places that offer it after midnight.

This is obviously an especially cool experience for adults, because after all school is in session during the wintertime and the little ones should really be in bed by then. But seriously, if you want to go snow tubing you can go for three hours for just $25 and the website offers you an opportunity to bring along your fellow snow tubers in a group and save a little bit more money. The slope itself is pretty awesome, but it’s the experience of flying down it in the middle of the night that’s most exciting and totally worth every penny you spend.

Snow Tubing

4. Luge

When your city plays host to the 2010 Winter Olympics there’s a good chance you might be some world-class facilities left behind for tourists to use, which bodes well for winter sports athletes of all levels, particularly those that would like to try the luge. If you’ve never heard of the sport, it involves going down a big giant twisting tube of ice on a sled with nothing except a helmet and a skintight suit to protect you. You also wear shoes that can dig into the ice but who’s worried about that when you’re sliding down feet first at what feels like 200 miles an hour?

Of course no sports manager in their right frame of mind would let you slide down the ice at 200 mph on your first go around, but you can indeed try the luge in Whistler, British Columbia Canada. If you wanted you could do the riskier version of the sport as well and try the skeleton. It’s the exact same thing as the luge only you are going down headfirst instead of feet first, getting you even closer to an exhilarating, near death experience. We’re exaggerating a bit here as it doesn’t have to be that intense but if you try the luge in British Columbia, even at a recreational level you’ll have a great time.

Perspectives - Jeff Smith / Shutterstock.com
Perspectives – Jeff Smith / Shutterstock.com

3. Snowmobiling

Yellowstone National Park in Montana is one of the best places in the world to go snowmobiling. The western part of it averages 143 inches of snow per year, which means that as long as the season calls for cold weather, you are guaranteed to be able to go there, get on your snowmobile and ride through incredible, scenic terrains on fresh white powder. People first started riding the modern-day snowmobile in Yellowstone National Park back in the early 1960s, and ever since then it’s been a popular thing to do in Montana.

In this day and age the tenders of the park have focused more on managing the large amount of snowmobiles that come into the park every year and there are restrictions in place to keep things safe when it comes to speed and other aspects of snowmobiling. That said, the scenery you get to witness as you ride in the wide open spaces make it way too exciting to pass up and one of the best places in the world to check out when it comes to snowmobiling.

Snowmobiling

2. Cross Country Skiing

If you don’t like the idea of skiing down a slope at 100 miles an hour, you can still enjoy the exhilarating parts of the sport by trying the cross-country version. Comparing cross-country skiing to downhill skiing or snowboarding is like comparing a walk or jog in the park to a downright sprint. You can go through trails with up and down hills that challenge you, but move at your own pace and get your arms going as well. It’s basically like walking on skis.

Even if you don’t know a lot about sports it’s probably no secret that Norway is the best place to go for cross-country skiing. Norwegians don’t excel at the sport in the Winter Olympics by accident. Fortunately you don’t have to be an Olympian to excel at the activity recreationally and have a great time. In the fall and winter, you can get a great view of the Northern Lights, and there are several different paths and areas in the country where you can give it a shot. Stabbursdalen National Park is probably one of the more infamous cross-country skiing spots in the nation.

Cross Country Skiing

1. Skiing/Snowboarding

Other than ice hockey, perhaps the only other sport completely synonymous with the winter is skiing, and of course for the cool kids who are into the more extreme version, there’s snowboarding and ski-blading too. Ski blades are simply shorter versions of skis designed for speed and acrobatics. No matter what floats your boat in terms of winter sports, the point is you can use skiing to enjoy racing downhill, participate in the cross-country variety, or even jump out of a helicopter right onto a mountain if you really wanted to.

Whistler, British Columbia would no doubt be one of the top places in the world to go and try any one of those skiing related activities. As mentioned earlier, the city hosted the 2010 Winter Olympics, so to say that you have access to world-class slopes there is an understatement. If you’re feeling like traveling elsewhere however just to get a little outside of the domestic North American locations, you could always make a trip to Switzerland and check out The Swiss Alps. The town of Zermatt is worth a look if you’re the type of person that wants to party while you enjoy the fresh powder.

