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.
The clatter of pins ripples through Cloverleaf Lanes, which proudly plays host to the longest-running American bowling tournament. But one need not be a pro to fling a ball down these lanes. Ample open bowling times mean that even newbie bowlers get a chance to experiment with bowling grips, whether using three fingers, four fingers, or their feet. Between games, guests can perch on one of the chrome stools at the snack bar or quaff a tasty brew chosen from the lounge's beer menu.
A 34-foot King Cat twin-hull catamaran sets sail on the waters of Lake Erie, its 900-horsepower engine churning up a frothy wake as it leaves port and enters the aqueous abyss. At Sara-J Sportfishing Charters, guests spend a sunny afternoon on the open water casting and reeling in the lake's bounty of fish. With more than 20 years of experience, captain Gary Carpenter is confident enough in his abilities that he promises that charters will either reel in fish by the end of their trip or passengers receive their money back. Tours set out in the morning or afternoon as captains pilot vessels towards schools of walleye, steelhead, or perch swimming beneath the surface. Passengers soak up the sun, nibble on snacks, and regale stories of reeling in their first bluegill or misplaced water-skier.
The soft pop of clubs connecting with golf balls drifts across The Range at Green & Harvard. Three acres of grass tees and 30 artificial-turf tees provide ample room for mobs to hone their swings after a long day chasing unnatural creations of science, and bunkers and practice greens enable focused work on the short game. The outfit replaces the entire fleet of range balls each year, so golfers rarely tee up a misshapen sphere.
Lights shine from above to allow nighttime repetitions, and at a pro shop, steely bouquets of clubs from Callaway and Top Flite stand in corners, overseen by trainers and staff members.
Bally enshrines exercise classes, calorie-burning equipment, and a fitness-focused staff within its sanctuaries of health. A 30-day membership includes access to a spread of group exercise classes, including Pilates, Reaction Cycling, and Step Fitness (class offerings vary by location). For self-guided worker-outers, cardio equipment such as treadmills, elliptical machines, cross-trainers, and stair climbers torch calories while entertaining the brain with video entertainment and integrated music systems that occasionally whisper quotes from Charles Atlas. Bally also boasts an array of strength machines, free weights, and small-apparatus equipment, and grants gym-goers access to on-site locker rooms, showers, and, at some locations, a pool and steam room. Visit each location's webpage for a list of specific amenities and the lineup of classes.
In 1961, Peter Scimone and his wife Rosalie converted a humble patch of farmland into an epicenter for recreation, starting small with only 16 bowling lanes. Over the years, Roseland Lanes—which was named after Rosalie—was enhanced with a café and grill, pizza parlor, and pub all named for Pete. Today their daughter carries on the family tradition, warmly welcoming guests into a modern, 50-lane alley that features a game room, automatic scoring, 36-inch LCD TVs above every lane, and behemoth 47-inch screens scattered intermittently throughout the space. Roseland Lanes acts as home base for leagues and summer camps, and really flares to life during cosmic bowling on weekend and Wednesday evenings, when a DJ from Rock the House Entertainment steals the spotlight playing requested tunes through a 10,000-watt sound system.
When bowlers have exhausted themselves out on the lanes, they invade Papa Pete's Pizza for slices and wings or Pete's Cafe for burgers and ice cream. At Pete's Pub, liquor, beer, and wine quench thirsts and patrons compete for glory or the final seat on city council at the pool table, dartboards, or karaoke mike. Nearby, the Rose Room hosts up to 70 partygoers and the adjacent La Casa Bella Party Center sets the stage for fancy affairs.