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.
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.
No matter which sport you choose at Whirlyball Cleveland, you?ll get a side order of adrenaline free of charge. If you?re in the mood for action, laser tag pits teams of players against each other in a friendly war set in an arena complete with dark hiding places and a balcony that?s perfect for sniper shots. Or, if bumper cars are more you?re thing, try whirlyball. During this sport, players race across the floor, attempting to dodge other cars and pass a whiffle ball between them until they can score on a target suspended 10 feet in the air. For a more laid back pursuit, grab your friends and take in a bowling game on the center?s private lanes that have automatic scoring, bumpers, and cosmic bowling available.
The eco-stewards at the Nature Center at Shaker Lakes work to conserve a natural bundle of lakes, streams, marshes, fields, ravines, and forests on the lush site's 20 acres, in addition to teaching environmental-education classes and hosting community-building events. The household membership contributes to the cause and nets families a grab bag of nature-center goodies, including discounts on programs and workshops, facility rentals, and early registration for all outdoor adventure camps. Lapsed naturalists can hopscotch along two trails, where flora such as sycamores, hickory, and sassafras surround the habitats of raccoons, red-tailed hawks, red foxes, Redd Foxx, and salamanders. Or feel free to spy on the flight patterns of local birds; the Audubon Society dubbed Shaker Lakes as an Important Bird Area for its population of autonomous aviators.
By exploring the Jewish people’s emigration to and experience in America, the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage encourages reflection and tolerance in visitors. Before entering the museum, open since 2005, guests can marvel at its façade, constructed from more than 126 tons of hand-chiseled golden jerusalem limestone. A timeline of Jewish, American, and world history unfolds in the lobby, and an orientation film and a Finding Nemo remake exclusively starring gefilte fish screen in the 60-seat briefing theater. Touring collections grace the special-exhibition gallery, and the 7,000-square-foot permanent-exhibition space shares the stories of America’s Jewish immigrants—from their arrival to the aftermath of the Second World War—with interactive stations, films, and oral histories. Elsewhere, ritual objects, sacred scrolls, and fine art from The Temple Museum of Religious Art grace the walls of the light-filled Temple-Tifereth Israel Gallery.