10 Reasons To Meet In Cleveland
Famous food, copious fun, and high-tech convention venues are just the beginning
By Keith Gribbins
1. Awesome New Convention Complex
The high-tech, eco-engineered FirstMerit Convention Center of Cleveland hosts world-class confabs, meetings, and festivals while connecting to both the Global Center for Health Innovation, a new venue dedicated to displaying the latest advancements in health-related technology, and a 600-room Hilton Cleveland Downtown hotel (by 2016). The downtown convention complex is within walking distance or cab ride of 19 hotels, entertainment districts like East 4th Street, sports venues like Quicken Loans Arena, and lakefront attractions like the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.
2. World-Class Experiences
Without the World-Class Ego
Downtown Cleveland is complemented by an impressive portfolio of national attractions. The Greater Cleveland Aquarium and the Horseshoe Casino Cleveland showcase Cleveland's love for both education and action. Playhouse Square is the largest performing arts center in the country outside of New York, while the Cleveland Orchestra is one of the Big Five orchestras in the United States. Just outside of downtown, communities like University Circle, Ohio City, and Little Italy offer everything from prestigious museums and opulent shopping malls to celebrated bistros and famous craft breweries.
3. Memorable Venues, Memorable Meetings
Cleveland is full of dynamic gathering spots that can empower your meeting with a motif. Classy galas or weddings would be perfect for the Cleveland Museum of Art. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum has multiple rental options, including the entire museum. The country's second-largest performing arts center, Playhouse Square, offers nine theaters of various sizes and one outdoor event space for rental. From FirstEnergy Stadium, home of the Cleveland Browns, to House of Blues Cleveland, this city has great venues that offer unforgettable experiences.
4. Hotels are Everywhere
Greater Cleveland as a whole has more than 22,000 guestrooms across all major hotel brands, representing segments from amusement park resorts to boutique business accommodations. With multiple new properties under development, downtown Cleveland will offer 5,000 guestrooms in 19 hotels by 2016. Add in the flexible meeting spaces and unique dining spots, and these hotels become destinations in themselves. Meeting spaces can range from traditional boardroom seating to AV- and tech-enabled theaters, auditoriums, and ballrooms.
5. Getting Here is Easy
Cleveland sits within a 500-mile radius of nearly half of the U.S. population - only six hours from similarly awesome cities like Chicago, New York, and Philadelphia. Cleveland Hopkins International Airport (CLE) is 12 miles from downtown and offers an abundance of nonstop flights around the country and internationally via all major carriers. Located just 50 miles east of Cleveland, Akron-Canton Airport (CAK) boasts the lowest average airfares in the state of Ohio.
6. Getting Around Town is Easier
The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA) links busy travelers to timely destinations. Four RTA rail lines snake all over the city and to the airport, connecting with 69 different bus routes. For just $5, visitors can snag a one-day Cleveland Pass that allows for unlimited rides. The slick, modern HealthLine Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) secured an Excellence in Engineering award, connecting downtown hotspots to hospitals and restaurants. Once downtown, take advantage of the city's RTA trolley network - it's free with a smile.
7. Of Course, Most Folks Just Walk
Cleveland has one of the most pedestrian-friendly downtown's in America. Just ask the experts. Cleveland is the 16th most walkable large city in the United States according to the internet site Walk Score. PCMA's Convene magazine ranked the FirstMerit Convention Center of Cleveland number four on the list for "Top 15 Convention Centers in Highly Walkable Places." Strollers can also take solace in the more than 70 Downtown Cleveland Alliance ambassadors that keep Cleveland streets safe and clean, patrolling on foot and bike while acting as mobile concierges.
8. Plenty of Food and Fun
From business luncheons to wedding banquets, Northeast Ohio is full of excellent bistros, clubs, cantinas, and eateries that specialize in large parties and flavorful food. Food Network-famous chefs like Michael Symon, celebrated restaurants like The Greenhouse Tavern, and award-winning food trucks like the Hodge Podge Truck all call Cleveland home. The West Side Marketand the Great Lakes Brewing Co. are cornerstones in Cleveland's culinary and craft beer movement, while the Horseshoe Casino Cleveland, downtown clubs, and indie music venues provide a 24/7 nightlife.
9. Exploring Sports Town USA
Cleveland takes its sports oh so seriously. Professional venues (which can also be rented) like Progressive Field, FirstEnergy Stadium, and Quicken Loans Arena are home to venerable sports franchises like the Cleveland Indians, Cavaliers, Browns, Gladiators, and Lake Erie Monsters. More than 300 golf courses can be found in and around Cleveland, while unique recreational athletics - like indoor mountain biking at Ray's Indoor Bike Park or zip lining at ZipCity - provide one-of-a-kind adventures that groups will never forget.
10. Great Lakes Adventures
Summer or winter, Lake Erie provides some of the best opportunities for aquatic entertainmentin the United States. Commission an adventure with Head Boat Fishing Charters at Wildwood Marina, swim the pristine waters of Headlands Beach State Park, or get all wet steelhead fishing in tributaries like Vermilion River, Rocky River, and Conneaut Creek. Even downtown, behind the Rock Hall, Rock and Dock at North Coast Harbor Marina is a 53-slip transient marina, which provides jet skis, kayaks, paddleboats and boards, and boat slips for rent.