The crisscrossed emerald landscape south of Cleveland slips silently beneath up to eight passengers in a balloon’s large basket. A skilled pilot adds or releases pressure to the vessel, punctuating the otherwise still air over the stunning panoramas and placid scenes of sprawling greenery. Guests can also opt to charter private flights, allowing them to experience romantic moments or ask embarrassing questions about where clouds come from. All of HiLife Ballooning’s flights take off in the early morning or evening when winds are at their gentlest, allowing the captain to set the balloons down gently.
The century-old pig barn on the historical Anna Dean Farm has seen a lot of life, and a lot of death. It might be that slightly sinister influence that inspired the barn's current creepy dwellers to take up residence there, creating a nightmarish scene. Strewn with bloody specters, creepy clowns, and dismembered body parts, the barn provides such an intense scare that any guest who can make it through in one try is granted another free entry to see the ghoulish sights again.
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.
The two-hour Prohibition Resistance: Summer Lager Tour shepherds ale enthusiasts through several blocks of pre-Prohibition-era breweries in the historically German-populated Over-the-Rhine district. Knowledgeable guides embark from Findlay Market, a public bazaar in continuous operation since 1855, to delve into mid- to late-19th-century beer bubblers. Clyffside Brewery’s opulent high bays soar overhead, and Jackson Brewery’s cavernous lagering cellars delve deep enough to encounter fabled beer-breathing fish. Alongside decorative cornices and bull's-eye windows, tour takers investigate the social and political dimensions of hops hawking. Though the tour does not include beer tasting, tour-goers may visit the Over-the-Rhine Biergarten afterward to discover for themselves the origins of the German word: “bier,” meaning “beer,” and “garten,” meaning “to gargle voraciously.”
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