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100 hidden gems of Cleveland

Have you experienced them all?
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Posted at 4:50 PM, May 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-17 13:12:06-04

CLEVELAND — You've been to the Rock Hall, West Side Market, Museum of Art, Edgewater, The Flats, Little Italy, East 4th, the A Christmas Story House, local breweries and sports stadiums. But there is so much more to see and experience and do in Cleveland for tourists and residents alike, hidden gems sprinkled throughout the city and the surrounding metro area, which we have assembled here, for you, as we emerge from this pandemic.

In no particular order, but numbered nonetheless...

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1. Tunnels of Soldiers and Sailors Monument
3 Public Square
One day a year, you can take a tour.

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2. Stebbins Gulch
9550 Sperry Road in Kirtland
The crown jewel of Holden Arboretum, this ravine featuring cascades and waterfalls is only accessible through a guided tour. (Yes, it is outside Cleveland. This is a "Cleveland area" list, friend.)

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Stebbins Gulch, Holden Arboretum

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3. Memphis Kiddie Park
10340 Memphis Avenue
A local treasure for kids and parents alike.

Watch our story.

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4. Land of the Warres
4701 Perkins Avenue
Perhaps some limited appeal on this one, but too odd not to include. Is there a hidden gateway to an alternate universe off Chester? Sure. Why not?

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5. Weeping Angel Statue
12316 Euclid Avenue
Perpetually crying. One of many sites to see at Lake View Cemetery.

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6. Apollo 12 Moon Rock
Cleveland Museum of Natural History
Nothing like it on earth! A chunk of the moon collected by Alan Bean on Nov. 20, 1969 is on long-term loan from NASA.

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7. Chinese Cultural Garden
Cultural Gardens
You've been to the Cultural Gardens, but a lot of you haven't been to this particular garden.

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8. Judy's Jungle
8665 Station Street in Mentor
A sprawling garden with a score of fiberglass animals, hiding in plain sight along the parking lot of local business. Love it when the burbs get weird.

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9. Lakefront Lodge
30525 Lakeshore Blvd in Willowick
Underrated place to pack a picnic (grab some Alesci's at Shoregate) and catch a sunset.

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10. East Falls Riverwalk
18 West Avenue in Elyria
Look at it. LOOK. AT. IT.

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11. St. Stanislaus Church
3649 E. 65th Street
One of the great historic churches in Cleveland for worship or quiet contemplation.

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12. Ray's Indoor Bike Park
9801 Walford Avenue
The world's longest indoor mountain bike trail lets local riders bike all year long.

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More: Where is the largest indoor mountain biking track in the world? Right here in Cleveland

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13. The Willow at Edgewater Park
Lakefront Reservation
No one knows who planted the willow at Edgewater Park, but thank you.

The Weeping Willow at Edgewater Park.
The Weeping Willow at Edgewater Park stands out among the shoreline as a beloved tree in Cleveland.

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14. A Bench By The Road
The corner of Main and Lorain streets
This bench was created by the Toni Morrison Society to help remember the lives of Africans who were enslaved.

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It’s one of only 20 benches worldwide that are part of the project. Morrison was a Lorain native and Nobel laureate.

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15. The Speakeasy at Quintana's
2200 S. Taylor Road in Cleveland Heights
Go to the back door of the spa, press the buzzer, tell the person on the intercom that you are there to see a man about a horse, the door will open. Go up the stairs and turn right and find a bookshelf. Find the correct book and pull it. Once pulled, the door to the Quintana's Speakeasy will open revealing a 1920s era bar. You're welcome.

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16. Chess collection at Cleveland Public Library
525 Superior Avenue Cleveland
Home to the world's largest chess collection, the third floor of the Cleveland Public Library boasts one-of-a-kind chess sets, unique manuscripts and scorecards from chess greats like Bobby Fischer.

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Some of the chess sets at the world's largest chess collection at the Cleveland Public Library.

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17. Old Stone Church
91 Public Square
You've seen it a million times, but you've never gone inside. Take a tour when it's open.

