Why? Jet Express Giveaway!

This weekend, Matthew, Jeffrey, my parents, and I made a little day getaway to Put-In-Bay aboard the Jet Express.

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The Lake Erie Islands make for the perfect summer staycation and, when you only have a day to explore, the Jet Express is the perfect way to get there.

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The Jet Express provides the quickest way to get to Put-In-Bay or Kelley’s Island from either Port Clinton or Sandusky, with tons of travel times, central drop-off locations, late night service, and guaranteed spots when you reserve online.

So, how do you make the most of one day on Put-In-Bay? Here’s my Top 5 List:

1.Plan ahead. Think about your interests and what you would like to do while on the island. The Jet Express offers packages to fit lots of different needs, from families to island hoppers. We had the Kayaks & Caves Adventure Deal as our package for the day, which helped structure our activities.

2. Secure a mode of transportation. This will ensure you can maximize the ground you cover. Our Kayaks & Caves package offered a free bike rental for two from Island Bike & Cart Rental.

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Since we had 5 people and a wagon to haul, we opted for a cart rental instead. This allowed us to cover maximum ground in minimum time.

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3. Head below ground. Both Perry’s Cave

and the Crystal Cave at Heineman’s Winery

offer one-of-a-kind experiences unique to Put-In-Bay and captivating for all ages. Tours of both caves were included in our package and were not something I would have experienced otherwise.

4. Nourish and hydrate appropriately for your adventures. From the lobster roll and Lake Erie perch and walleye at The Boardwalk Upper Deck (we had a $25 food voucher there as part of our package)

to the award-winning wines at Heineman’s Winery

to a fruity blender drink at Mojito Bay Tiki Bar, there’s plenty to tempt you in food and drink. Make sure you have time to enjoy a variety!

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5. Leave time for distractions. We went in with the Kayaks & Caves Adventure Deal guiding our day. But along the way, we stumbled into Kimberly’s Carousel

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and the Pyrate Fest

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and the beauty and history of Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial.

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As much as you need to plan to maximize a one-day trip, you need to also allow the island to work it’s charms on you and not be afraid to stop and enjoy them along the way!

So you can enjoy your own getaway to the Lake Erie Islands, I have two round-trip tickets on the Jet Express to give away! The tickets are good for any day in 2017, departing from Port Clinton. And to sweeten the deal, I’ll throw in a bike rental for two voucher from our package that we weren’t able to use.

Here’s how to enter (you can do one, two, three, four, or all five entries, just leave a separate comment here for each):

1.Leave a comment telling me what you’d most like to do with a day on Put-In-Bay.

2. Visit The Jet Express and Why CLE? on Facebook and leave a comment here letting me know you visited both pages.

3. Follow @jetexpress and @whycle on Instagram and leave a comment here letting me know you’re following both.

4. Follow @JetExp and @WhyCLE on Twitter and leave a comment here letting me know you’re following both.

5. Tweet the following phrase and leave a comment here letting me know you tweeted:

I want to win @JetExp tickets for an island getaway from @WhyCLE: https://whycle.com/2017/06/27/why-jet-express-giveaway #giveaway 

 You can tweet once per day for additional entries, just leave a separate comment here each time you tweet.

The giveaway will close on Sunday, July 2 at 11:59pm and the winner will be notified the following day. Good luck!

***Disclosure: I was invited by the Jet Express to spend a day on Put-In-Bay with the Kayaks & Caves Adventure Deal and to share my experience. I received a complimentary Kayaks & Caves Adventure Deal, as well as a swag bag and 2 complimentary Jet Express round-trip tickets to give away. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Cleveland Museum of Art Solstice!

The Cleveland Museum of Art is world-renowned, which not only gives us access to an incredible permanent collection of art, but also means the Museum can command incredible exhibitions and amazing performers from around the world.

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Nowhere is this more evident than at Solstice, the must-attend party of a Cleveland summer. There are amazing international musicians both in the Atrium and outside, where a massive dance party takes place with the gorgeous Museum facade as the backdrop.

You can also take in the permanent collection and special exhibitions, with special gallery tours too.

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Matthew and I loved perusing the galleries and had a lot of fun in the new ARTLENS Gallery, which is a fun and interactive way to enjoy and explore art.

You can also purchase small bites from Provenance, as well as sippers from a full-service bar (white wine only though, because summer.) And the people-watching at Solstice is unparalleled!

Solstice is top to bottom a visually stunning event, not just because of the art that surrounds you, but also because of the incredible light shows, gigantic robots made from balloons (seriously), gorgeous flowers, and the chance to celebrate this most glorious season under the stars at one of Cleveland’s premier venues.

