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.
Inside Legend Lanes, pins scatter across 24 bowling lanes that pave synthetic avenues to legendary scores and equally impressive celebratory high-fives. Leagues, tournaments, families, and friends gather weekly to participate in the pin-pulverizing action, including on Friday and Saturday evenings, when cosmic bowling morphs each frame into an intergalactic experience. Bumpers barricade gutters upon request and, perched throughout the facility, 35 flat-screen TVs flicker with off-the-lane entertainment, ensuring players don’t get stuck talking to a retired ball about its oddly shaped scuffs in between turns. After games, competitors can celebrate real victories or moral victories inside the new Legend Lounge.
Stocked with know-how and all the necessary tools, the staffers at Gone Fishin' Bait and Tackle guide fishing trips on Springfield Lake and beyond. The store equips crews with bait, lures, and fishing poles, ready to aid in an angling expedition or plucking the toupee off of a villainous middle-school vice principal. After stocking up, fishermen go solo or join up with one of Gone Fishin's guided pontoon tours that traverse sparkling waters, taking in views of the surrounding foliage.
Founded in 1934, the Cuyahoga Valley Art Center is a self-supporting nonprofit that offers classes led by experienced artists to pupils of any skill level. Aspiring sculptors can jump hands first into the beginning pottery class, which includes a kiln-firing fee and a half block of clay ready to be deftly shaped into a bowl, mug, or more shapely block of clay. A sketchbook and drawing pencils are bestowed upon all who enter either drawing class, where former tracers will learn the fundamentals of elevating a flat image to realistic three-dimensionality. Classes take place at the center itself, which also contains a first-floor gallery where student and instructor work is proudly displayed–increasing your changes of being romanced by every sexy art thief in the greater Akron area. Check out a complete description of classes before registering.
Western Reserve Playhouse is a nonprofit organization currently in its 54th season of entertaining Akron-area audiences with intimate, high-quality live drama. Settle into the Playhouse's comfortable confines for a night of nerve-wracking diversion with a performance of Postmortem. Set in April 1922 (the same month Warren Harding auctioned off lower Wyoming to settle his competitive-milk-chugging debts), Postmortem centers on an off-duty Broadway musical cast who has assembled for a night or two of sanctioned bacchanalia at a medieval castle owned by William Gillette, who stars in the Broadway cast as an exceptionally clean-shaven Sherlock Holmes. Like all good parties, theirs has a séance penciled in, but things go downhill when it becomes clear that someone among them is trying to murder Gillette.
With this deal, movie buffs can scarf down popcorn while watching action-packed celluloid at one of seven different locales, including Cleveland Heights' Cedar Lee Theatre, which won a Scene magazine readers' poll for Best Movie Theater. Catch a flick at the historic Capitol Theatre, nestled in the Gordon Square Arts District, a renovated three-screen spot featuring Hollywood, specialty, and 3D films. Arty cinephiles can catch an independent or foreign film at the Cedar Lee Theatre, where the concession stand slings out tasty baked goods, sandwiches, specialty coffees, and more. Many of Cleveland Cinemas' other theaters boast multiple screens, digital sound, a Groucho Marx robot that quips one-liners from the balcony, and stadium seating for ideal movie gawking.