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18. The Pizza Mural
The corner of West 28th Street and Detroit in Hingetown
A proper mural for one of the nation's great pizza cities.

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19. Mini Statue of Liberty
623 West St. Clair Avenue
Hey, the real Statue of Liberty is great and all, but this one is much easier to get to on a Saturday afternoon.

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20. The Harvey Pekar Statue
2345 Lee Road
Pay your respects at the Cleveland Heights-University Heights library, an old haunt for the local comic book legend.

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21. Veteran's Memorial Bridge Tour
2433 Superior Viaduct in Cleveland.
You've driven it. Now take a tour under the Veteran’s Memorial Bridge where streetcars, tunnels and four original subway tracks still stand as they did in 1917.

Photos: Cleveland residents get inside look at the historic Veterans Memorial Bridge & Subway
Thousands of residents flocked to the Veterans Memorial Bridge & Subway tour on Saturday, August 19.

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22. Polka Hall of Fame
605 E. 222nd Street in Euclid
Yes, there is a Polka Hall of Fame. Of course, it's in the Cleveland area. Then head to the Softball Hall of Fame next door, which, of course, is also in the Cleveland area.

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23. Skyline Overlook Trailhead
West Creek Reservation
Offers a view of Downtown Cleveland all the way from the suburbs.

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24. Chateau Hough
1650 East 66th Street
When life gives you vacant land, you grow grapes and make wine.

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25. Bullet Holes at Great Lakes Brewing Co.
2516 Market Avenue
Bullet holes in a mahogany bar always have a story to tell. The story goes that the bullets were either intended for him or fired by legendary lawman Eliot Ness.

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26. Gardenview Horticultural Park
16711 Pearl Road in Strongsville
Sixteen acres of rare plants and flowers displayed in a natural, cottage-style landscape.

Watch our story.

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27. The Terminal Tower Observation Deck
50 Public Square
A place you can see a bird's-eye view of the city for miles (on a clear day). Click here to schedule a tour.

View from Cleveland's Terminal Tower Observation Deck
View from Cleveland's Terminal Tower Observation Deck
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28. The Percy Skuy Collection of Contraception at Dittrick Medical Center
11000 Euclid Avenue
Maybe don't go on a first date.

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*Due to the pandemic and current renovations, the center is closed. It's scheduled to reopen up sometime in the fall.

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29. Deep Roots Experience
7901 Central Avenue
Located in Cleveland's Fairfax neighborhood, home to the Karamu House (a gem in its own right), where famed poet Langston Hughes' plays were developed, this newly opened art gallery is a staple in the community featuring Black artists.

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30. The USS Cod
1201 N Marginal Road
Tour the last fully intact World War II fleet submarine still in existence that sits on Cleveland’s lakefront.

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The USS Cod is undergoing hull maintenance in Erie, Pennsylvania. She is expected to be gone for six to eight weeks before returning to her home in Cleveland.

RELATED: USS Cod submarine departs Cleveland for first time in 58 years

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31. Worden's Ledges
Wordens Ledges Loop Trail, Hinckley, OH 44233
A series of ledges with faces and other iconography carved into them in the 1940s. Faces include George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and, huh... Ty Cobb.

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32. The Eastman Reading Garden
Rockwell Avenue, Cleveland
Surrounded by public art and trees in the middle of Downtown Cleveland, the reading gardens remain a popular escape from the bustle of downtown to read, relax and lunch.

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33. Observatory Park
10610 Clay Street in Montville
This 1,100-acre park encourages visitors to explore nature from the ground to the galaxy.

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34. Cleveland Convention Center Urban Farm
In the front of the Convention Center right next to the RAPID tracks
A tiny farm, right downtown. Kind of unexpected. Frankly, we need a little more of that.

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35. Mini Guardians of Traffic
Corner of Washington and Center streets in The Flats
The originals are iconic, but did you even know these existed?

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36. The Foundry
1831 Columbus Road
We have this wonderful lake and historic river, and The Foundry connects us to them through rowing and sailing.

