Many of you are making plans for your visit to Cleveland for the National Meeting, including things to see and do when you’re not at the conference. So, as my Valentine’s Day gift to you, I’ve put together a list of things to love about my hometown.
Let me just say for the record that I had nothing to do with site selection, but I am happy to go back and visit. As we used to say, welcome to America’s North Coast! And you will see that coast for yourself, as the National Meeting hotel sits atop a grade that leads down to the Lake Erie shoreline.
I left the City of Rock & Roll decades ago when I entered the Army, but I still visit family there and can report that the city has changed remarkably since the "rust belt" days. Cleveland is in the midst an incredible revitalization that is evident in its vibrant arts, culture, sports and outdoor attractions.
The obvious draw is the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (HOF)—something we’ve referenced in our promotions for the National Meeting—and it is an easy walk from the hotel where the meeting will take place. It is really two entities: the HOF and the museum. The HOF itself is mostly about just enshrining the names, but the museum is far better than I had expected, as it takes you on a journey through the history and development of rock music, showcasing many original iconic memorabilia that you’ll recognize. It is well worth a visit.
Right between the Rock-and Roll HOF and the Cleveland Browns stadium (currently called FirstEnergy Stadium) is the Great Lakes Science Center. It is an interesting place to visit and is even the visitor center for Cleveland’s largest federal laboratory, the NASA Glenn Research Center. If you fly into Cleveland, you may see the Center adjacent to the airport.
Not far from the hotel is the East Bank of the Cuyahoga, and right across the river is a part of town called “The Flats.” Back when I was young, The Flats were pretty much, well, let’s just say unrefined. Both the East Bank and The Flats have been rebuilt thanks to a massive redevelopment project, and now are more sophisticated riverfront venues with restaurants, bars and nightlife. The Greater Cleveland Aquarium is right in The Flats as well.
Cleveland’s most iconic landmark is known as the Terminal Tower. When it was built around 1930, it was one of the world’s tallest buildings and has long been the defining structure of the Cleveland skyline. It is not far from the hotel, and you can go up to the observation deck for a bird’s eye view of the city. If casinos are more your style, it also hosts JACK Casino.
For sports fans, the Cleveland Cavaliers NBA team will be at home versus the Houston Rockets on March 26 and the New York Knicks on March 31. Just a bit past the Terminal Tower you will find Jacobs Field (currently known as Progressive Field), home of the Cleveland Guardians. Opening Day is about a week after the meeting, but if you like ballparks it has some unique architecture. Near the ballpark, on the Hope Memorial Bridge, you can see the historic Guardian sculptures that inspired the team’s name. And, as mentioned, you can see the Cleveland Browns stadium easily from the hotel.
For those who prefer the arts, The Cleveland Museum of Art and Museum of Contemporary Art are more than walking distance from the hotel but well worth the short drive. The Great Lakes Theater at Playhouse Square will have a performance of As You Like It during our meeting dates. There are a number of local performances throughout the downtown area as well. It is a little early for all the nightlife schedules to be posted, but you can check out what is happening locally at https://www.thisiscleveland.com/ and https://www.clevescene.com/cleveland/BestOf.
My favorite things to do in Cleveland tend to involve the outdoors. Of course, we will be visiting at the very end of March, when it might be in the 70’s or there might be snow. There is even skiing in Cleveland – no mountains, but the valleys are deep enough for downhill skiing, depending on the weather.
If you do get out, Cleveland’s absolute best treasure it its Metropark system, also known as the Emerald Necklace. I spent most of my younger days there. The Metroparks ring the city and offer a great drive and many hiking, biking, and nature trails—some of which are walking distance from our hotel. The full extent of these trails includes the Cuyahoga Valley National Park and many other interesting experiences. The top-rated Cleveland Zoo also is part of the Metropark system.
For those of you driving rather than flying to the meeting, there is one more attraction I will mention. The Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, isn’t too far off the main route back to the DC area from Cleveland. It is worth a side trip for all the football lovers out there.
I look forward to welcoming you to my hometown, and I hope you’ll find some time to explore and enjoy.