Cleveland’s North Coast Harbor
Excerpt from a past edition of OhioTraveler
Before we dive into Cleveland’s North Coast Harbor attractions, let’s explore the Greater Cleveland area. Its neighboring communities are rich in entertainment. Much of Cleveland’s infrastructure was developed more than 100 years ago when its concentration of wealth on Euclid Avenue was unsurpassed even by New York’s 5th Avenue.
The legacies of business tycoons such as John D. Rockefeller, founder of Standard Oil (think richer than Bill Gates), are seen in the arts, parks, museums, architecture, and business today. The region boasts the top amusement park in the world, the most loyal sports fans, the Rock –N– Roll Hall of Fame, the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and #1 heart program by one of the nation’s leading medical facilities – Cleveland Clinic. It also has the second-largest performing arts center in the country, the third-most visited national park in the U.S., and a top-5 orchestra in the world. Nearby is also the world’s largest concentration of Amish.
Since the 1980s, Cleveland has surged as America’s comeback city. The Flats and Warehouse District are kings of nighttime entertainment, Tower City is a shopping hub, and Gateway draws sports fanatics to see the Cavaliers and Guardians play ball. In fact, the Guardians (then Indians) have the all-time pro-baseball consecutive games’ sellout record – 455 – which may never be broken. Just a few miles away is University Circle featuring world-renowned cultural attractions visited by more than 2.5 million people annually. It is no surprise that Euclid Avenue runs through it. After all, this was America’s playground for the rich and famous.
What makes Cleveland, plus its neighboring communities and attractions, such a pleasant visit is not just the plethora of things to do for nearly every age and interest but the ease with which the urban landscape is navigated. The highway system is built to handle major traffic centers like Chicago rather than mid-size cities. It has six major highways crisscrossing it, plus plenty of buses, taxis, parking, and Ohio’s only light rail system, which is convenient to and from just about anywhere – including straight from the airport to the heart of downtown.
In the mid-1990s, the Rapid Transit light rail system added the Waterfront Line, delivering gobs of people effortlessly to the new heart for family entertainment – North Coast Harbor.
North Coast Harbor is a beautiful place mixing a panoramic urban skyline with trees, green space, and sunrise-to-sunset views of a Great Lake! Lake Erie has had a tremendous renewal of its own, again attracting fishermen, boaters, divers, and water enthusiasts by the millions. But the main attraction is the number of main attractions – all within walking distance from each other.
Once you board the Waterfront Line at Tower City and roll through The Flats and Warehouse District, you’ll arrive minutes later at the North Coast Station. The welcome is more than you’ll expect. The terminal is completely glass enclosed and has several expressions of art. Its style was intended to accent the Rock -N- Roll Hall of Fame. The welcome mat is a 49-foot porcelain tile rug.
Turn left and walk downhill toward the lake and Rock Hall, and you’ll come to a crossroads of fun known as the North Coast Harbor. Now you choose where to begin the day, understanding it may take more than one to see it all. There’s the Great Lakes Science Center, International Women’s Air & Space Museum, tours aboard a World-War II Submarine and massive old iron ore ship, Cleveland Browns Stadium, a skate park, trolley tours, day and evening cruise ship, bikeway, and that’s just for starters.
The Great Lakes Science Center is at the water’s edge next to the Rock Hall. The museum has more than 400 interactive exhibits, including computers that talk and a space shuttle landing simulator. There’s even a restaurant with outdoor dining overlooking the inner harbor. It also features an OmniMax Theater. Visit greatscience.com for more details.
The International Women’s Air & Space Museum is inside the Burke Lakefront Airport lobby just east of the Rock Hall. Admission is free. The exhibits illustrate the contributions women made to aerospace history and include Amelia Earhart’s flight suit and the tail of Ruth Nichol’s Lockheed Akita.
The U.S.S. COD (SS 224) is the last fully intact WWII fleet submarine. It is docked between the Rock Hall and Burke. Tours are offered to the public, inviting them to see what life inside a metal box deep under the sea must have been like. It is tight inside, so beware if you are claustrophobic. The 312-foot submarine was a key weapon against the Japanese, sinking many ships and itself depth-charged, surviving major torpedo fire. For visitor information, see usscod.org.
Cleveland’s great shipping heritage is seen aboard the Steamship William G. Mather. This 618-foot vessel was built in 1925. It now serves as a floating museum and educational facility near the Coast Guard Station between the Rock Hall and Cleveland Browns Stadium behind the Science Center. On and below deck, the public can tour one of the largest ships to sail the Great Lakes, much like the infamous Edmond Fitzgerald. See the captain’s quarters, engine room, and galley, and steer the captain’s wheel.
The Goodtime III is the largest quadruple-deck 1,000-passenger luxury ship on the Great Lakes. It is docked across the harbor from the Mather north of the Rock Hall. Daytime and evening cruises feature river and lake tours, live entertainment, dancing, a full bar, and meals. They sail rain or shine and allow people to enjoy the entire ship, whether you choose the spacious top sun decks, the large semi-opened second deck, or the main glass-enclosed lower deck, which is air-conditioned or heated. For types of cruises and schedules, sail over to goodtimeiii.com.
The Cleveland Browns Stadium offers fans an inside look at the press box, luxury suites, locker room, and other areas fans typically would not see when attending games. For tour information, call 440- 824-3361.
In addition, Cleveland’s North Coast Harbor has a skate park, bike trail, and Voinovich Park, where you may throw Frisbee, jog, fish, people-watch, feed birds, sunbathe, or attend the many festivals that become available.
Cleveland’s North Coast Harbor development is beginning to shine, but it is far from the grand vision that is coming into focus. In the coming years, aquaria, apartments, restaurants, shopping, and hotels are all expected to dot the landscape. If visiting Cleveland for pleasure or business, take a quick trip from the airport, suburbs or downtown on the Rapid Transit and explore North Coast Harbor, Cleveland’s newest family-funapolis. Stay and spread your fun across The Flats and Warehouse Entertainment District, Gateway sports complex, Tower City, or the cultural Mecca that is University Circle. Or take in Cleveland plus Cedar Point Amusement Park and Lake Erie Islands, Canton’s Pro Football Hall of Fame and Amish country, and other northern Ohio attractions.
Click to see what’s happening today at North Coast Harbor.