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.
Old Firehouse Winery ferments more than 20 full-flavored vinos along the glistening shores of Lake Erie. Diners can admire the dining room with its shelves of glossy wine bottles to the gently lapping lake. Visitors can opt to purchase sweet and dry wine tastings ($1 for two tasting trays), which each include 10 samples of single-grape and blended varietals. After sampling the full range of sweet and juicy concords to dry and full-bodied chambourcins, duos can imagine how each exquisite vintage would look inside their souvenir wine glasses and how advantageous the imprinted corkscrews would be during a close-range jousting match. In the warmer months, patrons can swill, sniff, and sip from a romantic lakeside overlook on the outdoor tasting patio and supplement the winery outing with a ride on a historic ferris wheel.
Matt Meineke was at an impasse. After crafting many batches of wine in his own home, Matt was running low on ways to improve the product's quality, save for one: growing the fruit himself. He and his family eventually settled on a 12.6-acre lot that was already planted with Niagara grapes. But that was barely the end of his trials. The old vines would need to be removed, the land would need to be adjusted for pH and nutrients, and the entire plot would need to be left fallow for a whole year. It would be 2011 before the first batch of wine could be bottled.
But it was worth the wait. That lovingly nurtured wine now fills the racks inside M Cellars' rustic tasting room, waiting to sigh "about time" with each popped cork. Shoes clapping on the hardwood, visitors can swirl pours of Matt's pinot noir, cabernet, and riesling into their glasses, furthering their enjoyment by snapping up bottles to take home or by expanding their wine knowledge with friends in one of the shop's Wine 101 classes.
A 150-foot wind turbine heralds the entryway of Great Lakes Science Center. Combined with a 300-foot solar canopy, the turbine supplies 6% of the museum's power but also serves another purpose: to drive home the science center's commitment to research, education, and scientific discovery. Inside the Alternative Energy exhibit, visitors can touch their fingertips to a kiosk that displays real-time and historical data on energy consumption. Or, at the Steamship William G. Mather, visitors can explore a four-story engine room that once propelled the 618-foot flagship. After exploring the lunar lander models and flight simulators of the NASA Glenn Visitor Center, visitors can track moon dust to the Omnimax Theater and absorb scientific knowledge through 11,600 watts of digital sound.
In addition to presenting exhibits to more than 300,000 visitors annually, the science center leads the charge on science education. Onsite scientists organize space and curriculum for freshmen in the Cleveland metropolitan school district's inaugural STEM high school. The school teaches in a project-based learning environment where students are encouraged to delve into science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
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.
It is no secret that Cleveland native, autodidactic historian, and self-proclaimed people person Karl C. Johnson loves his city. After learning everything there is to know about the Sixth City's rich history, he decided to put his newfound knowledge to use by crafting his own distinctive tours that replace standard architectural jargon with vibrant yarns involving history, politics, and personal experiences. He leads his jaunts on segways, buses, limousines, or on foot. During segway tours, Karl gives his guests a choice in the amount of narration he performs, from moderately narrated tours that cover more ground to fully narrated tours that progress more slowly. If guests prefer to travel by bus or automobile, Karl will highlight specific areas of the city that his guests desire to see, such as Public Square or the rack where they hang the key to the city.