Dropping In On the Kings of Cleveland

Updated: June 11, 2007, 12:07 AM ET
ESPN SportsTravel


ico_orbitzCleveland travel: Plan Trip | Hotels | Flights | City Guide | Buy NBA Finals tickets


King James should be rockin' 'n' rollin' when the Cavaliers come home to Cleveland during the NBA Finals.

And LeBron will be far from alone in celebrating the franchise's first trip to the championship series. His entire kingdom of Clevelanders will welcome NBA fans to uncharted territory on this world stage.

If You're Going to Cleveland …
• Cavs' arena: Quicken Loans Arena
• Address: One Center Court
• Web site | Seating | Buy tickets

• Nightlife area: East Fourth Street District, Warehouse District
• Sports bars: Blind Pig (1228 W. Sixth St.; 216-621-0001); and Johnny Malloy's and Geppetto's bar (2781 Euclid Heights Blvd., in nearby Cleveland Heights, in the old Centrum Theatre; 216-320-1800).
• Restaurants: Lola (2058 E. Fourth St.; 216-621-5652) — operated by celeb chef Michael Symon; and Flannery's Pub (323 Prospect Ave.; 216-781-7782).
• Cheap eats: Nate's Deli (1923 W. 25th St.; 216-696-7529); and Aladdins' Baking Co. (1301 Carnegie Ave.; 216-861-0317).
• Attractions: West Side Market (216-664-3387), an indoor/outdoor market at West 25th Street and Lorain Road in the Ohio City area that traces its roots back to at least 1912; the world-renowned Cleveland Orchestra (216-231-1111); and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame + Museum (216-781-7625).

• NBA Finals City Guide: Cleveland

Indeed, if you have not visited Cleveland recently, prepare to be impressed.

Just across the alley from where the Finals fireworks happen at Quicken Loans Arena (a k a "The Q," One Center Court, Web site) is Cleveland's House of Blues (308 Euclid Ave., Web site), one of several live-music hotspots.

Also nearby and not to be missed is Pickwick and Frolic (2035 E. Fourth St., Web site), which combines a comedy club (Hilarities 4th Street Theater), a martini bar, a cabaret and a couple of restaurants on four floors.

Jacobs Field (2401 Ontario St., Web site), home of Cleveland's beloved Tribe, is a short stroll from The Q, but the Indians will be out of town for Games 3 and 4 of the NBA Finals. If the Cavs last until Game 5 — and here's to hoping that they do, for the sake of all NBA fans, and especially the Cleveland faithful that has gone without a pro championship since 1964 — you can catch the Indians play the Braves June 15-17 (buy tickets) … as well as the Phillies June 18-20 (buy tickets).

A 10-minute walk from The Q brings you to Cleveland Browns Stadium (100 Alfred Lerner Way; Web site) and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame + Museum (One Key Plaza, Web site). Inside the stadium, right behind the fabled Dawg Pound, is Legends restaurant and its 37 plasma TVs, open year-round.

One of Cleveland's most popular nightlife areas, The Flats, along the revitalized Cuyahoga River, is undergoing a face lift along its entire East Bank. Fret not. The West Bank offers much to enjoy.

The Powerhouse (2000 Sycamore St.) occupies, yep, the site of a one-time working powerhouse that today offers a high-energy piano bar, Howl at the Moon (same address; Web site), where dueling pianists stir up audience involvement. You'll also find the Cleveland Improv here (same address; Web site).

Also in The Flats: Rock Bottom (2000 Sycamore St., No. 260, Web site), a prime stop for microbrews; Shooters, a popular bar (1148 Main Ave., Web site); and the oldest Irish bar in town, The Flat Iron (1114 Center St., Web site) — a great pregame stop for a burger or fish and chips (inquire about its free shuttle service).

Buffalo wings? Harry Buffalo (2120 E. Fourth St.) is your pick. Great Lakes Brewing (in nearby Ohio City, 2516 Market St., Web site) is a terrific, eco-friendly locale to lift a pint. (Its shuttle to sports venues runs on cooking oil.)

For younger, harder-edged musical tastes, it's worth a visit to Peabody's (2083 E. 21st St., Web site).

Searching for distinctive ethnic neighborhoods with great food? Enjoy the many fine eateries in Little Italy (Murray Hill and Mayfield Road, Web site) or the up-high views in the historical Tremont area (immediately southwest of Cleveland, Web site).

The bulk of this article has been reprised from our NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament Guide by free-lance writer Terry Wood, an Ohio native and long-suffering Cleveland sports fan.

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