I love seeing a place through the eyes of people who live there. They help you find what makes the place special and unique as they tell the stories of living there.
This was my week to visit Cleveland, Ohio. It’s one of the cities that I had never visited–in fact, never even had a plane stop through. But I think I will be back! There were so many interesting places to visit, new sights to see…and of course, there were the people…
Here’s a few of my favorite experiences:
1. Beautiful downtown Chardon. This is a quaint little township with an iconic town square. Historic homes line the streets and there is a park, complete with a gazebo, right in the middle of town. Of course, my son loves the antique store on the corner, there is everything a person could ask for in a small town…right outside a big city.
2. Chagrin Falls, Ohio. Who has a town that features a picturesque waterfall? That is Chagrin Falls. Another beautiful small town, and this one with natural falls right in the center of town. I’m told the stairways down can be closed when the weather is icy or wet, but on a warm day in late May, it was a perfect place to take photos and enjoy the uniqueness of the venue.
3. Hot air balloons. As a part of its Blossom Time Festival on Memorial Day weekend, Chagrin Falls holds a hot air balloon rally. What I loved best was the “commentator” (this event was held on the local high school field) who explained all the ins and and outs of hot air ballooning. I learned about how they use cool air and super hot air to get the balloons off the ground…and while I’m not quite sure what made this a rally rather than just balloons in the air, it was fun to watch them rise. And who would imagine that Chagrin Falls in northern Ohio is the second largest hot air ballooning area—next to Albuquerque, New Mexico—in the US?
4. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, downtown Cleveland. Everything you didn’t even know you wanted to know about the history of rock and roll is housed in an amazing building designed by the same architect who designed the Louvre in Paris, I.M. Pei. The iconic pyramid-like shape offers incredible views of Lake Erie while housing everything from stage props and costumes of the most famous bands and entertainers we know, to hand written lyrics of rock and roll pioneers.
5. Free Stamp. I love public art…those interesting sculptures that live in parks, drawing attention from locals and tourists alike. They always seem to draw controversy, some people like the artwork and some hate it. Apparently, the Free Stamp in Cleveland has such a history. My brief research gives some conflicting stories of its significance. But then again, that’s what I like about art, we get to figure out for ourselves what makes it meaningful.
6. Historic architecture. I love old buildings…and churches are the best when it comes to historic buildings! We happened upon this one as we drove through the city of Cleveland to find a place for lunch. I couldn’t resist shooting a photo through the car window because of the interesting color and shape of the building. I honestly don’t know anything about it, but it looks cool!
7. Cleveland Museum of Art. It’s so clever to build a building around a historic building to preserve the architecture and expand the museum. They have a wonderful collection at this museum (that we raced through in an hour!) that includes some wonderful contemporary art and some old pieces as well. Out front is one of Rodin’s Thinker sculptures that was damaged by a bomber in 1970. I loved the idea of displaying the damaged art and thinking about the role art plays in our society.
8. A Frank Lloyd Wright house. You might remember that my son and I enjoyed scouting out and photographing a Frank Lloyd Wright designed house (the Ennis House) in Los Angeles a while back. FLW also designed a home outside of Cleveland…which just happens to be on the same road we took to visit my son’s father-in-law’s business. I wish I had gotten a closer look at the Louis Penfield House, I understand it has a magnificent view of the forest and river behind it, but I am happy that I walked up the long gravel drive and got a peek at this historic treasure.
9. Fairport Harbor West Breakwater Light on Lake Erie. When my son and daughter-in-law said we were going to the beach, my first thought was, “how far is it to the ocean?” And then I remembered that lakes have beaches too! Lake Erie is huge…and this particular part of the lake is a favorite place for swimming, sunbathing, picnicking, boating, jet skiing, and enjoying a holiday weekend. We walked along the water’s edge, searching for colorful beach glass and noticing interesting rocks. Driftwood littered the beach and we even found a tree stump being lapped by the waves. We climbed the jetty and walked along the uneven rocks out to the end where an old lighthouse sits. There’s a salt plant that sits nearby too…I wish I had the opportunity to snap a few pictures there too!
10. And the highlight of the weekend was the reason we came…to celebrate my daughter-in-law’s graduation from medical school. We got to stay with her family and see their place, Cleveland and the surrounding areas, through their eyes. We were surrounded with warmth, hospitality, and friendship…and enjoyed every minute of celebrating this milestone event that means so much to both of our families (or are we now just one big extended family?).
I’m already looking forward to my next visit to Cleveland! There was so much that we didn’t get a chance to see and experience…and we can’t wait to go back and spend time with these very special friends/extended family. My son and daughter-in-law will be out our way for residency…maybe we will get a chance to show off our city to her family one of these days!