An Impromptu Trip To Cleveland – What We Did & Where We Ate

This past weekend is one that I’ll be lingering in the residual good feels for a long, long time to come. My husband and I had made plans to spend some time together, but then my brother and sister-in-law ended up having her baby. Yay! I’m an aunt!!!! Everyone is healthy and doing well, and I was so excited for her to get to spend this Mothers’ Day as a full fledged momma.Processed with VSCO with a4 preset

Saturday morning, after going in to the hospital for all of us to meet the new baby and check on mommy and daddy, we all got back in the van and headed to my favorite Ohio city – Cleveland!

We didn’t have much of a plan outside of our destination. I just needed to get out and travel a bit and even though I wasn’t getting my alone time with my husband, I was getting the next best thing – a road trip with my family.

I love traveling with the kids, and one of my all time favorite things to do is to explore new cities. It’s funny how we think we have to travel far or to a new state to really go on an adventure. We’ve found that all you need is an openness to explore, try new things, and go with the flow, and you can turn any trip into a road trip full of fun!

I had a few ideas for what we could do in Cleveland, but nothing set in stone – that is part of the fun for me. Sometimes it’s nice to have everything planned out for the sake of little ones, but I want to teach my  kids to be flexible and learn how to find the fun along the way. So I planned ahead in terms of packing diapers and extra layers of clothing and cash for parking, and I thought of a few places we could check out. But I didn’t make dinner reservations and our schedule was really wide open. We were out to see what all we could see!

We started at President Garfield’s monument which is located in Lake View Cemetery. This monument is stunning, and worth the trip to see. Garfield, his wife, daughter and son-in-law are entombed in the crypt in the basement of the monument. The main floor boasts a beautiful statue of the 20th president, and the entire room is floor to ceiling granite and mosaic tile. The ceiling is a cathedral dome with more gorgeous mosaic tile artwork. It’s truly magnificent. A spiral staircase wraps itself around the outside of the monument and leads up to a rooftop patio where you can see the entire Cleveland skyline, all the way to Lake Erie! It’s fantastic.

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Lake View Cemetary is pretty incredible in and of itself. The monuments are just spectacular, and we even stumbled upon another famous grave – John D. Rockefeller!

Cleveland’s Little Italy is just a short drive from the monument, so we headed that direction in search of some yummy authentic pizza. We found a place to park and then started to make our way up the street. Most of the restaurants had their menus on the outside of their doors so we peeked at a few until we settled on a charming little Italian throwback, Mamo Santas.

The kids ordered spaghetti and meatballs and Mike and I split a pizza. The food was delicious, the ambiance was decidedly authentic, and we had so much fun just taking it all in. At one point, Theo leaned in and asked Beatrice for a kiss. She responded by giving him her first real kiss – over and over again! And then it was daddy’s turn for smooches. We were all ooing and awing over her adorablness when all of a sudden she ripped the loudest belch and starting giggling an ornery giggle. We all burst into laughter.

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After dinner, we walked down the street to pop into a little bakery that we passed earlier that promised espresso, gelatto, and homemade Italian baked goods. Mike and the kids grabbed us a table on the sidewalk while I went inside to order us some treats. Mike and the kids all got gelatto, I ordered myself two thumbprints – apricot and raspberry – and Mike and I each had an espresso. It was a beautiful, warm spring night and we enjoyed our dessert with the sun shining down on us. The kids gobbled up their gelatto and I savored my favorite cookies with the fantastic espresso. It was bliss, sheer bliss. (Presti’s, we will be back!)

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We passed a park on the walk back to our van and the kids begged us to play for a bit, so with a chorus of church bells ringing to announce the end of Saturday night mass, Mike and I watched the kids run and crawl around on the jungle gym to their heart’s content.

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I had one last stop that I wanted to hit before we returned home that night: the water front where the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is located. It’s a beautiful spot, and I wanted to explore it with the kids.

We walked along the harbor while the kids pointed out sea gulls and speed boats and I snapped photos of all the great architecture with my 35mm. We posed with the new Cleveland script signs that the city recently installed (bucket list item – check!).

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We drove home that night high on the fun and excitement of the day. It was as close to perfect as a day comes. I loved getting to explore a new part of a city I love. I loved getting to have that experience with my family. And I loved the adventure that you can get caught up in when you keep your expectations simple. Our goal was to get out of town for a bit, explore, eat something yummy, and enjoy each other’s company.

Mission accomplished.

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