In the late 1990s and early 2000s, funny man and Cleveland native Drew Carey opened his eponymous television sitcom running through the streets of his hometown as he and his co-stars sang along to the tune “Cleveland Rocks.” Visit there and you might realize he was onto something.
The city boasts a lively downtown dining and entertainment scene, to say nothing of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum and three professional sports teams all within the central business district. For more highfalutin’ culture, check out the sprawling Cleveland Museum of Art, which has free admission.
So how in the world do you get to Cleveland without spending a day catching connecting flights? Glad you asked. In February, Will Rogers World Airport expanded its nonstop flight options, including a daily United Airlines flight between Oklahoma City and Cleveland.
For all heads, Deadhead and otherwise, Cleveland is home to The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, which chronicles rock ’n’ roll from its roots in Southern blues and gospel through the hottest acts of the last 60 years.
Stop in and say hello to fellow Oklahomans Charlie Christian and Woody Guthrie, both of whom are featured as early influences.
Some might be more excited than others at things like the black dress Stevie Nicks wore on the cover of Fleetwood Mac’s 1977 album Rumours. And the first two typewritten pages of Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas are on display in an exhibit highlighting Rolling Stone magazine.
Exhibits dedicated to rock ’n’ roll giants like The Who have plenty in the way of guitars and clothing from throughout their career — even Keith Moon’s smoking jacket. Oh, if that jacket could talk, the stories it could tell or barely remember.
To fully appreciate the seven-level museum, set aside three to four hours. The Beatles artifacts alone are worth the $22 admission. It features a wall of mementos from John Lennon’s Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band uniform to handwritten lyrics for Fab Four classics.
Recent inductees are featured in a special hall, along with various gear and memorabilia.
A Christmas Story year-round
While Christmas might be the last thing on your mind right now, read on if your Yuletide season just isn’t the same without an official Red Ryder carbine-action 200-shot range-model air rifle. Cleveland is home to Ralphie’s house in 1983’s A Christmas Story. A man named Brian Jones purchased it on eBay in 2004 and spent the next two years lovingly restoring the place to how it appeared in the movie.
For fans of the film, there’s no mistaking the house at 3159 W. 11th, a slender, two-story mustard-yellow affair with green trim. The famous leg lamp — the Old Man’s “major award” — serves as a beacon in the front window to welcome visitors. Inside, the crate with a leg as seen upon delivery sits in the entryway.
Since it was a private residence for years, Angela Dickerson, the home’s chief of operations, said many of the props inside — from that lascivious lamp to Ralphie’s BB gun — are replicas. The furniture has been matched as closely as possible to the film, although the living room couches do sit on the rug from the movie.
On average, Dickerson said about 30,000 people tour the house each year.
“It has turned into way more than anyone expected,” she said.
To see A Christmas Story’s old Higbee’s department store, head downtown. It is now the Horseshoe Casino Cleveland. The multilevel casino looks little like the old store, but the original plaques with “The Higbee Company” are still on the corner of the building.
But please, if you decide to act out any scenes from that beloved movie, just be careful with Ralphie’s air rifle. Otherwise, you’ll shoot your eye out.