Travel and Leisure called Cleveland one of the best places to travel in 2015. Fodor’s 2015 Go List features Cleveland as well; its rust belt chic comparable to the natural wonders of Patagonia, Chile, the otherworldliness of Iceland, and the beaches of Uruguay. With culinary kings like Michael Symon, one of the top orchestras in the world, and stunning museums like the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Cleveland is the place to be in 2015. And with a mandate from Council and the membership-at-large to experiment with new ideas, SAA is shaking things up for its 79th Annual Meeting in Cleveland! The most obvious change is the venue itself: SAA will meet in a convention center rather than a conference hotel. The Cleveland Convention Center was just completed in 2014 and is a sleek, beautiful space, located just steps away from the three conference hotels and a vibrant downtown district.
And getting here is easy! Cleveland sits within a 500-mile radius of nearly half of the U.S. population! Upon arrival, the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA) links busy travelers through four RTA rail lines that snake all over the city and to the airport, connecting with 69 different bus routes. For just $5, visitors can snag a one-day Cleveland Pass that allows for unlimited rides. The slick, modern HealthLine Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) secured an Excellence in Engineering award, connecting downtown hotspots to hospitals and restaurants. Once downtown, take advantage of the city’s free RTA trolley network, bring your bike, or use your feet. The website Walk Score names Cleveland the 16th most walkable largest city in the U.S. Everything you need during your stay in Cleveland will be only moments away!
No trip to Cleveland is complete without a visit to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum—lucky for all of you this year’s All-Attendee Reception will be held there! The Rock Hall experience includes four theaters, multiple interactive stations, and seven floors of exhibits that tell the story of the world’s most powerful art form through handwritten lyrics, colorful costumes, history-making photographs and videos, and iconic albums that make rock and roll a religion for some, and a force for social change throughout the world. And don’t forget to plan a visit to the Museum’s Library and Archives, located in the Tommy LiPuma Center for Creative Arts on the Cuyahoga Community College Metro campus.
Cleveland is also home to a vibrant live music scene. Cleveland features everything from the Happy Dog’s Polka Happy Hour with DJ Kishka, to the hot jazz of Nighttown, Take 5, and the Velvet Tango Room, to the indie rock and alt-country vibes of the Beachland Ballroom and Tavern, to the punk, metal, and rap of Euclid Avenue’s legendary Agora, to the more mellow, eclectic mix of the two-story Music Box Supper Club. Interested in local music? With local bands the caliber of the Cloud Nothings, Wesley Bright and the Hi-Lites, Herzog, and Welshly Arms, you can’t miss. And if you’re up for expanding your record collection, vinyl snobs welcome! My Mind’s Eye in Lakewood and Music Saves and Blue Arrow in the funky Waterloo District will satisfy your cravings for all genres of recorded music as well.
First Class Cuisine
Northeast Ohio also has a burgeoning foodie community. Whether you’re looking for exotic cuisine, farm to table fare, or some of the best microbrews around, Cleveland has it all: Food Network-famous chefs like Michael Symon, celebrated restaurants like the Greenhouse Tavern, and award-winning food trucks like the Hodge Podge Truck. The West Side Market and Great Lakes Brewing Co. are cornerstones to Cleveland’s culinary and craft beer movement. In January of this year, the Conde Nast Traveler named Cleveland “America’s Best Beer City”, highlighting small-batch startups Platform, Nano, and Market Garden.
In the Cleveland Metroparks, more than 21,000 acres and 18 reservations surround Cleveland like an “Emerald Necklace.” The reservations follow the rivers and creeks that flow throughout the region, while the Metroparks include hundreds of miles of walking, biking, and horse riding trails as well as numerous picnic areas, nature education centers, golf courses, and countless fishing spots, as well as the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo.
The Cuyahoga Valley National Park includes 33,000 acres along the Cuyahoga River between Cleveland and Akron that are administered by the National Park Service. The park has many hiking and biking trails, such as the Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trail, which follows a former stretch of the 308-mile Ohio and Erie Canal, and offers a number of examples of nineteenth and early twentieth-century sustainable farming and pastoral or rural living, as well as art exhibits, outdoor concerts, and scenic excursions and special event tours on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad.
Cultural Heritage Institutions
Cleveland and the surrounding areas are home to a number of museums, universities, and other cultural institutions just awaiting your discovery!
Admission to the world-class permanent collection at the Cleveland Museum of Art is always free. Founded in 1913 “for the benefit of all the people forever,” it’s also home to one of the country’s top art libraries. Experience the museum’s $350 million makeover through the new West Wing gallery and get techy at the interactive Gallery One, a 40-foot touchscreen “Collection Wall.” Also available in the cultural mecca that is the University Circle area—only seven miles and an easy bus ride from the meeting site at the Convention Center—are the Cleveland Institute of Art, Institute of Music, Botanical Garden, Museum of Contemporary Art, Museum of Natural History, Case Western Reserve University, Dittrick Museum of medical history, Children’s Museum, home to the Cleveland Orchestra Severance Hall, and Western Reserve Historical Society. The dramatic Museum of Contemporary Art rises 60 feet from a hexagonal base to a square top by London architect Farvid Moussavi (2012) and Case’s Peter B. Lewis Center was designed by Frank Gehry (2002).
In downtown Cleveland, just blocks from the Convention Center, lie the I.M. Pei-designed Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, the International Women’s Air and Space Museum, the Federal Reserve Bank, Cleveland Public Library, Cleveland State University, the USS Cod WWII submarine, and of course Playhouse Square, the largest theater district in America outside of New York. The Great Lakes Science Center, located only steps away from the Rock Hall, includes both the NASA Glenn Visitor Center and the historic Great Lakes freighter William G. Mather.
Other nearby cultural heritage institutions include the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage, A Christmas Story House and Museum, the world’s largest privately-owned collection of Hollywood Christmas movie props and costumes Castle Noel, the National Cleveland-Style Polka Hall of Fame and Museum, the Transformer Station (home to cutting edge contemporary art), Cleveland Public Theatre, Oberlin College, and the Superman House, where local writer Jerry Siegel and illustrator Joe Shuster developed the comic series. Northeast Ohio also boasts some of the best public libraries and local history collections in the country—check out any number of the nearby branches of the Cleveland Public Library and Cuyahoga County Public Library and local historical societies!
Within an hour drive are Akron and Canton, Ohio, which offer the 70 stunning acres of Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens and the Pro Football Hall of Fame, which is home to the world’s largest collection of documents related to professional football.
Keep an eye out for information on repository tours, coming soon!
Want to know more about Cleveland history? One of the top 10 largest U.S. cities between 1890-1960, Cleveland has a storied past and much is still on display for visitors with an eye for history. Two comprehensive websites full of interesting essays and images are the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History and Cleveland Memory. Cleveland Memory features collections such as the Cleveland Press morgue, and many exhibits including “Notable Blacks of Cleveland,” “Ethnic Women of Cleveland,” and “Elliot Ness.” Want to see a timeline of everything Cleveland? How about historic sites by neighborhood on a Google map? The Encyclopedia offers these and more. And if presidential history is your thing, Ohio isn’t called “The Mother of Presidents” for nothing. With eight presidents, you’ll find presidential sites around the state, including in northern Ohio.