Best Of 2016

Harness Cycle and Toast are two near-westside businesses you’ve probably heard of. What you might not know is that both businesses benefited and succeeded in part thanks to Bad Girl Ventures, a nonprofit dedicated to helping women build and sustain businesses in Cincinnati and Cleveland. Through microfinance loans and mentorship, BGV helps provide a few key pieces in the puzzle — access to capital and education — to give good ideas every chance to turn into great businesses and longstanding parts of the community. BGV delivers on what it promises: investing in bold women.

People & Places

Ricky Smith, Random Acts of Kindness
Even before the Flats East Bank took off, Aloft was an anchor for one of downtown’s hottest new social districts. With excellent prices, modern rooms, and easy access to electric nightlife, Aloft has helped Cleveland elevate its downtown accommodations to the next level. Hungry? Grab a bite at BOLD Food & Drink, Wileyville or Lago right downstairs. Ready for a party after that? Then take a stroll over to the East Bank for a night of revelry. Got tickets to a big event? Aloft is an easy walk to the Browns Stadium, the Rock Hall, the Q, the Jake and other downtown amenities, and the views of Lake Erie are peerless.

1111 West 10th St., 216-400-6469,

Cleveland has more visitors than ever these days, and often these out-of-towners are in need of a little local direction. We could list thousands of places to take a Cleveland rookie — and we have — but if you don’t make the West Side Market your first stop, you’re doing it wrong. It’s a wholly unique experience, combining the best of the old and new worlds on the North Shore. And while many of us around here stop in to pick up produce for the week or a good cut of meat for an evening meal, the place is also a feast for the eyes and a good place to grab a snack before hitting all the other necessary Cleveland stops.

1979 West 25th St., 216-664-3387,

It’s America’s Roller Coast, of course. For pure family friendly adrenaline and thrills, it’s hard to find a better spot in the entire country. Thankfully, Cedar Point is just a stone’s throw down I-90 for us Clevelanders. The fine folks who run the place take great care of its legacy and future — adding new attractions all the time and preserving the best stuff from the past. (It says something that the Raptor and the Magnum remain two of the best rides at the park.) Children of all ages and sizes will find something fun capturing their eye. Keep them on a leash or let them run wild: You can easily pick up a Parent of the Year award with a surprise trip to the Point.

1 Cedar Point Dr., Sandusky, 419-627-2350,

Before Ohio City was Ohio City and before Detroit-Shoreway housed the Gordon Square Arts District and before Hingetown or SOLO even arrived in the imaginations of young creative developers, Tremont was Tremont, or, depending on your age, the South Side — a hub for artists and castoffs on the fringes of Cleveland’s industrial valley. And even before that, it was a neighborhood for workers in the industrial valley itself. Today, remnants of its arty origins remain, with galleries galore. These days, though, the major attractions are its food and drink offerings. Many of Cleveland’s most celebrated restaurants and chefs call Tremont home. Densely populated with families, yuppies and scions of the Polish Veterans Alliance, this Cleveland hood — beautiful to look at and priceless to own — is a gem.

It’s the gift that keeps on giving — not to mention a Cleveland landmark and a national jewel. The Cleveland Museum of Art has been bringing world-renowned fine art to the city for more than a century. Best of all, it costs nothing to spend an afternoon there. Free. Not a penny for a priceless experience. No wonder nearly half a million people each month come to visit the galleries and collections, enjoying almost 45,000 pieces from around the globe and 6,000 years of artistic achievement.

11150 East Blvd., 216-421-7350,

When The 9 opened in the fall of 2014, the place completely reinvented the East Ninth Street corridor. It’s a monument to the past and future of downtown Cleveland. It’s the best new apartment complex simply because it’s so much more than an apartment complex. (Readers clearly love it.) Every vein of the New Cleveland Lifestyle runs through this building, and tenants are treated to that reality every day. If you’re looking for luxury and a unique cache of amenities — on-site restaurant, nightclub, rooftop bar and more — then there’s no competition.

2017 East Ninth St., 216-239-1300,

You needn’t travel far for the best R&R in Northeast Ohio. Just hop over to Chagrin Falls, what with its scenic downtown and river and quaint houses, and dip into the Inn of Chagrin Falls. Let visions of Star’s Hollow dance through your head as you enjoy the accommodations which include 15 distinct rooms, beautifully landscaped gardens and the friendly staff. Venture out into Chagrin Falls and enjoy the quaint — yes, it’s the word most apt to describe the setting, thus the repetition — scenery and relaxed atmosphere.

87 West St. #2, Chagrin Falls, 440-247-1200,

Cleveland is notorious for fickle weather. Sometimes it’s a boon —summer in April! — and other times it’s a bust — winter in April! The weather changes, but the great thing about Cleveland is that it really doesn’t change our plans. We know how to deal with the elements and we’ll celebrate sleet as much as we celebrate a warm, sunny day. (One’s clearly better than the other, but still. You get our point.) Where else, after all, are you going to find an outdoor concert festival in the dead of winter? That’s right, nowhere. That’s why we love Brite Winter, which brings us a bounty of great bands while we wear our parkas and scarves and huddle around fire pits. This year the festival moved back to the West Bank of the Flats, and it was larger and more badass than ever, with thousands in attendance. It’s one reason not to dread the arrival of winter on the North Shore.

Built in 1888, the Arcade was and still is one of the most impressive spaces in Cleveland, with architectural details that will stop you in your tracks. The Arcade once was called Cleveland’s Crystal Palace, and when you look up you’ll see why: a skylight made of 1,800 panes of glass soars 85 feet above the venue. Of course this would mean a hotel built inside the structure would also be one of the best places in Cleveland to say “I do.” It has seating available on both the floor and the balcony, and can accommodate up to 400 guests. It’s a popular spot, so book sooner rather than later for that magical day.

420 Superior Ave., 216-776-4465,

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