The Mini Getaway series is about some of our mini vacations of no more than a long weekend:
Being from Pittsburgh we have many nicknames and jokes about Cleveland or the Mistake On The Lake. When my wife first suggested a trip to Cleveland I wondered what she had been drinking and how much. We had been there a few times for my son’s high school crew races, but we were in and out and didn’t really do any sightseeing. It was one of the nicer races for spectators.
As we went back and forth about whether to go we started to do some research on what to do there. My wife was all about the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame. I know that it’s only rock ‘n roll, but she likes it. The official Cleveland websites really didn’t help much unless you are really looking for cultural places to visit. We were looking for fun and interesting places. We have a zoo and multiple museums in our home town so we wanted to see other stuff.
One of the first places that we remembered hearing about was a restaurant that we saw on two different cable food shows. Both the Travel Channel’s Man vs Food and FoodNetwork’s Guy Fierri featured this place on their shows. The Melt Bar & Grilled features dozens of grilled cheese sandwiches on its menu and it was our first official stop. We left for Cleveland late afternoon for the two hour drive and only planned a one night stay to minimize costs and actually used Holiday Inn Priority Points for a free stay (except for the pricey parking charge).
The Melt Bar & Grilled opened a second location and since that was on our way we stopped there for dinner. We arrived at Melt around 6:00 for the dinner rush and only had a 45 minute wait. The decor was eclectic so I loved it, the staff was perhaps more eclectic so I love it and the food was fantastic so I loved it. If you visit Cleveland you need to eat at Melt Bar & Grilled.
We headed towards the lake since our hotel was near the waterfront. We only got lost once…so much for GPS technology. We were all tired so we settled in and planned our next day’s activities. One place that I had heard about was the West Side Market. Since the Hall of Fame didn’t open until 10:00 we decided to eat breakfast at the market. It was around a 15 minute drive and found a nice parking place (free!).
The Market was easily my favorite part of the trip. All of the fresh produce, meats, breads, and desserts available under one roof (technically tow roofs). It is the kind of cool destination for locals to get fresh food. I have to admit to some jealousy that Pittsburgh doesn’t have quite the same local. We have our Strip District, but it is not quite the same. We pretty much all got breakfast at different vendors and had crepes, muffins, pastries, scones, and I had a breakfast pie.
After brunch we headed to the Hall of Fame. We parked back at the hotel since we already paid for parking and walked a few blocks towards the lakefront. We found a few touristy displays including this one that happened to be donated to the city by British Petroleum. The Gulf Oil Spill was in full gear during our trip so the gift from BP stood out. We lucked out for the photo because a rather large family had just finished picnicking in front of the display so I didn’t have to Photoshop them out of the picture. We did have to wait while they slooooooowly made their way out even though four of us were waiting with cameras.
Bruce Springsteen was featured in the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame (“RRHF”). I am not a big fan although I saw him in concert probably 30 years ago and it was perhaps the best Rock ‘n Roll show I have ever seen. The Boss puts a lot into his shows. My disappointment with the RRHF began with the sign about not being permitted to take photographs. Taking pictures is one of my favorite things to do and I was further dismayed when I thought that I would have to check my camera bag. I don’t trust anybody with my equipment. They were cool and allowed me to keep it as long as the camera was stowed inside. No problem. You were allowed to take pictures in the lobby.
It was interesting to see all of the memorabilia, but it was sort of like a really stocked, loaded, and organized Hard Rock Cafe. It was not my cup of tea so to speak. I have a friend who loves the joint.
After the RRHF we needed to head home. We had noticed an upscale shopping center on the way in and we wanted to stop there for dinner and shopping (you should note that there are three females in my family). We got to Legacy Village just in time for a very big storm and started the debate about where to have dinner when we passed a place called Stir Crazy. It is a chain restaurant, but not in Pennsylvania. We settled in and considered the menu. One of the options was the Market Bar where you choose your meat, then fill a bowl with veggies, sauces, etc. for one of the cooks to stir fry for you. Three of us chose this option. The food was great! I wish we had this restaurant closer to home.
We spent a little over 24 hours in Cleveland, but had a really good time. Even though our children are getting older (two in college and our youngest a Junior in high school) we love to do stuff with them and they aren’t too old to want to go along or at least they are too kind to say otherwise. When we go back I would like to experience their Little Italy. Thanks Cleveland.