It's been 11 years since animal trainer Wendy Nelson and former special education teacher Ed Crann teamed up to form W.A.G.S. 4 Kids. The awesome organization (full name: Working Animals Giving Service for Kids) trains and places service dogs with disabled children, providing them with the support and loyal canine companionship that can have such a positive impact on their lives.
112 E. Center St., Berea 216-586-5853, wags4kids.org
We love posting photos of the Cleveland skyline: Just take a look at our Instagram account. But Northeast Ohio-based Aerial Agents takes that passion to a whole new level — literally. The region's premier aerial photography company, Aerial Agents specializes in piloting state-of-the-art unmanned drones equipped with cameras to capture bird's eye perspectives of local events, landmarks and, yes, the Cleveland skyline.
It's hardly a surprise that the roller coaster capital of the Midwest — nay, the country — crops up on our Best of Cleveland list year after year because, simply put, it's the best. Beginning this summer, thrill-seekers can catch a ride on the new Rougarou, a floorless coaster that whips you through a series of gravity defying twists and turns at speeds upwards of 60 mph. For tamer souls, there's always Thunder Canyon.
1 Cedar Point Dr, Sandusky 419-627-2350, cedarpoint.com.
Ever since opening late last year, the Metropolitan at the 9 has brought a bit of class to the Nine-Twelve district downtown. The swanky new downtown hotel looks like it belongs on the Las Vegas Strip. What distinguishes the place? For starters, it features an indoor dog park and a rooftop deck for drinking and tanning (sorry, no pool). It also boasts one the city's hottest new nightclubs in the Vault. You're likely to run into local celebrities hanging at the club that features VIP rooms in actual vaults.
2017 East Ninth St., 216-239-1200, the9cleveland.com.
League Park, the site of the 1920 Cleveland Indians' World Series victory and, nine years later, Babe Ruth's 500th home run, re-opened this summer, some 50-plus years after it first shuttered, as a rehabilitated testament to local baseball culture. Today fans from around the world can visit the original stadium, walk up to an original ticket booth, and celebrate a little slice of local history surrounding America's — and Cleveland's — favorite pastime.
6601 Lexington Ave., leaguepark.org.
When a photographer from the food magazine Saveur came to town a few years back to shoot photos for an article on the best places to eat in Cleveland, he was so smitten by the West Side Market that he shot hundreds of photos at the century-old Ohio City landmark known for its assortment of food vendors. The place offers a smorgasbord of fresh, exotic foods, plenty of friendly faces, and great people watching. It's a slice of Cleveland approved by locals and visitors alike.
1979 West 25th St., 216-664-3387, westsidemarket.org.
Have you finished Buddhism for Dummies, and you're not sure where to go next? And you certainly don't want to give in to the mass-marketed Far East kitsch for millennials, right? Cloudwater Zendo, a little hole-in-the-wall temple on Puritas, is a really terrific and respectful place for both beginners and long-running Buddhists alike. Mondays at 7 p.m., the zendo runs an Introduction to Zen Meditation class, where prospective learners can fine-tune their approach to zazen and kinhin. The sessions are very welcoming to those who have no idea how any of that works. Tuesday evenings and Sunday mornings feature open meditation sessions, with occasional special events filling out the rest of the calendar.
14436 Puritas Ave., 216-889-1393, cloudwater.org.
Steve Presser, who opened the novelty toy store Big Fun in 1990, is a big booster for all things Cleveland. At Big Fun, you can find a wide range of vintage and new toys. But you'll also see a selection of Cleveland-related T-shirts and postcards. Presser also helps organize the family friendly Coventry Village events that take place throughout the year along the street. And despite the closure of his Lakewood outpost, his passion for small businesses in Cleveland's neighborhoods remains robust -- and an inspiration to all of us.
Everyone knows it's a chore to hunker down at work during the summer months, but thankfully there's an extra bout of incentive to pull us through the workweek: Edgewater Live, a free happy hour on the beach every Thursday from June through August. Grab a beer and some grub from a rotating array of local food trucks, and enjoy live tunes from area bands like the Breakfast Club, Whiskey Kings, and Revolution Pie.
Locals looking to escape the daily grind need look no further than Lake Breeze Inn, located just 30 minutes from downtown Cleveland on a scenic stretch of Lake Erie shorefront. Rooms here sport water views, outdoor balconies, and are surrounded by 10-plus acres of lush, artistically manicured gardens. Venture out to a nearby winery or brewery — there's no need to come home early; a continental breakfast of fresh fruit and bagels will be waiting for you in the morning.
4233 Lake Rd., Sheffield Lake, 440-949-2545.