My adventures in Cleveland, OH
That didn’t include the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Yes, that’s right Cleveland, OH. I’ve actually vacationed here twice and still feel as though I haven’t had enough of Cleveland. To be fair, one of my best friends attended graduate school in Cleveland so I did not simply pick Ohio on a whim, but I would gladly go back. I really enjoyed being able to travel to a city that isn’t at the top of every travel guide’s list. I think not having a clear expectation about a place allowed me to be open minded and accepting of anything and everything that happened on my trip. It was hard to be let down by a place that I originally knew so little about.
There and Back Again; a Cleveland Tale
Getting to Cleveland wasn’t the most pleasant thing I’ve ever done, but I suppose it all depends on where you’re flying or driving in from. I started my journey from Austin, TX where I’m pretty sure direct flights are just not a thing, so I boarded a rather early flight to Detroit, and then connected to a safe arrival at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport. I stayed in the University Heights area, about 10 miles from downtown and a half hour from the airport. Based on where I spent most of my time, I would suggest renting a car if you’re not staying with friends or relatives. There is an RTA rail system in place throughout Cleveland, something I unfortunately did not get a chance to try!
John Carroll University (This is where my BFF got her knowledge on!)
In no particular order, here are the highlights of my visits to Cleveland.
Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Every time I leave Texas I find myself missing the vast expanses of land, and just nature in general. However I was pleased to find that Cleveland has an abundance of trees, everywhere! There were so many pine trees (or at least tress that I called pine) that it felt like Christmas in the middle of May. During my first trip to Cleveland, I visited and hiked through Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Here, I even found a Christmas tree farm; something very foreign to this native Texan. Seriously this place was combining my love of hiking, nature, and Christmas!
The trees of Cuyahoga Valley National Park
The Cleveland Museum of Art
The Cleveland Museum of Art is definitely something not to be missed. First of all, admission to the museum is always free! I paid absolutely nothing to get in to a museum that houses works of art by Matisse, Renoir, Picasso, and hundreds more. OK, I was pretty impressed at this point. Not to mention the architecture of the building is a work of art in and of itself. Several wings jut out from a massive central atrium where almost the entirety of the ceiling is glass. There are also several areas of indoor landscaping throughout the atrium, which gives the illusion of being outside. I particularly enjoyed this aspect of the museum, since when I was visiting it was cool 65 degrees outside… a bit chilly for me!
During my second trip to Cleveland, I channeled my inner adrenaline junkie and ventured to Cedar Point Amusement Park; about an hour’s drive west of Cleveland in Sandusky, OH. If you’re a fan of roller coasters, then this is the place for you. My recommendation would be to get to Cedar Point as early as you can and start at the back of the park and work your way up to the front.
Our group started with one of the most popular rides, Millennium Force, in order to avoid a massive line later in the day. Side note about Millennium Force; this is one of the tallest roller coasters in the U.S. with a 310-foot drop! Cedar Point does offer a fast lane option, which allows guests to bypass the line, but honestly I enjoyed having some waiting time, to recover and mentally prepare for the next ride. I would also suggest ending your trip with a ride on Top Thrill Dragster. One, because it’s amazing, and two, because you may need to lie down after this one. It’s not an easy recovery after going zero to 120 mph in less than 4 seconds and then plunging down a 420 foot drop.
Cedar Point, Sandusky OH
The group before leaving Cedar Point
Food Glorious Food!
Fresh off the plane, the first thing I wanted to do in Cleveland was eat! So my lovely host suggested a taco place (knowing my intense love of tacos) that was on our way back from the airport. However, no matter how much I love tacos, I’m always extremely hesitant to eat one North of Austin, TX. But I went against that engrained belief and headed out to Barrio for some taco loving. It was a great choice in my life! Barrio’s has a wide variety of taco combinations and make your own options that were absolutely delicious. Never again will I be so closed-minded with my taco consumption.
First, let me explain what a Bialy is. Essentially a bialy is a bagel that has an indent where the bagel’s hole normally is. Typically bagels are boiled and then baked, whereas a bialy is only baked and served. This is the perfect on the go breakfast! It’s light, delicious, and inexpensive. If you’re in the University Heights area, definitely make a trip to Bialy’s Bagels, I promise it will make your whole day better!
Just in case you needed more breakfast suggestions… Here are some crepes! Luna café/bakery makes crepes right before your eyes with all sorts of sweet and savory filling options. Even if crepes aren’t your thing, Luna Café and Bakery offers an extensive breakfast menu and is a coffee addict's haven. The café itself is an incredibly comfy space, perfect for rainy days and book reading.
The Whole Foods
Even though I was 1,400 miles away from work, I just couldn’t seem to stay away from Whole Foods. If you find yourself in Cleveland, OH during the summer months, you should definitely check out the Cedar Center Whole Foods for their 5X7 event, which occurs every Friday evening. Basically for five dollars you get to sample five dishes paired with five different beers or wines. It’s a really fun and inexpensive way to learn and try some new food and drinks.
Saying goodbye… Until we meet again.
Story and photos by Lucy Weberlein