6 Things to do in Ohio

When you ask friends and neighbors for activities to do in Cleveland, Ohio you discover just how many of them grew up in the midwest. Unfortunately, most of them also end up scratching their heads and racking their brains for suitable midwestern vacation highlights. After a couple long weekends to Cleveland here is my list of inexpensive things to do in the area.

  • Cleveland Museum of Art – There is something for everyone here. My dad enjoyed the impressionist section featuring painters like Claude Monet while my mom enjoyed the realism and attention to detail in the European exhibit. I felt like a kid in a candy store when we arrived at a room dedicated entirely to medieval armor and weaponry. 
  • Coffee and Cake – There are a number of mouth watering bakeries in Historic Little Italy, each with its own specialty. For dessert one evening, we watched the woman behind the counter fill our fresh cannolis with the traditional ricotta filling. It was the freshest and tastiest cannoli I’ve ever had.
  • Take a Hike – The North Chagrin Reservation is a lovely place to immerse yourself in nature. The colors on the trees surrounding Squire’s Castle were just beginning to turn with the chill in the air. The wide green lawn stretching like a royal velvet carpet before the castle is also a fantastic place for people watching. In addition to the regular young families and friendly dog walkers, this is also a prime location to spot outdoor yoga, sword fighting and women in silky floral gowns for their wedding photos. 
  • Gelato – No matter what the weather, it is never too cold for gelato (or sorbetto). This frosty delicacy from Little Italy is an explosion of fruity flavors that call to mind hot summer days and crowded, cobbled European streets. 
  • Servants of Mary Shrine – Thousands of colored tiles make up the mosaic of the world’s largest likeness of Our Lady of Guadeloupe. Located on an idyllic farm, there’s a reverent hush over The Lake of Hope which Mary stands over in eternal prayer.
  • Ghost Walk – This is not Halloween specific. The cemeteries of Cleveland are as much an attraction to the area as the history and art museums. Each family plot and headstone is a work of art, from celtic crosses to warrior angels. I’d love to share a chat with the owners of the names on all those stones over a nice cup of tea. 

What are some of your favorite things to do in Ohio? We’re always looking for new adventures.


POTD: Sunday in Little Italy (Holy Rosary Church)

The Holy Rosary Church in Cleveland is a long standing landmark of Little Italy, originally established in 1892. A group of immigrants from Italy began the parish as a community built on faith and love. Today, it still is and those ideals remain a steadfast mission of the church.

The Holy Rosary Church welcomes visitors from all over; tourists sampling the flavors of Little Italy, family members of patients at local hospitals seeking Eucharist and prayer. People flock to this beautiful church for many reasons as I had the pleasure to be one of them during my visit with my sister. It truly is a stunning church with each tall stained glass window depicting a different station of the cross. I can’t wait until my next visit. 

Look Up

It’s amazing what you notice when you look up. People tend to get caught up in the everyday stress and routine, glued to their phones, desks, computers, sofas. I’m guilty of it too. The hardest part of going out into the world is always making it to the front door. I hardly ever regret leaving my apartment in favor of activity and the possibility of making new friends but, for some reason, it’s one of the most difficult things to do. Of course, once I finally cross the threshold and begin to once again participate in life I always wonder why I didn’t do it sooner. The world is fascinating when you stop for a minute and let yourself soak it all in. Here are some things I noticed when I looked up during my recent visit to Little Italy in Ohio.

The Italian flag was everywhere! The red, white and green flew from nearly every porch, balcony and shop window. Even the turf at the park was colored to reflect the area’s Italian roots.

Christopher Columbus stood watch over the little park when we visited late one evening. 

Little Italy was in full bloom. The flag was hardly the only spot of color along the crowded street. 

The clearing of the bells of the Holy Rosary Church joyously declared mass in session throughout the day as people gathered to celebrate. Along the outer walls of church, small nooks house the likenesses of a few beloved saints. 

Even the parking lot guard rail was Italian, sporting a large red mustache.  

When was the last time you caught a glimpse of something that made you look up and smile?

Freedom of Flight

True freedom is mastering the airport. Once you do that anything is possible. The sky really is the limit. You’re no longer constrained by where you can get to within driving distance. You don’t have to set aside huge blocks of time for hours of muddling along endless stretches of highway. You’re free to go where you please and arrive in time for dinner. Facing your fears of enormous aircrafts thousands of feet in the sky is one of the most liberating things you will ever do. 

