Northeast Ohio: Pleasure ranges from simple to sophisticated

The beaches on the Lake Erie waterfront are fun places to cool off from the summer heat.
The beaches on the Lake Erie waterfront are fun places to cool off from the summer heat.

There might be no space in all of Ohio more elegant than the new, light-filled atrium of the Cleveland Museum of Art. The museum, founded in 1913, has just completed a stunning eight-year, $320 million expansion and renovation. And though there is much to love about the entire museum, the atrium — the city’s newest gathering place — tops the list, with its dramatic skylights, marble walls, and wood-and-steel accents.

Seeing Cleveland’s cultural grand dame updated with 21st-century style should top any traveler’s to-do list in northeastern Ohio this summer. But there’s more — much more. From the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum to the rolling hills of Amish country, this area of the state offers a diversity of attractions, from city sophistication to simple living.

Here are 10 can’t-miss sites:

● Cleveland Museum of Art, 11150 East Blvd., Cleveland (Cuyahoga County)

The museum is now one-third larger than it was, allowing for the display of art in a more open and inviting atmosphere. All the favorites, including the Egyptian galleries, the Armor Court, and the Impressionist paintings, are still here. But don’t miss Gallery One, the new high-tech, family-friendly space that features playful interactions with top pieces of art. 216-421-7350, 1-888-262-0033,

● Tremont neighborhood, Cleveland (Cuyahoga County)

There are a dozen cool neighborhoods in Cleveland that are worth exploring. But Tremont, just southwest of downtown, is probably the coolest, with dozens of galleries, shops, and terrific restaurants. This is also where you’ll find the Christmas Story House (3159 W. 11th St.), a small museum devoted to the 1983 movie. Parts of the movie were filmed in the Victorian-era home.,

● Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, 1100 Rock and Roll Blvd., Cleveland (Cuyahoga County)

This is the attraction for which Cleveland is best-known — and with good reason. The hall, open since 1995, draws close to half a million music fans every year. New this year: a special exhibit which traces the evolution of the music festival, from swing performances in the late 1930s to Woodstock to Live Aid.

● Cuyahoga Valley National Park (Summit and Cuyahoga counties)

Ohio’s only national park has something for everyone: 125 miles of hiking trails; a 20-mile stretch of the Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trail that’s terrific for biking; plus concerts, train rides, overnight inns, and more.

New this year: the Canal Exploration Center in Valley View, with interactive exhibits that explain the region’s canal-era history. Perhaps the park’s best feature is its accessibility — 33,000 acres between Cleveland and Akron, in Summit and Cuyahoga counties, easily reached from the Ohio Turnpike, I-77, and Ohio 8.

● Lake Erie beaches (Lake County)

Two of Lake Erie’s best beaches sit side by side in Lake County, east of Cleveland: mile-long Headlands Beach State Park, the biggest strand in the state, and Fairport Harbor Lakefront Beach Park, with kayaks and paddle boards to rent, plus a popular dog-swim area. Alas, the two parks, although next to each other, are separated by the Grand River — so you can’t walk from one to the other.;

● Northeastern Ohio wine country (Ashtabula County)

The far corner of northeastern Ohio is the state’s best-known wine region, with two dozen wineries dotting the landscape just south of the Lake Erie shore. Take a tour, try some samples, have dinner — you can even stay overnight at a winery. And coming in June: Pairings, a new wine-tasting and culinary center in Geneva.

● Amish country (Holmes County)

There’s more to do in Holmes County than shopping and eating. Begin your tour at the Amish & Mennonite Heritage Center in Berlin, which features the Behalt cyclorama, a mural in the round chronicling the centuries-long history of the church. Afterward, take a tour of the countryside, stopping for lunch at an Amish house, a buggy ride, or some browsing at an Amish-owned business. In the evening, check out the Amish Country Theater, 3149 Rt. 39, Walnut Creek, home of the variety shows Buggy Fever and Funny Side Up; or Theater at Carlisle Inn, 4949 Walnut St., Walnut Creek, where The Confession will be playing this summer.

● Wooster (Wayne County)

For small-town charm with big-city sophistication, you can’t beat Wooster, population 26,000 and the Wayne County seat. There are great restaurants, a quaint downtown square with numerous shops to browse, several terrific places to stay overnight, plus the Ohio Light Opera, which will launch its 36th season on June 14 with My Fair Lady.

● Mohican State Park/Mohican River Valley (Ashland and Knox counties)

For stunning natural beauty, Ohio doesn’t offer much better than the Mohican region, which stretches through Ashland and Knox counties. Known as the canoe capital of Ohio, Mohican also offers hiking, horseback riding, zip-line riding, mountain biking, and more. The center of the region is Mohican State Park, with 186 campsites and a 96-room park lodge.,

● Pro Football Hall of Fame, 2121 George Halas Dr. N.W., Canton (Stark County)

The Pro Football Hall of Fame celebrated its 50th anniversary last year, by completing a $27 million expansion.