Attending Health Journalism 2016? Go for a walk in Cleveland

road-to-cleveland-2Cleveland boasts what may be the most compact downtown area of any major city conference attendees are likely to visit. If you think “walkability” is the new “in” thing for urban areas, then you’re sure to enjoy Cleveland.

As a long-time and appreciative habitué of Cleveland’s downtown, I’m going to recommend several sites that are well worth a visit on foot. Some are more than a stroll from the conference sites, more like a healthy walk for folks in reasonable health and attuned to physical activity, but do-able.

Let me start with sites hard-by the convention center, which is hosting the conference on Friday and Saturday. Many of these sites are also available to convention-goers a bit farther away at the Thursday and Sunday site, the Marriott Hotel at Key Center at Public Square.

Only a block north of the convention center, on the lakeside, is the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame and neighboring Great Lakes Science Center. Both are excellent museums and, in the case of the R&R, unique in the United States. Another (huge) neighbor is FirstEnergy Stadium, site of much weeping and gnashing of teeth for Cleveland Browns fans. You can also take in the Cleveland Harbor area nearby which, while it’s no Baltimore Harbor Place, offers pleasant views of Lake Erie.

A few blocks to the west and south are topflight dining establishments. I’m no foodie but do enjoy a great steak or piece of fish, so I’d recommend Johnny’s, the Blue Point Grille, Brasa and Hyde Park (near the city’s new casinos), all a reasonable walk away. There are several other top-flight restaurants in the so-called Warehouse District with which I’m not as familiar.

A bit further south across some wide and recently upgraded center city plazas (Public Square) is Terminal Tower, the major multilevel shopping mall serving Cleveland downtown. The classic high-rise, built in the 1920s, sits atop Cleveland’s train station, and offers a surprisingly cozy shopping experience in its lower levels.

A few blocks still further south brings you to Progressive Field, home of the Cleveland Indians, and Quicken Loans Arena, where one of Cleveland’s really good teams, the Cleveland Cavaliers, plays. At conference time, both they and the Indians will be in-season, although only the Indians, playing the Boston Red Sox, will be in-town that weekend (Thursday, April 7).

If you’re not a sports fan and don’t want to walk to those sites, head eastward on Euclid Avenue for Playhouse Square, the largest equity theater district west of Broadway (this side of Seattle, anyway). Playhouse Square boasts four large and ornate theaters, one of them offering “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical,” that weekend.

A couple caveats: To repeat, Cleveland blocks are not tiny, so these trips could prove to be respectable walks, qualifying indeed as exercise—not a bad thing for those of us spending all day sitting around in conference venues.

Second, while those blocks are safe, they are not as lively as they could be—Cleveland’s rapidly growing urban area is still developing the interstitial shopping and other attractions that more densely developed cities offer routinely.

Finally, for the more adventurous who want to go across-town but still don’t want to Uber, taxi or drive, Cleveland has a brand new east-west trolley. It’s called the HealthLine, and it takes you (appropriately enough) to the city’s major health care institutions, the Cleveland Clinic and Case Western Reserve University Medical Center. Across Euclid Avenue from CWRU resides Severance Hall, home of the Cleveland Orchestra (offering an all-Bartok concert that weekend) and, a little further north, the Cleveland Museum of Art (free) and, for classic automobile and aircraft fanciers, the Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum. Also nearby are the Cleveland Museum of Natural History and the Cleveland Botanical Gardens.

In short, you can go just about anywhere you want to in Cleveland on foot (strategically abetted by trolley) — an experience unlikely to be duplicated by any other urban conference venue you’ll visit in this country.

So, enjoy Cleveland! I know I do.

Here is a map showing these highlights and more.

The Road to Cleveland

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