rediscovering your hometown? there's an app for that

Sometimes, even the most adventurous resident can grow a little too comfortable living in the same city after a while. We might feel as if we know the city like the back of our own hands -- every nook and cranny, every local deli serving the best sandwiches, every corner bar pouring the best beers.
Truth is, one can always find something new to discover if we just dig a little deeper. Lucky for us, there are apps for that, crafted by tech-savvy locals who have developed smartphone apps to help the explorer in all of us get reacquainted with the city we call home.
History and Culture
CLE Historical
Cleveland has no shortage of history thanks to the more than 200 years since official cityhood. African American heroes, Millionaire’s Row, Lorenzo Carter’s Cabin -- these are just a few of the hundreds of historical markers that Cleveland State University has amassed for easy consumption through its enlightening Cleveland Historical app.
Open up the app and you’ll see a slew of green pins rain down, each indicating a historical marker. Click on a pin to pull up the backstory along with the images, audio and/or video associated with it. Best of all is the "Tours" section of the app that invites explorers to relive famous Cleveland stories like the infamous Shaker Lakes Freeway Fight or the work of the city-building Van Sweringen Brothers. History nerds will especially dig this app.
Cleveland Museum of Art ARTLens
The Cleveland Museum of Art’s prestige speaks for itself. Every resident understands that our city's national standing is elevated simply by the presence of this world-class institution. But when was the last time you took a comprehensive stroll through its storied galleries or exhibitions?
The ARTLens app will help you do just that by offering suggested tours, describing current exhibitions, and presenting on one's very own iPad or iPhone the museum's permanent collections. While strolling through the galleries, use the app's "Near You Now" feature to delve deeper into nearby works of art thanks to additional background content including video. Save your favorites for later reference.
Cleveland Public Library
Harvey Pekar certainly wasn’t shy when it came to critiquing his beloved hometown. He looked at the Free Stamp with befuddlement and always was skeptical of the powers that be. But he also was an unabashed supporter of the Cleveland Public Library. His work relied heavily on frequent visits to his nearby Lee Road branch of the Heights Libraries, where a statue of him was unveiled in October 2012. Today, his caricature is on every CPL card. If Cleveland’s most famous gloomy Gus loves the library, then you know it must be something special.
Download CPL's CLEVNET app and stay apprised of fresh arrivals, keep tabs on your account, and locate the nearest branch. If you haven’t already, use the app to find your way over to CPL's impressive headquarters in Downtown Cleveland. Check out a book, stroll over to the Eastman Reading Garden, and take advantage of the season.
Cleveland International Film Festival
Year after year, the Cleveland International Film Festival manages to find new ways to improve and attract more viewers. Perhaps this easy-to-use app is partly to thank, serving the film buff generation that prefers scrolling through the massive film catalogue on a small screen over flipping through a giant program. CIFF members can create their own film viewing schedule using the app, a highly recommended feature. A ticket-purchasing feature is planned for later versions.
Cleveland Orchestra
Like the Museum of Art, the Cleveland Orchestra and Severance Hall are other Forest City gems that are right here for the taking. The Cleveland Orchestra app is a great tool for discovering upcoming concerts and even listening to some recent performances. See a show that appeals to you? Click the "Get Tickets" option to secure your place at the concert. Also in the app are essential details like the box office phone number, parking info and directions to the concert hall.
Beachland Ballroom
Since opening its doors in 2000, Beachland Ballroom arguably has become the music venue of choice for many a Cleveland live music fan. The Collinwood anchor is a favorite stop for up-and-coming bands like Northeast Ohio favorites The Black Keys, who performed a free show there in 2008.
Easily keep tabs on past and upcoming shows at the Beachland with this app. Beat the crowds by using the app to purchase tickets from anywhere, or just scroll through the fan photos from recent shows. Or better yet, upload your own. We wish the app could alert us when our favorite bands pay a visit, but for now, we'll just have to keep checking the calendar.
Get Out
Explore Cleveland
Admittedly light on certain features such as shopping and services, but chock full of suggestions on where to eat and drink, the Explore Cleveland app can be useful when looking for options in unchartered territory.
The "Go & Do" section touches on everything from nearby parks and festivals to museums and other major attractions. Simply click the "Near Me" feature to discover entertainment opportunities right around the corner.
Hungry? Thirsty? Explore Cleveland’s "Eat & Drink" section organizes a myriad of dining and drinking options by cuisine, location, happy hours and those that are nearest to the user.
Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
The Cleveland Metroparks network of reservations is vast, impressive and growing, but the Metroparks Zoo has an app of its very own. Like other destination apps, this one allows users to stay abreast of goings on at their favorite hometown attraction. Pull up the map to find the shortest path to the African Elephant Crossing or the buggy Insectarium. Use the app to stay informed about upcoming special events and activities. If you're on the hunt for the giant anteater, use the app to find your way to the RainForest.
Cuyahoga Valley National Park
There are more than 33,000 acres of terrain in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, meaning that even the most active adventurer likely has barely scratched the surface of this national treasure. The Chimani CVNP app opens the park up to visitors of every stripe by offering info on prime fishing holes, horse riding trails, scenic train schedules, bike paths, birding spots and even waterfalls and scenic views. Use the app to discover new trails or simply locate the nearest restroom.

Read more articles by joe baur.

Joe Baur is an author, writer and filmmaker who has worked for a variety of local and national publications including Matador Network, Yahoo! Travel, National Geographic and BBC Travel. In addition to freelance writing, he is the author of Best Hikes Near Cleveland and director of numerous travelogues from across the globe. You'll currently find him working in Ciudad Colón, Costa Rica, because spending the first year of marriage where others vacation seemed like a good idea.