Best of Cleveland 2011: People & Places

Welcome to a city that was built to last. We're gritty, good-natured, and caring as they come — the kind of people all others strive to be.Best Reason to Love Cleveland

The People

We've been an easy target for a lot of years. Now the joke is on everybody who overlooked us. As long as Cleveland has had its bad teams and worse leadership, a rich reserve of resilient residents has remained determined to see this through till the good times roll again. Now the sun is peeking out and Cleveland is rounding the corner, and now's the time to celebrate our hardy souls. As the wheels of prosperity begin to turn, we cast our thanks toward our neighbors and friends. We've shared in our years of misery together, and now we'll share in our arriving glory. It's just how we do things here, how you've always done things here.

Best Park

Edgewater Park

Now part of Cleveland Lakefront State Park, Edgewater skirts the western edge of downtown Cleveland and offers overwhelming views of the city skyline. Best known for its sprawling beach and primo kite-flying, it's also a top spot for picnicking, jogging — even sledding come wintertime.

6500 Cleveland Memorial Shoreway; 216-881-8141;

Best Day Trip

Cedar Point

There may be no place on earth where time flies more quickly than a day spent at Cedar Point. A summertime fun magnet for all of the Midwest, the park is tireless in its quest to be the best at everything it does — and it's got the credentials to support the claim. More — and better — roller coasters than anybody else, gorgeously maintained grounds, friendly workers, and no shortage of indoor attractions make the Point a lock for every summer itinerary. There's something spectacular and new every year: In 2011 it's Windseeker, a sorta-sideways Ferris wheel that rises far above the park and, like everything else at Cedar Point, seems like it might never let you down.

One Cedar Point Dr., Sandusky; 419-627-2350;

Best Reason to Come Downtown

East Fourth Street

The pulse of downtown is beating like it hasn't in decades, and the top source of the excitement is East Fourth Street. A centrally located afterthought for decades, the district has emerged in recent years to serve everyone from visitors looking for a hot night on the town to residents in need of urbane climes to unwind. From its restaurants to it clubs and the people who crave them, the new East Fourth has paved the way for Cleveland's inevitable downtown renaissance.

Between Euclid and Prospect Aves.;

Best Reason to Visit the East Side

Coventry Village

Cleveland's bohemian ground zero has seen its share of change over the years, but it's just now hitting its stride like never before. Still a haven for offbeat merchants and quirky shops, the street has cultivated a fantastic blend of homegrown and outside enterprises in recent years — and the result is a district teeming with energy day and night.; 216-556-0927

Best Reason to Visit the West Side & >Best Place to Take Out-of-Town Visitors

West Side Market

We boast at least two things that no community will ever exceed: a swirling melting pot of cultures and a collective grocery cart to match. No place but the West Side Market so fully embraces this ancestral melange of Old World and new, from its butchers to its fruit stands, and from its cheeses to its cappuccino. Those of us who've grown up on this place so easily forget just what a sensory wonderland it is. Then it all hits home when you take a guest there and experience anew the sights, sounds, and smells. The West Side Market is an icon that modern America has passed by; the good news is that Cleveland would never dream of doing the same.

1979 West 25th St.; 216-664-3387;

Best Reason to Visit Akron

Akron Art Museum

Cleveland's sister to the south serves up no shortage of charms, but the Akron Art Museum is as apt a metaphor for the Rubber City's rebirth as you will find. Perched in the heart of a rejuvenated downtown, the museum recently completed an expansion that more than tripled its size. Once a two-room art school founded in 1922, it's now a sprawling world-class facility that spotlights a wide range of art made over the past 150 years.

1 South High St., Akron; 330-376-9185;

Best Radio Personality

Alan Cox

All the fun and class of a trailer park striptease in convenient radio form. From his eye on celebrity buffoonery to his celebration of women's undergarments, Alan Cox spouts all the outrageous crap you were already thinking but way too shy to say. Is it creepy? Oh sure, but no more so than what's on any other guy's mind.

Weekday afternoons on 100.7-FM WMMS

Best Local TV Personality

Dick Goddard

The inventor of local weather just turned 80 this year, complete with a celebration that was long overdue. An Akron native and lifelong Northeast Ohioan, the unassuming Goddard so often flies under the StormFOX radar because he'd rather you know about the weather he watches and the causes he supports, most notably animal rights. Yes, weathermen tend not to forge particularly resounding legacies, but Dick Goddard's place in Cleveland is secure.

On Fox 8 TV