Take a Hike
2017 Tour Season: May 16 – September 17th
Take a Hike, presented by Dollar Bank, offers five (FREE!) guided walking tours of distinct neighborhoods in downtown Cleveland! Weekly tours explore the Gateway District, Warehouse District, Civic Center, Playhouse Square neighborhood and Canal Basin Park in the Flats. Each tour lasts approximately one and a half hours in length, and features actors and actresses portraying historic figures from Cleveland’s past. Over 26,000 people have enjoyed “taking a hike” to date. Mind you, “taking a hike” is more like taking a leisurely stroll.
Entertaining and educational, these tours offer visitors and residents alike the opportunity to learn about the history, culture and future plans of each tour area. Geared towards adults, the tours also offer younger audience members the chance to explore Cleveland in a whole new way.
The 2017 Take a Hike season is presented by Dollar Bank. The program is supported in part by the residents of Cuyahoga County through a public grant from Cuyahoga Arts & Culture. The tours also receive generous support from Ohio & Erie Canalway and Downtown Cleveland Alliance.
Program partners included Historic Warehouse District Development Corporation, PlayhouseSquare, Bob Zimmer, Canalway Partners and Cleveland Magazine.
In 2016, Take a Hike was featured in the New York Times’ 36 Hours in Cleveland article in the days leading up to the Republican National Convention. In 2015, the Take a Hike program was awarded a Public Education and Awareness Award from the State Historic Preservation Office of the Ohio History Connection. In 2014, the tours were recognized with a Dominion Community Impact Award, and in 2013, the program was awarded an International Downtown Association Merit Award.
Gateway District Tour
Learn about the Gateway District’s incredible architecture, such as The Arcade and the 5th Street Arcades, East 4th Street, historic dime stores, such as Woolworth’s and Kresge’s, the transformation of the Garfield Building, the story of Rose’s Folly and more. Home to Quicken Loans Arena, Progressive Field, six hotels, unique stores and over 60 restaurants and bars, the Gateway District is the most visited neighborhood in Downtown Cleveland. Mayor Tom Johnson or inventor Garrett Morgan may drop in for a visit along the way. You may wish to visit one of the Gateway District’s fabulous restaurants for lunch after your tour.
The tour meets inside the doors on the Euclid side of the Arcade. Suggested parking can be found across from Quicken Loans Arena between Huron Road and Prospect Avenue, in the parking garage of 200 Public Square on Superior Avenue or in the 515 Euclid garage at the corner of East 6th Street and Euclid Avenue. Street parking in the same areas is available, and meters are free on the weekends. Please read any event parking related signage closely to be aware of any special restrictions.
Warehouse District Tour
Admire breathtaking architecture as you learn about the historic Garment District, hardware industry and beautiful Victorian-style buildings of Cleveland’s First Neighborhood. Learn about Warehouse District projects, such as Small Box. Home to fabulous restaurants, a vibrant nightlife and close to 3,000 residents, the Warehouse District is a charming and lively neighborhood. Tour attendees may have the pleasure of meeting John D. Rockefeller or Levi Johnson along the tour route. Plan to visit one of the Warehouse District’s renowned dining establishments or bars while you are in the neighborhood.
Convenient street parking and parking lots are available along West 9th Street and West 10th Street. Please note that construction on Public Square and will impact metered parking on West 6th and St. Clair.
Playhouse Square Tour
Every Thursday: Meet at 6 PM in the State Theatre Lobby (1519 Euclid Avenue).
Known for being the second largest performing arts center in the country, Playhouse Square boasts even more than incredible theatres. Learn about the past grandeur of Euclid Avenue, renowned department stores, such as Halle’s, Bonwit Teller and Sterling Linder, important social clubs, such as The Union Club, the awe-inspiring Dazzle the District project and the historic Statler Hotel. Visitors may enjoy special guest appearances by deejay Alan Freed or “Mr. First Nighter” Milton Krantz. See the Playhouse Square neighborhood with new eyes as you gain insight into its past, present and future on this outdoor tour.
Convenient parking is available across from the Hanna Theatre on East 14th Street or along Euclid Avenue near PlayhouseSquare’s theatres.
Canal Basin Park in the Flats Tour
Enjoy tales from the early days of Cleveland while learning about Moses Cleaveland, the Cuyahoga River, beautiful bridges, the historic B&O Rail Station and plans for a 25-acre park and the extension of the Towpath Trail. Be sure to bring your camera for some stunning photo opportunities. Mary Kelley may share stories of her husband, Alfred Kelley, the father of the Ohio & Erie Canal, during your tour.