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37. Virginia Kendall Ledges Overlook
405 Truxell Road, Peninsula
The overlook is a high point of a two-mile trail that offers breathtaking sunset views. Some mysterious carvings are left behind in rock formations.

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38. Liberty Row
North Park Boulevard near Woodmere Drive
Even after 100 years, a number of Liberty Oaks, living memorials to soldiers who gave their lives during the first World War, still stand.

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39. Sims Park and Lakefront Trail
23131 Lakeshore Blvd.
Edgewater isn't the only lakefront park in town, and this one just added a jogging path to its mansion, beach and fishing pier, with more amenities to come.

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40. Woodland Cemetery
6901 Woodland Avenue
Rich in history, and unlike Lake View Cemetery, far too often overlooked.

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41. Mill Creek Falls
Garfield Heights Reservation
The tallest waterfall in the county, the height and power of its flowing cascades helped Cleveland in becoming a prosperous city.

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42. Negative Space Gallery
1541 E 38th St 2nd floor warehouse, Cleveland
This art gallery is tucked away inside the Asian Town Centre. Next time you're getting your Korean barbecue on, swing by.

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43. Squire's Castle
North Chagrin Metroparks
Are the urban myths true? A lot of history at this must-see spot at the North Chagrin Reservation.

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44. Lolly the Trolley
1101 Winslow Avenue in Cleveland
You may know about it, but many visitors don't. A charming way to get around the city and discover something unexpected.

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45. Buckland Museum of Witchcraft and Magick
2155 Broadview Rd., Cleveland
A witch museum, guys. They've got a demon in a box and everything.

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46. Rocky River Park
20250 Beachcliff Blvd, Rocky River
Worth a visit, even if you live on the east side. It's THAT nice.

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47. Skidmark Garage
5401 Hamilton Ave Cleveland
It's like a community garden, except for motorcycle repair. And also that community garden has a bar and live music.

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Watch our story.

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48. The Red Line Greenway
Michael Zone Recreation Center Park at West 53rd Street
Explore this new, two-mile, paved, all-purpose trail that connects eight Cleveland neighborhoods. It's the Cleveland we've always wanted.

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The Red Line Greenway Trail.

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49. @neorsd
The internet
The pure delightfulness of the NE Ohio Regional Sewer District's Twitter account transcends this list's otherwise earthly bounds.

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50. Junkyard playground
East 83rd Street
Cleveland man Tim Willis turns junk into larger-than-life toys.

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Watch our story.

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51. Hoyt Building
700 W St. Clair Avenue
If you're into delightful atriums, this atrium is a delight.

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52. Cleveland Center of Gravity Mural
Columbus Road
Where Cleveland history and the cosmos intersect.

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53. The Rockefeller Park Greenhouse
750 East 88th Street
This 1905 city-owned greenhouse and park has blossomed into a botanical facility that features globally-inspired gardens, native Ohio plants and tropical exotics.

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The Rockefeller Park Greenhouse.
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54. Henry Church Rock
South Chagrin Reservation
Next to the Chargin River, near what is now a picnic area, artist Henry Church carved Native-American images into what was formerly called "Squaw Rock" in 1885.

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55. Morgana Trail Run
E. 49th Street just north of Fleet Avenue
A rails to trails success story. Connects residents to the Metroparks Garfield Park Reservation, Slavic Village and the county's largest waterfall.

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56. Fort Huntington Park
West 3rd Street and Lakeside Avenue
A surprising patch of green space in the middle of downtown that somehow never became an eyesore parking lot. Offers views of Lake Erie and is home to many statues including Olympic gold medalist Jesse Owens.

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57. Intermuseum Conservation Association
2915 Detroit Avenue
Located in a forgotten space, dedicated to forgotten things, a place where artifacts are saved and history is preserved.

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58. George Masaveg’s art home
3678 East 55th Street
It's eclectic. It's messy. It's wonderfully weird. George turned his home and lawn into his own art collective.

