At the spot where the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland feeds into Lake Erie, you’ll find boats bustling, couples enjoying a meal on the water and concert-goers singing along to the sounds of live music. This area, a lowland aptly named The Flats, has been an important part of the city since its discovery by Moses Cleveland in 1796.
Once an integral part of Cleveland’s industrial economy, The Flats have had an historic comeback. From a past of housing steel mills to this complete riverfront revival, the Cuyahoga’s rebound now serves as an example for cities across America on how to modernize historic, industrial areas and attract new visitors.
Nearly $1 billion has been put into the redevelopment of the waterfront, complete with residential buildings, trendy hotels, food & drink, the extension of the Towpath Trail, and entertainment options. Business is booming and tourists, residents and passers through are flocking to the beautiful waterfront.
Here are a few things you need to check out if you’re visiting The Flats.
Alley Cat is known for its extensive list of oysters and its large selection of wines, but it’s a favorite for more than just seafood-lovers and wine enthusiasts. The restaurant serves lunch and dinner every day of the week. On Saturdays and Sundays, they also serve brunch with a twist, with Crab Benedict, lobster omelets and a Bloody Mary bar complete with some off-the-wall fixin’s. Alley Cat has some of the best views of the riverfront in The Flats, making it a popular destination for wedding receptions and events.
FWD brings an air of exclusivity to The Flats East Bank, offering guests the chance to relax in a great spot overlooking the water. FWD offers a pool with great views of the river, cabanas to enjoy, a full menu of food and bottle service options, and live music at all times. At night, it’s time to ditch your bathing suit to don your finest attire and dance to the sounds of electronic and house DJs under flashing lights. A day at FWD will leave you feeling like you’re vacationing somewhere tropical.
Music Box Supper Club on the West Bank of the Flats is a live music and dining destination for visitors of all ages. The building offers two stages—a downstairs Supper Club and an upstairs Concert Hall and finer restaurant (Rusty Anchor). The venue hosts jazz nights, punk bands, banjo players and country singers. Be sure to check the schedule so you know what you’re walking into—or don’t, and go for the surprise.
Some of the biggest names in music perform at Jacobs Pavilion between Memorial Day and Labor Day each year. This open-air theater is fit for 5,000 concert-goers, making it one of the three largest venues in the city after Quicken Loans Arena and the Wolstein Center. In the Summer of 2017 alone, artists such as the Goo Goo Dolls, Travis Scott, Third Eye Blind and Logic all graced the stage to sold-out crowds along the riverfront.
The Greater Cleveland Aquarium inspires curiosity in all ages by exposing its visitors to vibrant and captivating aquatic creatures. Located in a 70,000 square foot powerhouse built in 1892, visitors can view octopuses, touch stingrays, meet African tortoises, discover seahorses and much more in any of the aquarium’s 50 exhibits. Check out the 170-foot SeaTube, an immersive scene where spectators are surrounded by sharks, eels, fish and stingrays. Cleveland took an historic building and outfitted it with a new purpose. The aquarium draws crowds young and old throughout the year.
Great Lakes Watersports wants you to enjoy what The Flats are really all about: getting out on the water. Offering power boats, jet skis and kayak rentals by the hour, you can cruise along the river, enjoy up-close views of the skyline or go for a spin on Lake Erie. Experience is not necessary—they’ll provide you with the safety equipment and instructions you need for a great time!