It’s true that Cleveland is a zany city, but the reality of the matter is that the entirety of Northeast Ohio is quirky. We’ve got a wonderfully weird culture here, and we have built and dedicated some unusual roadside attractions all over the region. Get ready for a road trip, because you’re going to want to see some of these bizarre attractions in person.
1. The Boy and The Boot (Sandusky)
Who is this young boy, why is he holding his boot (leaving one foot uncomfortably bare), and how did he get in Sandusky? It turns out, he is actually one of
two such statues in the city. The original was installed in 1895 in Scott Park, eventually moving to Washington Park. However, nearly 100 years later, the statue fell victim to vandals, and its apparent fragility made the city decide to move it indoors. An exact replica was cast, this time in bronze, and placed back in Washington Park where he stands today. But that still begs the question: who is he?
The truth is, nobody knows the origin of this statue design. Many locals believe it depicts a young boy, perhaps a drummer, carrying water in his boot to fallen American Civil War soldiers. This seems rather unlikely, as there is evidence that the design may actually have German roots. Some speculate that the boy is a firefighter and is using his boot as a water bucket. Or, perhaps he is merely the likeness of a boy who busted the toe of his boot. Whether he has a backstory or he is just an interesting design, similar statues can be found throughout the world, but Sandusky's is among the oldest.
2. President James A. Garfield statue (Hiram)
Today, this statue has a head, but rumor is that it contains GPS tracker chip to discourage decapitations. As you can tell from this photo, the statue actually
was decapitated shortly after it was dedicated at Hiram College in 2009. The head was missing from May to July, then eventually restored in November, but locals still remember Garfield as the president who lost his head.
3. The Free Stamp (Cleveland)
Love it or hate it, you're not likely to find another giant rubber stamp anywhere else in the world!
4. Worden's Ledges (Hinckley)
Hidden within the Cleveland Metroparks' Hinckley Reservation is an unusual example of folk art: human likenesses and symbols are carved into some of its sandstone ledges.
When visiting, you may recognize a ship, a cross, and various human likenesses and mythological figures. Pictured above is baseball catcher Ty Cobb and a sphinx, respectively. These bizarre sculptures were made in the 40s by Noble Stuart, son-in-law to the ledges' namesake.
5. The Feline Historical Museum (Alliance)
Yes, the fine Victorian lady pictured here is actually a cat. This local cat museum, which is managed, chronicled, and supported by the Cat Fanciers' Association Foundation (CFA Foundation). Since 1990, the CFA Foundation has been collecting cat show memorabilia, cat figurines, literature, and artwork to fill the museum. Here you will learn about the domestication of cats and the role they've played in human history... plus you'll get to pet a few kitties. The best part? Admission is free! You'll probably want to leave a donation to the museum, though, so be sure to bring along a bit of cash.
6. Ray Chapman plaque (Cleveland)
Progressive Field holds a small memorial to one of baseball's most tragic moments in history. Raymond Johnson "Ray" Chapman was a Cleveland Indians shortstop, and he was pretty darn good. He holds several records, including the the single season record for 67 sacrifice bunts in 1917. Sadly, a pitch thrown by Yankees pitcher Carl Mays on August 17, 1920 would prove to be fatal. It was the top of the fifth when Mays threw the pitch, but it seems Chapman was unable to see the ball. It struck his head, and he succumbed to his injuries 12 hours later. Chapman became the only professional baseball player to be killed by a baseball.
7. Chapman's grave (Cleveland)
After you visit Chapman's commemorative plaque at Progressive Field, you can pay your respects to him at Lake View Cemetery. Visitors frequently bring him Cleveland Indians memorabilia, honoring a man who died doing what he loved.
8. The Troll Hole Museum (Alliance)
Alliance is home to
quirky museums. The Troll Hole is exactly what you might expect. As a museum, it chronicles the history of trolls, ranging from their role in mythology to their newer profession as modern movie stars. The troll doll collection at this museum is one of the largest in the world. For more details, check out our full article
9. A homemade rebel X-wing fighter (Kent)
It truly looks like something that the Rebel Alliance in Star Wars would pilot, and there is no better place for it than the super quirky Mike's Place restaurant.
10. Giant horse and buggy (Mesopotamia)
Located about an hour away from Cleveland, this piece of folk art is unusually mesmerizing. Spanning an impressive 35 feet in length, many hail this as the largest horse and buggy in the world. The statue, which is made of wood, features a horse named "Sir Pierpont of Mesopotamia."
There is much to love in Northeast Ohio, but our zaniness makes us a particularly intriguing community. Our bizarre tendencies have been immortalized in these incredible attractions, all of which are within 90 minutes of Cleveland via car. What are you waiting for? You now have 10 new places to add to your roadtripping bucket list!