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Tickets for many events are sold through Ticketmaster (tel. 216/241-5555; www.ticketmaster.com). Tickets.com (tel. 800/766-6048 or 216/241-6000; www.tickets.com) sells tickets to events at Playhouse Square Center. Another great option is the online-only Ctix outlet (www.ctix.org), where budget culture vultures may purchase half-price, day-of-show theater tickets and discounted movie tickets.

The Performing Arts

Considered by many to be one of the top orchestras in the U.S., the world-renowned Cleveland Orchestra (tel. 800/686-1141 or 216/231-1111; www.clevelandorch.com), under the leadership of music director Franz Welser-Most, performs at Severance Hall, 11001 Euclid Ave., at East Boulevard, in University Circle. The stately 1931 concert hall was greeted by rave reviews when it emerged from a massive renovation in early 2000. In summer, the orchestra takes up residence at the open-air Blossom Music Center. Blossom Music Center is located in Cuyahoga Falls, 34 miles south of the city off I-77.

The nation's second-largest performing arts center (after New York City's Lincoln Center) is Playhouse Square Center, 1501 Euclid Ave. (tel. 216/771-4444; www.playhousesquare.com), a symbol of Cleveland's cultural renaissance. Four restored theaters present theatrical and musical performances, including touring productions of Broadway shows. It's also home to such resident companies as the Ohio Ballet (www.ohioballet.org) and DanceCleveland (www.dancecleveland.org), which presents such renowned modern companies as Alvin Ailey Trinity Irish Dance Company; and the Cleveland Opera (www.clevelandopera.org), among others.

The Bar & Club Scene

To find out what's happening, pick up one of the free weeklies, the Cleveland Free Times and the Cleveland Scene, available all over town.

Downtown's House of Blues, 308 Euclid Ave. (tel. 216/523-2583; www.hob.com), books the best in live blues music (as well as other genres) and serves up a soul-stirring Sunday gospel brunch. Don't miss this all-ages feast, which is part church service and part all-you-can-eat Southern soul-food buffet. Sip a mimosa with your fried chicken and grits, country ham and biscuits, and crawfish cakes-but be sure to save room for a spoonful of white chocolate banana bread pudding.

Another fun evening option is Pickwick & Frolic Restaurant and Club, 2035 E. 4th St. (tel. 216/241-7425; www.pickwickandfrolic.com), a swanky, multilevel venue with a restaurant and cabaret theater, an ultramodern downstairs martini bar, as well as Hilarities 4th Street Theatre, which draws nationally known comedy acts.

The Fourth Street area abounds with new restaurants, pubs, and bars. Take Corner Alley, 402 Euclid Ave. (tel. 216/298-4070; thecorneralley.com), a combination martini bar, American diner, and bowling alley where you can score strikes and spares while throwing back Tootsie Roll Martinis and munching on meatloaf or four-cheese macaroni.

On the west bank of the Flats, at Main Avenue and the river, is the waterfront Nautica Entertainment Complex (www.nauticaflats.com), where century-old smokestacks top the four-story warehouse now known as the Plain Dealer Pavilion. Among the complex's other after-dark attractions are the waterfront Shooters (tel. 216/861-6900; www.shootersflats.com), a hulking behemoth of a restaurant and dance club that caters to young adults on the prowl and other revelers; and the Improv Comedy Club (tel. 216/696-4677; www.improvupcoming.com), featuring up-and-coming stand-up talent.

A somewhat more sophisticated crowd gathers in the Warehouse District, mainly along West 6th Street between Superior and Lakeside avenues. Young hipsters meet to relax in comfy chairs and play board games at lively Liquid/Fusion, 1212 W. 6th St. (tel. 216/479-7717; www.liquidliving.com). Velvet Dog, 1280 W. 6th St. (tel. 216/664-1116; velvetdogcleveland.com), is a high-style, three-story dance club and lounge. Other trendy options for energetic barhoppers include the eclectic Blind Pig, 1228 W. 6th St. (tel. 216/621-0001; www.theblindpig.com).

In Coventry Village, a lovely, hip neighborhood not far from downtown and University Circle, look for Lucy, a real-life reptile in a glass cage, at the Winking Lizard, 1852 Coventry (tel. 216/397-8380), a chain of local taverns with a great beer selection and laid-back vibe. Nearby, check out the coolest toy store you've probably ever seen, the offbeat yet old-timey Big Fun, 1814 Coventry (tel. 216/371-4386).

Farther afield, northeast of downtown, Cleveland's undisputed best live music venue is the venerable Beachland Ballroom and Tavern, 15711 Waterloo Rd. (tel. 216/383-1124). Sensitive singer-songwriters, Elvis impersonators, punks, and rock's best-known acts all play at this classic dive. The bar serves decent pub grub (even breakfast), and Blender magazine dubbed its 1966-era jukebox the best in the USA.

In Cleveland Heights, Nighttown, 12387 Cedar Rd. (tel. 216/795-0550), offers a full restaurant menu and bar along with live jazz and world music. The influential magazine Down Beat recently named it one of the world's best jazz clubs.

Ohio City is great for those looking for an easygoing night on the town. Great Lakes Brewing Company is arguably the most popular bar chain in Cleveland. For beer connoisseurs, it's heaven. During the daytime, book a guided tour of the brewery, during which you'll learn not only how their beer is crafted, but about their impressive, eco-friendly business practices as well.

While you're in the area, another great local favorite is the Vietnamese restaurant Phnom Penh, 1929 W. 25th St. (tel. 216/357-2951). And around the corner is the West Side Market, where you can load up on all sorts of locally grown produce, fresh meats, spices, and pastries.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.