Food, Culture, Nature, Events — Why Cleveland Is a Perennial Group Favorite

A Sponsored Message From Destination Cleveland

Author: Nathan Mattise       

Brandywine Falls

However and whenever visitors explore Cuyahoga Valley National Park, they’ll find amazing nature scenes.

It doesn’t matter when groups head to “The Land,” there’s always something to do in Cleveland.

As soon as eventgoers land at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, for example, local cuisine awaits. Cleveland native and celebrity chef Michael Symon has filled his airport-only concept Bar Symon with regional favorites, like potato and cheese pierogi with kielbasa, griddled onions, and mustard sour cream. But it’s Symon’s beloved East 4th Street spot, Mabel’s BBQ, that kicked off a Northeast Ohio BBQ boom in 2016 and has since become an anchor for the downtown restaurant scene. Even Texas Monthly said not to miss The Polish Girl — Symon’s sandwich combining kielbasa with Cleveland BBQ sauce, coleslaw, and pulled pork. That will sate appetites whether it comes before or after visitors sample the more than 70 breweries around town.

main in front of red More Meat sign

Northeast Ohio BBQ has been on the rise ever since the downtown opening of Mabel’s BBQ in 2016.

Beyond memorable bites, Cleveland serves up plenty of live events. Summer means the annual Cleveland Juneteenth Freedom Fest, a city-wide celebration of Black culture that often includes soul food, music, and dance performance from across the world, and events exploring how Black culture influences everything from rock n’ roll to the modern queer experience. And this year, Cleveland’s rich sports tradition adds its latest chapter as the historic Pan-American Masters Games comes to town, July 12–24. Athletes from more than 50 countries will compete in 24 medal-contending competitions, from basketball and track to judo and curling. That’s plenty to keep fans excited in between Guardians’ home games or before WWE SummerSlam in August.

drag queen dancing in center of group of people outdoors

Summer in Cleveland brings the city’s Juneteenth Freedom Fest, recently highlighted by The New York Times.

Big Attractions

For travelers with an eye on the destination’s world-class attractions, there’s truly never a bad time to make the trip. At nearby Cuyahoga Valley National Park, stunning vistas await year-round whether attendees prefer to hike, bike, kayak, or just relax in a window seat on the scenic railroad. “Cleveland rocks” doesn’t just refer to the waterfalls or rock formations along the Brandywine Gorge or Ledges Trail, though. Back downtown, every day is a party at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (though that big, can’t-miss induction party happens every fall). The museum and event venue’s upcoming $135-million expansion — which will add a new indoor venue, more gathering spaces, and reimagine the entry experience — means there will soon be even more ways for music fans to pay homage to their all-time favorite artists and sounds.

modern hotel lobby

The past and present collide at the 106-year-old Hotel Cleveland, Autograph Collection, which just completed an $80-million renovation.

But that’s not the only shiny new space in town. The 550-room historic Hotel Cleveland, Autograph Collection, recently underwent a renovation, and offers 60,000 square feet of meeting and event space, while the newly expanded Huntington Convention Center of Cleveland now offers 553,000 square feet of meeting space.

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