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 Travel Article Travel Article Archive  
April 2010 Email this to a friend

This former industrial powerhouse remains an important cultural and gay center.

By Staff reports

Bounce, Columbus
Dancer at Bounce

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NOTE: This is an archive article. For an updated and expanded article click DailyXtraTravel

When contemplating a waterfront getaway, don't overlook Cleveland. True, if you're seeking palm trees you'll have to follow the Indians to their baseball spring training headquarters in Arizona. Other than that, you can have it all in this cosmopolitan city on 'America's North Coast.'

The community took the name of General Moses Cleveland, who surveyed the region then known as Western Reserve in 1796. He laid the plans for Public Square, still the city center, on the bluffs above the Cuyahoga River. The first settlements, however, were down in 'the Flats,' an area that later became the source of great wealth when John D Rockefeller chose it as the location of his first refinery, launching the Standard Oil empire. The steel mills that followed further filled the city's coffers and attracted multitudes of workers.

One legacy of this golden era was pollution--which has been mostly cleaned up. The other is a world-class arts scene. Cleveland can boast a large and serious theater district, a ballet, an opera, and a symphony. The Cleveland Museum of Art has over 40,000 works covering 6,000 years of civilization, and the Museum of Contemporary Art houses another impressive collection. The Cleveland International Film Festival has screened interesting new films since1977.

Immigrants left their mark with cuisine and festivals that celebrate Italian, Greek, Irish and Slavic cultures. The city boasts beautifully restored period buildings in neighborhoods like Ohio City to Shaker Heights. Other intriguing enclaves include Cleveland Heights; University Circle, home to the Museum of Art, the Museum of Natural History and the Botanical Garden; and Lakewood, with its many stores, cafes and restaurants, and more than a few gay households.


Like many great industrial cities, Cleveland began to rust in the 1970s. Since then, new institutions such as the Rock and Roll Museum and the Science Museum have helped energize the waterfront. Downtown has been revitalized with modern towers, and the warehouse districts above the Flats are once again flourishing.

Gays have had a major role in Cleveland's rebirth. Ohio City, once an independent township on the west bank of the Cuyahoga River, is now home to many gay bars, restaurants and The Club bathhouse.

The new Cleveland is exemplified by the city's two gay bathhouses, which are both flagships of their national chains. The Club, one of the finest of its kind in the world, had barely put the finishing touches on its new facility when Flex Cleveland began renovating a former bus terminal on the East Side. Flex emerged as a huge facility with luxury accommodations, pools, saunas, and cafes.

Much of Cleveland gay nightlife takes place on or within a few blocks of the long stretch of Detroit Avenue from Lakewood to the Cayahoga River, with other notables to the east of downtown on St Clair and Hamilton Avenues.


To stay at Bourbon House (6116 Franklin Blvd; 216-939-0535) is experience a turn of the 20th Century neighborhood life in a grand house on Millionaires Row. Serene, antique-filled with formal breakfast settings, and welcoming fireplace it aspires to be comfortable and casual here too. Breakfast is served 'til later hours on weekends for those staying out late.

Clifford House (1810 West 28th; 216-589-0121), a Queen Anne-style brick beauty,is a comfortable Ohio City B&B within walking distance of restaurants and bars. There's easy access to downtown as well.

At the west end of the Shoreway, Greystone B&B (10405 Lake; 216-939-0405) is near Edgewater Park on Lake Erie, with direct highway access to downtown.

Stone Gables B&B (3806 Franklin Blvd; 216-961-4654) is a five guestroom Ohio City gem with plush comforts, gourmet breakfasts and a location that's perfect to access local restaurants, gay clubs and all downtown attractions.

Click HERE for additional Cleveland hotel options.

West side bars

Bottoms Up (1572 W 117th St) fills the gap for the young dance crowd after the Grid closed, with Thursday Boy Bar strippers, drag shows, Latin Wednesdays, and special parties such as underwear nights.

Cocktails Cleveland (9208 Detroit) has a welcoming clubhouse feel. It has karaoke, movie nights, strippers and a smoking patio. Their leather bar Daddy's with a required dress code on Saturdays, is less strict on Fridays.

