Monday, October 31, 2011

Cleveland Rocks!

Photo by OHventures

To outsiders (non Ohioans), Cleveland is probably the most recognizable city in the state, all thanks to its three professional sports teams (Cleveland CavaliersCleveland Browns, and Cleveland Indians), Betty White's hilarious sitcom "Hot In Cleveland" and the hit TV show from the 90s, The Drew Carey Show, whose theme had everyone in America chanting "Cleveland ROCKS!" While it may also be known for the now infamous internet meme, "Hastily Made Cleveland Tourism Video" (with over 4 million views) and the unfortunate river-burning incident, Cleveland is more than just the butt of every joke.

The city of Cleveland is located on the Lake Erie shoreline in Cuyahoga County on the Cuyahoga River in Northeast Ohio. It is the 2nd most populated city in the state (Columbus being the first). It has become unofficially known as the "Rock 'n Roll Capital of the World" and is heavily known for its astounding historical architecture and ethnic sectors of town, including a prominent Slavic Village and Little Italy.

Nowadays, Cleveland is taking some strides in the right direction. New state laws have made it possible for a casino to be built on the shoreline, as well as state tax credits for movie makers (which is responsible for bringing the upcoming film "The Avengers" to the city to film)! And, as always, there is great food and awesome music in Cleveland.

To find out just why Cleveland rocks, a day trip is most definitely in order. Below, read the Top 9 Things To Do When Visiting Cleveland.

1. Rock & Roll Hall of Fame & Museum (1100 Rock and Roll Boulevard): Back in the 80s, cities such as Memphies, Cincinnati and New York City were top contendors for the placement of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame & Museum. However, Cleveland was overall chosen as the spot where this iconic structure would be built. This is due to the fact that Cleveland DJ Alan Freed is widely credited as coining the term "rock and roll" and that Cleveland was the location of the very first rock and roll concert. I first traveled here as a junior in high school, and most recently in 2009. It is a jaw dropping experience entering a place where you can marvel at Les Paul guitars, Michael Jackson's glove, Elvis' signature apparel, and numerous other music gems. You can also walk through the "hall of fame" itself which lists all inductees, from The Beatles to Madonna.

2. Beachland Ballroom (15711 Waterloo Road): Located on the East Side of the city (in the famous section of town known as Collinwood), the Beachland Ballroom is a quirky music venue that previously served as an old Croatian Club in the heyday. You can catch acts such as the soulful Sharon King and the Dap Kings; the angelic Shelby Lynn; the up-and-coming Belle Brigade; and many more. It is a real treat for music lovers as well as those looking for something a bit different and dive-y.

3. Cleveland House of Blues (308 Euclid Avenue): Yet another reason why Cleveland rocks is the House of Blues, which is a chain of well-respected concert venues across the nation. The Cleveland location is the only one in the state (or surrounding area...the next closest is Chicago). Contrary to its name, there are more than just blues acts that play here. I personally have seen The Avett Brothers and Chris Isaak play here. There are also karaoke nights, tribute bands, and "flashback" nights.

4. Whiskey Island Marina (2800 Whiskey Island): Whether you are looking for a fun place to dock, weekend getaways, or a great place to just relax with your family and friends Whiskey Island Marina has something for everyone. There are super cool events that take place at this unique location, such as the Burning River Festival, which focuses on raising money for environmental awareness by way of rock and roll and frothy beer. The lakefront park (established in 1995) has some of the best views in the city, and is rich in history.

5. Great Lakes Brewing Company (2516 Market Avenue): Without a doubt, Great Lakes Brewing Company (GLBC) is the most popular and well-known brewery in the state. People clamor year 'round for the infamous Christmas Ale that appears during the holiday season and the sweet & dry Dortmunder Gold; and the self-deprecating Burning River Pale Ale with citrus and hints of pine are adored all year long. They even pay homage to famous Ohioans with their beer names, such as Commodore Perry IPA (he would be proud). I'd be hard pressed to find beer drinking Ohioans who haven't tried and fell in love with GLBC beers. But, not all have been to the actual brewery. Take it from me: GO! You can see above that you can indulge in a crisp and refreshing sampler of all of the beers at GLBC by going to the brewery in Cleveland. You also can enjoy some good food (such as the savory pot roast) in the historic building in which the brew-pub is situated. You can enjoy private tastings, tours, and even brew schools!

6. Melt Bar & Grilled: (13463 Cedar Road, 14718 Detroit Ave.): Melt Bar & Grilled  has taken our favorite childhood food staple and revoluntionized it! What used to be nothing more than two pieces of Wonderbread, a slice of Kraft Singles American cheese, and a side some Campbell's tomato soup has now become an artform with dozens and dozens of creative, wacky and delicious fixings. Melt is constantly packed. Your wait at any given time is surely a minimum of an hour, but I will clamor that the wait is 100% worth it. The grilled cheese sandwiches are so innovative - you can get them with anything from eggplant to chicken breast, to one of Cleveland's staple foods - pierogies!

7. Progressive Field (): In the hub of downtown Cleveland lies Progressive Field (or as I and many true Ohioans call it, Jacob's Field). It is the home of the Cleveland Indians and special events; and is located right next to a string of fun bars, concert venues and restaurants. I had the privilege of attending an Indians game in a dugout suite, and I will never forget the electrifying atmosphere that came along with being that close to all the action!

8. Fathead's Saloon (24581 Lorain Blvd): Take one look at the photo above of the gargantuan burger with roasted red peppers, bacon and cheese and a side of homemade chips and you will know what it's called Fat Head's! The amazing food is paired with fantastic award winning beers like Head Hunter Pale Ale, Up In Smoke Porter, and Bumble Berry Honey Blueberry Ale (is your mouth watering yet?! That stuff is yummmmy). Fat Head's also offers tours, which is an added bonus! And the ambience here is super laid back and perfect for a pre-concert meal & brews.

9. West Side Market (1979 West 25th Street): This market is notorious for its world famous cuisines, and even appeared on television programs such as Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations and Man Vs. Food. The market includes a series of vendors of specialty foods, such as breads, seafood, meats, spices, produce, fudge, popcorn, and the list goes on and on and on. It is advertised as Cleveland's Oldest and Most Trusted Market, and is on the National Registry of Historical Places. You'll be in awe of this place!

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