In 1880, the final fasteners and sleepers on the Valley Railway were tightened into place. It wouldn’t be long before a billowing cloud of steam announced the arrival of the first train running through the Cuyahoga Valley, a territory that had served as a passageway for foot traffic for thousands of years. Over the next century, the railway contributed to the growth of commerce between Akron and Cleveland, changing ownership multiple times, and transforming from a freight train, into a passenger train, back to a freight train, and finally into a UFO.
Now celebrating its 41st year of passenger-rail service, the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad transports sightseers over the historic rails through 33,000 acres of land owned by the National Park Service. With a year-round roster of trips, including wine- and beer-tasting excursions, passengers can set forth on morning, afternoon, and evening journeys that sweep past meadowlands, pinery, and rivers and give glimpses of native wildlife, such as fox, deer, bobcat mascots, and owls.
Despite its name, Chris The Mad Greek's Cantina & Grill showcases more than just the flavors of Greek culinary culture. The menu features a range of hearty Greek and American dishes for breakfast and lunch. Stuffed Greek omelets and lamb and chicken gyros provide a taste of international spice, while half-pound burgers, Southern-style fried fish, and biscuits and gravy are packed with more familiar flavors. Mediterranean pastas, such as spaghetti marinara and chicken alfredo, are also available.
A 150-foot wind turbine heralds the entryway of Great Lakes Science Center. Combined with a 300-foot solar canopy, the turbine supplies 6% of the museum's power but also serves another purpose: to drive home the science center's commitment to research, education, and scientific discovery. Inside the Alternative Energy exhibit, visitors can touch their fingertips to a kiosk that displays real-time and historical data on energy consumption. Or, at the Steamship William G. Mather, visitors can explore a four-story engine room that once propelled the 618-foot flagship. After exploring the lunar lander models and flight simulators of the NASA Glenn Visitor Center, visitors can track moon dust to the Omnimax Theater and absorb scientific knowledge through 11,600 watts of digital sound.
In addition to presenting exhibits to more than 300,000 visitors annually, the science center leads the charge on science education. Onsite scientists organize space and curriculum for freshmen in the Cleveland metropolitan school district's inaugural STEM high school. The school teaches in a project-based learning environment where students are encouraged to delve into science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
Since 1985, Trolley Tours of Cleveland has shuttled more than one million riders around the city aboard its fleet of open-air, bright-red trolleys. Winding along an approximately 20-mile route, the city tour showcases some of Cleveland's most iconic sights, including the Victorian homes of Ohio City, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and downtown, where an eclectic mix of modern and historic architecture stretches skyward to amaze passersby and to high-five low-orbiting superheroes. Personable, professionally trained guides accompany the nationally known tour with Cleveland-centered facts and stories.
Aside from untangling urban avenues with informational junkets, Trolley Tours of Cleveland also makes its wheels available for conventions, weddings, and more, enabling businessmen and bridesmaids alike to avoid having to hitch rides on vigorously tossed bridal bouquets.
It is no secret that Cleveland native, autodidactic historian, and self-proclaimed people person Karl C. Johnson loves his city. After learning everything there is to know about the Sixth City's rich history, he decided to put his newfound knowledge to use by crafting his own distinctive tours that replace standard architectural jargon with vibrant yarns involving history, politics, and personal experiences. He leads his jaunts on segways, buses, limousines, or on foot. During segway tours, Karl gives his guests a choice in the amount of narration he performs, from moderately narrated tours that cover more ground to fully narrated tours that progress more slowly. If guests prefer to travel by bus or automobile, Karl will highlight specific areas of the city that his guests desire to see, such as Public Square or the rack where they hang the key to the city.
It’s hard not to be a little frightened when surrounded by this many graves. Lit by the glow of tour groups' nervously clutched candles and flashlights, the cemetery tombstones and what lies beneath them receive a lot of attention during Cleveland Ghost Tours’ changing lineup of walking expeditions. During the 90-minute treks, tour guides narrate the history of the people buried in the city’s oldest and largest gravesites, explaining what made them important in life or unsettled in death. Home to numerous purported ghosts, the cemeteries offer a way to learn the history of the city while experiencing spine-tingling chills, much like giving a social-studies teacher an exorcism.
After leaving the hallowed ground, groups wander off to some of the city’s most haunted buildings to perhaps catch glimpses of the flapper who inhabits the Federal Reserve Bank building, the militiamen who wander through Grays Armory, or the architect's wife still lurking in Squire's Castle. Beyond their unearthly thrills, the stops also offer tidbits about the city’s architecture, burial methods, and legends between ambling strolls by the light of the moon.