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59. Fairport Harbor Marine Museum and Lighthouse
129 Second Street, Fairport Harbor
Next time you're wine-tasting in Geneva, take a side trip to climb the lighthouse for a view of the harbor. Ask about the ghost cat.

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The Fairport Lighthouse and Museum.

RELATED: The Fairport Harbor Marine Museum and Lighthouse is filled with rich history—and a 'Ghost Cat'

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60. The Fine Arts Garden
11130 East Boulevard
“I know of no other city in which so beautiful a development is located exactly where it can be seen by such large numbers of its population as they pass by in pursuit of their regular daily vocations.” — Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. on the CMA’s Fine Arts Garden, 1927

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61. Cascade Park
387 Furnace Street in Elyria
The West Falls is a must-see.

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62. Sanctuary Museum (Museum of Divine Statues)
12905 Madison Avenue
A makeup artist saved hundreds of statues, stained-glass windows and other Catholic antiquities that would have otherwise been lost forever.

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The Sanctuary Museum.

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63. Superelectric Pinball Parlor
6500 Detroit Avenue in Cleveland
It is exactly what it sounds like.

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64. Whipps Ledges
Hinckley Reservation
Go because it's closer than Hocking Hills. Then swim at the spillway.

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65. Preston's Hope playground
26001 S Woodland Road in Beachwood
Inspired by a little boy born with Spinal Muscular Atrophy. The largest fully accessible playground in Northeast Ohio.

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66. Bust of Nordic Viking explorer Leif Erikson
Located next to 1148 Main Ave.
It's at the base of the jackknife bridge in the smallest park in Cleveland, and it has major Game of Throne vibes. The Cleveland Scandinavian community gathers once a year on Leif Erikson Day for a little toast.

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67. The Trumpet Man
East 118th Street and Buckeye
Created by international sculptor James Simon, the 18-foot Trumpet Man and his dog are permanent greeters at the Buckeye Jazz Festival.

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68. Lake View Cemetery Dam
12316 Euclid Avenue
If you're a Cleveland-phile, take a day and explore all of Lake View. It's worth it.

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69. b.a. Sweeties Candy Company
6770 Brookpark Road
Went viral in early 2021 because it has SO MUCH CANDY.

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70. The Euclid Beach Carousel
10825 East Boulevard
Ride it at the Cleveland History Center, which is an enjoyable visit as well.

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71. Stone Mad Pub Bocce Courts
1306 W 65th Street in Cleveland
Cleveland has some great pubs, and you should visit them all. But this one has an Italian bocce court inside as it attempts to be the most Cleveland of all.

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72. Hessler Court
University Circle
It's the shortest street in Cleveland, at 300 feet, and it's made of wood. A place unlike any other in the city.

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73. Lucy
1 Wade Oval Drive
At the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Lucy is the oldest discovered link to the chain of human evolution. Her skeleton remains on display.

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74. Solstice Steps
14532 Lake Avenue in Lakewood
One of the region's most successful attempts at connecting residents with nature and Lake Erie.

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75. Cozad-Bates House
11508 Mayfield Road in Cleveland
The oldest and only surviving pre-Civil War structure gives Clevelanders a glimpse at the local Underground Railroad.

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76. Grave of Alan Freed
Lake View Cemetery
A jukebox headstone for the Cleveland disc jokey credited with coining the term Rock and Roll.

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77. Heisman House Plaque
3928 Bridge Avenue in Cleveland
Now that the plaque is in front of the correct house, football fans coming to Northeast Ohio for a Browns game or the Hall of Fame can stop and pay homage to one of the game's great innovators.

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78. Mapleside Farms
294 Pearl Road in Brunswick
Go for a sunset concert over the valley.

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79. Ball Ball Waffle
2999 Payne Avenue
Clevelanders don't have to travel to enjoy Hong Kong-style bubble waffles and milk tea. This hole-in-the-wall spot whips out bubble-wrap-shaped waffles.

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80. Towpath Trail
Multiple access points
Spans 87 miles and four counties from Lake Erie to New Philadelphia.

