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.
Plates piled high with Emerald Isle favorites share real estate on Murphy's Ale House's tables with burgers, sandwiches, pizzas, and hearty bowls of beer-cheese soup. Irish staples such as hand-breaded fish and chips and housemade shepherd's pie warm up bellies for upcoming bagpiping marathons. Frothy pints of Guinness pour freely into pint glasses or barbecue sauces, which chefs then use to smother baby back ribs and jumbo chicken wings. Pitas and pretzel buns keep slices of corned beef and ham warm on the coldest of nights, and American-style hoagies and burger sliders supplement the cavalcade of Irish fare. The pub's doors, located just over a mile from Cinemark Valley View, stay open until 2 a.m. daily, keeping patrons up past their bedtimes to take part in nightly events and boisterous football chants.
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.
Since 1984, Champps Americana's kitchen has sizzled with made-from-scratch dishes, satiating sports fans and families with a comfortable atmosphere. Amid sunlit dining rooms, diners seated at wooden tabletops can root for their favorite pixels on flat-screen TVs broadcasting live sports. In the kitchen, chefs prepare pastas with grilled chicken and roasted artichokes, pile buns with barbecued pulled pork and spicy buffalo chicken, and fill soft taco shells with grilled steak. Behind the bar, bartenders whip up specialty cocktails and margaritas and fill goblets with wine and local craft beers on tap.