Snowboarding

 

10 Things to See and Do in Columbus, Ohio

Right in the center of Ohio is the largest city in the state, the capital city of Columbus. The 15th largest city in America, and home to Ohio State University, one of the largest universities in the country, the Buckeyes are one of the most famous college sports teams in the country. The city has a number of different attractions for every type of tourist, and it’s no mistake that a number of Fortune 500 companies choose Columbus as their home base. Here are 10 things to see and do in Columbus, Ohio.

10. Huntington Park

Huntington Park is a baseball stadium located in the heart of downtown Columbus. The stadium serves as home to the Columbus Clippers, the AAA minor league affiliate to the Cleveland Indians. Having just opened in 2009, Huntington Park is a truly state-of-the-art minor league baseball stadium.

The park was so successful that it was named Ballpark of the Year by Baseballparks.com in 2009, even beating out famed major league parks like Yankee Stadium. The award is given to the stadium that features the best combination of design, attractive site selection and fan amenities. The Left Field Building includes a 110-foot bar with six open patios overlooking the field on the second story. The third story features open air bleachers, similar to those found at Wrigley Field in Chicago. The stadium also occasionally plays home to concerts.

Richard Paul Kane / Shutterstock.com
Richard Paul Kane / Shutterstock.com

9. Columbus Museum of Art

The Columbus Museum of Art has traditionally focused more on European and American up through the early modern period, but has undergone a bit of a change in direction over the past few years. The museum has branched into more contemporary art exhibits and now includes a permanent photography section. Some highlights of the permanent collection include early Cubist paintings by Picasso, works by Ingres, Degas, Monet, Edward Hopper and Norman Rockwell.

The museum also features an extensive collection from Columbus native George Bellows. Temporary and travelling shows are regularly featured at the Columbus Museum of Art, with the most popular recent show being Renoir’s Women, featuring more than 30 works from the Impressionist style master. In the past few years, the museum has launched a massive reconstruction and expansion plan, with the third and final phase under way, the facility plans a grand celebration in late 2015.

Photo by: Columbus Museum of Art
Photo by: Columbus Museum of Art

8. Brewery District

Located just south of the central business district, the Brewery District has a history stretching nearly 200 years. A German immigrant opened the first brewery in 1836. At the peak of its existence, there were five breweries located within the district. As time passed, the consolidation of the breweries began to occur. When prohibition passed in 1920, the market obviously took a major hit. Because of this, the area declined in popularity and became home to some industry and warehouses.

In more recent times, the area has undergone a major redevelopment with numerous restaurants, bars and even a grocery store opening up in the area. With further redevelopment, expect the Brewery District to increase in popularity significantly over the coming few years as the masses cry for more brewpubs, local eateries and craft breweries.

Beer samples

7. Jubilee Museum and Catholic Cultural Centre

Established in 1998 the Jubliee Museum was established with the purpose of preserving the Catholic mind and memory as it is represented in art through paintings, sculptures, castings, stained glass, fabric, photography and books.

The museum promotes art that is primarily liturgical and art that in some way tells the story (directly or indirectly) of Christ, Mary, the saints and the history of the Catholic Church. The museum also holds Jewish art and history in high regard, and preserves a significant collection of Jewish art and history as well. Tours are open to those of any faith, and the museum has a goal to promote and preserve the rich history of the Catholic faith.

Praying Angels

6. Ohio State Fair

The Ohio State Fair is one of the largest in all of the United States. The attendance for the fair in 2014 was over 916,000 people over the course of the 12 days, the highest attendance to date. The first ever Ohio State Fair was held in 1850 in Cincinnati over a span of 3 days, and has continued until the present as a celebration of Ohio’s products, people and their accomplishments for more than 150 years.

Held annually in late July/early August, the state fair contributes as much as $280-million to the state’s economy, and features a number of events from camel rides, a civil war encampment, fireworks shows, pig races, a parade, and a wide variety of other shows and activities. One of the fair’s highlights are the amazing concerts that are held during the fair each year which always include some big name performers. The 2014 fair saw such notable acts as The Beach Boys, Lady Antebellum, Aretha Franklin, and Boyz II Men.

Ohio State Fair

5. Franklin Park Conservatory

The Franklin Park Conservatory is a botanical garden that was originally built in Columbus in 1895. Today, the conservatory acts as a horticulture and educational institution showcasing an exotic array of plant collections and special exhibitions.

