July 22, 2012

Our Mother-Daughter Getaway to Cleveland, Ohio

My mom and I don't get a chance to travel together much anymore. So when we had the opportunity to take a trip to Cleveland, Ohio for the weekend, we thought it sounded like a blast! I took so many photos on our trip! All of the skyline photos above were taken from our hotel room, which obviously had a great view. So where did we stay?

Hilton Garden Inn

We stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn downtown. It is on Carnegie Avenue and is right next to Progressive Field. If you are heading to Cleveland for an Indians game, this would be the perfect place to stay. Select from 240 guest rooms and suites furnished with comfortable beds. The rooms were very clean and comfortable. The in-room microwave, coffeemaker and mini-refrigerator made it so easy for us to prepare snacks. Other great amenities include complimentary WiFi, 32-inch flat screen TVs, and the Great American Grill on site with Room Service available. We loved soaking in the hot tub and indoor pool after a day of fun. Overall, the Hilton Garden Inn is a great choice for couples, families or anyone heading to Cleveland! It is very convenient to Cleveland attractions, and as you can see, the views are incredible! We were in a suite on the sixth floor.

Greater Cleveland Aquarium

Now for the attractions that we enjoyed! One of the newest attractions in Cleveland is the Greater Cleveland Aquarium. I love the water and I love to watch fish and marine life. So I was very excited about this one. Experience an underwater adventure from Ohio's lakes and rivers to the ocean's depths. You will see eight foot sharks, rays, piranha, alligators, seahorses and much more. Perhaps the coolest thing about the aquarium is that it is inside a 100 year old FirstEnergy Powerhouse. The Greater Cleveland Aquarium is the only free-standing aquarium in Ohio. It offers a journey through the historic FirstEnergy Powerhouse loaded with things to do and engaging experiences. The Ohio Lakes and Rivers exhibit fascinates visitors with freshwater species that are native to Ohio, alligators, catfish and thousands of freshwater wonders. The shark tank delights guests with sharks, eels, seahorses and a wide variety of saltwater wonders, and often scuba divers who interact with guests. My favorite feature was the acrylic underwater tunnel with sharks swimming all around you. At one point, you can't see the beginning or the end of the tunnel. You feel like you are immersed in their world. Very cool. There were a few hands on exhibits for kids so it would have taken longer if we had kids with us. We finished our visit in about 45 minutes.

Photo: (c) positivelycleveland.com
Cleveland Museum of Art

Just outside of the city sits the Cleveland Museum of Art, one of the most prestigious cultural institutions in the city. This breathtaking building is one of the United States’ most important art museums and the only major private museum in the country to still offer free admission to its permanent collection.

We really enjoyed browsing the classics created by legends by the name of Monet, Renoir and Dali just to name a few. The museum is currently under a multi-million-dollar renovation that expands and re-imagines the entire museum campus and brings the total building size to almost 600,000 square feet. The renovation and expansion is the largest cultural project in Ohio’s history and one of the most comprehensive projects at a museum anywhere in the nation with a total cost of $350 million. The new museum will feature CMA’s two architectural landmarks, the 1916 Beaux-Arts south building and the 1971 north building by Marcel Breuer. A third new structure will form the north wall of a large courtyard with a soaring glass canopy crowning the center of the complex.

It was so hot on the day we visited, so we took advantage of the air conditioning and enjoyed some fantastic works of art. The building is very large so it was best seen with a map. Also with some parts still under renovation, we had to guess about where some of the exhibits were. It was so impressive that admission is free! This is a must see attraction on your visit to Cleveland.

Cleveland Botanical Garden

Just next to the museum is the Cleveland Botanical Gardens. It is a beautiful combination of indoor exhibits housed in a magnificent glasshouse and ten acres of diverse outdoor gardens. I took so many photos! It was just breathtaking! The spectacular Glasshouse includes two major exhibits, the Costa Rica Rainforest and the Madagascar Spiny Desert. There are also nine beautiful outdoor gardens for exploration. We loved the glasshouse which featured more than 350 species of exotic plants and more than 50 species of butterflies, insects, birds, reptiles and amphibians! There were butterflies everywhere! It was awesome. This remarkable conservatory also shows how plants, animals, geology and climate interact in delicate balance. There is even a waterfall. You really feel like you are traveling to the spiny desert of Madagascar and the butterfly-filled rainforest of Costa Rica -- without leaving Cleveland! Then you get to explore ten acres of lush, beautiful gardens. There are photo opportunities at every step. If you are looking for somewhere to take portraits, this is it! This attraction will take several hours if you walk through all of the gardens.

Photo: (c) positivelycleveland.com
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum

Do my mom and I share the same taste in music? No. But we both enjoyed our visit to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. Where else can you relive the soundtrack of your life? More than 50 exhibits, dynamic cinema presentations plus the largest single collection of rock and roll artifacts are housed in this great hall.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum recently completed the first renovation in its 15-year history, unveiling new exhibit spaces, state-of-the-art interactive technology, improved way-finding and even more new artifacts to add to the museum’s comprehensive collection. One of the newest exhibits features the Beatles and more than 60 of the group’s artifacts, some of which are on display to the public for the first time including George Harrison’s striped suit from the 1966 U.S. Tour, John Lennon’s black wool coat worn in “Help!” and Paul McCartney’s handwritten arrangement for “Birthday.” This was a cool exhibit to experience with my mom. She remembers all of the Beatles hype that was happening in the 60s! She was reliving her youth as we made our way through all of the items on display.

