Monday, August 20, 2018

Midwest Adventure 2018, Part 6: Akron, Ohio

This is my sixth post about our adventure traveling through Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky, and Indiana. You can find the first post from this trip here and links to all the other educational US travel our family has done here.

Because I blog about educational travel, I received free admission tickets, discounts, media rates, and other benefits for some of the hotels and attractions we visited throughout the trip. Many attractions we toured are free to everyone. I paid full price for the rest. This has no bearing on my reviews. Everything I'm sharing is something that I whole-heartedly recommend. If you notice any gaps in my narrative, it is because I didn't love a particular hotel, attraction, or restaurant enough to recommend it to you, regardless of how much I paid or didn't pay.


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Akron, Ohio


We left the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland and drove 40 minutes before getting dinner at the Winking Lizard in Akron. It’s a local chain that Steve has enjoyed when he traveled to Akron for work. The food was great, as was the all-you-can-eat popcorn. Yum!


The next day (Saturday 7/28) was a somewhat relaxing day for us, as the only things on the schedule were dealing with our laundry, a visit to a museum, and attending Andy & Beth's wedding. Of course, back home we wouldn't normally plan a museum visit and do laundry on the same day we were attending a wedding, and if we did, I certainly wouldn't call it a relaxing day! But it wasn't much compared to the pace of the rest of the trip, so it's all relative. 

Laundry first. It wasn't reasonable for us to pack 17+ days' worth of clothes and lug them to 11 cities and 8 hotels, so I'd planned for us to do laundry around the midpoint. We each packed 9 days' worth of clothes, plus the dressy stuff we'd be wearing only for the wedding. Here you can see what we had at the beginning of the trip (I have my rolling backpack). 


Once we got our rental car, we left the large suitcase in the car rather than bringing it in and out of every hotel. We packed all our clothes in ziplock bags, so at each hotel we just pulled out enough packets for the number of nights we'll be staying. This system works well for us. 


We ended up doing laundry on Day 7. I did a Google search and found Downtown Laundromat, located just a few miles from our Akron hotel. We dropped off 12 lbs. of laundry (3 people, 7 days) and paid just $12 for the friendly, helpful employees to clean and fold it all. What a bargain! And a huge timesaver. We swung by later at our convenience to pick it up, then I just re-stuffed our ziplock bags for the rest of the trip. So easy!

So back to our day. The Akron Art Museum has a beautiful garden, so we started there (employing the 'tour the ship first' mentality we'd learned in Toledo). 




Then we entered the building. The architecture is very interesting.




We thoroughly enjoyed our visit. 



  

The museum has a heavy emphasis on local artists and local subjects, which I love. Here's a closeup of a painting of downtown Akron in the 1930's.


My favorite thing about the Akron Art Museum is that many of the works of art have these pink and blue cards next to them. The cards are two-sided and include information about the artwork and a challenge for kids to make or write something inspired by the piece. It's a great way to keep kids engaged and focused at an art museum. This activity was about drawing faces on everyday items.  


Trevor read each of the challenges and did the ones that interested him most. 


After the museum, we had lunch at The Lockview, a gourmet grilled cheese restaurant. 


I chose a Gouda, tomato, and basil grilled cheese. Trevor had a grilled cheese with mozzarella, marinara and pepperoni, and Steve’s was cheddar, bacon, and Granny Smith apples. All three were very tasty. I'd love to go back and try some of their other grilled cheese sandwiches. There were so many to choose from!


Look what we saw when we left the restaurant! There's a reason Akron is known the Rubber Capital of the World. Goodyear's global headquarters is in Akron. At one time, there were numerous rubber companies located in Akron. 



We headed back to the hotel, changed for the wedding, and arrived at the venue (their home). Everything was stunning.


  


We had a wonderful time. 


The wedding was catered by Bg's BBQ. The food was so delicious that I found the caterer and asked to take a picture of his t-shirt so I could recommend the food to you all!


The beer was by Missing Mountain Brewing Company. More about them later. 


We slept in the morning after the wedding, then headed to do some hiking at Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Trevor got a Junior Ranger activity book at the Visitor Center, then we set off to explore. We started with a walk to the beautiful Brandywine Falls. The water has eroded the rock so that you can clearly see three distinct layers of rock from different eras.




Then we hiked along the towpath. The Erie-Ohio Canal went through here until the 1930’s, so there is a towpath that mules used back alongside the now-empty canal. Interpretive signs line the path, along with all sorts of ruins. Most interesting were the now-empty locks.






We left the national park and headed to Missing Mountain Brewing Company. We met up with our friends Dan and Amanda, who just happen to be co-owners of Missing Mountain! Steve used to work with Dan back when Dan was just a homebrewer dreaming of the day he'd open a brewpub. We've followed the journey from dream to concept to groundbreaking to opening closely and were thrilled to finally visit in person!


The wait was worth it. The place is beautiful, the food exceptional, and the beers amazing.




Dan gave us a tour of the entire facility. It was very interesting. The building was once a gas station and has been vacant for decades. They showed us photos of the before and after. The transformation was really something. Missing Mountain has a gorgeous view of the river, with a beautiful patio seating area. 


