Best Of 2017

Best Public Pool

On the bluffs overlooking Lake Erie, Lakewood Park offers all the essentials of weekend life: baseball fields, basketball and tennis courts, picnic areas and a band shell where the city holds free concerts. The Foster Pool features long-course swimming (it's 50 meters long by 25 yards wide) and offers a shallow area for the kids. (The Madison pool, on Madison, is also public.) Season passes for residents begin at $40; it's $55 for non-residents. Day passes are also dirt-cheap: $4 for residents and $5.50 for non-Lakewooders. Bathing-suit bodies definitely not required: This is Cleveland, after all.

14532 Lake Ave., Lakewood,

Best of Cleveland 2017 - Sports & Recreation

Best of Cleveland 2017 - Sports & Recreation
Best Beach

Whether it's the depths of winter or the scorching peak of summer, all somehow endured in a single week it seems, Cleveland's weather is a fickle beast. But we're a hardy folk, and no matter the temperature we're always up for a day at the beach. Maybe we'll bring a picnic. Maybe we'll swim. Maybe we'll play catch. Maybe we'll fly that kite that's been sitting in the closet for three years. Maybe we'll bring the dog! (Of course we'll bring the dog!) But with a shoreline as beautiful and robust as ours, the inevitable question looms like a specter, haunting and piercing: Which beach? Which beach? If you're a true Clevelander, the answer is summoned immediately: Edgewater. After the Cleveland Metroparks took over operations it suddenly became a real destination: The sand was clean, the volleyball nets intact, the programming robust and entertaining. And there's more, of course: A new beach house is under construction now that'll provide a bar, a kids' play area, a diner and a viewing deck from which you'll be able to enjoy those priceless Lake Erie sunsets.

6500 Cleveland Memorial Shoreway, 216-653-3200,

Best Billiards

This enormous sports tavern at the Eastgate Shopping Center in Mayfield Heights (or at the Parma location) was made to accommodate enormous numbers of billiards players. There are tables on tables on tables. We should expect as much, as Fox & Hound is a national chain devoted, at least in part, to pool. They make renting tables as easy as pie, and you rarely have to wait long for a fresh one to open up: ideal because, after all, you came here to play pool. The tables are clean and level, the sticks are straight, which is more than can be said for the equipment at your local bar. With nightly food and drink specials, a long beer list, and plenty of big TVs for watching the Browns, Cavs and Tribe, you can crush the cue ball as you crush a brew and good old-fashioned American pub fare.

1479 SOM Center Rd., Mayfield Hts, 440-646-9078,

Best Bowling Alley

For more than 100 years, Mahall's 20 Lanes has been a bowling-and-local-hangout institution. When locals Kelly Flamos, Colin McEwen and Joe Pavlick took the place over in December 2011, they cleaned it up a bit (emphasis on "a bit") and helped transform the venerable bowling alley into a popular concert venue. Pretty much any night of the week, you've got a good chance of catching hot Second Line-style bands from New Orleans onstage or a Malian guitarist who'll shred the place with traditional African melodies. The menu kicks ass too: Items such as Chicken and Donuts, a dish that features three pieces of fried chicken along with two Old Hushers doughnuts, is a fave; seriously, get the chicken. Other staples include the Everything Pretzel and the Creamy Egg Sandwich. But whatever you do, be sure to throw a game or two on the old-school lanes where you still have to score by hand, which is something everyone should know how to do.

13200 Madison Ave., Lakewood,  216-521-3280,

Best Dog Park

Your pup pal needs food and water and love and all the pets — he/she is a very good dog, of course. But Fido also needs some exercise, some leash-free fun, and a place where he can sniff dozens of strange, new, exciting butts. But where-oh-where to find those butts? No better place than the Lakewood Dog Park in the Rocky River Reservation. You can exchange pleasantries and coo over how cute your mutts are with your fellow dog owners (or, ya know, stand there silently and not talk to anyone but your dog, who's the only one that gets you anyway) amid a perfect slice of Cleveland's Emerald Necklace. It's a long winter in this town: Be sure to make use of the nice weather and bring your Very Good Dog to hang out with other Very Good Dogs.

1699 Valley Parkway, Lakewood, 216-364-7275,

Best Golf Course

With sweeping views of the Cuyahoga River valley, Sleepy Hollow is the place to hit up this summer when you're looking to get out on the links. Don't trust us? (Though you should, we've played there dozens and dozens of times). Trust the experts: The course was named the No. 1 public course in Ohio, according to Golfweek magazine, and No. 14 in the entire United States. Because it's a Metroparks property, the prices aren't outrageous in comparison to some other links around the region; and because it's a Metroparks course, it's always in great shape. The greens are fast and harsh. You'd be hard pressed to find a more challenging first three holes. The green on No. 9 will bedevil you. And you'll have a blast. Tee times recommended.

9445 Brecksville Rd., 440-526-4285, sleepy-hollow-golf-course.

Best Gym

Come summer in Cleveland, you're suddenly surrounded by joggers. Everyone jogs, it seems. They run with their dogs and their children. They run by themselves mouthing the words to Beyonce songs. They wear high-end gear — they call it "athleisure" — and they wear that shit exclusively. You observe this phenomenon among both males and females. They wear neon jogging jackets and reflective leggings to the bar and you feel like maybe you are supposed to be impressed. You are not impressed. Your head is spinning because this shit has gotten out of hand. In truth, you wouldn't mind doing some jogging from time to time, and maybe in a cleaner, cozier environment where you also could have access to new exercise equipment and staff that doesn't make you feel like you just walked into an exclusive club you have no business entering. Is that asking too much? You're begging: Can a non-fitness-freak millennial just find a decent gym in these parts? The answer, you discover, is yes. Go see Nick at the Tremont Athletic Club.

2306 West 17th St., 216-400-8205,

Best Place to Hike

Just south of Cleveland sits more than 100 miles of trails among 33,000 acres of nature, diverse plants and wildlife, and some of the best views in the entire region. A gem and a model of conservation situated between two industrial cities, the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, also home to the outdoor concert venue Blossom Music Center, offers a glimpse of just about any natural (and man-made) habitat Ohio has to offer, including marshes, beaver ponds, quarries, caves and even an Indian mound. Bald eagles have begun nesting in the park as well. And in case you've forgotten, and many of you have, there's an actual national park — one of only 58 in the entire, vast expanse of America — just a short drive from wherever you live in Northeast Ohio.

1550 Boston Mills Rd., Peninsula (Visitor Center), 330-657-2752,

Best Place to Ski

Situated in a valley, not on a mountain — this is Ohio after all — Boston Mills and sister ski resort Brandywine are the best reasons to get the hell out of the house during the winter. It's a ski getaway that doesn't take much getting away and it's nothing to shake a pole at: Boston Mills boasts seven trails and 40 skiable acres. It's the perfect place to learn the fine art of skiing or snowboarding at any age with trails suitable for all experience levels. Rent equipment if you don't have it, enjoy the college ID night specials, go tubing (definitely go tubing) and take on the powder on the weekends or under the lights.

7100 Riverview Rd., Peninsula, 330-657-2334,

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