Suggested street parking is located near the Flat Iron Cafe along Center Street or Merwin Avenue. Meters are free on weekends. There is also a small parking lot located across from the starting location.
On select Canal Basin Park tour dates to be announced, the Lorenzo Carter Cabin will be open for attendees to visit at the end of the tour.
Civic Center Tour
Learn about the historic and beautiful Old Stone Church, the Free Stamp, Cleveland’s unique public art piece, and Veterans Memorial Plaza with its striking fountain . You’ll be amazed at both the grand architecture and the green spaces of the Civic Center as you stroll past the Board of Education Building, Public Auditorium, Cuyahoga County Courthouse, the Cleveland Convention Center, the Global Center for Health Innovation and much more. Architect Daniel Burnham, Coach Paul Brown, the first coach of the Cleveland Browns, and/or Librarian Linda Eastman will be featured on this tour.
Street parking and parking lot options can be found in the surrounding area near West 3rd, Frankfort, West 6th and St. Clair. Upon arrival at the tour meeting location, enter Old Stone Church through the doors on Public Square. For information about traffic routes and detours related to Public Square, click here. Taking public transportation to or parking in Tower City Center is also an option, as Old Stone Church is a short walk across Public Square.
How to Take a Hike
Show up for a tour, and enjoy! Reservations are appreciated for groups of 20 or more, but not necessary for smaller groups (call 216-771-1994 to in advance for a larger group). Donations are encouraged to help match the program’s grants. Tours take place rain or shine. Comfortable walking shoes are recommended. And, don’t forget to bring along your water bottle on hot days.
The parking meters downtown are free on Saturdays and Sundays. They are also free after 6 PM on weekdays. Please read all parking-related signage on streets carefully to avoid getting parking tickets, especially in construction areas.
Did someone go above and beyond to make your Downtown Cleveland experience phenomenal? Consider nominating a member of the Hospitality Community (tour guide, restaurant server, hotel staff, etc.) for a Destination Cleveland Hospitality Star Award. The nomination form can be found here.
If you would like to make a donation to Historic Gateway Neighborhood Corporation’s Take a Hike program from the comfort of home, please make your check payable to Historic Gateway Neighborhood Corporation, and mail to 1010 Euclid Avenue, Suite 300, Cleveland, Ohio 44115. Historic Gateway Neighborhood Corporation is a non-profit community development corporation. Thank you in advance for supporting this valuable Heritage Tourism program!
Private Group Tours
If you are interested in making special arrangements for a private group tour of the Gateway District, please contact Joe Duffy. Private tours are offered for groups of twenty to forty people and last approximately one and a half hours in length in exchange for a donation of $250 to Historic Gateway Neighborhood Corporation depending on tour guide availability.
2017 Historic Euclid Avenue Tours: September 30 – December 9th
Once our regular season has concluded for the year, we are pleased to offer the 2016 Historic Euclid Avenue tour – every Saturday, September 30 through December 10th! Made possible through support from Playhouse Square, The Metropolitan Hotel at the 9, and The Arcade, the tour occurs weekly – every Saturday at 10:00 am, departing from the Arcade (401 Euclid Avenue). Beginning with the Gateway District’s unique architecture and history, the tour focuses on Euclid Avenue – one of America’s most historic streets. Listed in 19th century travel guides as “the most beautiful street in the world,” in the first two decades of the 20th century, the street emerged as one of the US’s great shopping streets rivaling Michigan Avenue in Chicago and 5th Avenue in New York – containing many department stores and palatial theaters. The tour concludes in Playhouse Square – our country’s second largest performing arts center. Keep an eye out for historic figures from Cleveland’s past who may drop in as well! Don’t miss an extended hike – reservations are not required!
Suggested parking can be found across from Quicken Loans Arena between Huron Road and Prospect Avenue, in the parking garage of 200 Public Square on Superior Avenue or in the 515 Euclid garage at the corner of East 6th Street and Euclid Avenue. Street parking in the same areas is available, and meters are free on the weekends. Please read any event parking related signage closely to be aware of any special restrictions.
Cleveland History Resources
The Cleveland Memory Project
A searchable database presented by Cleveland State University Libraries
Cleveland Public Library
Check out Cleveland books, programs, classes and more.
Cleveland Historical App
Free mobile app that puts Cleveland history at your fingertips
The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History
A joint collaboration of Case Western Reserve University and the Western Reserve Historical Society
Western Reserve Historical Society
Society that preserves and presents the history of Northeast Ohio
Audio walking tours for your iPod, MP3 player, computer or other audio device