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13 Reasons to Love Cleveland

To paraphrase a show tune: It seems like suddenly everything’s coming up Cleveland. LeBron is home. The 2016 GOP convention is coming to town. And the city’s postrecession brain gain rivals Seattle’s, stoking youthful verve and hometown pride. Here’s why we can’t get enough of The Land.

1. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame  Before you dive into the new Louder than Words: Rock, Power and Politics exhibit (opening May 20) or the evergreen displays of Beatles and Elvis memorabilia, take a moment to admire the museum’s boldly geometric, glass-and-steel,  I.M. Pei-designed architecture.

The Wall includes set pieces from Roger Waters’ epic concert near the fallen Berlin Wall.

2. The Emerald Necklace OK, the official name is Cleveland Metroparks. But this string of parks around the city deserves its comparison to gems, preserving more than 23,000 acres of green space with 300-plus miles of hiking, biking and horseback riding trails. Hike from Lake Abram to Lake Isaac in Big Creek Reservation, explore the shale cliffs in Rocky River Reservation, and check out Amur tigers at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo.

Photo courtesy of Destination Cleveland

3. Little Italy Wander the tangle of streets in this hilly pocket of a neighborhood and slip into Mama Santa’s for pizza, Trattoria on the Hill for decadent spaghetti and meatballs, Presti’s Bakery for gelato or really any place with a seat to spare for authentic noshes. Mangia!

4. Indie neighborhood No. 1: Ohio City Pre-WWII, it was the hot neighborhood, and then it wasn’t; now it is again. Some businesses have weathered the changes, including the multiethnic, open-year-round 1912 West Side Market and the 1986 Great Lakes Brewing Company. Others, like Cleveland Tea Revival, Platform Beer Company, Bonbon Pastry and Cafe, and the upscale, $20-burger-slinging The Flying Fig, are new to the area around tree-lined W. 25th Street, where the vintage brick storefronts sit next to modern condos.

5. Waterloo Road “The best pizza I’ve tasted is Citizen Pie,” Michael Ruhlman says of the new-in-2015 pizzeria. And Michael knows good pie; the Cleveland native is a James Beard Award-winning cookbook author. “It’s brilliant pizza, with long-fermented dough cooked in a wood-fire oven. Better than anything in New York. And it’s right across from Beachland Ballroom—like the most inventive music spot here.”

6. Public Square When Moses Cleaveland designed this city in the 1700s, he imagined Public Square as a downtown gathering spot. But over time, it devolved into a concrete transit hub. No longer! Debuting this summer: a restored square with an event lawn and outdoor cafe.

7. Indie neighborhood No. 2:  Tremont Two miles east of Ohio City, another revitalized neighborhood flourishes. While Michael Symon’s beloved Lolita restaurant rebuilds  after a recent fire, visitors can sample small plates at Fat Cats or sip Slovenian beers at Prosperity Social Club.  Also scattered among the neighborhood’s brick churches, playgrounds and (mostly) tidy  little homes: fantastic  art galleries.

8. Fresh scenes “Cleveland is on fire right now,” says Sarah Gray, resident, Millennial and president of The Cleveland Professional 20/30 Club. “On a weekend, I’ll go into Ohio City, which is near where I live. And I love what they’re doing with the east bank of the Flats. It has all these new restaurants: Punch Bowl Social, Lago, Beerhead Bar and Eatery. And East 4th Street—you can no longer drive through it. It’s lined with restaurants and bars, and now they have big outdoor patios and pedestrians everywhere.”

9.  The world’s largest outdoor chandelier Suspended 24 feet in the air above a busy Playhouse Square intersection, the two-year-old GE Chandelier provides a shimmering selfie backdrop.

Photo courtesy of Destination Cleveland

10. … and everything else in Playhouse Square This neighborhood’s nine theaters (a few new, a few restored to their 1920s glory) support five local theater, dance and music companies, in addition to welcoming touring Broadway shows. If the performing arts are your thing, this neighborhood should be your destination.

11. The Cleveland Museum of Art’s renovation Just in time for the museum’s 100th birthday, there are new galleries and installations to explore, including a glass-walled space with the works of Rodin and an Impressionist room where examples of Monet’s water lilies and Degas’ ballerinas reside. Despite the changes, the museum retained one of its best features: free admission.

12. ... and everything else in University Circle Case Western Reserve University anchors a cultural hub 4 miles from downtown. Other destinations include Cleveland Botanical Garden, Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Cleveland Museum of Contemporary Art, Severance Hall  (home to the Cleveland Orchestra) and  Wade Oval.

13. The World’s Largest Rubber Stamp The sculpture by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen lies in Willard Park.

Photo courtesy of Destination Cleveland

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