You’ve planned and saved. You have a free weekend with your girls and are ready to take your girl’s night out on the road! But where to go?
Well, I’ve got a suggestion that might not have crossed your mind: Cleveland.
Yes, Cleveland. That gem of northern Ohio that sits on the shore of Lake Erie offers a wide variety of activities for a girl’s weekend, a romantic escape or a family-filled vacation But today? Let’s focus on that much-needed girl’s weekend! No matter your interests, the greater Cleveland area has something for you to enjoy.
Music-Loving Mamas Weekend
You know the song, right? Cleveland rocks! Live music is pulsing through the streets of Cleveland and there are venues offering music for everyone.
The Happy Dog features a menu of hot dog toppings that is so vast literally thousands of combinations are possible. They also offer a menu of “suggestive wieners” with tips great combinations to try. A tasty vegetarian dog is also available for those who don’t eat meat. But more than a gourmet hot dog dive (it’s not an oxymoron!), you’ll want to visit the Happy Dog for DJ Kishka’s monthly Polka Happy Hour. This is not to be missed, but even if you should miss it, every Friday at the Happy Dog features live music from classic country to alternative rock and roll.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame because how could we talk about music and not discuss the Rock Hall? This multi-level venue on the shores of Lake Erie features exhibits from the birth of rock and roll to modern-day incarnations. Special exhibits, events and movies ensure that this is a museum that offers something new to see each time you visit. I was able to tour Johnny Cash’s tour bus and the Women in Rock exhibit during my trip to Cleveland; upcoming exhibits will be announced on the Rock Hall’s website.
Another unique venue for music in the Cleveland area is a quick island hop on Lake Erie to Put In Bay on South Bass Island. Take a ferry (or www.millerferry.com) from nearby Sandusky and visit this historic island where golf carts are the preferred mode of transportation. Live music abounds at the restaurants and bars around town, including the historic Round House bar.
Looking for more adventure? The Cleveland area has that, too! From a variety of watersports on Lake Erie (including jet-skiing and parasailing, to name a few), there are fun excursions to be had on dry land as well.
Take a Bike Tour of the city with the Great Lakes Touring Company’s fleet of bikes fitted with baskets, helmets included. Take guided tours or get your bikes dropped off at your location and explore on your own. A great way to get personal at street level with a downtown tour or a tour of the area’s vast park system.
If your adventure includes art, the Cleveland Museum of Art is a must-see. Located in the heart of University Circle, the museum features amazing collections of art that feature items from ancient arifacts to Rodin’s “The Thinker” to post-modern masterpieces (including the iconic “Marilyn x 100” by Andy Warhol).
If you prefer your adventures to take your breath away, perhaps a visit to Cedar Point should be on your agenda. Featuring a head-spinning array of 17 roller coasters along with dozens of other rides (from mild to thrilling), Cedar Point is perfect for a day of thrills. You can even stay at the park at their on-site beachfront resort.
For a wild time, visit the Cleveland Zoo and get up close and personal with the elephants, feed a giraffe or visit the polar bears (my personal favorite!).
And get all nostalgic at the Big Fun toy store, where you can find toys that represent the latest and greatest from today and year’s past. This store is quite literally stocked to the rafters with items that will get you pointing and saying: “Oh my gosh! Look at that!”
Fun for Foodies!
Cleveland is becoming known for their focus on sustainability. With the great West Side Market providing fresh, often local and organic produce (and meat, dairy, baked goods and so much more), foodies will be hard-pressed to leave empty handed.
And the West Side Market Café is a great, funky old-school café on-site at the market that serves up a wide range of favorites to take the edge off your hunger while you shop.
Get dinner at farm-to-table eatery The Flying Fig, with a menu that changes daily as the available ingredients change with the seasons. The Fig (as it’s known locally) has a relaxed and welcoming ambience indoors and streetside patio for al fresco dining, weather permitting.
Just across from the Flying Fig, the Great Lakes Brewing Company has been around since 1988, and as Ohio’s first microbrew, their offerings include year-round brews (including pale ales, lagers and porter) and seasonal offerings (I am a fan of the Holy Moses White Ale and the Christmas Ale is legendary in the area). The brewery offers tours and events (such as the Girl’s Pint Out beer tasting) plus a gift shop and brew pub.
Fan of beer and chocolate? You can have both at Lilly in the Tremont neighborhood, the home of hand-crafted chocolates and truffles that have been paired with wines and craft beers—all of which are sold at the store. Owned by a husband and wife team, this is a unique shop that is ahead of the curve in creativity. Their website also offers a list of their handcrafted candy (with mouth-watering photography) and beer pairing ideas. I highly recommend visiting the website before you visit the store as it will save you lots of time. Lilly might give a bit of awesome overload when you first enter, so be prepared.
Lucky’s Café, also in the Tremont neighborhood, is a down-home, upscale diner that has been featured on the Food Network and offers a fresh, filling menu that utilizes the on-site garden for many items. It’s a popular place with locals and tourists alike, so expect to have to wait before your table is ready—but it’s oh-so worth the wait!
Another fun, funky and local favorite is Grumpy’s Café, known as much for their food and random collection of coffee mugs as for the ever-changing local art that is prominently featured on it’s walls.
For something different for dinner, try the Prosperity Social Club a proper old-school tavern that features local food favorites (such as their amazing pierogis and bratwurst) and much more on a widely-varied menu that will surely satisfy the pickiest eater in your bunch.
A short drive out of the city to Sandusky will get you to the City Bake Shop, an artisan bakery featuring the baking skills of Wendy Kromer, the co-author of Martha Stewart Wedding Cakes whose bakery has been expanded to a café in historic downtown Sandusky.
Above, at left—From top left: vintage toys at the Big Fun Toy Store; suit of armor at the Cleveland Museum of Art; the facade at Lucky's Cafe; up close and personal with giraffes at the Cleveland Zoo; carting around at Put In Bay; a display of magazine covers at the City Bake Shop in Sandusky; a fresh display at the West Side Market; looking out from the brewery at the Great Lakes Brewing Company.
Above, at right—From top left: Looking up at the MaxAir thrill ride at Cedar Point; something old and something new along a bike tour of the city; pairing wine and craft beer with chocolate at Lilly; Fourth Street as seen from a bike tour; the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in panorama.