Moon Cleveland

Trattner, Douglas. Moon Cleveland. Berkeley, California; Avalon Travel, 2009.

The Moon Handbook for Cleveland is somewhat of a landmark. That being, I am not familiar with any other national publisher who had designated Cleveland with its own travel guide. The other major Ohio cities (Cincinnati and Columbus) have received at least minimal coverage for book-buying travelers from out of state. Both Cincinnati and Columbus have had ongoing editions in the Insider’s Guide Series and the Day Trip Series (GPP Travel). But not so for Cleveland until now.

I will argue that the Moon Handbook is a different publication than the Insider’s Guide and Day Trip Series. The Insider’s Guide is a “travel” guide, but its premise is also relocation, which can take up about half the book. The Day Trip Series is designed not only for travelers, but very likely locals. Moon Cleveland is a strait travel guide that you would pick up in a bookstore in Seattle.

This begs the question why a city like Cleveland would even have a national publisher release a guide book. There are plenty of comprehensive Ohio travel guides (including a Moon Handbook: Ohio) that adequately cover the major things to do in and around Cleveland. I do not see Cleveland as a distinct travel destination, but with over two million residents in its metro area, there are always nomads passing through. Most of these people will want to do something. As a resident of Cleveland, I would hope there is something to do.

I will confess that I wanted to dislike Moon Cleveland. (Where is the map of Slavic Village?) But, it actually makes Cleveland seem bigger and more impressive. Trattner has compiled probably the best snapshot of Cleveland in 2009 that can be found in print. Yes, the major institutions will remain, but when you are focusing on an area as small as Cleveland, the restaurant and entertainment section is very detailed. Though I wouldn’t expect to see the Old Angle (in the neighborhood of Ohio City) in a guide book, it is probably a place I would send someone who is visiting.

Trattner’s food background is evident, but he does a good job overall from his “three days in Cleveland” (Ohio City, Downtown/Tremont, University Circle) to his background information (nice little blurb about Euclid Avenue and the Healthline bus). While I would have liked to see him dig more around the lesser known areas of Cleveland, I must remind myself that this is book for a traveler and not a resident.

I cannot tell you why Moon Cleveland was published, but I like it and I hope it meets sales expectations.

I am curious, do you think a city smaller than Cleveland, without a major tourist destination, could fill up over 200 pages in a travel guide? Is there a city or region in Ohio that is lacking a nationally published travel guide, and needs one?

11 Responses

  1. I was happy to see that the guide had an entry about the Cleveland Memory Project. Didn’t expect to see coverage of a website about the city’s history in a travel guide.

  2. Wow, are you down on your own city! I could point you to a hundred examples of national media outlets doing travel pieces about Northeast Ohio, many quite complimentary. So I’m a little confused about why you’re confused as to why a guidebook would be published.

    • Thanks for your comments. I will confess the my goals for this blog is not to be a local booster, but my intent for this review was not to paint Cleveland in a negative light. And, I actually enjoyed Moon Cleveland. The point I tried to make in the review was that other than the Insider Guide series, I could find no comparable travel guide for a city the size of Cleveland (in Ohio or beyond). I found this interesting. Is this book an anomaly or a trend?

      • I don’t know about other cities our size having guides, but when I saw the Moon Guide’s coverage of our web site, I started checking around to see if others included it as well. At that time, in August of ’09, there were no other Cleveland guides besides Moon’s at all, but one other major publisher (I forget who) had one for Cleveland on their list of titles forthcoming. So Cleveland, however unique it may or may not be, could wind up with two guides.

  3. Point taken. And I’m also neither booster nor detractor. I just call them like I see them. You make a an interesting point. I think I’ll head to the bookstore and check that out myself. But remember, whatever Cleveland proper’s population (now below a half million), it’s really the size of the region that counts in this discussion and many others, and at 2 1/2 million, Northeast Ohio is the 17th largest metro region in the country, so it’s not really that small.

  4. Sorry, I also meant to make a disclosure: that, like Bill Barrow’s remarkable Cleveland Memory website, my own blog, Working With Words, was among three local blogs mentioned in the Moon Guide. Which naturally warmed my heart.

  5. What I took away from the Moon Cleveland guide is really how Cleveland should be marketing itself – that is, towards food tourism. It’s one of our strong points, food and “authenticity” are generally trendy right now, and this book would be a decent guide for visiting people who are into that.

    Also, I’m going to publicly remind Bill that I still think “The Official Cleveland Memory Project Guide to Cleveland” would be awesome.

    • Point made, Christine. Maybe you’re right. Once I see this stack of cartons of our newly-published book (“The History of the Veterans Memorial Bridge”) safely sold and out of here, then maybe I’ll look into it. I’ll pass the idea around a bit here at CSU. Thanks!

      Meanwhile I’m posting a link to our “Feeding Cleveland” website about the history of local urban agriculture in Cleveland: victory gardens, school gardens, market gardens and community gardens.

  6. Sorry that I’ve chanced upon this so late in the game – but there was an earlier guidebook written about Cleveland, “Citysmart Cleveland,” by Nancy Peacock, that was published by John Muir Press in Santa Fe, NM. Peacock is identified as a freelancer and former Beacon-Journal reporter. It ran 195 pages, including “day trips” to Blossom, Amish country, Football Hall of Fame, etc. As a Cleveland ex-pat returning after 10+ years in 1999 or so, I found it unremarkable as a portrait of Cleveland book (the Moon guides really have upped the standards for travel books) but its listings were useful for addresses, jogging memories, making sure places/businesses still existed, etc.

    Recall that the book annoyed me by putting the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on the front cover while burying a lovely photo of the Detroit-Superior Bridge with the Terminal Tower on the back cover.

    • Moon Cleveland is a timeless topic. Thanks for the heads-up. And as a former librarian, I always recommended travel guides for people relocating.

      Peacock, Nancy. City-smart Guidebook. Cleveland. Santa Fe, N.M. : John Muir Publications, 1997.

      In doing some brief research, the City Smart Guidebook series had some interesting destinations. Along with Cleveland, there were publications for Cincinnati, Indianapolis, and Pittsburgh (the last two are not in Ohio, sorry).

      Interestingly, John Muir Publishing was purchased by Avalon Travel in 1999, who publishes the Moon Handbooks. In doing some very brief research, it looks like the City-Smart Guidebooks were no longer published after 2000/2001. But now we have Moon.

  7. I do remember that earlier guidebook, and found it mostly unremarkable. That’s part of why I thought the Moon Guide stood out so well. It is just heads and shoulders over anything that came before it, at least that I’m aware of.

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