Tag Archives: University Circle

Cleveland Day III : Museums & More…..

27 Jun

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It was our last day in Cleveland and we still had a list of things we wanted to do. The day promised to be a warm one, so we thought we’d check out a few museums in air-conditioned comfort. The University Circle district is home to more than a dozen museum and cultural institutions; anchored by hospitals and universities this part of town has lots going on. We began with a visit to the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. The building is laid out in a way that leads you from gallery to gallery; teaching us about all aspects of nature from prehistoric times to the present. We had just begun to walk around the lobby area when Kris noticed a man walking around holding a skunk; getting ready to do a lecture, the speaker paused for a while to let anyone interested pet the animal. Getting a closer look at the black and white critter, she is really very cute. I stroked her back and the top of her head, the fur is stiff and somewhat bristly. Keeping with the wildlife theme we went outdoors to the Wildlife Center and Woods Garden; just over 2 acres of plants and animals native to the area. Shaded by large trees we saw owls, Bald Eagles (Wow are they big!), fox, bobcats and a deer. The museum itself is a mix of old and new;  a large open space from floor to ceiling, displays divide the galleries. The Kirtland Hall of prehistoric life features a full size replica of a T. Rex and a Triceratops; why is it children are afraid of Santa Claus but the sight of a gigantic skeletal figure with huge teeth is fun? Check out the Dunkleosteus Terrelli…it’s a fossil fish that was found in the shale around Cleveland, don’t think I’ve ever seen one of those before. Follow the formation of the universe, feel the rumble of an earthquake, touch a volcanic rock, a stalagmite and a stalactite. I really liked the section of gems and minerals; colored diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and a large display of mineral eggs, beautiful!

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Next up, the Cleveland Museum Of Art; opened in 1916 the Beaux Arts style building was designed by local architects Benjamin Hubbell and Dominick Benes. Originally two wings flanking a central rotunda, it has undergone many changes and additions throughout the years, its beautiful white Georgian marble facade has remained.  Each time we enter an art museum we are offered a map, we prefer to wander aimlessly and discover things on our own. The interior is elegant; marble columns, exquisite sconces, architectural details everywhere, it feels light and airy. Currently undergoing yet another expansion and renovation, there is still plenty to see; African, Medieval, Greek and Roman art. Decorative art and design showcases incredible items such as furniture, clocks and other household type things that are opulent and magnificent. Hard to believe people actually used such pretty things. The vibrant colors and amazing details of European paintings from 1500-1800 are amazing, the sculpture always fascinates me too. Internationally renowned for its collection of Ancient Egyptian Art, the gallery is impressive. I can’t wait to come back and see the museum when renovations are complete.

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Just a hop and a skip from Little Italy, lunch was close at hand. With more than a dozen restaurants to choose from parking would dictate where we ate. With an open space directly in front of Etna Restaurant, we took it as a sign. Cute cafe tables sit on the sidewalk under a kelly green awning; with the threat of rain looming we chose to dine inside. Traditional in decor with white tablecloths the space is charming. Our server arrived quickly to greet us and recite the specials of the day. When he arrived to take our order he brought along a basket of delicious, fresh, crunchy crust, chewy middle, Italian bread with plenty of butter.  Our Caprese salad arrived first; fresh mozzarella and slices of vine-ripe tomatoes laid across a bed of mixed greens. Drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and torn basil leaves it was seriously good. They were nice enough to divide the ravioli among two plates; tender pasta pillows with a spinach and ricotta filling, covered in a cream sauce that had a hint of tomato sauce….scrumptious!

