One of my favorite parts of sailing Thistle Nationals is, of course, not sailing. Whether cliff jumping in Sandpoint, Idaho, or surfing in Lavallette, New Jersey, some of the best times I’ve had at Nationals have come from getting out and exploring the venues. With the 2021 Thistle National Championship coming to Cleveland, my hometown, in August, I thought I’d recommend a few fun things to do while you’re here.
Explore the West Side Market and Ohio City
A Cleveland landmark since 1912, the West Side Market boasts nearly 100 vendors offering the best local meats, cheeses, pastries, vegetables and snacks you could ask for. The market lies at the heart of Ohio City, a hip neighborhood filled with awesome restaurants and a great craft beer scene, including Platform Beer Company, Market Garden Brewery, and the world-renowned Great Lakes Brewing Company. After you enjoy an Eliot Ness amber lager in Great Lakes’ beer garden, note the bullet hole in the bar, shot from the gun of the “untouchable” Ness, the Prohibition agent who took down Chicago gangster Al Capone. Then, stroll up West 25th Street for a scoop at Mitchell’s Homemade Ice Cream, another local favorite.
Catch a ballgame
Home of the Cleveland Indians, Progressive Field was named the best ballpark in Major League Baseball for 2019. The recently renovated stadium offers a variety of food and beverages from local restaurants and breweries. The $15 District Ticket provides a wallet friendly option to enjoy the game from the right field bar area, which offers a unique viewpoint from the drink rails. Chances are you’ll run into the Finefrocks there Friday night.
Commune with nature at Cleveland Metroparks
Known as the “Emerald Necklace,” Cleveland Metroparks is a system of nature preserves wrapping around the city. The entrance to Rocky River Reservation is only steps away from Cleveland Yachting Club. With miles of paved pathways and bridle trails weaving through the valley carved out by the Rocky River, the area is great for biking, running, or just a casual stroll. Follow Valley Parkway south until you hit Berea Falls. On a one-race day, play 9 holes on the public golf courses, Little Met and Big Met, or rent a kayak or stand-up paddleboard at 41 North Kayak Adventures.
Visit a museum (or three)
Cleveland has a museum for every taste. East of downtown, University Circle is home to the Cleveland Botanical Garden, the Cleveland Museum of Natural History—with its iconic, climbable stegosaurus statue—and The Cleveland Museum of Art, which was featured in “The Avengers” movie.
Another famous movie location is “A Christmas Story” house. Check out the actual home of the leg lamp, the place where Ralphie nearly shot his eye out with his Red Ryder BB gun. The kids will also enjoy The Children’s Museum of Cleveland and Great Lakes Science Center. The latter is next door to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, where you can learn about the wild history of rock and roll, a term coined by local DJ Alan Freed.
Rock out at Edgewater LIVE
Looking for a beach with a view? Edgewater Park, managed by Cleveland Metroparks, is just minutes from the club and downtown Cleveland. On Thursday evenings throughout the summer, the beach transforms into a concert venue for Edgewater LIVE, featuring local rock bands and the best of Cleveland’s food truck scene. After a long day or racing, treat yourself to a cold beer while watching the sun set into Lake Erie.
The Thistle National Championship, presented by KeyBank, celebrates the 75th anniversary of one of North America’s most popular and competitive one-design sailing classes. The regatta takes place July 31-August 6, 2021 at the Cleveland Yachting Club in Rocky River, Ohio.