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 Fear Experience's head honchos of horror populate two professionally designed haunted houses with gruesome ghouls and nightmarish set pieces. The corridors of each haunted mansion showcase terrors such as a blood-thirsty butcher, an evil orphanage for fiendish children, and a creepy carnival where demented clowns startle visitors with their disturbingly baggy pants. After disposing of their doctors, criminally insane patients await patrons in the asylum, where the no-goodniks lurk behind every corner to ensure that nobody exits unafraid. All-night passes allow customers to brave the brutality of each attraction as frequently as they desire. VIP privileges permit entrants to circumvent frighteningly long lines for their first visit to each house, and the passes also enter guests in an after-hours limbo contest against spineless ghosts.
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.
Every summer, the double-decker Good Time I forges connections between mainland Ohioans and their island-dwelling neighbors to the north. En route to Put-in-Bay and Kelleys Island, captains divulge each island’s history and point out popular attractions such as Marblehead Lighthouse and their reflections in the water. To further prime passengers for island revelry, the Good Time I’s weekend tours regale guests with live DJs and mixed drinks.
Once a naval battle site of the War of 1812, Put-in-Bay is now a serene, scenic vacation community on Lake Erie. A & S Tours shares the island's proud history—and dark past—on tours by segway, golf cart, and helicopter. The ghost tour begins at dusk and uncovers local ghoulish happenings dating back 200 years. For a lighter jaunt, visitors can hop onto segways and roll as a group to the island's most scenic and historic locales.
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.