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We began the drive back westward; before setting out on the journey home we stopped in the neighboring city of Lakewood. We thought it would be nice to take a walk and burn off some calories. The homes in the area are fantastic! Of course the closer you are to the lake, the more incredible they become. Like Detroit, the Clevelanders of the industrial age had money to burn, and what better way to show off than with a grand home. We parked the car on Lake Ave; the street is tree-lined, ornate old apartment buildings are intermixed with distinct homes varying in size from modest to very large. Houses wear tile roofs and sport lush green lawns and professional landscapes. We took a perpendicular street over one street closer to Lake Erie, Edgewater; here the houses grow larger and can be referred to as estates. Usually made of brick or stone it is not uncommon to see a turret, elaborate doorways, large urns and stone statues, window boxes overflow with colorful annuals. Many of the houses are historic and were built by the finest craftsmen of the day.  The neighborhood sits upon a high bluff overlooking Lake Erie; these homes have a picturesque view of the smallest of the Great Lakes right out their back door. It is absolutely wonderful to wander through, I like to  imagine what the homes look like inside. 

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Heading back to Detroit we continue to follow the lake through Lakewood, Rocky River and Bay Village enjoying a lake view until just east of Lorain. Here we drop south to Amherst and continue westward through Ohio farm country, finally going north to the mitten state. Our time in Cleveland was a blast; we revisited old favorites and found new ones. By freeway it takes under three hours  from here to there, making it a perfect weekend getaway. Go see for yourself!

Roadtrip: Cleveland Ohio, West Side Market, University Circle, Little Italy & Tremont

9 Jul

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It had been too long since our last visit to Cleveland; Saturday morning I could hardly wait to head over to West Side Market. While Detroit’s Eastern Market is spectacular, Cleveland’s  is the best indoor market in the Midwest, hands down . The extraordinary yellow brick market-house  was dedicated in 1912 and is a feast for the eyes and the appetite. With 180 indoor and outdoor stands there is something for everybody. Traverse the aisles of artisan breads, cheeses, applewood smoked meat and spices; grab yourself a crepe and a cup of French roast coffee. How about a piece of Guiness Stout Chocolate cake? Enough cookies, cannoli, cheesecake and brownies to satisfy any sweet tooth. From tamales to hummus to perogi and fresh fish, they’ve got it all. Rows of brightly colored fruits and vegetables line the adjacent corridors, samples of cantaloupe, mango, and watermelon are plentiful. The market was jammed with people picking up things for their weekend Bbq’s, others seemed to be there to just take it all in with their camera, we came just for the pleasure  of it.

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 Off we go to the East side of the city.

Most of you have heard  of Cleveland’s Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, but you may not know of an area called University Circle. This is Cleveland’s Cultural district, the Art, Natural History and Auto Avaition Museums are all within it’s boundaries; So too is Wade Oval, the Botanical Gardens and Severance Hall. Even the symphony plays here !

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Today we’ll take you to  the Cleveland Botanical GardensBy now you’re starting to wonder if we ever do anything but go to markets and gardens, the answer of course is yes! This time of year a Michigander has to soak up as much of the bounty of summertime as possible. Come January we’ll all be wishing for days like this!

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A world of beauty awaits you in the 18,000 sq ft conservatory; you can trek across continents from the desert to the lush rain forest with 50 varieties of butterflies. Climb the stairs to the lookout and get a birds eye view of the canopy. Tiny brightly colored birds stand out among plants as they eat, drawing attention from visitors. Journey outdoors to one of the many themed gardens, the Rose Garden shows off 50 varieties of Roses or take time for a little respite in the Japanese Garden. Fountains and waterfalls add a sense of serenity, find a secluded spot to sit and take it all in. The Hydrangeas were in full bloom, branches sagging with the weight of large pink and periwinkle flowers, tall Astilbe with their fluffy plumes reach toward the blue sky. Kids will love playing in the Children’s Garden; there’s a playhouse with a garden on the roof, brightly colored flowers in beds have name tags that teach you what they are, and garden tools invite youngsters to dig in. Of all the conservatories we visit, I think Cleveland has the best outdoor gardens, they are absolutely breath taking.