Contained within the conservatory are more than 400 plant species from across the world. In 1994 the Franklin Park Conservatory debuted a seasonal butterfly exhibit, the first of which in the United States. In the mid-2000’s the conservatory presented Chihuly at the Conservatory, celebrating the works of Dale Chihuly, which saw an increase in attendance of 182% at the conservatory. The facility offers a wide variety of educational classes for school groups, families or individuals of all ages, who are looking to learn more about the natural world, gardening and the arts.

Franklin Park Conservatory Columbus

4. Columbus Crew Stadium

After opening in May 1999, Columbus Crew Stadium cost $28.5. In what is becoming increasingly rare in today’s sports world, the entire investment came from just one source; the owner of the Columbus Crew. Oil mogul Lamar Hunt under the Hunt Sports Group funded the entire stadium. With its erection, Columbus Crew Stadium became the first soccer-specific stadium built for Major League Soccer.

Located on the grounds of the Ohio Expo Center and State Fairgrounds, Columbus Crew Stadium hosted 3 FIFA Women’s World Cup matches in 2003, in addition to being the home of the United States Men’s National Soccer Team for a total of 10 matches dating from 2000 to 2013. Annual festivals make this stadium active in the offseason including Rock on the Range, a feature of rock bands that happens every year. While Major League Soccer may not have much history yet, Columbus Crew Stadium certainly has a foothold for being historic in the years to come.

3 song photography / Shutterstock.com
3 song photography / Shutterstock.com

3. Ohio Statehouse

The house of government for the state of Ohio, the Ohio Statehouse is a Greek-revival designed building that houses the Ohio General Assembly and the ceremonial offices of the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Treasurer and Auditor.

When the state government relocated to Columbus in 1816, it occupied a modest two-story building that began to become quite cramped as the country continued to grow. As work had just begun on the new building, Columbus’ agreement to be the state capitol was set to expire. Capitol square even became a grazing ground for livestock. Finally, years later in 1861 after much delay the building was completed. Unlike a number of other state capitol buildings, the Capitol Building in Washington did not influence the Ohio Statehouse since it was built before the expansion to the Washington building. The statehouse is considered a tremendous example of the Greek-revival style of architecture.

Nagel Photography / Shutterstock.com
Nagel Photography / Shutterstock.com

2. Ohio Stadium

A venue of many names, Ohio Stadium also goes by monikers “The Horseshoe”, “The Shoe”, and even “The House that Harley built” named after Chic Harley, All-American footballer inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1951. Ohio Stadium is the home of Ohio State University Buckeyes football, and formerly the Columbus Crew soccer team who moved into the aforementioned Columbus Crew Stadium in 1999.

Ohio Stadium is not famous just for its size and seating capacity, but for the fact the seating capacity is almost always growing. Starting at 66,210 in 1922, Ohio Stadium now seats 104, 944 raucous fans thanks to recent additions of stands over entrance tunnels. Now, Ohio Stadium is the 5th largest stadium in the world and 3rd largest in the United States. The most attended football game at Ohio Stadium happened in November 2014 when 108, 610 people showed up to cheer on the Buckeyes despite the capacity being almost 4,000 less the actual attendance.

aceshot1 / Shutterstock.com
aceshot1 / Shutterstock.com

1. Ohio Theatre

Known as the “Official Theatre of the State of Ohio” the historic movie palace from 1928 was saved from demolition in 1969 and fully restored. In 1977 it was declared a National Historic Landmark.

The theatre is owned and operated by the Columbus Association for the Performing Arts (CAPA), which was originally formed to save the theatre in 1969. A local company intended to buy the land and turn it into an office tower, however members of the community rallied together to help save the theatre, and the CAPA was formed in the process. The restoration of the Ohio Theatre was one of the first of its kind, and served as a model for many future restoration projects on other former movie palaces. Unlike the majority of other theatres that have gone under major renovations, to this day, the Ohio Theatre very closely resembles its original design.