We loved our time in Akron. All too soon, it was time to move on. Next stop, Columbus!

Friday, August 17, 2018

Midwest Adventure 2018, Part 5: Cleveland, Ohio

This is my fifth post about our adventure traveling through Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky, and Indiana. You can find the first post from this trip here and links to all the other educational US travel our family has done here.

Because I blog about educational travel, I received free admission tickets, discounts, media rates, and other benefits for some of the hotels and attractions we visited throughout the trip. Many attractions we toured are free to everyone. I paid full price for the rest. This has no bearing on my reviews. Everything I'm sharing is something that I whole-heartedly recommend. If you notice any gaps in my narrative, it is because I didn't love a particular hotel, attraction, or restaurant enough to recommend it to you, regardless of how much I paid or didn't pay.


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Cleveland, Ohio


After leaving Toledo and the downpour-out-of-nowhere, we arrived in Cleveland with blue skies, checked into our hotel, and then the heavens opened up. It was insane. We had dinner reservations at Michael Symon's restaurant, Lola. just under a mile from our hotel. We had tossed around the idea of walking, but abandoned that thought quickly! We called for the hotel shuttle and were downtown in a jiffy.


It was puddly, but not actively raining when we got to Lola. We were a little early for our reservation, so we walked through the Cleveland Arcade. Nicknamed Cleveland's Crystal Palace, it was the first indoor shopping center in the US when it opened in 1890.


We headed back to Lola and enjoyed an outstanding meal. It was pricy, but so delicious and the service was impeccable. Steve had eaten there on a business trip a few years ago and wanted Trevor and me to experience it too. I'm very glad we did.




We woke up early the next morning to gorgeous blue skies. We walked two blocks from the hotel to see the Free Stamp, because obviously there was no way I wouldn't be seeing the world's largest rubber stamp. The story behind it is fascinating.



A block away, we spotted bunnies finding breakfast... 


... and a cool piece of artwork at the North Point Tower.... 


... before arriving at the Great Lakes Science Center, on the shore of Lake Erie.



Our family loves science museums, and the Great Lakes Science Center is outstanding. It is home to the NASA Glenn Visitor Center, which is where we started. 


  


But there's so much more than space at the Science Center. Like bubbles...


... pulleys...


... and an addictive race wherein one person has a closer starting line but a screw with more ridges than the other person.


The BioMedTech area is really cool. I spent ten minutes trying to work the various muscles on this artificial arm to make the mannequin ring the chimes and was never successful. Steve got it on his first try. That is why he is the engineer and I am the blogger. 


The temporary exhibit is called Tapescape: Sticky Science. We saw the world's largest roll of duct tape....


... Post-it note art...


... Duct Tape fashion....

  

... and the most awesome play structure ever. 


So what if I was the only adult playing on it? Everyone else missed out!


There was so much to see and do at the Great Lakes Science Center and we loved it all. But that was only the start of our Cleveland adventure. Next up was a Cleveland tour on Lolly the Trolley!


Lolly the Trolley offers two different tours: 1 hour and 2.5 hours. We opted to take the 1 hour overview and it was a great choice. All three of us thoroughly enjoyed the tour. 





Our guide was excellent and we learned so much about Cleveland's history and geography. It's such an interesting city. I'd absolutely recommend Lolly the Trolley if you're ever in Cleveland.  


What would a trip to Cleveland be without visiting the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame? It is a must-visit. Heck, I'd even say it's a must-plan-a-trip-specifically-to-go-there!


Not only is it packed with seven floors of fascinating exhibits, but the building itself is worth a visit. It's stunning.



There is so much on display, it is overwhelming. Costumes, records, instruments, posters, promotional material, books, ticket stubs, sound equipment, letters, photographs, props, pin ball machines, video... if it has anything to do with rock music, it's there.





Want to see a picture of Jon Bon Jovi (back when he was John Bongiovi) as a Cub Scout? Of course you do! 


These outfits were worn by the Supremes and the Jackson 5. It should be easy to tell which is which, but funny to imagine them accidentally switching wardrobes.

  

This year's inductees include Bon Jovi, The Cars, Dire Straits, the Moody Blues, Nina Simone, and Sister Rosetta Tharpe, so the Rock Hall has special exhibits dedicated just to them. 


This is the actual Hall of Fame. You can see the six artists inducted in 2018 below. The larger plaques are for groups, with the name of each band member displayed with their signature. The smaller plaques are for solo artists. 


We went through the entire Hall of Fame looking for all our favorite bands. We discovered a fun surprise. It's doubly fun because my maiden name is in the photo too. I wish I'd thought to point to them both!


Another thing I loved about the Rock Hall? You could use your ticket to vote for a band you'd like to see in the Hall of Fame.


Curious about the induction process? Read about it here. (Go Def Leppard!)


Steve and I absolutely loved our time at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Trevor liked it, but not as much as we did. He didn't recognize many of the artists and doesn't have the same emotional connection to the music of bygone eras that we do. Even so, he found plenty to keep himself entertained. And there's no question we all learned a lot! 

All too soon, our time in Cleveland was up. Next stop, Akron. I'll tell you about our adventures there on Monday.