Discovering Cleveland during the NBA Finals

CLEVELAND, Ohio (KGO) -- Because of my dad's job as a chemist, we moved around the country several times growing up. Our family went from Midland, Michigan to Solon, Ohio, a suburb right outside Cleveland and I lived there until the age of 11.

So when my photojournalist Randy Davis and I were assigned to go on the road and cover the NBA finals between the Warriors and Cavaliers, I was hoping to have some time to reconnect with my past and explore the city I vaguely remember, but has changed and grown so much.

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National Geographic recently named Cleveland as one of the cities on their 2018 Best Of The World list for it's new "cultural energy."

Since time is always at a premium when putting together a story for the news, we tried to hit up as many interesting, unique spots, old and new.

Here's our list, cultivated in part by my childhood best friend, Carolyn and the fine folks at Destination Cleveland.

Christmas Story House: This is the same house used in the 1983 cult classic on Cleveland Street. It was painstakingly restored by a movie enthusiast in 2006, after he saw the home listed for sale on eBay! More than 100 thousand guests marvel at family photos, Ralphie and Randy Rollin's bedroom and try on the famous pink bunny costume used in the film.

Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame: This is a no-brainer. It's been open since 1995 and hosts more than half a million visitors from around the globe each year. Even though it's been in Cleveland for awhile, it's 20,000 artifacts on display get changed out and updated regularly. Most recently an entirely new floor dedicated to the "hall of fame experience" opened for guests.

There were plenty of options for dining, like Mabel's famous for Cleveland style BBQ, and Cleveland Bagel Company, a local company which rose to fame on the show Cleveland Hustle where basketball superstar Lebron James partners with entrepreneurs to revitalize the city. However, we chose two eateries incorporating the city's brewery boom into their business.

Happy Dog: this restaurant/bar features dogs with more than 50 toppings, including some oddities like Froot Loops and mac n'cheese. Their dogs are even sold at the stadium where the Celveland Indians baseball team plays.

Brewnuts: This new spot is co-owned by John Pippen. He and his wife left corporate jobs to celebrate two of the city's favorite food items. "Two Cleveland guilty pleasures, beer and donuts. Put them together and people love them!" The donuts, which are made fresh twice a day even feature beer in the glaze. To wash it all down, 16-Ohio brews on tap. Pippen says he's seen an influx of locals dedicating time and energy into project like this. It's an investment in their town.

Edgewater Park: This picturesque park features a "Cleveland" script sign in front of the downtown skyline. It's an excellent photo spot and overlooks a beach on Lake Erie. You'll find festivals and live music there all summer long.

For more stories, photos, and video on the NBA Finals, visit this page.
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