The below freezing temperatures and annual whompings of lake effect snow that fall well into April and May have long given winters in Cleveland a bad rap, but this six-month season is actually one of the most wonderful times of the year, and not just because of the holidays. Don't believe us? We've got 50 reasons to prove it to you.
50. Weather-Related Excuses
No Cleveland-based boss will fault you for being late to work if you claim your car was stuck in the snow. Chances are, he or she, too, knows what it's like to be knee deep in a pile of icy slush trying to differentiate jumper cables. We say screw it! Head back to bed.
49. Awkward Family Photos
Who doesn't love wearing matching sweaters and standing in a height line for 30+ minutes while mom and dad try to figure out the "timer" setting on the new digital camera? These are family memories in the making, folks.
48. No More Embarrassing Tattoos
What's your biggest regret? Is it that ugly ass tattoo of your ex-girlfriend in bobble-head form etched into your right tricep? Good thing you've got six months of long shirt wearing weather ahead of you, buddy.
47. Practical, Not Fashionable, Footware
Cleveland is one of the only urban centers in the U.S. that doesn't give a damn about fashionable footwear in the winter. Pull on your Cabela's boots and head to work, dinner, or to the club. There's three feet of snow out there for cryin' out loud.
Did you know that an eight-pack of Gillette razor blades costs upwards of $15? That's at least three Happy Dog hotdogs right there. Thanks to winter, you can spend your money where it really matters, plus you earn an extra layer of facial insulation. Win.
45. A Real White Christmas
Just think of those suckers in L.A. and Orlando who have no idea what a white Christmas truly means. Only a Clevelander can love and appreciate shoveling his or her driveway for an hour on Christmas morning before relatives come over.
44. The Days of Yore
Remember when department stores used to go all out for the holidays with one-of-a-kind shopping bags, light displays, and ornament arrangements? We don't really either, but that doesn't mean we can't appreciate some vintage holiday cheer at Holidays at the Higbee.
43. Photo Ops
If you're at all interested in photography, then winter in Cleveland is your perfect backdrop. There's a plethora of great spots to photograph, whether you're into landscape, architecture or portrait work.
42. Ethnic Holiday Eats
Cleveland is a warm, bubbly multi-cultural melting pot and that means we have a whole variety of traditional ethic eats right at our fingertips. If you've been itching to try some latkes or Kwanzaa bread, now's your chance.
41. Polar Bear Plunge
Who would have thought that jumping into Lake Erie in sub-freezing temps could be fun? But for four consecutive years, Clevelanders have gathered at Edgewater Park to take the plunge to help raise awareness for Parkinson's disease and juvenile diabetes. This year, join the masses.
4 0. Wintertime Driving
We all could use a little more vehicular excitement in our day-to-day lives. Thankfully, during the winter months, that's exactly what we get. From dodging downtown potholes to sliding down the slippery slopes of Mayfield, winter driving in this city is almost like being in a video game.
39. Pasty White Skin
Let's toast to our Midwestern roots and ditch the whole Jamaican-Me-Tan charade by making a pact to whole-heartedly embrace our pasty white skin for the next six months. Bonus points if last year's farmer's tan fades completely.
38. Lake Erie
We may be the Burning River City, but there's nothing cooler than a frozen Lake Erie in the winter. Bring a thermos of hot chocolate and some leftover holiday cookies, and head out for an afternoon picnic on ice.
37. Winter Famers Markets
Who says farmers markets are just for fair-weather folks? Cleveland boasts several indoor markets that are open during the colder months. Our favorites include the Shaker Square Market and the Kamm's Corners market.
36. Scuba Claus
If you've never before seen a scuba diving Santa Claus, then you're definitely missing out. Scuba Claus is just as hilarious and as awesome as you'd imagine: Santa, scuba gear, Cleveland Aquarium. Go. Now.
35. Bye Bye Pit Stains
Are you a heavy sweater? If so, winters in Cleveland are pretty much paradise. With temperatures dropping into the single digits, you can put your clinical strength deodorant on reserve.
34. A Christmas Story House
Tourists—ha! They clamor to Tremont to visit Ralphie's real Christmas Story House under sweltering July suns, but you, fair Clevelander, can go during the holiday season when it's actually relevant.
33. Water Cooler Chit Chat
If your usual mid-morning water cooler subjects of Brandon Weeden replacements and Cleveland councilmen toupees are feeling a bit stale, fret not. For the next few months, you can occupy your breaks with conversations about Cleveland's five-day forecast.
32. Warming Up
Gawd- don't you just hate when you're over-heating like a 55-year-old menopausal granny? We do too. Warming up is so much better than cooling down, especially when it's accompanied by a simmering hot toddy.
31. Soup. Soup!
If you've ever tried eating hot soup in the summer, you know it just doesn't satisfy in quite the same way.
30. Stingy Bastards (Post-Holidays)
Did you just blow through your rainy day fund with one four-digit tab at Barley House? Well once the holidays are over, you officially have permission to be a stingy bastard until summer rolls around.
29. Gaining 10 or 20 Pounds
Winter is the one time of year when nobody cares if you're not beach bod ready. So indulge in that entire tray of Christmas cookies, why doncha? Summer's a long way off.
28. Snow Angels
Snow angels aren't just for tots. Head on over to Public Square and try your hand at making the perfect angel. Remember not to step in your imprint when you stand up!
27. The Lake Erie Monsters
They may not receive as much hype as the Browns or the Cavs, but if you've never been to a Lake Erie Monsters hockey game, this winter is your chance. Grab some friends and head on over to the Q for a little ice action. But do remember to dress warmly: Those games are cold.
