What to do during the Convention

What to do during the ConventionHeather Tunstall

Image by Cody York

The Republican National Convention itself is not open to the public, but that doesn't mean you're left with nothing to do. Whether you're interested in the politics and events specific to the Convention or you'd just like to get out for a night on the town with as little hassle as possible, here are some options for you to consider this week. Choose your style, and start planning.

I'm into the politics
The Republican National Convention in Cleveland is exciting for you, not just because it's great for our city, but also because you're genuinely interested in government and civic affairs. Maybe you're a Republican, maybe you're a Democrat, maybe neither -- but either way, you want to be in the thick of this politically-charged atmosphere. You can't make it into The Q for the main event (it's closed to the public), but there are some events and activities that can help satiate your political appetite.

Rock 'n' roll has played a part in politics and social movements since its inception. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is teaming up with the News Museum in Washington, D.C., to bring forth Louder Than Words: Rock, Power and Politics. The exhibition will highlight how artists used their music "to change attitudes about patriotism, peace, equality and freedom." The exhibit is now open at the Rock Hall.

The City Club of Cleveland will host two timely panels during Convention week. Both are free to the public to attend. The American Dream: A Symposium at the Intersection of Art & Politics (July 19 at 1 p.m.) discusses access and opportunity, inequality/(in)equity, and political identity and protest through works of art. RNC in CLE - What Happened? (July 22 at noon) will be a post-Convention panel discussion on the Convention's impact on Cleveland and the nation.

The Western Reserve Historical Society's Power & Politics exhibition opens Thursday, July 14 and will last through January 2017. Cleveland and Northeast Ohio have had pivotal roles in the history of politics; see for yourself how our region has shaped history. For more presidential history, check out the American Presidents: Life Portraits exhibit at the Cleveland History Center July 1-20.

The Lake County GOP is hosting a watch party on July 21 at Classic Park for those who want to see nonstop Convention coverage in real-time with food and beverage service and a few thousand of your closest friends.

The POLITICO Hub at the Huntington Building on Euclid Avenue will be hosting live events and watch parties all week. Click here to learn more.

C-SPAN’s award-winning, 45-foot customized bus will visit numerous locations throughout the greater Cleveland area as part of the 2016 Political Conventions Tour. The Bus will be at various events around Cleveland between July 14-21 welcoming all visitors to step aboard for interactive exhibits related to the campaign.

Downtown, there are gathering spaces available to the public for expressive activities as well as for sightseeing:

  • Public Square is the official Speaker's Platform for registered individuals and organizations to speak their views
  • The triangular green space at Ontario Street on the western side of the Republican National Convention Complex is accessible from the west side of the Lorain-Carnegie (Hope Memorial) Bridge via the north side pedestrian path
  • Erie Court between East 9th Street and East 14th Street
  • Prospect Avenue (the segment that is closed to vehicle traffic) between Ontario Street and East 9th Street
  • Huron Road from East 7th Street to Prospect Avenue

As a reminder, items such as backpacks and coolers are not allowed to be brought into public viewing areas, pursuant to the City of Cleveland’s prohibited items list for the Event Zone.

I need something decidedly un-Conventional
Maybe you are apathetic about the whole politics game, or maybe you just aren't a big fan of huge crowds. Or maybe you just need a day or two to get away and take a breather from it all. We get it. Don't worry, there are several places you can escape without traveling too far.

Hang out in University Circle, which still gives you the Cleveland experience while distancing you from the Convention crowds. Check out the free Cleveland Museum of Art, explore the beauty of the Cleveland Botanical Garden, or celebrate the city's diversity at the Cleveland Cultural Gardens.

Head west to get your thrills at the Roller Coaster Capital of the World, Cedar Point. The new Valravn is borderline insane, with a four-second hangtime before dropping you in the tallest, fastest coaster dive you can find anywhere on Earth. Or, spend your time with the kids in Camp Snoopy, Planet Snoopy, or Kiddy Kingdom.

Immerse yourself in nature at the Cleveland Metroparks' many reservations, where you can enjoy summertime by hiking, biking, kayaking or just breathing in the fresh air. Spend a day at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo to feel worlds away from the city - and don't forget to check out the brand new Rosebrough Tiger Passage.

Explore, learn and partake in your own experiments at The Great Lakes Science Center, open with free admission on Tuesday, July 19. Please note: the Science Center will be closed to the public on Sunday, July 17 and Wednesday, July 20.

The Host Committee is throwing an event to thank the local community following the Convention. The weekend of July 29-31 will have several planned activities, but the primary elements of the weekend programming will be “A Community Thank You Party,” on Saturday, July 30, from 12 p.m.-6 p.m. on Public Square, as well as free admission to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame from 10 a.m.-9 p.m. for residents of Northeast Ohio. Food trucks, music, ice cream, giveaways, kids' activities and more will keep you entertained all afternoon in the city's newly renovated central meeting space.

For more events in Cleveland, click here. For more attractions and things to do, click here.