If you live in Cleveland Plus, you’re very aware that summertime equates to time spent outside. It’s a fact of life, and for many of us, an addiction. We’re a region of people that bust out our shorts on an unseasonably warm 65-degree day in March, and squeeze every last remnant of warm weather out of a weekend in September.
I’m pretty much the most un-athletic person I know and all my friends and family would probably agree (last gym class: May 27, 1999 = happiest day of my life). But there’s a certain something about a bike ride that helps phys. ed. haters feel special. And for those of us who love the area, City Bikes is a dream come true.
My husband and I took the opportunity to experience City Bikes on a beautiful Sunday afternoon in July. Situated next to Zocalo on East 4th Street, the bike station is manned by one of the Downtown Cleveland Alliance’s ambassadors. For $15 (they only accept credit/debit) you get a two-hour bike rental, helmet and bike lock. For kids, the same goes for $12. (Head to the Cleveland Plus Visitors Center to pick up a buy one get one free coupon.) After paying, you’re asked to sign a waiver and off you go.
This past week I had some Italian friends in town, so of course I put my money where my mouth is and tried to show them that Cleveland is full of interesting things to do. We were disappointed, but not for lack of activities—with all there was to see and do, we actually ran out of time. We spent three days out sightseeing, shopping and museum-hopping and didn’t even fit in one-third of all the things I would have liked us to have done.
On Wednesday we went to University Circle to visit the newly-reopened art museum, then dashed over to the botanical garden for a delightful trip through Madagascar, Costa Rica and the outdoor gardens. (By the by, if you museum hop in University Circle, present your admission ticket from one museum at another and get a $2 discount!) We finished up that day with a stop inside the Frank Gehry-designed Peter B. Lewis building, and then recuperated with mochas at Arabica, a local coffee shop.
Thursday was our shopping day, starting off at funky Coventry in Cleveland Heights. City Buddha, Record Revolution and Big Fun did not disappoint. Next we went for a melt-in-your-mouth lunch at the Melting Pot and took in the sights and stores of Legacy Village in Lyndhurst. By the time we finished with all those stores we barely had time to tour the shops down the street in La Place across from Beachwood Place and take a peek at the incredible delicacies at the White Flower Cake Shoppe. That evening I was proud to take my friends to Nighttown, a neighborhood joint with an Irish soul and world-class jazz. We indulged in flourless chocolate cake and watched the jazz trio work the crowd like the pros they were.
Friday was the big downtown day. We headed to Tower City on the rapid with plans to do a quick tour of the building and the downtown area, then head over to the Great Lakes Science Center for an afternoon of interactive exhibits. We never made it inside the museum—Cleveland itself proved too distracting. First, there were all the cute shops in Tower City. Chic et Mode enticed me to buy a watch, the Hard Rock Café enticed my friends to see Jimi Hendrix’s purple velvet pants, and the guitars placed all around the mall beckoned us to come and take a picture with them. We then headed out to Public Square where we admired the architecture of the Old Stone Church, and reveled in the cool marble hallways of the Cleveland Public Library. As we meandered over towards North Coast Harbor, one friend said to me, “Cleveland is so big!” I informed her that Cleveland is actually about half the size of her home city. She was incredulous and concluded that everything here just felt big.
We got our first good view of the lake walking down West 3rd Street, heading towards Browns Stadium. Although it’s not an afternoon in Cleveland without running into diehard fans of the Indians, the Cavs or the Browns, we didn’t know the Browns were holding an open practice that afternoon. When we reached the stadium there were throngs of people decked out in brown and orange, along with food, games and live entertainment. From the edge of Browns Stadium, the view of the science center was gorgeous, the glowing white of museum and wind turbine silhouetted against the blue sky and blue lake. I was thrilled that my friends would have this picture of Cleveland in their mind. I also thought it was a shame that my Cleveland friends don’t have the same picture. Hopefully, with my newfound appreciation of all there is to do and see here (plus 475 Cleveland photos courtesy of my friends), I can help change that. –LB