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Cleveland and Philadelphia: Beyond the Parties

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As host cities for the Republican and Democratic conventions, Cleveland and Philadelphia were in the prime time spotlight last month. Both are rich in history, culture, and cuisine, making them tempting places to visit any time of year, no matter which political party you identify with.

Located on the shores of Lake Erie, Cleveland was a center of manufacturing around the turn of the 20th century. Today, music fans know it as the home of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Inside, you’ll find memorabilia tracing the history of rock, starting with its roots in gospel, blues, country, folk and bluegrass, through Motown and the British Invasion, to the present day. Current exhibits include—quite appropriately —"Louder Than Words: Rock, Power and Politics."

Fans of the holiday favorite "A Christmas Story" will want to see the 19th-century Victorian house in Cleveland’s Tremont neighborhood that was used in the movie’s exterior scenes. It’s been restored inside and out to appear as it did in the beloved 1983 film. A museum across the street contains props, costumes, and behind-the-scenes photos.

Cleveland’s West Side Market opened to the public in 1912, and its 137-foot clock tower has been a landmark for more than a century. The market is home to 100 vendors selling everything from meat, seafood, spices, flowers, cheese, and baked goods to prepared foods that evoke the city’s rich ethnic heritage.

Outdoor enthusiasts will love strolling through the Cleveland Botanical Garden. It’s divided into 11 sections that include a Japanese Garden, Children’s Garden, and areas devoted to roses, herbs, and woodlands. The Glasshouse is home to plant and animal life from the desert of Madagascar and the cloud forest of Costa Rica, including hundreds of butterflies. In August, visitors can enjoy a light dinner and a cocktail while getting cooking tips from some of Cleveland’s top chefs during Garden Summer Wednesdays.

Philadelphia, of course, occupies a unique spot in American history as the site of the Second Continental Congress and the place where both the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were debated and signed.

Visitors can explore the nation’s beginnings at Independence National Historic Park, covering more than two-dozen sites, including: Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, and Congress Hall—where Congress met from 1790 to 1800 when Philadelphia served as capital of the United States.

When it comes to culinary history, the city is inextricably linked to the cheesesteak sub. To try one, head to Pat’s, or its rival and South Philadelphia neighbor, Geno’s. But, if you have a more sophisticated or adventurous palate, Philadelphia is home to five prestigious James Beard Foundation Awards nominees that cover such epicurean delights as Fork, Serpico, Talula’s Garden, The Dandelion, Vedge, Vernick Food & Drink, and Zahav.

For yet another side of Philadelphia’s favorite food and drink, visit the 19th-century Reading Terminal Market. From Aug. 11–13, it’ll be the site of the annual Pennsylvania Dutch Festival, featuring traditional foods and crafts such as quilts, braided rugs, and wooden toys.

Penn’s Landing, on the Delaware River waterfront, offers family-friendly attractions and events all year long. In the summer, it is home to movies, concerts, and festivals. Spruce Street Harbor Park has returned for the third summer, with its signature hammocks, floating gardens, food, and craft beer.

For help planning a trip to Cleveland or Philadelphia, contact us at 719-597-0004.

© Travel Leaders Group