CleveLand That I Love.

I had five days off over Presidents Day weekend. “Let’s dooooo something!” I whined to Mike.

Mike only had two days off. So instead of flying to a beach for five days (which is rather expensive over Presidents Day, it turns out), we decided to drive 45 minutes up to Cleveland and spend the weekend there.

Yep, it’s been a month since we took our spontaneous staycation-but-not-really to Cleveland, and I’m just now sharing what we did.

But we had such a great time that I didn’t want to miss a chance to share!

My tips for a close-to-home-but-special weekend trip:

* Be flexible. If you aren’t able to travel last-minute, you might miss some good deals. A few days before, I scored us a $68 3-star hotel room on Hotwire and threw together some last-minute plans for the weekend.

* Understand that local can be completely different that what you’re used to. We traveled less than an hour but were in an entirely unfamiliar area. It almost felt exotic and exciting (minus the snow).

* Bookmark the restaurants you want to try in Yelp. Then when you’re trying to remember where to eat, you can pull up Yelp and go.

* Ask Twitter what to do. Everyone has advice. It’s great.

Our weekend


Around 6 pm, Mike was done with work and we drove up to Happy Dog, a hot dog restaurant in the Gordon Square District. I’d been wanting to try it for a few years, since they have vegetarian hot dog options.

I went with some basic topping (so not a fried egg, Cocoa Puffs, or peanut butter) and it was so tasty. They had tons of beer choices, a DJ, and some tasty root beer (what? I’m a five-year-old). I was hesitant to take Gabe there, since the Yelp page indicated that it wasn’t good for kids. I probably wouldn’t take him there again – there was another family with kids, but the music was just so LOUD.

However would totally go back there without a 2-year-old. Yum.


Then we checked into our hotel and settled in for the night. We all shared one big bed:



The next morning, we lazed about for a while before making use of the hotel’s indoor swimming pool. Gabe had a blast (the reason we booked this hotel)!


After showers, we headed out to get some coffee. After a few coffee shops were unexpectedly closed (a rather frustrating experience), we ended up in Ohio City at Rising Star Coffee Roasters. And I am so glad that we did. It was in the Ohio City Firehouse and downright wonderful.

The baristas were friendly, the coffee was fantastic, and even the baked goods were outstanding. Plus, it was a really special place. It felt impossibly homey and hip.

We spent the rest of the day at University Circle – taking in the butterflies and orchids at the Botanical Gardens, the beautiful artwork and expansive new atrium at the Museum of Art, and the playroom, dinosaurs, and live animals at the Museum of Natural History. It was a cold day, so it was perfect since the museums are so close to each other.



We timed it so he’d fall asleep at the (less exciting to him) art museum. Victory!


My favorite painting.

We headed back to the hotel, planning to go out to dinner and Brite Winter Festival, a winter music and art festival. Sadly, a massive amount of snow and a stomachache kept us in. Luckily, we had cable TV! A treat. Woohoo!


After checking out of the hotel, we went to Grumpy’s Cafe in Tremont which was such a cozy, welcoming little place. The coffee was served in eclectic mugs, the servers were kind and laid-back, and the avocado eggs benedict was quite tasty.


Gabe enjoyed his pancake-egg-fruit situation, as well. I’m so glad we tried Grumpy’s – it was just so darn comfortable. I think that was theme of the weekend. And part of why Cleveland is so great.

Anyway. After that, we had to stop by Phoenix so Mike could get his beloved Speedball. Gabe and I shared a hot chocolate. (Their hot chocolate is heavenly).  

We ended the weekend by driving out to Cleveland’s suburbs for some Trader Joe’s action. I love that place.

It was such a wonderful weekend – close enough to not disrupt things too much, but still a trip that helped us all connect and spend time together. I always feel like I know Mike and Gabe better after spending a weekend traveling together, which is sort of lovely.

About Ashley

Ashley is a web designer, mother, and social media addict. She blogs about her attempts to live more simply and pursuing happiness while juggling a job she loves and life with two adorable sons and an academic husband.


  1. I love this. The husband is from Cleveland but we rarely get up there to explore like this. I’m actually planning a trip like this in Columbus for my mom and my sister (even though two out of three of us live in Columbus). I just don’t think we’ve gotten out to really explore what’s in the city.
    Michelle’s most recent post :: Things that are goodMy Profile

  2. You are inspiring me! I love road trips and there are so many awesome little towns within driving distance that we never go to. Also that painting – aww!
    Kathleen’s most recent post :: What I Wore This Weekend: Sunglasses EditionMy Profile

  3. I love Happy Dog. Just imagine Happy Dog on Polka Night and you have a great night. So good to see people enjoying my city

  4. Man, how is Gabe just SO cute? Seriously.
    This looks like a fantastic weekend! I love doing local trips. Eric and I also went somewhere local over Presidents Day weekend. We went up to Portland ME, which is about an hour and a half away. Somehow I had never been there before. It was SO nice just exploring a new place and eating at delicious restaurants. I love traveling :)
    Kelly’s most recent post :: Kelly & Eric’s Travel CollectionMy Profile

  5. aw this looks like such a fun trip. love the little staycation, i need one of those stat.
    katelin’s most recent post :: It’s Good to be Green.My Profile

  6. Thanks for the inspiration! I live a couple of hours west of Cleveland and have been there a few times for concerts and things like that, but I’ve been at a loss for ways to approach visiting the city as a cheap, nearby “getaway” location. Now I have several ideas… including getting my hands on one of those vegetarian hot dogs at Happy Dog!

  7. I love the Cleveland Museum of Art, especially the Roman and Greek Sections.

    I haven’t caught what part of ohio you are in, but I am also about 45 min from Cleveland, in Akron. Another great coffee Roaster to visit is in Canton, called MuggsWiggz. My partner gets all of his coffee there, and I love their tea selection as well.

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