Best Of 2016

Is there any contest? Cleveland’s flagship beach is once again its best, morphing into the premier summertime destination with the addition of popular programming and — go figure — clean sand. Thanks to the Metroparks’ crew, this stretch of local waterfront has returned to its previous splendor. Edgewater Live has already become one of Cleveland’s most popular weekly events during the summer. With a brand new beach house in the works, Edgewater will only become more of an essential local landmark.

clevelandmetroparks.com.

Sports & Recreation

Ken Bray, Professional Powerlifter
You can take your dog to any old park and Fido will be pretty happy. But the allure of a dog park is two-fold: First, your pup gets pup friends. Second, you get to talk to other people about dogs, which is probably your favorite hobby. Whether you’re apologizing for your pup’s general lack of obedience or chatting up that single with the cute four-legged pal, it’s all about interaction for you and your poor dog, who, let’s be honest, sits around the house most days waiting for you to do something cool with him. The Lakewood Dog Park in the Rocky River Reservation is the place to go, with ample room for your dog to romp around and plenty of other owners to keep you company.

1699 Valley Pkwy., Lakewood, lakewooddogpark.com

Like a throwback to the days of yore, River City in Fairview Park offers the region’s sharks a fine place to play each night. Rack ‘em up and shoot ‘em, everybody; you can stop in for a game or two and end up playing ‘til close. It’s addicting. These guys are old school in the best sense of the word, because this is a no-frills, laid-back sort of spot where you can hone your chops over a night-long conversation with good friends, or you can pitch in on some local tournament-style billiards. Enjoy.

21414 Lorain Rd., Fairview Park, 440-333-5808.

We broke the happy news in 2015 that Geiger’s, the Lakewood-based clothing and sporting goods store, had plans to open a downtown location on Euclid Avenue, directly east of Heinen’s. Equally as exciting, the Geigers also sought to preserve some of the unique characteristics of the historic Ivory Building in their store design. The store, which opened last May, now brings an array of outdoor gear, ranging from clothes to shoes, to Cleveland’s urban adventurers. You can find high-end Patagonia backpacks and clothes that most sporting goods don’t carry.

1020 Euclid Ave., 216-755-4500, shopgeigers.com.

There’s no better exercise or intramural sport than soccer. Scoff if you will, but while everyone else is playing softball with a beer in their hand or wolfing down pizza before a volleyball match, the best action is going down on the pitch. Channel your inner Kai Haaskivi at one of a couple local Force Sports complexes. Whether you’re looking for a casual intramural squad or an all-men’s league, Force offers sessions throughout the year.

Various locations, force-sports.com.

It’s a bowling alley and oh-so-much more. But the big draw here is the bowling part of the equation: 16 lanes, electronic scoring, great locations. The Corner Alley landed with a strike on East Fourth and has expanded with a second location in the Uptown District. There’s good reason for that. It boasts great bars, top-notch bar food, endless TVs on which to watch our fearless local teams battle, arcade games and more. In other words, it’s the perfect place to lace up a pair of glorious bowling shoes and while away an afternoon with great grub and entertainment while figuring out exactly how to nail that 7-10 split.

Multiple locations, thecorneralley.com.

Lace up the boots, grab some trail mix and hit one of the many Cleveland Metroparks hiking trails, on both the east and west sides. With hundreds of miles of trails and more than 23,000 acres of land (and growing!), there’s something new to experience every weekend. North Chagrin, Mill Stream Run, Big Creek! With varying levels of difficulty and amazing views at every turn, what are you doing still reading this?

clevelandmetroparks.com.

The 2016 Rite Aid Marathon has categories for folks at just about every fitness level, and with thousands coming out to watch the race, it’s as much about the city and our support of each other as it is about the runners themselves. This year’s marathon will be held May 15 in downtown Cleveland, and registration is still open. (The 5K and other events are held on May 14.) Run in the full, half, 10K, 5K or Kids’ Run, or simply come out and watch the festivities. This year marks the 39th anniversary for the race and it has long been one of the city’s signature events.

clevelandmarathon.com.

Any Northeast Ohio duffer worth his stroke — or not — has played Big Met. It’s not a rite of passage, per se, but it’s essentially the standard bearer for our region’s spectrum of playing levels. Whether you rock a two-handicap or you’re not even sure what a “putter” is, you’ll find good company on the links here. Everyone seems in fine spirits at this place always, so you know that you’ll have a comfortable day outside with your pals — new or old — while you duff your way into and out of the forested perimeter. Enjoy the glorious ascent to the 18th green, and know that you’re likely to return to the starter for another game right away.

4811 Valley Pkwy., Fairview Park, 440-331-1070, clevelandmetroparks.com.