We both loved looking at all of the costumes and artifacts from our favorite bands and artists. I realized that they are currently showing U2 3D in the Foster Theater. U2 is my favorite band and the last time I visited the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was when they featured a U2 exhibit. I knew I really wanted to see the movie, but I wasn't sure how my mom felt about it. Well guess what? She sat through the 90 minute film with me! I have such a cool mom. It was so fun to share an intimate experience with her and my favorite band!

Are you a fan of the truly unique American rock and roll band, Grateful Dead? Then you will want to check out their featured exhibit, The Long, Strange Trip. Individual sections within the exhibit are be devoted to the Grateful Dead as a recording group and a touring band, the fans who devotedly followed them and artifacts such as completed manuscripts, instruments, artwork and the Grateful Dead Hotline answering machine.

You really can't visit Cleveland without enjoying the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. We watched a 90 minute movie, but you can expect to spend a few hours reliving the music of your life! It was a very special part of our trip.

Photo: (c) Jeff Greenberg
West Side Market

Now for some food! We spent the morning perusing 180 booths that make up the West Side Market. We could not believe our eyes! This is one huge market! As the largest indoor/outdoor market in the country, this marketplace was once where turn-of-the-century immigrants found their native foods and spices. Today, it features the freshest selection of fruits, vegetables, meats, dairy, produce, bakery, ethnic foods and international delicacies.
For 100 years the West Side Market has served as the go-to marketplace for twentieth century immigrants looking for the foods and spices of their homeland. The nation’s largest indoor/outdoor market, built in 1912, is recognized as a culinary Mecca by visitors, chefs and celebrities alike. You name it, you can find it in the market! If I lived in the Cleveland area I would do my food shopping here! We did take advantage of the fantastic prices on produce and sweets! This year the West Side Market is celebrating its 100th birthday with many centennial events. You must check out the West Side Market!

Carnegie Kitchen and Dining

Just down the street from our hotel is Carnegie Kitchen and Dining. This is a great place to enjoy a hearty breakfast. If you aren't staying in the area, no worries, because they offer free parking! Serving only breakfast and lunch, the restaurant closes at 3 p.m. The menu includes many reasonably priced classic diner dishes. I enjoyed a bacon omelette that was just stuffed with bacon! My mom however ordered the best dish of us all. The biscuits and gravy were absolutely delicious! Want to check it out? The Carnegie Kitchen is located at 1332 Carnegie Avenue in downtown Cleveland.

Photo: (c) Scott Meivogel
The Greenhouse Tavern

For dinner, I would suggest heading to the East Fourth Street Entertainment District. We chose to dine with social responsibility at The Greenhouse Tavern, one of Cleveland’s newest delicacies to join the East Fourth Street District. Chef Jonathan Sawyer evokes the farm-to-plate movement in his French-inspired menu. Nearly everything in this upscale eatery (from the light fixtures to the walls) is made of recycled materials.
I will admit that my mom and I were baffled by just looking at the menu. The menu is divided into what they call firsts, seconds, thirds and halfs. These sections refer to the amount of food you get with those entrees. Being a farm-to-plate establishment, you will see ingredients like roasted marrow bone, stinky cheese fondue, pork skin cracklins and Dee-Jay’s bacon wrapped dates. We were confused and wondering where in the world we were dining. I ordered the Buttermilk Grilled Lardo Bianco Salad and my mom ordered the Grass Fed Beef Burger. We also shared the Gravy Frites and Crispy Chicken Wings Confit with our dinner companion. Everything was delicious! Do yourself a favor and try the Gravy Frites and Crispy Chicken Wings Confit. Wow. So good. The Gravy Frites are basically fries with mozzarella cheese curd and brown gravy. Talk about comfort food. I am not a fan of chicken wings in general but the Crispy Chicken Wings Confit are very good. They are made with roasted jalapeño, lemon juice, scallions and garlic. Yum yum yum! Do not be intimidated by the menu! Just try something and chances are, it will surprise you!

East 4th Street Entertainment District

As I stated above, The Greenhouse Tavern is located in the East 4th Street Entertainment District. Quickly becoming a nightlife destination of choice, this narrow brick street is packed with upscale eateries and entertainment. This is such a cool area of downtown Cleveland! I had no idea it even existed. You can choose from an array of assorted and eclectic dining options including Lola Bistro, Pickwick and Frolic, Saigon, Wonder Bar and Flannery’s. This area is perfect for a summer date night with so many places offering outdoor seating.
Photos: (c) positivelycleveland.com

My mom and I are both huge fans of the theater. So I really wanted to experience the second largest performing arts center in the country. PlayhouseSquare draws more than one million visitors annually. The five beautifully restored theaters are home to the opera, dance, concerts, an impressive Broadway Series and Great Lakes Theater Festival.

We were able to see Sondhiem on Sondhiem in the historic Hanna Theatre, which recently underwent a $19.2 million state-of-the-art restoration. It is beautiful! The new Hanna Theatre design infuses the historic 1920s theater with a bold contemporary sensibility. I loved that there was not a bad seat in the house. The seating was also very comfortable.

PlayhouseSquare is such a vibrant area. It really does feel like a mini Times Square! I love that Cleveland has such a cultural area in the heart of downtown.

Are you ready to experience Cleveland, Ohio? There is so much to do and see! Whether you are traveling with your family, your spouse, or your parent, you will find there is something for everyone. Need help planning your trip? Check out Positively Cleveland for everything you need for your visit. You can also find them on Facebook and Twitter.

Disclosure: I did not receive any financial compensation for this post. All opinions are my own and uninfluenced by anyone else. I did receive some free product(s) to facilitate my review from the companies or their PR agencies. See my full disclosure.

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