While many of the Great Lakes states boast of one major urban attraction with several smaller cities, Ohio has many major metropolitan areas including Cleveland which rests on Lake Erie, the capital Columbus in central Ohio, and Cincinnati, the state’s “queen city” in the southwest corner. Beyond city limits Ohioans are equally proud of their smaller tree-shaded towns, and surrounding countryside that seems to stretch for miles.
Over the years, Ohio has produced its fair share of great men including Thomas Edison, astronaut Neil Armstrong, and eight of the nation’s presidents. Similar to its sister Great Lakes states, Ohio has preserved a rich history amid waves of immigration and industrial development.
It’s not Ohio’s capital and it may be called the “little brother” of Chicago, but in the past ten years, Cleveland, Ohio’s north coast city, has proven its metropolitan worth. Since 1995, the city has built new homes for each of their professional sports teams: Jacob’s Field for their Major League Baseball Cleveland Indians, a lakefront state-of-the-art football stadium for its NFL Cleveland Browns, and the Gund Arena for NBA basketball team the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Not into sports? How about music? Cleveland houses the one and only first museum ever dedicated to the living heritage of Rock n’ Roll. Designed by internationally renowned architect I.M. Pei and resting on Cleveland’s Lake Erie shoreline, the strikingly angular building of glass and white architectural concrete of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum holds everything from Britney Spears’ music video outfits to original lyrics of John Lennon’s “Imagine,” scribbled on brown paper, and everything in between. The building itself is considered part of the exhibit; an arial shot of the building resembles a record player – the “needle” being a row of curved shrubbery hugging the circular courtyard or “record.” And if Rock n’ Roll isn’t your style, a ten-minute drive from the Rock Hall will take you to University Circle – an area of Cleveland bursting with culture. Here, you’ll find the Cleveland Institute of Music, The Cleveland Museumof Art, Natural history museum, Botanical gardens, and Severance Hall – home of the world-class Cleveland Orchestra.
Neighborhoods boarding downtown Cleveland offer quiet afternoon getaways. On the East Side, beside University Circle you can stroll the streets of Little Italy, stopping for an espresso at an outdoor café, or browse the artistic boutiques of nearby Coventry. On the West Side, Edgewater Park offers visitors a chance to step back and admire Cleveland’s attractive skyline. As the sun sets, the skyscrapers and apartment buildings reflect the golden beams as they sink into Lake Erie.
Stretching over a quarter mile long (1,330 feet in length) and rising four to five feet above the ground, the coiling Serpent Mound located east of Cincinnati in Southwest Ohio is the largest serpent effigy known in the world today. While archaeologists debate which Native American culture built this massive snake mound, they conclude that it was built between 800 B.C. and 1000 A.D for religious purposes to ward off evil. Visitors can climb Serpent Tower nearby for a birds’ eye view over the nearby shaded trees of the coiling serpent made of clay, rock and soil.
Lake Erie Islands State Park and Cedar Point Amusement Park
Limestone cliffs, historic wineries, and great fishing greet visitors to the Lake Erie Islands State Park. Each island – Catawba, Kelleys, Middle Bass and South Bass (Put-in-Bay), offers a unique way to experience Lake Erie. From the always lively and up-for-action main strip of Put-in-Bay on South Bass to the quiet campgrounds of Kellys Island and Middle Bass, you can tailor your trip to suit you. Cars are scarce on these islands; bicyclists and golf cart drivers own the roads. Docks are available for boaters to hitch a post and stay for the night, and a daily ferry service commutes from South Bass to Port Clinton on Ohio’s north shore several times a day.
Ferry services also commute between the islands and docks near Cedar Point Amusement Park – a hot spot in northern Ohio for its death defying roller coasters like the hair-raising Millennium Force. Standing a staggering 310 feet tall, reaching speeds of 93 miles per hour, and carrying passengers down 80-degree angle tracks, this wild ride of a roller coaster was the tallest and fastest roller coaster in North America when it debuted in 2000. But the rides aren’t the only attraction to Cedar Point – its location (a peninsula jutting out into Lake Erie) is a major draw for visitors. Not only are there great beaches for guests to cool off in Lake Erie waters, but on a clear day, from the top of several of the park’s higher rollercoaster hills, just before they drop some hundred feet at soaring speeds, riders can spot the distant Lake Erie Islands.
Pro Football Hall of Fame
Anything you might ever want to know about one of America’s most popular spectator sports can be found in Canton, Ohio at the one and only Pro Football Hall of Fame. Since it’s opening in 1963, the Hall of Fame has drawn millions – so much so, that it has expanded in size three times to accommodate. Today, this five-building complex honors to the greats of the pro-football world from past and present, and outlines the history of the sport with its expansive memorabilia collection, research library, several movie theaters, and a museum store. If appreciating this much football works up your appetite, never fear – the Hall of Fame’s “tailgate snack bar” offers stadium-style food and refreshments for visitors.