Many visitors begin their exploration of Cleveland at a pair of distinctive landmarks on the city’s lakefront. The Great Lakes Science Center (601 Erieside Ave., Cleveland 44114, 216/694-2000, www.greatscience.com
), bills itself as one of America’s largest interactive science museums, with more than 400 hands-on exhibits and an OMNIMAX theater. Among the coming attractions is “Darwin,” a traveling exhibit on 19th-century British naturalist Charles Darwin’s journey through the Galapagos Islands — an experience that started the development of his theory of evolution and groundbreaking book, Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection
. The show, on display June 27–Sept. 19, coincides with both the 200th anniversary of Darwin’s birth and the 150th anniversary of the book’s first publication.
“The exhibition is coming from London, actually,” Jamie Finley, the center’s vice president of marketing and guest services, notes. “We’re the smallest city on the [tour] so far.”
Next door is the I.M. Pei-designed Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum (1100 Rock and Roll Blvd., Cleveland 44114, 216/781-ROCK, www.rockhall.org
), which celebrated last month’s return of its induction ceremonies to Cleveland by unveiling “From Asbury Park to the Promised Land: The Life and Music of Bruce Springsteen.” The exhibit, on display until Spring 2010, contains hundreds of items on loan from “The Boss,” including his 1960 Corvette and iconic Fender Esquire guitar.
“This is probably the most comprehensive exhibit we’ve done on an individual artist or band,” says Jim Henke, vice president of exhibitions and chief curator. “Even the most die-hard Bruce fans are going to come here and see stuff they never thought they’d really see up close.”Concert Central
Check the tour schedule of any musical act on the road today, regardless of the genre, and you may well find a stop in Cleveland on it. The acts coming to town in the next few months run the gamut from rock Hall of Famers Elton John and Billy Joel (performing together on their Face to Face Tour) to country star Keith Urban to tween idols The Jonas Brothers. The city’s concert venues include the House of Blues Cleveland (308 Euclid Ave., Cleveland 44114, 216/523-BLUE, www.hob.com
) and the 20,000-seat Quicken Loans Arena (1 Center Court, Cleveland 44115, tickets 800/745-3000, www.ticketmaster.com
In the summer, shows are also booked into three outdoor venues: Time Warner Cable Amphitheater at Tower City (351 Canal Rd., Cleveland 44113, tickets 877/598-8703, www.livenation.com
); Nautica Pavilion (2014 Sycamore St., Cleveland 44113, tickets 877/598-8703, www.livenation.com
); and Blossom Music Center (1145 W. Steels Corners Rd., Cuyahoga Falls 44223, tickets 800/745-3000, www.ticketmaster.com
). The latter, located an hour’s drive southeast of the city, is where the Cleveland Orchestra (216/231-1111, www.clevelandorchestra.com
) performs during the summer months. The “best band in the land” kicks off the season with a free outdoor concert, complete with fireworks, at 9 p.m. July 2 on Public Square downtown.Play On
One of the best places in town to see a show is PlayhouseSquare (box office: 1519 Euclid Ave., Cleveland 44115, 216/241-6000, www.playhousesquare.org
), a city block of eight performance spaces that together make up the largest performing-arts complex outside New York City. Opera fans will want to check out Opera Cleveland’s production of Verdi’s “Falstaff” June 19, 21 and 27. And the whole family will enjoy “Mary Poppins,” the Tony Award-winning musical, on stage July 17–Aug. 9. The production combines the best of P.L. Travers’ original stories and the classic Disney film. Theater buffs who venture farther east to the Cleveland Play House (8500 Euclid Ave., Cleveland 44106, 216/795-7000, www.clevelandplayhouse.com
) can catch “Tuna Does Vegas,” the fourth in the hilarious “Greater Tuna” series of two-man shows, June 10–28.Cultural Hub
The Play House is near University Circle, a rich concentration of cultural attractions ranging from the Crawford Auto Aviation Collection at the Western Reserve Historical Society (10825 East Blvd., Cleveland 44106, 216/721-5722, www.wrhs.org
) to the Cleveland Botanical Gardens (11030 East Blvd., Cleveland 44106, 888/853-7091, www.cbgarden.org
). The most famous is arguably the Cleveland Museum of Art (11150 East Blvd., Cleveland 44106, 888/ CMA-0033, www.clevelandart.org
). On June 27 the venerable institution will open the first of three new wings, a milestone in a major renovation-and-expansion project that returns collections of 19th-century European sculpture, painting and decorative arts, modern and contemporary art, and photography to public view for the first time since the galleries closed in 2005.
