Oberlin College isn't the only reason for trekking out to Oberlin, Ohio, anymore. Nor is ziplining only a tourist attraction in Costa Rica (or a necessity among the high-altitude insectologists of the Amazon). Common Ground Canopy Tours is pleased to now offer a thrilling zipline excursion set on 30 acres of scenic valley on the Vermilion River. The 2.5-hour outdoor adventure consists of seven individual zip lines, 13 tree platforms, three sky bridges and the only operational floating stairway in the entire country. At $87 a pop, it's not exactly a cheap date (nor is it an optimal outing for the very young or the very overweight), but the exhilaration is one of a kind. You suit up in cave-spelunking gear, take a mini-safety course — the terms are all named for Mexican food items — and set out among the trees, trolleying along cables at speeds of 40 to 50 mph. Common Ground doubles as a corporate retreat center and summer camp, so feel free to inquire about their team building activities and outdoor fun. The staff is a warm, approachable and eminently knowledgeable bunch. (Sam Allard)
14240 Baird Rd., Oberlin, 440-707-2044, commongroundcenter.org.
Climbing cliffs may sound like something you'd have to travel far away for, but the Cleveland Rock Gym offers this fun activity right in our backyard. If you're new to the activity, you'll want to call seven days ahead to make sure someone is available to show you the ropes, or you can take their introductory class. More experienced climbers can walk in during regular business hours (3 to 10 p.m. weekdays, noon to 6 p.m. weekends). You get harnessed up and work your way to the top while navigating footholds and ropes. At $14 a pass plus modest equipment fees, this makes a great date activity for the more adventurous. They even offer birthday packages for a unique party. (Liz Trenholme)
21200 St. Clair Ave., Building B3, Euclid, 216-692-3300 clevelandrockgym.com.
When exotic cuisine and old-fashioned American pastimes no longer excite your relatives and college pals, why not try a European craze that's sweeping into Northeast Ohio, courtesy of Solon's Cleveland Bounce? It's body zorbing, folks, the safe, comfortable alternative to Sumo Suits. They're transparent, inflatable orbs in which you cocoon yourself and then run, jump, tumble, dive and, of course, mercilessly attack your spouses and/or children in the comfort of their presumed safety. If you're already buying a party package with Cleveland Bounce — complete with things like those enormous bounce houses, laser tags, and dunk tanks — you can get two body zorb spheres for $150. If you're age 7+, and just have a jones for some safe, destructive behavior, this'll work for that too. (Allard)
27100 Richmond Rd. #4, Solon, 440-822-3960, clevelandbounce.com.
Whether it's in a river in the Metroparks or on a chartered boat in Lake Erie, there are plenty of options to get out on the water and into some fish within a short drive from downtown Cleveland. The Rocky River is known for its tremendous steelhead fishing in the fall and spring, but this summer you'll find a great opportunity to hook some smallmouth bass, which can be really fun to catch. Much of the river is maintained by the Cleveland Metroparks, which provides easy access to some great fishing spots (clevelandmetroparks.com/main/rocky-river-reservation6.aspx). Heading out onto Lake Erie in a chartered boat will be more of a financial and time commitment, but you'll have the chance to bring in some large walleye. Check out Wildwood Marina (discoverydive.com), Fish Crazy Charters (fishcrazycharters.com) and Fin-Ominal Charters (fin-ominalcharters.com) for details. (Doug Brown)
The Metroparks continues to experiment with innovative sports and recreation at their various parks and facilities in the region — you never know what Brian Zimmerman and his marketing team will cook up next! Last year, they introduced Footgolf at Mastick Woods and Shawnee Hills in Bedford to rave reviews. Footgolf is just exactly what it sounds like: a hybrid of soccer and golf. It's a hell of a lot cheaper than a traditional round of 18 holes — $10 at Mastick / $9 at Shawnee — and works out a completely different muscle group. Plus, a regulation #5 soccer ball is way easier to track down in the rough than your standard Titleist golf ball. As a sport, Footgolf is regulated by the Federation for International Footgolf (FIFG!) so it's legit, you guys. If you're not in a summer soccer league, this might be the finest way to pay tribute to the World Cup in Northeast Ohio. (Allard)
19900 Puritas Rd., 216-267-5626, clevelandmetroparks.com.
Catching waves on Lake Erie seems like an urban legend, but trust us, it does happen! While winter is the best (and most insane) time of year to get some big surf action, there's still plenty of water to ride around on in warmer months. Since all of our local waves are caused by wind, you'll have to wait for the proverbial perfect storm to get some serious action. Edgewater Beach is likely the most popular surf spot around town, and we know the water gets pretty "interesting" there when it rains, so surfing here is still a bit of a fringe activity. Expect to see a handful of dedicated Cleveland surfers braving the elements and welcoming you to share their waves. In terms of gear, you may be hard-pressed for any rentals; the closest surf shop is in Michigan. Check out the forums at wagnersurfclub.com for tips on surfing our lovely lake. (Eric Gonzalez)
5K runs and marathons are for babies. What, you could only run 26.2 miles? Ultramarathons challenge the most extreme runners and push them to the limit during races that span 30 to 100 miles. Several of these events take place in Northeast Ohio every year. The Burning River 100 Mile Endurance Run traverses many trails in the Metroparks area and only awards those who finish in less than 30 hours. The Youngstown Ultra Trail Classic 50K has runners circling Glacier Lake multiple times. Other ultramarathons around Ohio are held in Mohican State Park, Hocking Hills, Great Seal State Park and more. Check out the 2013-2014 Ohio Ultramarathon Calendar at marathons.ahotu.com to get the best runner's high in Ohio. (Gonzalez)
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