Wow, Cleveland really does rock. While Mr. WYA! was eating Sandwich Machine this past weekend, Mrs. WYA! grabbed a girlfriend and headed to Cleveland for a girls' weekend. From Indianapolis, did you know that you are a short 5 hours away from the center of Cleveland's Little Italy? If you stopped nowhere else, that would make it worth the trip. This trip is easily done in a weekend.
Our first stop in the early afternoon was the house that was used in the filming of the classic movie "A Christmas Story". That's right, it is restored and there are tours Thursdays- Sunday at every 1/2 hour. It is a short tour because it is a small house. You get your tickets across the street, check out the museum next door that houses the few authentic props that they have from the movie, and then meet on the porch of the house for your tour. Your tour guide will talk for a few minutes about the history of the house and then you are welcome to take pictures and wander. This is a must stop for fans of the flick. This is still a working class neighborhood and it is so charming to see people from all over wind their through the unfamiliar neighborhood streets to catch a glimpse of the house.
Next, we headed to an area in Cleveland Heights called Coventry Village. For Indianapolis locals, this is like a Broad Ripple type of area. There are a couple of blocks of shops and restaurants with a Bohemian feel to them. The City Buddha store was huge and full of beaded goodies and gorgeous things for the home. The Big Fun store was, as billed, big fun with toys, memorabilia and basically everything pop culture related.
Our next stop was the previously mentioned Little Italy- that's right, it's not all about pierogies in Cleveland. They have a respectable sized Little Italy with galleries, shops, and, of course, food. Walk along Mayfield Rd. and Murray Hill to take it all in (and to work up an appetite). Always the suckers for old restaurants, we chose Guarino's (celebrating 90 years in business!). We were famished and we landed in the right place to take care of that. Generous portions with bread and delicious house salads are the standard here. We greatly enjoyed the vegetable pasta and the eggplant Parmesan. While we thought we were full when we left, after walking past just a couple of storefronts, we found room for bakery treats at Presti's Bakery (since 1903!). They have huge glass cases full of cookies and desserts and many tables to sit and people watch. The only downside to Little Italy is the lack of parking. You may circle around for awhile trying to find a space, but it will be worth it.
Our next stop was Teavana at the Beachwood Place Mall. If Teavana ever opens in Indianapolis, I couldn't patronize it because I have to give my business to the locals at International Tea and Coffee and Tea's Me. However, I allow myself a visit to Teavana when I am in other cities. They always have lots of samples out to try, beautiful cups and pots to browse at, and a huge variety of tea flavors.
The perfect way to wrap up your weekend trip to Cleveland is at the House of Blues for their Gospel Brunch. It doesn't matter what denomination you are (if any) this is all about food and love. The spread is amazing; pastas, salads, seafood, cheesy grits, mac n cheese, biscuits and gravy, jambalaya, shrimp, omelet station, po'boy sandwich station, danishes, bagels, apple cobbler, cheesecake, bread pudding- it just goes on and on. You get awhile to eat and visit before the live singing starts. The musical acts rotate but we certainly couldn't have asked for a better group than the Prayer Warriors. They did a mix of gospel and contemporary songs and really were inspiring. We left the House of Blues having filled not only our bellies but our spirits as well.
All in all, a great time can be had in Cleveland if you are looking for road trips for the spring and summer.