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Best Place for a First Date
Cleveland Museum of Art
Where else can you fake your way through being a citizen of culture without paying through the nose for it? Always free and always an endless kaleidoscope of mankind's most beautiful output through the ages, the art museum offers something for every taste — and provides an ideal window into the soul of your potential soulmate. You say your date is taken by the metaphors of Georgia O'Keeffe? Better brace yourself for a lifetime of deep discourse. More in tune with the action painting of Jackson Pollock? Looks like you've got a livewire on your hands. Bonus points await you if you've memorized a poem you can bust out by Wade Lagoon.
11150 East Blvd., 216-421-7350, clevelandart.org
Staff Pick: Little Italy
Best Place to Take the Kids
Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
You ever schlepped your family to the zoo in some other cut-rate metropolis around the country? Try it once, and you'll fall in love with Cleveland's zoo all over again. What sets ours apart? Its sprawling grounds and countless exhibits that truly feel one with their surroundings. There's the sheer mind-boggling breadth of different creatures awaiting your visit, the countless kiddie attractions that keep the fun rolling long after the bears and giraffes lose their charm. There's the all-weather appeal, from bucolic summer days spent strolling the park to cozy winters defrosting in the RainForest. And there's a zillion other reasons to love Cleveland's zoo, but maybe none so potent as this: A year-long family membership will set you back no more than what you'd blow on one forgettable day at the movies.
3900 Wildlife Way, 216-661-6500,
Staff Pick: Cedar Point
Best Place for People Watching
Though it goes quiet after quitting time, midday at Public Square is a Whitman's Sampler of humanity — from professionals to panhandlers to protesters to tourists, and every flavor in between. The nightlife that's spilling out of nearby East Fourth Street and up to Euclid Avenue only increases the likelihood you'll find outrageous eye candy anywhere you look. Whether you dig into that candy is up to you.
230 West Huron Rd., 216-623-4750,
Staff Pick: Tower City
Best Day Trip
Perhaps no place on earth does time fly more quickly than it does at Cedar Point. A summertime fun magnet for the Midwest and beyond, the park is tireless in its quest to be the best at everything it does — and it's got the credentials to support the claim. More — and better — roller coasters than anybody else, gorgeously maintained grounds, friendly workers, and no shortage of indoor attractions make the Point a lock for every summer itinerary.
One Cedar Point Dr., Sandusky,
Staff Pick: The Erie Islands
Best School District
Solon City Schools
Way over yonder to the East, there's a mythic place where students routinely test well above state requirements, the sports teams constantly challenge for big-school state championships, and the cafeterias serve only the most succulent dishes. We're talking about the Solon City Schools. Every year, the suburb either makes the short list for all types of awards or walks away with the top titles. But the district's overall excellence was sealed when Newsweek listed it among the best in the nation. We're not actually sure about the food, but considering how everything else is trending there, we're figuring it kills too.
Staff Pick: Solon
We here at Scene FunTyme Enterprises would like to thank the many voters who vaulted us to the top of the heap in this category, perhaps not least because they were forced to stare at our humble site as they cast their votes. No matter — we'll choose to take it as validation that Clevelanders love keeping tabs on what's going on in their world each day, and that it sure beats focusing on the crap they're supposed to be doing instead.
Visit us at clevescene.com and follow the foolishness via Facebook (/clevelandscene) and Twitter (@cleveland_scene)
Staff Pick: clevescene.com
Best Entrepreneur & Best Northeast Ohio Success Story
As ascensions to superstardom go, Michael Symon is closing in on Oprah status. A native of North Olmsted who first cooked in a Lakewood Geppetto's, Symon went on to become a savior of Cleveland dining when he opened Lola back in 1997. That was followed, in no particular order, by Lolita, and by his B Spot burger joints, and by Iron Chef fame, and by countless instances of cheerfully tolerating Rachael Ray for prolonged periods of time — plus books and magazines and accolades and now his own TV show, ABC's The Chew. That a hardworking, easy-smiling, heartily laughing local lad could make it so big is good news for him and great news for the town he so adores.
Staff Picks: Best Entrepreneur: Danielle DeBoe (of Made in the 216, Dredgers Union); Best Northeast Ohio Success Story: Machine Gun Kelly
Best Kept Secret
We'll consider this one a worthy shout-out to everything from the sprawling Metroparks to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, from our state park at Mentor Headlands to our state park at Edgewater, and to all the many greenspaces in between and beyond. We are blessed to live within minutes of the heart of the action — and just as blessed to be so very near to nature's blissful serenity.
Staff Pick: Rocky River Park
Waiting for Next Year
Dozens of local sports blogs have come and gone since having a blog became the thing to do. One of the first — and best — remains. Waiting For Next Year's built a stable of reliable writers over the past five years, posting analysis and news every day on Cleveland's favorite forlorn teams. Having long outgrown their armchair-quarterbacking roots, they now hold credentials to cover the Cavs just like any other mainstream media outlet.
Staff Pick: clevelandfrowns.com
Best Facebook Page
It's not that we all need reminders or slogans to realize that we're living in the city Paris wishes it could be; it's just that there's too much awesomeness happening at any given moment to keep track of it all. Enter the Unmiserable Cleveland page, a clearinghouse of news, events, and links to keep you abreast of the greatest in the Forest City from its biggest fans — you.
Staff Pick: Scene