American Spirit / Shutterstock.com
American Spirit / Shutterstock.com

Underrated Escapes: Cleveland Ohio

You’ve probably heard the saying “Cleveland Rocks” and while being home to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame gives you the right to make that claim, Cleveland rocks on so many other levels! The northern Ohio city situated on one of the Great Lakes offers sports, arts and culture, attractions and a booming culinary scene…and most of all affordability. It’s the bang for your buck that makes Cleveland a great option for a long weekend getaway without spending big money like you would in Chicago or New York. This amazing city is often overlooked but we feel it’s very much underrated and we’ll show you why:

City Overview

Located on the shores of Lake Erie, Cleveland is Ohio’s second largest city right after Columbus. The city experiences 4 distinct seasons with summers being hot and humid and winters being cold and snowy. To get the most out of your experience, visit the city from late spring through late autumn. If flying, you’ll probably land at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport located southwest of the city center. It’s easy to get from the airport into town as it was the first city in North America to build an airport-to-downtown rapid transit system. Cleveland is also an easy drive for many, as it’s within 5 hours from Chicago and Toronto ON, 6 hours from Washington and under 8 from New York City.

Cleveland Flats

Arts and Culture

If you’re the artsy type or just appreciate good work when you see it, you’ll be surprised by the staggering amount of art options this city offers. On the east side, you’ll find the neighborhood of University Circle, home of many houses of higher learning including the Cleveland Institute of Music, Cleveland Institute of Art and many other medical and educational institutions. Known as ‘The Circle’ by locals, you’ll also find the Cleveland Museum of Art, Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland and Cleveland Orchestra located here. If you thought you had to go to NYC to catch the best of live performances, think again. Cleveland boasts the largest theater district in America outside of New York. PlayhouseSquare, is the massive arts district located downtown and is a must visit with beautifully renovated theaters, trendy hotels and fine dining.

Playhouse Square

Music

If we’re talking about Cleveland’s music scene, we might as well start with the most obvious; the glass pyramid that is the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The recognizable building was designed by world renowned architect I.M. Pei (also responsible for the Louvre in Paris) and is the foremost place to learn about the past present and future of Rock and Roll culture. During the summer, the Rock Hall puts on ‘Summer in the City’; a free concert series featuring up and coming artists. The Jacobs Pavilion on the Cuyahoga River books mid-level bands while the Blossom Music Center showcases all the big name bands from country to pop to rock all summer long.

Jeff Schultes / Shutterstock.com
Jeff Schultes / Shutterstock.com

Sports and Rec

Sports lovers are never left out in this city which is home to NFL, NBA and MLB teams. Get a taste of ‘Brownstown’ at First Energy Stadium where the Cleveland Browns NFL team play their home games from early Sept to late Dec. If you’re a basketball fan, the Cleveland Cavaliers run the court at Quicken Loans Arena and if baseball is your sport, the Cleveland Indians play downtown at Progressive Field and offer a fun time for everyone. There’s also a ton of minor league and college sports teams in this city so no matter the time of year you’re sure to find a game happening somewhere.

Tupungato / Shutterstock.com
Tupungato / Shutterstock.com

Food and Drink

The Cleveland dining scene is booming now more than ever and it’s getting national attention from chefs, media outlets and foodies alike. Everyone is keen to check out the city’s local treasures like the famous pierogies, craft breweries and chop houses. While meat is king in this city and it comes in a variety of preparations, there’s also no shortage of ethnic cuisine including Vietnamese, Mexican, Japanese and Portuguese. The dining gems are spread around the city but one spot right downtown is E 4th St; a brightly lit pedestrian strip with over a dozen restaurants including the popular Lola bistro and Japanese American mash-up Noodlecat. Foodies shouldn’t pass up visiting the city’s oldest public market; West Side Market is your spot for meats, cheeses, fruits and veg, prepared foods and much more.

Cleveland food

Attractions

Everyone’s idea of a good time is different whether it be a thrilling roller coaster ride or a high stakes game of poker so luckily Cleveland has entertainment options galore. For the animal lovers and curious kids visit the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and The RainForest, the Greater Cleveland Aquarium or the Great Lakes Science Center. Just an hour outside the city center you’ll find the famous Cedar Point Amusement Park, voted “World’s Best Park” 16 years and running. South of the city center you can take your chances and maybe hit it big at Hard Rocks ‘Rocksino’ gaming center or for a relaxing experience visit one of the city’s many gardens and parks.

Great Lakes Science Center

Nightlife

Cleveland might not be well known for having a party town atmosphere but in reality the nightlife is anything but quiet. One of the best options for a night out is catching live music at one of the city’s famous clubs like the Beachland Ballroom and Tavern or House of Blues Cleveland. If you’re a Jazz fan, you won’t want to miss Nighttown, on Down Beat’s list of 100 Best Jazz Clubs in the World. It doesn’t end at live music venues either, the city also offers great bars and nightclubs like the prohibition-era themed Speakeasy lounge, or Azure Sun Lounge, a sun deck and lounge located 150 ft above the city streets.

