Northeast Ohio, with its four distinct seasons, provides residents of the area with a plethora of activities running the gamut from hiking to the opera. To the north of the region is Lake Erie, one of the U.S.’s five great lakes. Lake Erie provides an excellent outlet for fishers, boaters, and swimmers. This waterway, coupled with miles of rivers, streams and wooded areas, offer outdoor sportsmen all types of seasonal activities such as skiing, hunting, hiking and camping. The region is also populated with a number of parks, all of which are in easy driving distance of the major metropolitan areas. Foremost among these is the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, the third most visited national park in the country.
Northeast Ohio is at the forefront of the national and international movement to connect communities with accessible open spaces or greenways. Greenways are defined (Marsh, 2006) as linear open spaces established along either a natural corridor, such as a riverfront, stream valley, or ridgeline, or overland along a railroad right-of-way converted to recreational use, a canal, a scenic road, or other route. They include any natural or landscaped course for pedestrian or bicycle passage, open-space connectors linking parks, nature reserves, cultural features, or historic sites with each other and with populated areas; and locally, certain strip or linear parks designated as a parkway or greenbelt. Northeast Ohio participates in Ohio Greenways a project established to research greenway issues, to educate Ohioans on the vast benefits of greenways, to provide technical assistance to greenway projects and to devise strategies to expand greenway development in Ohio.
The region also has a long history in sports of all kinds ranging from the amateur to the professional level. The area boasts of three major sports teams, the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Cleveland Browns, the Cleveland Indians, and a number of minor league teams in baseball, hockey, basketball, and soccer. Golf is a very popular sport in the region with numerous private and public golf courses available. Each year the area hosts at least one international level professional golf tournament, such as the Bridgestone Invitational at the world renowned Firestone Country Club in Akron.
Along with the more traditional sporting events, the region also provides a venue for such annual events as the Grand Prix of Cleveland and the All American Soap Box Derby in Akron. During the past few years the region has also been able to attract special events such as the Dew (Extreme) Games, Special Olympics, NCAA Basketball Women’s Final Four and Men’s Regional tournaments, and FIFA level professional soccer exhibition matches for its residents’ enjoyment.
At the same time, the region also offers a complete gamut of amateur sports activities at both the individual and club levels. Numerous leagues and venues are available to all ages and genders. One can participate in the more traditional sports such as swimming, basketball, baseball (softball), football or soccer, or in a variety of less traditional sports such as rugby and hurling. It is common for children to participate in a number of sports starting around the age of five and continue to be athletically active through their senior years.
The region is also home to a number of internationally known museums and halls of fame. Among these are the Cleveland Museum of Art, the newly renovated and expanded Akron Art Museum, the Butler Art Institute, Cleveland Museum of Natural History, and the Canton Museum of Art. Along with this, the region is also the home of the Professional Football Hall of Fame (Canton), the National Inventors’ Hall of Fame (Akron), the Great Lakes Science Center (Cleveland) and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (Cleveland). Within each of the communities in the region are a number of local and national historical sites that are easily accessible from all locations in the region.
Lastly, Northeast Ohio is home to the Cleveland Orchestra, considered to be one of the top orchestras in the world. The Akron Symphony and Canton Symphony, as well as numerous other local symphonies, orchestras, and ensemble groups, are well received throughout the area. In the area of performing arts and theater, the Playhouse Square Center in Cleveland, with its multiple venues, is the second-largest performing arts center in the country behind New York's Lincoln Center. Performances in these facilities regularly range from Broadway musicals to the Cleveland Opera, the Ohio Ballet and the Great Lakes Theater Festival to name just a few. Smaller, but very similar, facilities abound throughout the area, such as the E.J. Thomas Performing Arts Hall in Akron. These venues provide their residents with year-round entertainment ranging from local productions to international events.