Sunday, August 08, 2010

Consider Cleveland...part 3

Just catching up on my Cleveland adventures? Read Part 1 and Part 2 ....

After spending a bit of time and money in A Christmas Story museum and gift shop (my kids loved their Little Orphan Annie Decoder rings!), the air was heating up and we were beginning to wilt. We enjoyed a light lunch at Grumpy's Cafe, and then headed to the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and Rain Forest. I was prepared for an ordinary zoo. I was surprised to find myself, well, Surprised!

Though we didn't get to check out the entire zoo, we did get to WALK through the new elephant habitat that is still under construction. (how cool is that? I was IN an exhibit. And I wasn't the main attraction or anything!) Once finished, the African Elephant Crossing will cover 5 acres of wooded land, hills to strengthen leg muscles, indoor/outdoor bed options, and an education center. Expected to be open around May of 2011, it is an exhibit that will be well worth the wait!

Another unique feature of the Metroparks Zoo was their giraffe exhibit and feeding experience. For $2 a person, you can feed the giraffes by hand! As you can see below, I had a moderately good time doing just that...

Ok, ok. It ROCKED. It was so incredibly cool to have these enormous and gentle creatures seeking me out and searching for food! And it was EXTREMELY difficult to resist the urge to pet their heads!
Sigh... Such a cool activity. Definitely worth the cost.

Sadly, we got rained out of the concert in the park so we raced ourselves into the Botanical Gardens for a dinner inside. I am SO glad it rained because I might have missed this stop on the tour had the concert continued...BEAUTIFUL. The Cleveland Botanical Garden is just lovely! I wish I had more pictures but my batteries weren't cooperating at this point. You'll just have to take my word for it that the layout and exhibits are really well done. This is a relaxing way to spend a few hours, checking out the butterflies and hiding behind the flora and fauna.
Anyone growing up in Chicago has been to the Art Institute of Chicago. It's beautiful, without a doubt. But I must confess that I had never been to an art museum in a different city! Ever. For someone who loves art, that strikes me as odd. Thankfully, I no longer fit into that because the tour included a choice of any of the beautiful museums in Cleveland's University Circle.

We chose the Cleveland Museum of Art, and I was blown away by the quality of the museum.
My boys would love to check out their Medieval section. Devoted to armory, weaponry, tapestry and all other types of craftsmanship from the Middle Ages; it was stunning!

(Admission to the museum's permanent collection is always free!)

It had been a long day... We headed back to our gorgeous rooms at the Crowne Plaza Cleveland City Centre. Since our group was getting along so well, we decided to head out and walk to the local night life at the East Fourth Street Entertainment District. It was literally 3 blocks from the hotel! The cobbled street and criss-crossed lights lent an automatic party atmosphere. I was ready to kick back and have a blast.

And we DID! We hit a few of the smaller bars and tried some fancy drinks but myself and 2 others ended up at the perfect fit for us: Flannery's. Big but cozy and great service with drinks I can pronounce adds up to a happy Tracey...

Thursday morning had us boarding our bus to return to Chicago. One final stop found us being QUITE surprised by the gourmet meal provided...

Above you see Ja'Vonne of the Traveling Eye, Howard of VideoTwist Productions, Me!, Barb aka Weaselmama, journalists Chasse and Dominic enjoying the most delicious gourmet meal I've eaten in QUITE a long time at The Toledo Zoo. We stopped there on our way home and I must say that it was much bigger and more beautiful than I'd have imagined! Their children's zoo was a lovely addition and I adore the way that you can get twisted around in the pathways between old exhibits and new. Thank you for your hospitality, Toledo Zoo!

Stephanie and Jennifer of Second City Soiree, and Bonnie from the Traveling Eye
(I had to edit out our other travelers because of a minor that was traveling with her journalist father. Hello back there Jodi!)

To sum it up, Cleveland really surprised me. I am so excited to know that there is a "new" and fun travel destination so close to home. The people from Positively Cleveland who were our tour guides and all of those who worked together so that we could experience the best of the city and its surrounding area did a fabulous job! Thank you again, and I can't wait to go back!!

If you liked any of the activities that we did on our trip, then stay tuned for an exciting giveaway that I am putting together.... I can't divulge any details just yet, but it's gonna be a good one!
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