26. Weather-Related Excuses (Part II)
Don't feel like going out tonight? No problem. Blame your lack of social enthusiasm on that 25% chance of scattered flurries that's headed our way.
25. Stan Hywett Hall Tours
If you haven't yet explored the 65-room Tudor-style mansion that is the Stan Hywett Hall, then head on down to Akron this December for your tour. For the holidays, the house has been transformed into a winter wonderland and truly a spectacle.
24. New Year's Resolutions
The winter months are ripe for planning out how next year you'll be a better, more fit, more stylish, more outgoing new YOU! (Winter's for the planning, the other seasons are for the doing.)
23. Chili Open Golf Classic
Is there anything more refreshing than a game of golf on a bitter winter's day? We think not. Join your fellow Clevelanders this year for an afternoon of hitting balls, unlimited Wendy's chili, and icy cold beer.
22. Cleveland Botanical Gardens
Summer festivities at the Cleveland Botanical Garden ain't got nothing on the larger-than-life winter gingerbread house display. Every year, hundreds of visitors stop in to marvel at the graham cracker shingles, the candy cane lamp posts and the gum drop keystones created by local kids and adults alike.
21. Sun Rises
God bless daylight savings. For nearly half a year, you can catch some spectacular sunrises without having to get up at ungodly hours. If you're feeling particularly ambitious, head to Edgewater Park for a truly beautiful sunrise.
20. Little Italy
Remember when you were a kid and thought it'd be neat to live in a snow globe? Well, if you walk through Little Italy during a snowstorm, it's pretty much the same sensation. Plus you can stop by Corbos for a cannoli on the way out. Score.
19. East Side/West Side Debates
Whether you're an East Sider or a West Sider, we know who gets the most snow. But why on earth would we agree to disagree when there's all sorts of silly bickering to be had?
Local bars love winter because we all drink more alcohol to stay warm and we never want to venture out into the snow. As for the bars with cozy, crackling fire places... well, we'll be there all night.
Are you a PWKIP (Person Who Knits in Public)? We are too! For the entirety of winter, we can all knit in public without being the subject of weird stares.
Some of the best movies of the year are released during the winter months, making going to the theaters one of our top priorities from November through February. Our picks this season include Philomena, The Hobbit, and American Hustler.
15. Chinese New Year
Who says we have to be confined to just American New Year? The College Club of Cleveland typically hosts a Chinese New Year celebration of epic proportions (think a delicious all-you-can-eat buffet, firecrackers, decorations and the whole nine yards). Go celebrate!
14. Post-Holiday Sales
The holidays may be the busiest shopping season of the year, but in the month or so after the holidays wrap up we enter into the biggest sale season of the year. Save your cash for January, and score huge deals at Cleveland malls and big box stores.
13. Pets in Sweaters
Adorable. Pets. Wearing. Sweaters. Enough said.
12. Christmas Trees
Folks in other big cities like New York and Chicago buy their Christmas trees on street corners and at supermarkets, but here in Cleveland, we have options aplenty for picking and cutting our own trees. If you do decide to chop your own tree, we recommend waiting until afterward to crack open the celebratory Christmas Ale.
11. Weekend Getaways
Winter vacations tend to be underrated, but you can often score great deals on winter getaways. There are dozens of great spots within a two-hour radius of Cleveland: Rent a cozy cabin at Mohican, for example, or spend a night at a winery looking out over frozen Lake Erie.
10. The Olympics
The Olympics! Dozens of Cleveland bars air the games, so grab some pals and go watch the world's best athletes compete on ice and snow.
9. Peppermint Stick Ice Cream
Q: What's better than eating your body weight in peppermint stick ice cream? A: When your obsession helps stimulate the local economy. Choose Pierre's and never experience gorger's guilt again.
8. Snow Days
Snow days aren't just for kids. Lots of businesses and corporations have been known to close down when a particularly powerful storm sweeps though Northeast Ohio. Keep doing the snow dance.
7. Seasonal Cocktails
There's nothing we love more than hunkering down in a bar and working our way through the menu of seasonal spirits and cocktails. Bring a friend and see how many you can knock out in one night.
6. Pretty Holiday Lights
We already know that Cleveland is one of the most picturesque cities in Ohio, but, boy, do our beautiful streets shine when they're decked for the holidays. Take a stroll downtown, or buzz through Ohio City, Coventry or Gordon Square and be dazzled by this year's crop of glittering holiday lights.
5. Sub-Zero Tailgating
The Browns may be neck deep in another losing streak, but that only means Cleveland football fans should tailgate harder. Rally the troops and head on down to the Muni lot for some cold beer and even colder temps.
Argue as you will, but the only thing better than football season in Cleveland is basketball season in Cleveland, except, you know, when we are projected to have a terrific season and then end up losing 50 percent of our games.
3. New Year's Eve
This year's inaugural Public Square New Year's Eve celebration is bound to be one for the books. With free festivities all day, plus a musical performance by electronic dance music group Krewella and a midnight countdown by Cleveland native Drew Carey, this is one New Year's Eve party you don't want to miss.
2. Christmas Ale
If Christmas Ale doesn't embody everything that is truly good and wonderful about winters in Cleveland, then we're fresh out of ideas. Try a batch of this year's crop, and we guarantee you'll be singing Christmas carols all the way home.
1. Spring is Around the Corner
Despite having given you 49 other reasons to celebrate winter in Cleveland, if you're not totally convinced, we can't blame you. Just take solace in the fact that the holidays usually whiz by, and that the first signs of spring will be here before you know it.