My family is always up for a road trip, and fortunately we live in an area where we can get to some of the country’s greatest locations – Philadelphia, Boston, New York City, Washington DC – in a car ride. Since there’s so much to see and do here on the east coast, we never really thought about heading west. Well, that is, until our son asked to go to Cleveland.
My son Max, at 12, is all about classic rock and roll, especially the Beatles. And, considering the music choices around, I’m whole-heartedly encouraging this one. But when he asked to go to Cleveland, home of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, to see the lime green uniform John Lennon wore on the Sgt. Pepper album, I didn’t think we could pull it off. My husband and I had been to Cleveland before – last year, a whirlwind trip for that big birthday of mine to catch the special Bruce Springsteen exhibit. But we flew that trip, and finances wouldn’t permit that this time around.
But when I plugged our house address and the RNR Hall of Fame into Mapquest, it showed a seven hour trip straight west. Seven hours is certainly doable, so last Thursday morning we packed the van, plugged in our iPods and hit the road.
We drove across Pennsylvania and into Ohio, stopping twice for fuel (once for the car, once for breakfast). We arrived in Cleveland around two, just a little before check-in at the Wyndham Playhouse Square. Through an agreement with Travelingmoms.com, the kind folks at Wyndham’s Women on the Way were “sponsoring” our trip by providing us with 30,000 Wyndham rewards points, which we used to secure a king suite in their beautiful building in the theatre district.
Since it wasn’t check in yet, we drove by the hotel, noting the various playbills. Cleveland looked a lot like the Broadway area in NYC, except with a lot less traffic. Then we drove to past the Hall of Fame so Max could see the wonderful architecture of the building. Then we proceeded to our first official stop in Ohio – the AAA office in Independence OH. In doing our research for the trip, we learned AAA members can get RNR Hall of Fame tickets for $17.99 – four dollars off the price at the door – but only online or through this office.
Next stop – the Wyndham Playhouse Square. We entered the boutique-styled hotel and were greeted by the desk staff, who quickly checked us in and directed us to our room on the 12th floor. Our corner King Suite was huge, with expansive views of the lights and drama of the theater district. The room also offered a comfortable sitting area, a work desk and refrigerator and a microwave. Since it was just the three of us, we had plenty of room to spread out, relax and plan our next adventure in this beautiful city.
We decided to spend the rest of the evening exploring, saving all of Friday for the Hall. We ventured out through the tastefully decorated lobby and stepped out of the hotel – right into a concert! The city was sponsoring a free concert right in front of the hotel, so we stopped for a while to watch the band and soak in the local atmosphere. The people here are a bit more reserved than those we usually encounter on the east coast, so we didn’t have much interaction with the locals. Still, the band was decent, the night was warm and the Wyndham provided a beautiful backdrop for this impromptu “happy hour” for those who work in the city.
We walked on, trying to find somewhere to eat, and that’s when we learned that, despite the playbills and the blinking lights, Cleveland is not New York. This city definitely does sleep! Many of the eateries were closed by the time we reached them. We stopped at a CVS to load up on snacks, as we thought we might not find a place to eat dinner. The clerk at the CVS helpfully directed us to the Chocolate Bar (and then promptly locked the CVS behind us – and it was only six o’clock!)
Unfortunately our meal at the Chocolate Bar was short of spectacular. The waitress decided my son was too old for the children’s menu (he’s tall, so this was no surprise). But, despite our offer to pay adult prices, she wouldn’t allow him to order chicken fingers (which appeared only on the kids’ menu). He ended up with a grilled cheese sandwich. I had crab cakes, which were extremely spicy and tasted frozen. (I guess I should have remembered Ohio isn’t on the coast.)
Dessert, however, redeemed the meal. My son and husband both had enormous sundaes while I had a delicious crème brulee. Feeling full, we headed back to the Wyndham. On the way back, we passed a side street lit with white Christmas tree lights and roaring with people. We decided right then and there that we’d be eating there Friday night.
Once back in the hotel, my husband and son decided to go downstairs to the pool and spa. I enjoyed some alone time, using the Wyndham’s high speed internet access to let my friends know about the trip (through Facebook, of course!). The guys returned, gushing about the workout facilities and the sauna, which left them feeling relaxed and ready to conquer the world of rock and roll the following morning.
We turned in, enjoying the comfortable bed and numerous body pillows provided in the suite. The quiet city below us provided a beautiful backdrop, and we all slept soundly and contentedly.