New additions at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History (1 Wade Oval Dr., Cleveland 44106, 800/317-9155, www.cmnh.org
) include a Tyrannosaurus rex dinosaur skeleton, the cast of a 65-million-year-old original on display at the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, Montana. CMNH director of wildlife resources Harvey Webster calls it one of the most complete T. rex fossils ever found, “the piece de resistance” in the museum’s substantial collection of dinosaur-related objects. Young dinosaur-lovers will also want to see “Dinosaurs!”, 18 animatronic versions of prehistoric reptiles on display May 21–Sept. 13 at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo (3900 Wildlife Way, Cleveland 44109, 216/661-6500, www.clemetzoo.com
“They’re very lifelike,” manager of marketing and public relations Sue Allen says. “They vocalize. One of them even spits.”Good Sports
Among Cleveland’s most popular outdoor attractions is the world-class urban ballpark known as Progressive Field, (2401 Ontario St., Cleveland 44115, 216/420-HITS, www.indians.com
), home of the MLB American League Cleveland Indians. Two of the Indians’ minor-league affiliates — the Akron Aeros (Canal Park, 300 S. Main St., Akron 44308, 800/97-AEROS, www.akronaeros.com
) and the Lake County Captains (Classic Park, 35300 Vine St., Eastlake 44095, 440/954-WINS, www.captainsbaseball.com
) — also play in the area. The newest baseball team on the North Coast is the Lake Erie Crushers (All Pro Freight Stadium, I-90 and St. Rte. 611, Avon 44011, 440/934-3636, www.lakeeriecrushers.com
). The team is one of a dozen clubs throughout the Midwest in the Frontier League, an independent professional league founded in 1993.
“From a rules standpoint, it’s the same baseball you’d see at a major-league, minor-league or college baseball game,” Crushers general manager Ryan Gates says. “You’ll see a talent level similar to what you’d see in minor-league baseball.”Festive Notes
Visitors may also want to include one of the city’s many festivals in their vacation plans. In Cleveland, Memorial Day weekend has become synonymous with the Marc’s Great American Rib Cookoff and Music Festival (May 22–25, Time Warner Cable Amphitheater at Tower City, 351 Canal Rd., Cleveland 44113, tickets 877/598-8703, www.livenation.com
). This year the musical entertainment ranges from alternative group Third Eye Blind to hard-rocking Poison frontman Bret Michaels.
“Just like the ribbers who come in from all over the country with their different styles of ribs, we have a wide variety of music as well,” says Barry Gabel, Live Nation senior vice president of marketing and sponsorship sales.
The Ohio Natural Gas Taste of Cleveland (Sept. 4–7, Time Warner Cable Amphitheater at Tower City, 351 Canal Rd., Cleveland 44113, tickets 877/598-8703, www.livenation.com
) is another favorite of foodies and pop/rock fans, an event where they can sample specialties prepared by 30 to 40 local restaurants and listen to a variety of musical performances.
The summer roars to a close with the Cleveland National Air Show (Sept. 5–7, Burke Lakefront Airport, 1501 Marginal Rd., Cleveland 44114, 216/781-0747, www.clevelandairshow.com
), a Labor Day tradition. This year the show features the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds as well as the U.S. Army Golden Knights Precision Parachute Team.