Cleveland at night

Accommodations

With a wide range of accommodation styles and diverse neighbourhoods it won’t be an easy task deciding where to stay in Cleveland but you’ll have fun trying to choose. Stay in the heart of the theatre district at the Wyndham Cleveland at Playhouse Square or check out the Glidden House boutique hotel in University Circle. East of the downtown area the Aloft Beachwood is a hip boutique hotel close to upscale shopping and dining options or for a luxury stay right in the heart of downtown, visit the trendy Metropolitan Hotel at The 9.

Playhouse square district

Shopping

Everyone loves getting a great deal, and finding one while shopping in Cleveland is like shooting fish in a barrel. From all the brand names you know and love to trendy boutiques and eclectic art galleries, a shopaholics only concern will be where to start first. Outside the city you’ll find Aurora Farms Premium Outlets as well as Lodi Station Outlets, both great spots for deal hunting. E 4th St has a few cool shops for Cleveland souvenirs and every 3rd Friday, 78th Street Studios opens its doors for the largest art walk in the region with galleries, studios and restaurants all in one building.shopping bags

Natural Beauty

Being on one of the Great Lakes has its advantages and beaches are just the beginning. Lake Erie also offers incredible fishing, boating and even stand up paddle-boarding. A short distance outside the city and you’ll find even more natural treasures like Chagrin Falls; a quaint town built around a beautiful waterfall or the rocky hikers paradise known as Kendall Ledges. If you’re a climber, Whipps Ledges is one of the most popular spots in northeast Ohio with brilliant sandstone faces and we can’t leave out Brandywine Falls, located just 25 minutes outside downtown. From city life to majestic natural beauty, Cleveland really does have it all.

Brandywine Falls

10 Things to See and Do in Cincinnati

As the 3rd largest city in the state (28th in America by population), Cincinnati is located on the border between Ohio and Kentucky. Nicknamed The Queen City for its “order, enterprise, public spirit, and liberality”, Cincinnati boasts over 225 years of history. Many of the city’s exciting events are focused around a German and Irish cultural background; a great combination for those looking to have a good time. Ranked as one of the Top 10 Great Cities for Young People in 2012, there is more than plenty to see and do including a plethora of festivals, sporting events and historical sites making Cincinnati the type of city that has visitors planning their next trip back as soon as they leave.

10. Carew Tower

Accompanied by a shopping mall and hotel, Carew Tower is the premium method to view all that Cincinnati has to offer. After an elevator ride to the top floor, a smaller, original-to-the-building elevator takes guests the final 4 levels. A short flight of steps to the rooftop reveals a stunning birds-eye view. From the top, downtown Cincy, Northern Kentucky, Mount Adams, and the 7 hills that make up all of the historical neighborhoods of the city can be viewed (among many more sites). At only $2 admission, there’s no excuse to not to make a trip up for the view of a lifetime.

Carew Tower

9. Cincinnati Music Hall

The picture of class, the Cincinnati Music Hall is perhaps the most picturesque and awe-inspiring venue available. While offering events such as musicals, orchestras, and comedy sets the hall provides a backdrop usually reserved for royalty. Open for more than 130 years, the venue includes a constant array of events using its art gallery, the Springer Auditorium, Music Hall Ballroom, and Corbett Tower (usually reserved for corporate events or receptions). No matter where the focal point upon visiting, the Cincinnati Music Hall will have all visitors leaving inspired.

Max Herman / Shutterstock.com
Max Herman / Shutterstock.com

8. Cincinnati Ballet

The Cincinnati Ballet is the cornerstone of professional ballet in the region, showcasing classical, full-length ballets and contemporary works most regularly accompanied by live orchestras. Staying ahead of the curve, the dance venue often explores unique collaborations with world class artists such as Grammy-Winning guitarist Peter Frampton. Since 1963, The Cincinnati Ballet has been attracting world-class dancers from all over the world in order to craft ground-breaking performances.  Find them at the Aronoff Center in close proximity to the Cincinnati Music Hall to complete a day of indulging in the fine arts.

