Weekend in Cleveland, OH (September 2019) or “Why Travel with 3 Kids When You can Travel with 5?!”

Quick Trip Itinerary:

We live about 2 1/2 hours from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Before my dad passed away, he and I went at least every other year for a day trip to Cleveland. He was a big influence on why I am a music history nerd. As my kids became of late-elementary/middle school age, and their interest in music increased, we picked up this tradition and started making our own trips. How we ended up making this trip a weekend stay was a culmination of a few factors: it was what Peter wanted to do for his birthday, we were overdue for a trip, and we were watching my niece and nephew (Mazzie & Axel) for the weekend. I decided to treat all the kids to a little weekend getaway.

I picked the Drury Plaza Hotel because it looks so cool… it’s Cleveland’s former Board of Education building. The lobby reminds you of an old bank, and it has these amazing murals on the wall. Drury Plaza turned out to be one of our favorite chain hotels in which we’ve stayed. The staff were amazing. Every single person we encountered greeted us. They were helpful and accommodating when we ran into some “hurdles” (more on that later). With 5 kids, we booked a suite that had a bedroom with two queen beds, and a common room area that had a queen-sized pull-out sofa. This suite was HUGE–very helpful when 7 people are sharing! The hotel had a nice indoor pool area, and one of the nicest perks was the food! There is an extensive breakfast buffet included (another bonus when feeding 7 people!), AND they had this thing called “5:30 kickback.” This was advertised as appetizers and drinks, but it included a baked potato bar, pasta, salad, and more! Each adult receives two “drink tickets” (also very helpful when traveling with 5 kids!) The breakfast buffet was the only time in which we encountered any issues. Anyone who has more than two kids understands what it is like to be outnumbered. I could only keep my eyes on so many kids at a time. Peter was working the waffle maker on his own, and the next thing we knew, he was standing there holding his hand with tears streaming down his face. Peter managed to burn his hand on the waffle iron. Ironically, he hit the part that said “Caution Hot Surface,” and burned the word “caution” into his hand. This poor kid! As I said, the hotel staff were amazing and helped us to take care of the burn. We managed to all laugh at the irony, and then we headed off to the Hall of Fame.

We are huge fans of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and there are different areas that we particularly enjoy. My boys and my nephew all play instruments, and they spent a lot of time in “the Garage,” an area where you can try out different instruments.

You really need a full day at the museum. There are so many videos to watch, exhibits to explore, and interactive music kiosks. Our favorite, by far, is the Power of Rock experience in the Connor theater. This short film features live performances at Hall of Fame induction ceremonies, but the theater uses smoke machines, surround sound, and lights to give the feel of a true live performance. The last performance features a guitar solo by Prince that literally brings tears to my eyes–it’s that good. You also have to take a moment to get a photo by the “Long Live Rock” sign. We normally don’t spring for these Hall of Fame photos, but we couldn’t pass this up with all 5 kids…

Being from Pittsburgh, we’re not technically supposed to like Cleveland. The Browns have been a long-time nemesis of our Pittsburgh Steelers. Pittsburghers talk trash on Cleveland all the time. Here’s a little secret, though… I really like this city. There are all these interesting spots, like the “Free” stamp, the installation art we found in a city square, and East 4th Street, where all the restaurants and bars have outside seating on a pedestrian-only street. We loved Colossal Cupcakes with the giant pink chairs and delicious cupcakes.

We decided to make one last stop before we drove home on Sunday. If you are like everyone else at Christmas and watch “A Christmas Story” at least once over the holiday season, you are familiar with the story of Ralphie, his family, and his desire to own a Red Ryder BB gun. The Christmas Story house is located in Cleveland! We booked a tour of the house, checked out the family car, and toured the museum. It was so fun to see all the scenes we watch every year! I highly suggest paying to tour the house. Our tour guide was wonderful, and there were so many interesting stories about the filming of the movie. Our kids, as you can see, were most entranced by the mystique of a rotary phone.

It was a full weekend, and each one of us truly enjoyed it. I loved having Mazzie & Axel along for this adventure. We are lucky that Cleveland is just a short drive, but after this trip, I will be tempted to turn it into a weekend getaway every time we go!

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