My son Joey loves his guitar. When he’s not playing it, he’s listening to classic rock or trying to master the drums or looking for someone to play bass with him. He begged to go to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and there we found that elusive outing that keeps teens happy.
Cleveland’s main attraction, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (pictured above), draws fans from around the world. The day we attended, baby boomers dominated the crowd, but the site appeals to nearly all ages, thanks to legends like Elvis and the Beatles, and inductees ranging from Abba to Rush, Run D.M.C to The Dave Clark Five, and the Beastie Boys to Diana Ross.
I especially enjoyed Mystery Train, a 12-minute film (the hall offers several movies) that recounts the beginnings of rock-’n’-roll with its origins in gospel music and rockabilly. The kids dragged me away from the theater showcasing Dick Clark’s American Bandstand, but we all enjoyed The Hall of Fame Film, 1986-2013, chronicling all the Hall of Fame inductees on three screens with music, interviews and film clips.
Along the way, Joey insisted that we snap pictures of nearly every guitar on display. I also took shots of stage costumes, iconic memorabilia like Michael Jackson’s sequined glove, and revelatory items like the sketches of Jimmy Hendrix, but I couldn’t quite capture the bigger than life sculptures of Pink Floyd’s The Wall.
Hungry, we got into the food service line which, unfortunately, is a dining experience that will never win Hall of Fame accolades. Tiny portions, big prices and slim pickings that got slimmer as the kitchen supply diminished.
We should have eaten at our next stop — the Great Lakes Science Center — also located at Cleveland’s North Coast Harbor. It houses a café with kids’ meals, soups, salads, sandwiches, pizzas and weekly specials. Lesson learned.
Of course, we learned plenty of lessons on our tour of the Science Center, one of the nation’s leading science and technology destinations. Our adventure began at the NASA Glenn Visitor Center where we launched rockets, squeezed into a model of the Mercury Space capsule and even tried to fly a model aircraft (without much success). The BioMed Tech area held less interest for us, but we had a ball on the Science Phenomena Floor. Only a few of the exhibits didn’t function; plenty remained in working order. We played harps without strings, explored stereo sound and felt sound vibrations. Weather exhibits taught us about storms and tornados. I failed at a balancing station and nearly got stuck in a simulated hang glide ride. We took turns learning the speed of our fastball pitches and discovered that my reaction time lags well behind that of my kids’. The Science Center also features an Omnimax Theater, a Polymer Fun House for visitors ages 7 and younger, and a restored historic Great Lakes freighter.
While the steam ship was closed the day we visited, we discovered more about the Great Lakes and the creatures that live there at the Greater Cleveland Aquarium. In addition to aquatic life native to the lakes and rivers of Ohio, the aquarium includes fish from all over the world. We had special fun with a fish who seemed to follow our every move, and with the stingrays that we could pet. Our favorite part, though, was the Shark SeaTube filled with sharks, eels, groupers, and more. The tube and other displays take full advantage of the aquarium’s unique building – the historic First Energy Powerhouse. This setting allows visitors to enjoy not only sea creatures, but also the experience of being inside authentic coal tunnels and spying through chimneys more than 100 years old.
Later this month, Cleveland will celebrate another historic building, A Christmas Story House. Friday and Saturday, November 29 and 30, the city hosts a 30th anniversary A Christmas Story convention. Get autographs from original cast members, see theatrical performances of the show, and try not to “shoot your eye out” at the BB gun range located in the back yard of the house, now restored to its “movie splendor” and filled with original props, costumes and memorabilia from the beloved holiday film.
where to go
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum
1100 Rock and Roll Blvd. • 216-781-7625
Great Lakes Science Center
(Downtown, Northcoast Harbor)
601 Erie Side Ave. • 216-694-2000 • glsc.org
Greater Cleveland Aquarium
2000 Sycamore St. • 216-862-8803
A Christmas Story House
3159 W 11th St. • 216-298-4919