Man's World (2909 Detroit) is a big complex of gay bars, restaurants and shops. The three bars are decked out post-industrial salvage style: A Man's World, open daily from 7am (Sunday at noon) with free 2pm Sunday hot dog buffets; the Shed, daily from 7pm with pool tables and Sunday country/western dancing; and the weekend nights downstairs Crossover bar for leather/uniform and fetish men.
Burton's BBQ (1432 W 29th) serves dinner ribs, chops and chicken, sandwiches and sides, and ice cream too.
Ohio City Cafe & Grille (1406 W 29th St) open daily, Sundays from 8am, all others from 7am, has breakfast/brunch, soups, salads, dinner and snacks. The Dean Rufus House of Fun store is here too. See under shopping below.

Twist (11633 Clifton), a bar and comfortable basement cocktail lounge with some of the area's best DJs. Twist is gay party-central with their summertime sidewalk tables, expecially during Dancing in the Streets, and the Clifton Arts & Musicfest events.

Union Cleveland (2814 Detroit) draws crowds with its music videos and gay TV. They also serve dinner and snacks, and have pool tables, karaoke and all-male revues.
Attached here is the nightclub Bounce (2814 Detroit) with weekend dancing, blackout and steam parties, porn star guest appearances, women's nights and drag shows.

Other west-side watering holes include: Hush (11633 Lorain) formerly the Apex, popular with locals; Argos (2032 West 25th), a sports bar with strippers; Five Cent Decision (4365 State), with a mixed crowd; Hawk (11217 Detroit), a men's bar; and Muggs (3194 West 25th), a neighborhood showbar.

Further west, along the Lake Erie shore, Club X-Centricities (306 W Water), a neighborhood bar in Sandusky, is open nightly with internet access, weekend dancing, and Sunday talent shows.

Downtown and East Side bars

Leather Stallion Saloon (2205 E St Clair) is a long-time favorite for drinking, cruising, leather and bear club events. DJs play everything from disco to country.

Mean Bull (1313 E 26th St) dance club and lounge attached to the Flex bathhouse and hotel complex with music from top DJs, great shows and hot dancers.

At various locations around the city Gay Guys Happy Hour is a third-Friday monthly event when 300 or so men convene at otherwise straight clubs. See their website for events and venues.


See above A Man's Country complex for their two restaurants, Burton's BBQ and Ohio City Cafe.

The strong suit at the gay-friendly Happy Dog (5801 Detroit Ave) is their hot dogs and veggie sausages, with a huge range of toppings, plus falafel, tater tots and fries. They have live music Fridays through Sundays, and serve over 75 kinds of beer, including two dozen on tap.

Union Cleveland (2814 Detroit) serves daily from 5pm for dinner, and Sunday for brunch. Get online here, play some pool, or watch music videos and queer TV to your hearts content.

The Nautica Queen offers dinner cruises on Lake Erie and the Cayahoga River.

Click HERE for more area restaurants, and see Ohiocity.com for their good restaurant listings section.

Saunas & playgrounds

Few cities have anything to rival the city's two bathhouses. Each has been around for more than 40 years, but they have completely updated their facilities. Both offer state-of-the-art gyms, indoor swimming pools, media rooms, saunas, steamrooms, and whirlpools. Always open for men 18 and over, they have free and secure parking. Check their websites for special deals.

Club Cleveland (3219 Detroit) has an indoor solarium and a very private sun deck overlooking Lake Erie. On Sunday at 6pm there's a complimentary buffet.

Flex Cleveland (2600 Hamilton) features the world's largest bathhouse hotel, with 16 quiet rooms and 18 suites with private bath. It also offers an all-weather outdoor pool, massage rooms, and a cafe.

On stage

Playhouse Square has seven stages with offerings second only to New York by number of productions.
Beck Center in Lakewood will have summer events and a 2009-10 schedule to include Fiddler on the Roof, Peter Pan, and Is He Dead?, a comedy by Mark Twain.
For Opera Cleveland productions in Playhouse Square see Operacleveland.org.
For fine music, there's the Cleveland Orchestra (11001 Euclid Ave), and the Cleveland Chamber Symphony (1125 Magnolia Dr).


The Cleveland Museum of Art has over 40,000 works covering 6,000 years of civilization.
The Museum of Contemporary Art houses an impressive collection.
New institutions such as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Science Museum are on the waterfront.
You'll find the Museum of Natural History and the Botanical Garden in the University Circle district.