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Welcome, summer! You are my favorite time in Cleveland and Solstice is one the best ways to fete the season!

***Disclosure: I was invited by the Cleveland Museum of Art to attend Solstice with two complimentary tickets. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Eton Explorers!

I’m always on the hunt for fun new experiences with Jeffrey, which led us to Eton Explorers, a fun, carnival-like event put on by Northeast Ohio Parent and held once a month in the summer at Eton Chagrin Boulevard.

The theme for this month’s Eton Explorers was Superheroes and Princesses, so capes and frilly dresses were everywhere!

There was lots of fun to experience, from a balloon tent manned by The Twister Girl

…to police cars and fire trucks from the City of Woodmere…

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…frozen yogurt treats from Menchie’s

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…to games and crafts from the Cuyahoga County Public LibraryThe Ratner School, the Cleveland Gladiators and Cleveland Monsters, and more.

It was a true community event, with lots of participation from various family-friendly businesses. And while it was a bit crowded, the lines moved quickly and we were easily able to participate in all the activities.

The next Eton Explorers are scheduled for July 18 (Splash Pad) and August 15 (Scavenger Hunt.) The events are free and open to the public. And if you live on the West side, you can check out Crocker Park Kids, scheduled for July 11, August 8, and September 12.

I’m proud to be blogging for Northeast Ohio Parent (check out my posts here), but I’m also happy to share this event because it was honestly a great time with a fun theme! We’re excited for the next two Eton Explorers!

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Why? Weekends!

Aside from backyard vinyasa, we had lots of other weekend plans! On Friday, Matthew’s family came over for an early Father’s Day BBQ. The kids played in the pool and yard like crazy, the grown-ups had a chance to catch up, and everyone enjoyed lots of summery treats, like watermelon and a homemade sundae bar.

Saturday morning, we took Jeffrey to Legacy Village for Meet the Machines. This event packed Legacy Village with all kinds of vehicles from police cars to fire trucks to construction equipment to the Euclid Beach Rocket Ship Car.

You could even get in some of the vehicles to drive and explore!

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I really appreciated how spread out the vehicles and activities were, giving everyone plenty of space to see and enjoy everything. Plus, there was a huge variety of vehicles, so every kid could find something cool to check out.

Beyond just the vehicles, there was live entertainment, giveaways from local companies, and crafts. Jeffrey loved decorating his CAT construction hard hat!

Legacy Village’s Meet the Machines was really well put together, which made it just as much fun for the adults as for the kids!

On Sunday, Matthew selected an activity to do with Jeffrey for Father’s Day and he chose to go to the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. The Zoo had free admission for dads on Father’s Day and we saw a lot of families taking advantage of this fun way to spend time together.

The animals were definitely putting on a show on Sunday, too. We got very up close and personal with the giraffe…

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…lion…

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…and tiger.

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It was a really great morning with lots of good family memories made! Stay tuned this week for more information on Zoo membership and all the great reasons to check out our Cleveland Metroparks Zoo!

After that, we headed to my parents house to stuff ourselves with guacamole and margaritas, as it should be on Father’s Day!

It was a fun, family-centered weekend! How was yours?

***Disclosure: I have an ongoing relationship with Legacy Village to promote their events. In exchange, I will receive compensation in the form of Legacy Village gift cards. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Etna Ristorante!

There are so many amazing restaurants packed into the relatively small area of Little Italy that it can be tough to get to them all. But when pasta is involved, I can make the commitment! Last night, I tried a new-to-me restaurant in Little Italy with some of my fellow Playhouse Square Partners.

Etna Ristorante is located near the west end of Little Italy, on the corner of West 120th and Mayfield Road. It can be easy to miss this cozy spot, but trust me, you don’t want to overlook it!

The menu at Etna features a nice selection of pasta and meat dishes, with an emphasis on seafood. The specials for the evening were all fish and seafood-based as well, including rainbow trout, cod, salmon, and cioppino.

I started my meal with a summer favorite: caprese salad. The tomatoes were fresh and the clean flavors of this classic dish really popped.

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For my entrée, I chose the penne with scampi, served with a very light tomato cream sauce (seriously, just a touch of cream), mushrooms, and basil.

The size of the pasta dishes allowed everyone to clear their plates and feel happily and comfortably full.

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I loved that the sauce wasn’t overly heavy and the flavors of tomato, basil, and mushroom all came through distinctly. The scampi were large and cooked well. All in all, a spot on dish for classic Italian flavors.