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The Crawford Auto Aviation Museum is just a short walk from CBG and was our next stop. The museum is home to a great many cars, both elegant and cool, old and really old. Large spoke wheels and tons of chrome remind you of days gone by. Nothing quite defines an era like an automobile; the earliest of cars resembled carriages, fins and chrome of the 50’s, bright colors and stripes of the 70’s, there’s a little of everything here, and Kris likes it all. There are planes and a personal helicopter to see, the lower floor features and old fashioned street scene from Cleveland’s past; Large historic photos of the city hang on the wall with autos from the appropriate year parked alongside.Carousel horses are scattered here and there and add a touch of whimsy. Just inside the main entry doors is a giant neon Cleveland Indian mounted on the wall; it seems to be a favorite spot to take photos, well, unless you are a Tiger fan! The historic Bingham-Hanna house is also part of the museum complex and can be reached through the CAAM. Now serving as part of the History Museum you can tour the main level and check out the elaborate decor and architecture, it is included in the admission price. There are changing exhibits; currently a display of vintage flags is available for your viewing pleasure.The Crawford Museum is about to undergo a major renovation, several areas were closed when we were there, so please check the progress before visiting.

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Little Italy is just a hop from University Circle, and is where we wanted to have lunch. Outdoor eating is a priority here and is offered at most establishments, but the heat drove us inside for lunch. We have eaten at several different cafes, we return most often toTratorria on the Hill on Mayfield. Big menu, big portions, everything is delicious here! We ordered the Antipasto Platter, Oh My……mounds of roasted eggplant, strips of red peppers, calamari salad, olives and Italian cheese. Then there was the Gnocchi Al Burro, delicate potato dumplings smothered in a creamy red sauce, a house specialty, all so tasty. 

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 This charming enclave is the center of Italian culture in northeast Ohio, and one of our favorite areas, this is a must visit when in Cleveland. Mayfield and Murray Hill Roads are the main hubs of activity; Restaurants, shops, galleries and merchants line the two lane streets; Parking can be a chore, but it’s well worth the effort. Now we needed to walk off at least some of the bread we ate, Little Italy is the perfect place for a stroll. We wandered in and out of shops and galleries, grateful for the air conditioning each time we entered. The selection of goods in this area is fantastic, whether it’s handmade art, wine or imported ceramics from Italy, I always bring something home.

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Back to the Bed & Breakfast to relax for bit before heading to Tremont for dinner and a nightcap. Tremont is a bit of a hidden hot spot south of downtown. Located in a somewhat elevated area of the city, there are some great views of the metropolitan area. This neighborhood is home to many incredible restaurants, bars, and galleries; usually a little more on the high end side. The warm evening put us in the mood for something cold to eat; Parallax is known for their seafood and fish dishes, and exceptional Sushi. We were  happy  to be seated right away as we were hungry. The interior is modern decor with high ceilings and exposed brick walls, very nice. Candles flicker on wooden tables, you may need the assistance of candlelight to read the menu as the lighting is dim; our server was friendly and helpful. After perusing the menu we made our Sushi selections and waited for the food to arrive. Everything was delicious, great flavor combinations, the Sushi was fresh and had that soft texture. We had heard a lot of good things about this restaurant and it lived up to its reputation. 

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The last stop for the evening was Dante, also in Tremont. The outside of the building is intriguing, originally a bank it has been restored and converted to Chef Dante Boccuzzi’s signature restaurant. The interior features designs and art by local artists, bright orange walls contrast nicely with the dark wood, fabulous lighting extends down from the recessed decorative ceiling. There are tables and bar seating, but we got the best seats in the house; the safe! Yep, the safe door is permanently open and a single table sits in the middle, it’s a great space! They had $10 martini’s that night, so we each ordered a different one ; Kris had a White Chocolate and I had a Cosmopolitan, both were very good, so good in fact Kris had another one, this time a Chocolate Martini. It was really nice to just kick back and relax, and enjoy our drinks in such an unusual setting. Our waiter was great too, in fact he gets to Detroit frequently so we had a nice conversation with him. It seems there is always something new in Tremont and we continually enjoy our visits.

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