Igor Bulgarin / Shutterstock.com
Igor Bulgarin / Shutterstock.com

7. Mount Adams

A beautiful backdrop for photography, a romantic walk, or a fun night out can all be enjoyed at Mount Adams. Enjoy a picnic (and free parking) while taking in sparkling views of the city and eye-catching historical architecture. At night, overlook the Ohio River and observe city fireworks from a spectacular vantage point. An abundance of trendy restaurants and bars keep the area as enjoyable after sundown as during the day. A tourist destination with a neighborhood feel, Mount Adams is the perfect way to spend a relaxing afternoon enjoying the open space before heading out on the town for a fun-filled evening.

Cincinnati from Mount Adams

6. Riverwalk

Looking to keep fit, or maybe just wanting to enjoy some scenery? The Riverwalk is a 4 mile trail from Cincinnati to Kentucky. Parallel to the waterfront, the trail boasts wonderful gardens, water features, artwork and more. Rent a bicycle or simply walk the path and soak in the magnificent view of the city skyline including majestic sports stadiums. Travel all the way to Kentucky on this uninterrupted path, but be sure to leave time to stop and take pictures of the beautiful backdrop and sculptures that it provides along the way.

River Walk

5. Washington Park

The ever-evolving civic space at the heart of the city recently underwent a creative overhaul in 2007 to accommodate the needs and aspirations of a community that has kept the park in its hearts for over 150 years. In addition to a 33% increase in area, the park salvaged and preserved existing historical structures while adding amenities such as a fenced dog park, playgrounds, a water channel, underground parking and more.  Along with many markets and shops, sports/fitness classes and live music are just some of the daily events that cement this new-age cultural center as the heartbeat of its community.

KIds playing soccer

4. Bunbury Music Festival

Just 3 years old, Bunbury has seen an incredible amount of growth over its short lifespan. The inaugural festival saw support from acts such as Weezer and Jane’s Addiction, and now predominantly focuses on independent and alternative rock bands. Hotels are nearby, however as most festivals provide these days, campgrounds are not far off either. For the thirsty concert-goer, Craft Beer Village is sure to keep music lovers entertained when waiting for their favorite band to hit the stage. As well, Distillery Village includes a fully-staffed bar with featured spirits and a stage reserved for regional acts all in a localized area.

Mat Hayward / Shutterstock.com
Mat Hayward / Shutterstock.com

3. Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium

For sports fans, take in a Cincinnati Bengals NFL game at Paul Brown Stadium (named after the team founder) with a capacity crowd of over 65, 000. The first NFL Stadium to win an award from the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the home of the Bengals includes fine dining options, and three smaller football fields to give fans an opportunity to see their team practice. It is also the only football stadium to make a list of “America’s Favorite 150 Buildings and Structures”. Private suites with retractable-glass windows and a superb lighting display are no doubt part of the reason for this. As a courtesy, local busing companies make travel simple by providing low-cost round trips throughout Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky to the stadium.

photo.ua / Shutterstock.com
photo.ua / Shutterstock.com

2. Taste of Cincinnati

The longest running culinary arts festival in the United States, the Taste of Cincinnati is held every Memorial Day weekend in the core of downtown. With over 40 fine-dining restaurants offering up their culinary cuisine, the festival attracts over 500, 000 people making it one of the largest street celebrations in the nation. Enjoy over 5 city-blocks of taste testing, surrounded by local music talent (country, rock, pop and jazz) conveniently located within walking distance of a cluster of the city’s most affluent hotels. This ensures a bed is always close by after a long day of sipping and sampling takes its toll.

littleny / Shutterstock.com
littleny / Shutterstock.com

1. Oktoberfest

Oktoberfest Zinzinnati” takes place each year in late September and is the culmination of the city’s cultural history and love of the arts. Celebrating German culture, Oktoberfest not only provides its most obvious draw – the beer – but a flurry of exciting events as well. The world’s largest chicken dance (Hosted by Star Trek’s George Takei in 2013) and the World Bratwurst Eating Contest are just two of the events that garner much of the attention. However, The Gemuetlichkeit (goodwill) Games include the Beer Barrel Roll and Beer Stein Race to keep everyone entertained while enjoying a frosty German beverage. Oktoberfest is free to enter, and should be the main event on everyone’s to-do list.

Kochneva Tetyana / Shutterstock.com
Kochneva Tetyana / Shutterstock.com