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81. Cleveland Botanical Garden
11030 East Boulevard
An island of green in the concrete jungle.

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82. Shark gallery and seatube
Greater Cleveland Aquarium
Located in the old powerhouse in The Flats. Walk next to, around and under three species of sharks.

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83. Old Arcade
401 Euclid Avenue
You know it. But too many of the city's visitors don't. This 1890 indoor shopping center in an architectural marvel. Grab some Pizza 216 while you're there.

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84. Cleveland Orchestra at Blossom Music Center
1145 W Steels Corners Road in Cuyahoga Falls
Two local favorites get together every summer.

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85. Children's Museum
3813 Euclid Avenue
It's not so much a museum as a play space. Tons of things for kids to do. Located in an old Millionaire Row home.

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86. Heinen's Downtown
900 Euclid Avenue
Where historic preservation meets (meats?) lunch. Everyone should lunch there at least once. Or once a week, if you work downtown.

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87. Brewboat Cleveland
Whiskey Island
The most fun but not sober way possible to experience the Cuyahoga River.

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88. The Chagrin Falls Popcorn Shop
53 N Main Street in Chagrin Falls
Stocked with local treats, in the heart of Chagrin Falls, an idyllic little village to bring the family -- or a date.

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89. Ingenuity Cleveland
5401 Hamilton Avenue in Cleveland
Art collective made up of about 60-80 artists in the very grunge/half abandoned but beautiful Hamilton building. The home to Ingenuity Festival and Brite Winter. Anyone can volunteer to help build exhibits for Ingenuity Fest as well as submitting applications to be a resident artist.

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90. Annual monarch migration
2800 Whiskey Island Drive
Witness a natural phenomenon every September at Cleveland's Wendy Park. There's a short window to see this rare event so keep an eye out for the announcement from the Cleveland Metroparks.

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Monarch butterflies make a stop at Cleveland's Wendy Park.

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And now the final 10, as chosen by our viewers...

91. Goodtime III
825 East 9th Street, Cleveland
Cleveland’s largest sightseeing ship received -- by far -- the most submissions from readers. If you’ve never been, you’re missing out.

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92. Gravity Hill
King Memorial Road, north of Little Mountain Road, Kirtland Hills
It looks like it goes uphill, but cars roll downhill. Wha? Here's a look from 2014 when Leon Bibb covered it for News 5.


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93. Viaduct Park
Bedford Reservation
This small Bedford park offers plenty to see: the river, waterfalls, ruins, a short trail, wildflowers and trains.

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94. Amherst Veteran’s Mural
248 Park Avenue, Amherst
This is awesome. And there's more. You have to see it.

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95. Towpath Mounds
Towpath Trail in Tremont
The Towpath Trail is a gem in and of itself, but viewers were adamant about including this gem inside a gem -- offering sweeping views of the city, which Plain Dealer reporter Steven Litt poetically described as being, “about the magic of place, not getting from one place to another.”

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96. NELA Holiday Lights Display
1901 Noble Road, East Cleveland
It’s not Christmas in Cleveland without it.

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97. Brandywine Falls
8176 Brandywine Rd, Northfield
A boardwalk leads visitors to an up-close view of a majestic 65-foot waterfall located in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

It’s a sight to see all year round, offering different views depending on the season.

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98. Azure rooftop bar at The 9
2017 E. 9th Street The 9 - Level 12, Cleveland
A place to admire the city’s skyline, day or night.

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99. Lakefront Nature Preserve
8701 Lakeshore Blvd, Cleveland
You’ve driven by it on 90, but have you ever stopped and looked around? This preserve is a birdwatcher’s dream.

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100. Baseball Heritage Museum
6601 Lexington Avenue, Cleveland

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With a baseball field on the premises where League Park once stood, the Baseball Heritage Museum (free admission) is another must-see for sports fans who live in Cleveland or are visiting town.

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RELATED: 15 Things to do in Cleveland if you just moved here or are visiting for the first time

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