Recently I partnered with Destination Cleveland to take a road trip to explore Cleveland from Detroit. The drive itself was just under three hours and a quick one! My family and I grabbed some snacks, masks and hit the road.
I actually haven’t done a lot of road trips the last couple years, so it was fun to get back in the car and make the quick drive.
I was really excited to visit Cleveland because I had never been and I always wanted to visit. The last few years I have found myself more in tropical destinations than city discovery, and honestly, I missed this so much.
Such a large part of travel for me was always visiting cities and exploring their offerings. You can really get to know a city and what makes it tick just by walking around and taking in the sites. There is so much more to Cleveland that I have yet to experience and I already cannot wait to get back!!
I picked all the things I loved in the city to share with you and hopefully inspire you to visit. I know travel is a hot topic right now, so I want to say first that everywhere I went it was clean, everyone wore masks, distanced themselves, hand sanitizer was available, and a lot of things were pretty empty.
Right now is a unique time to explore locally or even driving distance to explore areas close to us. I could have never imagined having the Cleveland Museum of Art or even the Botanical Gardens to myself. I travel globally and places are always packed, so it was interesting to experience with just my family.
Things Not to Miss in Cleveland
Visit The Christmas Story House + stay the night!
Have you seen the iconic movie ‘A Christmas Story?’ It typically plays ALL day on Christmas and came out in the early 80’s.
The home for the outside shots (and some of the window shots) is located in Cleveland. The inside has been made to look like the film and is now a museum. In addition, there is a third floor loft that can be rented out.
If you rent it out (and I highly recommend it) you get FULL run of the house when the museum closes around 6pm. You can play with all the toys in the house, have photo shoots and you can even sleep in Ralphie and Randy’s beds! This is by far one of the best things to do with kids in Cleveland.
Double bonus: in the third floor loft, there is a TV and you guessed it, A Christmas Story DVD!!
Rock out at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
One simply doesn’t visit Cleveland and not visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
The museum has done such a great job in telling the story of rock and roll throughout history and they have incredible things to see. You will find instruments, outfits and even hand written lyrics from rock and roll legends throughout history.
Even if you don’t think you are a fan of rock and roll, you will find some artist in there that you know and love. Could be Elvis, Michael Jackson, The Who .. you just never know.
See the limestone cliffs at Cuyahoga Valley
Did you know Ohio only has one National Park? And that’s ok – because it is one of the most visually stunning destinations!
I highly recommend The Ledges Trail. It is just under a two mile walk but with the most incredible landscape. The trail starts out seemingly normal but then you start seeing all kinds of cool limestone and cracks and crevice’s, in which you can get down into.
It truly looks like another world.
If you are looking for an outdoor adventure to enjoy and want a lot of space between you and others, this is definitely it!
Eat your weight in pierogi poutine
Cleveland is not known for this but it is worth the stop. Located across the street from the A Christmas Story House, the Rowley Inn has a fascinating menu and one of the best dishes is pierogi poutine.
You did not read that wrong … this is like regular poutine but the fries were switched out for pierogis. And it does not disappoint!
Currently the Rowley Inn has indoor and outdoor seating as well as ordering to go.
Browse the Botanical Garden
We needed a timed ticket to enter the Botanical garden as well as a mask and distancing ourselves from others. There was barely anyone here, so it was neat to kind of have it to ourselves.
There is an indoor and outdoor section that are magnificent. Inside, you will find a lot of butterflies, a waterfall and lush greenery. Outside there are many gardens to walk through.
My mom said this was her favorite place in Cleveland, that it was very beautiful and a must visit. She also said she never saw so many butterflies before!
*There was hand sanitizer stations throughout the inside and outside to use.
See the sunflowers at Maria’s Field of Hope
This is a seasonal attraction because the sunflowers are not in bloom all year, but if you can visit when they are, it is so beautiful.
The first seeds panted were to honor Maria McNamara and to make aware the lack of funds for childhood cancer. When you arrive, you can visit for free, but please consider making a donation of any kind.
Get a bacon maple donut at Brewnuts
Pro-tip: go early because they do sell out and there will be a line. We waited in line for about 30 minutes and it was worth every minute waiting.
The donuts at Brewnuts are massive and delicious. If you check out their Instagram, they post flavors so you can plan ahead. If you don’t see the donuts there, when you do walk in, there is a big board that has the flavors written down for the day.
You currently cannot dine inside, it is only to go. You are required to distance from other guests and wear a mask to enter.
Take in a day of art at the Cleveland Museum of Art
The museum is technically free to enter but you do need tickets and timed entry right now so that there is plenty of space and a lower occupancy. I’ll be completely honest, I was nervous about being indoors with other people. But I was wrong. It was completely fine.
There was virtually no one there, everyone wore a mask, there was plenty of distance between us and anyone else, and there is hand sanitizer stations everywhere. In addition, only one family per elevator.
My hands down favorite exhibition while I was there is ‘Conversation about Diversity in Korean Embroidery Arts.’ This exhibition aims to showcase the work of both men and in women from different social classes. And pro tip, the work is incredible.
One thing you cannot miss at the museum is the atrium. It is a shining beacon of light with perfect shadow play across the hall. There are places to sit and enjoy the space as well.
Opening in the year 1890 and the first shopping center indoors in America, The Arcade is this beautiful piece of architecture in the city.
Unfortunately right now nothing was really open inside. However, it is still worth seeing. It is truly magnificent inside.
Where to stay in Cleveland
I stayed two nights in the city during my trip.
I highly recommend a stay at the A Christmas Story house for one night and then checking into a hotel for another. You will have such a unique experience renting the house out and you get it al to yourself!
During my stay, I also checked into the Ritz-Carlton. I was very impressed with the cleanliness measures at the hotel, distancing and everyone wearing a mask. Additionally there are hand sanitizer stations throughout.
Things are not like they used to be, but that is ok. Some noticeable changes are: limited room service menu and times, reservations required for dinner in the restaurant and it is only available on the weekend nights, no coffee maker in the room, housekeeping available on request only, and the room wasn’t fully stocked with bath amenities. However, I am sharing this with you to leverage expectations. All these measures are in place to limit distance between guests and staff and because of the limited number of guests staying within the hotel.
We did eat dinner one night at the hotel restaurant and it was amazing. The food is incredible. The tables are distanced and there was not a lot of people there.
My time at the hotel was amazing. My family and I did a room service breakfast that was incredible, we spent more time together and had a wonderful stay.
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Thank you to Destination Cleveland for having me, as always, opinions are entirely my own.