Of course, if you’re scrambling to your gate as the flight crew sends out the last boarding call, it may also be one of the most stressful things you ever do. There is no need for this. Be kind to yourself and leave plenty of time. In my experience, the number one best thing you can do when flying is to make a day of it. I tend to operate under the mentality that if I’m not early, I’m late. When it comes to air travel I always plan to arrive at the airport no less than two hours before my scheduled departure, although I’m perfectly happy to hit the road even sooner if I’m packed and ready to go. I have absolutely no problem with sitting in the terminal for three hours. Where better to enjoy some heart-warming people watching? 

Once through security I find my gate and double check my flight status for my own peace of mind before meandering through the food court to find a bite to eat, preferably one that is accompanied by a nice steaming vanilla latte. I’ll find a quiet corner or window nook to enjoy my meal and call my mom to let her know I arrived safely to the airport. I’ll also note any restrooms or snack shops on my way. I return to these shortly before my flight begins boarding to grab some grub and fluids for the plane. I can be migraine prone on travel days and it never hurts to have extra munchies and water in my carry on in addition to my usual Excedrin.

Don’t be afraid to leisurely stroll about the terminal if you have some time to kill. Chances are you’ll be sitting for quite a while so you might want to stretch your legs. When the flight calls to begin boarding don’t be in a hurry to be the first one in line even though others will be. You already have a ticket and are standing by at the gate, listening intently for your boarding group. Even if you let a couple people cut in front of you, it ultimately won’t make much of a difference and rushing to the front of the line to claim your spot is sure to kill the relaxed, easy-going attitude you’ve maintained up to this point. Again, flying doesn’t have to be stressful. Don’t let the impatience of other people negate your good vibes even a little bit.

Throughout the day always be sure to say please and thank you to all shuttle drivers, security guards, shop clerks, cafe baristas and of course your lovely flight crew. People are generally happy to help and to answer any questions. If you set out with hours to spare there’s very little that can ruin your day, whether it be a traffic jam or a few oblivious fellow airport pedestrians. You have time. Just relax and enjoy the ride.

What a Wonderful World

The world is beautiful! I’ve been known to gripe a bit at having to spend an entire day waiting for connecting flights. It seems like you’re bound to visit every airport in the country before arriving at the one you’re trying to get to. However, my complaints are ill founded as this experience always turns out to be a blessing in disguise so long as I have a window seat.

I’ve sat for hours with my neck craned to one side, my breath catching every time the landscape changes. The pale, orderly patchwork geometry of the fields of the Midwest is interrupted by wide dark twisting fingers of waterways surrounded by unkempt hills. These become grander and more frequent until, with a great trumpeting fanfare in my ears, the mountains come into view, their topmost peaks still dusted with snow. 

Every so often the topography shifts, melding into winding rivers that cut deep canyons into the Earth. Sometimes the speckled black green of trees gives way to crimson sand or orange stone. Even if you’re not a geography buff it’s impossible to not be fascinated when viewing it from such a height. You can’t help but wonder how all this came to exist and be humbled to be part of it. 

We live in a fantastic time where you can communicate with someone on the other side of the world in seconds with the touch of a button or you can take to the sky and see that person in hours. Even though a two hour trip often stretches into an ordeal three times that length with the occasional plane change and layover I just can’t find it in me to be unhappy about it. The Earth is stunning and I get to see it.

The Beacons Are Lit!

There are some views that will always take your breath away as long as you’re paying attention. The scene from the air over Colorado is one of these and inspired this freewrite. 

“I love my life,” she thought as the horns of the Rohirrim sounded in her head. She was thousands of feet in the air, the monolithic metal wing of the plane visible out the window to her left. Beyond it she could see ancient grey peaks contoured with white snow and wreathed at their base by a blanket of warm green velvet. They jutted up from the Earth to create shallow basins for dozens of glittering snowmelt lakes. 

She knew that’s what they were, flaring a blinding golden light, like mirrors in the evening sun. She’d visited enough of them to recognize their glassy surfaces even from this height. As she watched, her mouth slightly open in an awestruck ‘O,’ she couldn’t help but think of the beacons of Minas Tirith blazing to life and lighting a path from the people of Gondor to their comrades in Rohan.