Car Rental Cleveland Airport
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Cleveland Hopkins International Airport is the largest airport in Ohio and located about 14 km. southwest of Cleveland’s central business district.
While most people fly into Cleveland for medical tourism – since the decline of manufacturing in Cleveland, health, medicine and biotechnology have since taken its place – many are surprised to find that it offers more in the way of exploring the outdoors and enjoying the wide open road.
A rental car at Cleveland Airport does not only make it convenient to get around the city (Cleveland has been planned to have wide European avenues from the very start, and has virtually no one-way streets) but it also puts the visitor in the driver’s seat to decide whether to follow the loop around Lake Erie, the more straightforward route from Lake Erie to Lake St. Lawrence River, or the longer journey around the region once prominent for its steel and auto industries.
Cleveland was once a manufacturing center at the heart of what is now known as the Rust Belt, a region that stretches from the western shores of Lake Michigan to the southern shores of Lake Erie.
Cities in the Rust Belt roughly correspond to those around the Great Lakes, so you can combine a tour of both via car.
Along with Buffalo, NY and Pittsburgh, PA, Cleveland is one of the bigger cities on the eastern side of this once industrial mega-region, so you can follow the route by car down to central Ohio and then up to northern Indiana and eastern Wisconsin on the shores of Lake Michigan.
Columbus and Dayton, OH, are your first big-city stops, followed by Gary, IN, Chicago, IL and Milwaukee, WI, farther up to the north.
As these remain relatively large cities with sizable population, you can leave behind a one way rental car from Cleveland Airport in any one of the cities’ international airports.
Great Lakes Seaway Trail
Renting a car in Cleveland Airport will be essential if you want to combine a trip to Niagara Falls and a jaunt across the border to Canada as the eastern arm of the Rust Belt will bring you much closer there.
The Great Lakes Seaway Trail starts from the Ohio state line, 130 kilometers or two hours west.
This 834-kilometer National Scenic Byway threads through major geological features in the Midwest and Northeast: Lake Erie, Niagara Falls, Lake Ontario, and St. Lawrence River.
There is significant backtracking involved between state highways to get from Cleveland down to Pittsburgh and then back up again to the south shore of Lake Erie.
You can pick up the Seaway Trail again at Presque Isle before culminating your trip in Buffalo, two hours away.
At this point, you can decide whether to drop off a one way car hire at Buffalo Niagara International Airport, or cross to Toronto.
Canada’s most populous and most culturally diverse city is less than two hours across Lake Ontario.
Lake Erie Circle Tour
Upon reaching Buffalo, you can choose whether to cross the Peace Bridge to the town of Fort Erie in Canada, or keep on course along the south shore of Lake Ontario.
The Lake Erie Circle Tour loops around the Canadian side of the lake via Ontario’s King’s Highway 3, and keeps to that highway for its entire length, a drive which parallels the Canadian shore of Lake Erie.
King’s Highway 3 gives way to Ambassador Bridge when you cross back to the United States via Detroit, MI.
Lake Ontario Tour
Unlike the other Great Lakes Circle Tour, Lake Ontario is designated not as a circle tour but as part of a US-only route that starts from Erie County in Pennsylvania.
This segment of Seaway Trail brings the traveler to, among other places, Buffalo and Niagara, before the trail ends at the Seaway International Bridge which spans the St. Lawrence River and connects Massena, NY, to Cornwall, ON.
While Massena has its own airport with flights to busier airports with more international destinations, Ottawa International Airport is just one and a half hours away.