Everything you need to know about SPARX… and then some!
The eleventh annual SPARX City Hop is this Saturday and we’re beyond thrilled to say that more than 100 of Cleveland’s finest artist galleries, studios, restaurants and retail destinations are participating in this celebration.
So what are we celebrating exactly?
Funny you should ask. Cleveland is a growing hub of arts and culture. Our city has so many gems – both hidden and not – and SPARX gives you the chance to explore them all. The best part? Free trolleys can get you around to all of these great hotspots in one day!
We’re excited for you to celebrate Cleveland’s arts and culture scene; so excited, in fact, that we’ve come up with some tips to help you get the absolute most out of your SPARX experience.
- The Main Hub – where your City Hop Adventure begins. The Main Hub is located in the Southwest Quad of Public Square. Here, City Hoppers can visit local retailers, grab a bite from a food truck and rock out with live local entertainment. Be sure to stop by the SPARX Welcome Center and visit the smiling faces of SPARX volunteers who will provide you with an Official City Hop Wristband. Once banded, you now have access to all three of the SPARX trolley routes. Now your day really begins. Which way will you go?
- It’s all about the strategy. The Downtown Route, also known as the Blue Line, runs through 6 pm, whereas the other two routes run through 9 pm. From the Main Hub, hop on the Blue Line Trolley and allow it to take you through the streets of the Gateway District, PlayhouseSquare and The Arts Quarter.
– Stop #1 off the Blue Line will reintroduce you to Star Plaza, only this time, you’ll be able to see first-hand all of PlayhouseSquare’s newest additions to this great outdoor space. While you’re there, say hello to Zack Bruell’s new burger shack, Dynomite.
– Stops 2, 3 and 4 off the Blue Line will really open your eyes to the hidden gems in Downtown Cleveland. Wander inside the Tower Press Building, Heller Building and the Art Craft Building to visit Cleveland’s aspiring artists.
– The fifth and final stop off the Blue Line houses Asia Town Center, whose Negative Space Gallery will be home to exhibits that are exclusive to SPARX.
- Back to square one. Once you’ve arrived back to the Main Hub, it’s time to climb aboard your next trolley ride. Tremont’s Arts & Culture Festival is taking place at Lincoln Park, so let’s head there next by taking the Red Line.
– Stop #1 off the Red Line will drop you off at Lincoln Park, home of the Arts & Culture Festival. Here you can shop more local retail and learn all about Tremont’s cultural roots.
– Stops number 2 and 3 will give you the real taste of Tremont. From her restaurants to her unique shops, Tremont is home to some serious cultural gems. Take your time exploring these great spots!
- More than halfway there. Congratulations – you’ve now explored two of the three SPARX routes. Now it’s time to hop on the Green Line and head west towards Ohio City.
– You may have heard that Ohio City’s culinary scene is fabulous. Well, now it’s time to experience it for yourself. Walk down West 25th Street and admire the beautiful architecture and design (and menus) of the city’s hotspots.
– Market Square Park, the Green Line’s second stop, is home to Bazaar Bizarre, a mini flea market-like atmosphere with local artisans selling their masterpieces. Bazaar Bizarre ends at 4pm that day, so be sure to get there prior to closing time.
– Stop #3 is new to SPARX City Hop. The Transformer Station, curated by the Cleveland Museum of Art, is the West Side’s home for contemporary art. During SPARX, the Unicorn Exhibit will be the main feature. Swing by and check out this new landmark!
So now that you have a City Hop Game Plan, it’s time to take in some pointers.
Pointer 1: Leave your car at home. Since you’re going to be chauffeured around by trolleys all day, might as well skip the car entirely. Taking the RTA to Downtown Cleveland is very cost efficient. $5 scores you an All-Day Pass and saves you gas and the search for your favorite parking spot. RTA’s Rapid will drop you off right inside of Tower City, only an escalator ride, hop, skip and jump to the Main Hub at Public Square.
Pointer 2: Get some walking in there, too. During the summer, Take A Hike! Tours give you the opportunity to be educated (in a fun way) on Downtown’s history. For SPARX City Hop, the masterminds behind these tours have created a special, one-day-only tour. Tour times are at 2pm and 4pm and they leave from the Main Hub. Pssst, it’s free!
Pointer 3: Experience the hype. Downtown is on the move. Retailers are flocking to Cleveland’s urban core as it becomes a prime shopping destination. 5th Street Arcades, formerly known as the Colonial Marketplace, is nearing 100% occupancy, thanks to the addition of several new retailers. This destination is about a 4 minute walk from the Main Hub. Take a break from the trolleys and check it out!
Pointer 4: Your wristband is your friend. Not only does your Official City Hop Wristband get you access to the free trolley rides throughout our Great City, this accessory also gives you VIP access at restaurants, bars and cafes along the routes. That’s right, many of the area’s best hotspots are celebrating SPARX City Hop by offering deals, discounts, promos and more. Just show your server or bartender your wrist! Cheers to that. Find out who is offering what by clicking on each route’s description on our website.
Pointer 5: It’s all about the Benjamins, baby. Ballin’ on a budget? Don’t worry, many artists are providing special SPARX discounts on their incredible masterpieces, allowing you to get that painting for your living room wall without breaking the bank. Visit our website and click on each route’s description to see which artists are offering up the deals!
Pointer 6: Hope you remembered your dancin’ shoes. Throughout each of the routes, City Hoppers will find performances from local artists. Check out our full SPARX guide to see the entertainment list!