Resources & information

The Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Community Center of Greater Cleveland at 6600 Detroit Avenue is open from 1-8pm Mondays through Thursdays.

From the airport

From Cleveland Hopkins International (CTE) there are public transit buses, and a 30-minute RTA Red Line service to downtown. Taxis, Hotel Shuttles and rental cars are other travel options.


A first stop for gay visitors, Body Language (11424 Lorain at West 115th) has gay magazines, books, gifts and erotic items. Open late.

Dean Rufus House of Fun (1422 West 29th at Detroit), within the Man's World complex, has designer clothing and accessories, DVDs and toys. Open late.

Famous offspring
Screen stars Bob Hope and Paul Newman were raised in the Cleveland area. The comics and cartoons of R Crumb and Bill Waterson (the latter of Calvin & Hobbs fame), and works by '60s counterculture poet DA Levy were penned here. Superman originated in Cleveland with 1932 collaborations of Jerry Siegel and Canadian Joe Shuster. Musicians Pere Ubu, Tracy Chapman, Nine Inch Nails, Filter, Rude Boys & Bone Thugs-n-Harmony were also spawned by Cleveland.

Events planner

Cleveland Pride 2010
June 26, 2010, parade on W 3rd to E 9th by way of W Lakeside followed by rally

Clifton Arts and Music Festival
Summertime celebration of high and low culture
June 19, 2010, Clifton Boulevard

North Coast Men's Chorus
Devalicious! at Waetjen Auditiorium, CSU
June 19-20, 2010

Cleveland Black Pride

Dancing in the Streets
Gorgeous guys throng the closed-off blocks of Clifton Boulevard
Last Sunday in August

April/May 2011
Cleveland Leather Awareness Weekend
Vendor mart, fetish parties, and workshops
April 28-May 1, 2011


Mingle with students and factory workers in this well-planned city.
Though not far from Cleveland, Akron has its own vibrant gay scene that attracts many men who live in the suburbs between the two cities. Students from the University of Akron and Kent State mix with young workers from the gigantic Goodyear plant in this tidy, well-planned city spread over several hills.

The Parkside Male Residential Hotel (1431 S Main St; 330-724-1800) has 15 fully-furnished rooms and six shared bathrooms in the Firestone Park area, just minutes from downtown. Three home-cooked meals are served each day in the dining room and they have a fitness area, tanning facilities, plus gay movie nights in the surround-sound theatre area, and other special events.

Three general-public hotels close to everything include: Best Western Executive Inn (2677 Gilchrist Road; 330 794-1050); Comfort Inn Akron (2873 S Arlington Rd; 330 645-1100 ); and Red Roof Inn Akron South (2939 S Arlington Rd; 800 843-9999), right off the I-77 exit 120 ramp.

Bars & clubs

Adams Street / Pecs (77 N Adams) opens nightly with something for everyone from college boys to leathermen. There are piano bar sing-alongs, a dance club, strippers, drag shows and country nights.

Cocktails (1009 S Main) hosts strippers nightly. The upstairs bar, Daddy's, is Akron's Levi, leather and fetish bar with a Saturday night dress code.

Interbelt (70 N Howard) is a sprawling dance club of many years, with a mixed, young, energetic crowd, and plenty of events to bring 'em in from far and wide Square (820 W Market) is a neighborhood bar in Highland Square.

Open daily, Tear-EZ (360 S Main) is Akron's downtown gay neighborhood institution that always manages to make out-of-towners feel truly welcome. Here too there's 'always a show, but never a cover charge.'

Roseta Club (627 S Arlington) women's bar welcomes all, and they're home to the Rubber City Royals entourage of drag kings who perform here.

Two more recent arrivals on the mixed gay/straight scene include: the Office (778 N Main St) with bistro food and cocktail lounge; and Angel Falls (792 W Market St), a gay-owned coffee shop specializing in the finest Venezuelan beans with a variety of flavors.

A little to the south in Canton, Crew (304 Cherry Ave NE) is a dance club and show bar.

Still further down Interstate 77, Circle JJ Ranch (1104 Amsterdam Rd, Scio; 330-627-3101) is a gay tents or RV campground with lodge rooms and cabins, heated pool, spa and nightclub. It's open April through October.

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