Popular culture has done Cleveland a disservice. Most of its references to the city are negative: Drew Carey’s “Cleveland Rocks” anthem did little more than reinforce stuffy mid-Western stereotypes; basketball star Lebron James is from there, but can’t ever seem to stop talking about leaving town; David Foster Wallace used it as the ideal-because-it-isn’t-ideal setting for his first major novel, The Broom of the System; even Dr. Seuss commented on the polluted state of Lake Erie in The Lorax. There was that unfortunate burning river situation (due to pollution) back in the ’60s, and more recently, this series of “hastily made” tourism videos, which have drawn over a million views on YouTube, haven’t helped. 

As we noted earlier this year, Cleveland is making strides to clean up its act. And you gotta love a city that doesn’t take itself too seriously, as evidenced by the annual tongue-in-cheek Burning River Fest.

But the one attraction that has me itching to visit Rock City, despite negative media representations, is the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum (pictured above), which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. Interestingly, the celebratory concert will be held in NYC’s Madison Square Garden (on October 29 and 30), rather than in the Rock Hall’s hometown. And with the opening of the Rock Annex in New York last year, it looks like Cleveland may be experiencing some competition to maintain its nickname. In the meantime, click through the jump for a few reasons to add the original Rock City to your destination list:

  • A great option for a long weekend: bunk up at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Louis Penfield House, one of the six Wright houses that allow overnight guests (all are in the Midwest). It’s only a 20-minute drive from downtown to the house in Willoughby Hills, but you have to make a reservation to find out the exact address. Make plans in advance for this one because reservations fill up fast.
  • While in the city, be sure to join local chefs at the historic West Side Market for an authentic Cleveland experience.
  • Taking the family? Our friends over at Gadling suggest heading to Cedar Point this month for shorter lines and Halloween-themed fun.

Photo: diurba2332 via Flickr