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Why go now: Slip into enemy territory and check out the Sox-Indians rivalry, while also getting a close look at Sam Cooke, Chicago’s seminal soul singer of the 1950s and ’60s.
Where to stay: The luxurious Renaissance Cleveland Hotel, which opened in 1918, sits within a mile of major-league baseball and the city’s celebrated music museum (24 Public Square; 216-696-5600).
Where to eat: Offering breakfast, lunch, and dinner-as well as Saturday-night salsa dancing-the Waterstreet Grill is a good jumping-off point for the Warehouse District’s teeming nightlife scene (1265 W. Ninth St.; 216-619-1600).
What to do: The Tremont ArtWalk-on the second Friday of each month between 6 and 10 p.m.-reveals Cleveland’s West Side galleries (centered on Professor Street and Jefferson Avenue; 216-575-0920).
Twist and shout: This summer, in addition to special exhibits about Ricky Nelson and the young Bob Dylan, the I. M. Pei–designed Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum salutes one of its original inductees, the Chicago-born gospel, soul, and R & B singer Sam Cooke (1 Key Plaza; 216-781-7625).
Play ball: The world-champion White Sox, looking to repeat, visit retro Jacobs Field to take on the Cleveland Indians, their chief Central Division rival, from May 29th to June 1st, and September 25th to 27th (2401 Ontario St.; 216-420-4200).
Where to learn more: Contact the Convention and Visitors Bureau of Greater Cleveland at 216-621-4110 or www.travelcleveland.com
Why go now: A timely chance to get reacquainted with one of America’s great writers.
Where to stay: In St. Paul (on the east side of the Mississippi River), the Saint Paul Hotel recently underwent a $6.5-million renovation (350 Market St.; 651-292-9292); across the street in Rice Park stands the statue of a celebrated native son: the novelist and short-story writer F. Scott Fitzgerald. He and his wife, Zelda, made the hotel their temporary home in 1921, and there is a portrait of him in the hotel’s bar.
Where to eat: Serving fish, chops, and steaks, Kincaid’s is a St. Paul favorite (380 St. Peter St.; 651-602-9000); Minneapolitans feel the same way about the Oceanaire Seafood Room (1300 Nicollet Ave.; 612-333-2277). For French fare, try A Rebours (410 St. Peter St.; 651-665-0656) or Vincent (1100 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis; 612-630-1189).
Scott Free: St. Paul’s central library (a neighbor of Rice Park and the St. Paul Hotel) has an alcove and reading room dedicated to Fitzgerald and his works (90 W. Fourth St.; 651-266-7000); grab a snack at Zelda Coffee, the library’s café, and then pick up a free map to Fitzgerald’s local haunts, including his 1896 birthplace (481 Laurel Ave.) and the brownstone (599 Summit Ave.) where he revised his first book, This Side of Paradise.
Play time: This summer in Minneapolis, the Guthrie Theater presents the world première of Simon Levy’s adaptation of Fitzgerald’s finest novel, The Great Gatsby (818 2nd St. S.; 612-377-2224, www.guthrietheater.org).
A team for two cities: The Minnesota Twins host the White Sox at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome on August 18th, 19th, and 20th (34 Kirby Puckett Place, Minneapolis; 612-338-9467).
Where to learn more: Contact the Greater Minneapolis Convention & Visitors Association (888-676-6757, www.minneapolis.org) or the Saint Paul RiverCentre Convention & Visitors Authority (800-627-6101, www.visitstpaul.com).
Why go now: A recent spate of urban renewal (as in the Central West End) has put a modern polish on this charming city’s historic past.
Where to stay: The local Ritz-Carlton lives up to the hotelier’s reputation for excellence, while also orchestrating a lively cabaret scene in its lobby lounge on weekend evenings (100 Carondelet Plaza; 314-863-6300).
Where to eat: At Monarch, Jeff Orbin and Aaron Teitelbaum’s sophisticated menus are complemented by a stellar wine program (7401 Manchester Rd.; 314-644-3995).
Walkabout: One of the best ways to acquaint (or reacquaint) yourself with the city is a walking tour of the recently revitalized Central West End neighborhood (Euclid Avenue between Taylor Street and Kingshighway; http://stlouis.missouri.org/cwe/landmarks.html).
Art Attack: Check out the collection at the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts, where Richard Serra and Ellsworth Kelly have created specific works that harmonize with the vision of Tadao Ando, the Pritzker Prize–winning architect who designed the museum (3716 Washington Blvd.; 314-754-1850).
The play’s the thing: Belly up to the Bard at the Shakespeare Festival of St. Louis (outdoors in Forest Park, at Fine Arts and Government drives, just east of Art Hill; 314-531-9800).
The double play’s the thing: Watch the Cards host the Cubs (on the first weekend of June or the last weekend of August) at New Busch Stadium (250 Stadium Plaza; 314-345-9000).
Hopped up: After riding to the top of Eero Saarinen’s 630-foot-tall Gateway Arch (707 N. First St.; 877-982-1410), sip some suds nearby on the Anheuser-Busch Brewery Tour (12th & Lynch streets, St. Louis; 314-577-2626).
Where to learn more: Contact the St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission at 314-421-1023 or www.explorestlouis.com
Why go now: Take advantage of travel bargains before the Canadian dollar grows any stronger.
Where to stay: Both Le Royal Meridien King Edward (37 King St. East; 416-863-9700), one of Toronto’s oldest hotels (since 1903), and the hip Hotel Le Germain (30 Mercer St.; 416-345-9500), are convenient to the theatre district, SkyDome, and other must-see attractions.
Where to eat: David Lee, the chef and co-owner of Splendido, puts a modern spin on fancy French fare, and his comfortable, low-lit restaurant encourages an intimate dining experience (88 Harbord St.; 416-929-7788).
Where to go: Galleries, clothing boutiques, and nightspots cluster along Queen Street West-the thriving district between Yonge Street and Bathurst Avenue, known unofficially as West Queen West.
Where to play: At Queen’s Quay (at the foot of Bay Street), catch the ferry (416-392-8193) to Toronto Island Park, where you can rent a bike (standard, tandem, or quad; 416-203-0009) and take in the many attractions-including Centreville Amusement Park, Manitou Beach (and the clothing-optional beach at Hanlan’s Point), and a plaque honoring Babe Ruth’s first professional home run-of this Lake Ontario refuge (416-397-2628).
Batter up: The 17-year-old SkyDome, home to baseball’s Blue Jays, may have a new name-the Rogers Centre, after team owner Ted Rogers-but its retractable roof remains an engineering marvel (1 Blue Jays Way; 416-341-3663). The White Sox visit August 4th, 5th, and 6th. Allow time to visit the giant next door: at 1,815 feet, the CN Tower is the world’s tallest structure (301 Front St. West, 416-360-8500; make reservations for 360, the tower’s restaurant, at 416-362-5411). And this being Canada, don’t leave town without visiting the Hockey Hall of Fame (30 Yonge St.; 416-360-7735).
Where to learn more: Visit the City of Toronto’s Web site at www.toronto.ca/visitors.