From a nice wine list to an intimate atmosphere to a menu filled with Italian standards done to perfection, Etna Ristorante is a Little Italy location not to be missed! Also not to be missed is the annual Feast of the Assumption in Little Italy, a celebration of faith, food, and tradition, happening Saturday, August 12 through Tuesday, August 15.

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Why? Annie’s Sweet Shop!

You’ve heard me say it before, but I just love the connections that blogging about Cleveland has afforded me, especially when I get to meet passionate Clevelanders doing cool things in our city.

I started following Annie’s Sweet Shop on Instagram and was hooked by the yummy looking mini desserts, especially the signature lavender lemon cookies.

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A couple weeks ago, I met up with Ann LoParo, the woman behind Annie’s Sweet Shop to hear her story (and get some of those signature cookies for myself, which are buttery and not too sweet and just delicious.)

Ann and I both graduated from Magnificat High School, so before we even met, I felt like we had some connection. And when Ann shared that what drew her to baking was a voracious sweet tooth, I knew we’d hit it off!

Ann started her career as a social worker, but was always baking on the side, mostly for large family gatherings. That’s what got her into making mini desserts, to give people an easy grab-and-go nibble while at a party.

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Eventually, Ann decided to pursue her baking passion and talent full-time, earning her degree from Johnson & Wales University College of Culinary Arts. She worked at various resorts and clubs before family drew her to move back to her hometown (another point of connection for us.)

In Cleveland, Ann worked as a pastry chef at the Horseshoe Casino, Provenance at the Cleveland Museum of Art, and Lola Bistro. But she kept feeling drawn to build something of her own.

Ann went on a yoga retreat in Bali, which gave her the right perspective to decide the direction to take her career and her life. I just love this part of Ann’s story so much! To know that you want something more or different and to take the time and space to figure out what that is and how to make it happen takes a lot of bravery and commitment!

So, Ann launched Annie’s Sweet Shop. She is creating beautiful and delicious mini desserts, such as tarts, brownies, cookies, and cheesecakes. They would make the perfect addition to your next gathering or event, plus you’ll be supporting a local small business with talent, passion, and a lot of heart!

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Why? American Heart Association Cleveland Heart Ball!

When you combine an event I’ve never been to before with a place I haven’t been to yet, you get one excited blogger!

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Which is why I was feeling so excited to be attending the American Heart Association Cleveland Heart Ball, held at the Hilton Cleveland Downtown. This gorgeous hotel with sweeping city views made for the perfect location for the black tie gala. (Also, I kind of cried sending back my Rent the Runway dress.)

The theme of this year’s Heart Ball was “Hoops and Dreams” and everywhere you looked, basketball was part of the event, from a locker room celebrating the sponsors…

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…to the table decor…

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…to cheerleaders…

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…to famous basketball faces…

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…to the chance to shoot some hoops yourself.

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Amanda and I enjoyed the VIP room and the social suite before dinner, with nibbles, wine, and conversation.

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Then it was on to a delicious seated dinner, with seasonal salad, tender beef short rib, and decadent dessert.

During dinner, we also had the chance to participate in a live auction, as well as open donation time (which raised an amazing $202,000 alone.) We were inspired to bid to help the Cleveland American Heart Association by listening to event chairman Terry Fergus talk about his grandson, Ray, who suffers from hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, but is still incredibly active, hopeful, and eloquent about his future.

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Ray’s story and learning how the research funded by the American Heart Association can benefit him and so many others gave an entirely new meaning to “Hoops and Dreams” and made the evening not just glamorous, but also so meaningful.

The mood lightened again at the Overtime Party put on by the Young Professionals Board, with a DJ, concession-style munchies, and more basketball fun.

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It was a truly great evening for such an important cause. The Cleveland American Heart Association hopes to make heart disease a thing of the past and that is a dream definitely worth shooting for!

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***Disclosure: I was asked to help promote the American Heart Association Cleveland Heart Ball. In exchange, I received two complimentary VIP tickets, as well as two tickets to the Overtime Party. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Weekends!

It was a busy, fun, summery weekend in the CLE! On Friday night, my friend Melissa and I met up for Zippity Zoo Doo, a fabulous fundraiser for the Cleveland Zoological Society.

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This year, the Cleveland Zoological Society is celebrating 60 years of supporting the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo‘s conservation efforts and educational programs. The event raised an impressive $300,000 through ticket sales, a Wild Side Silent Auction (I scored a great package of gift cards and tickets for summer fun), and the Giving Tree donations.

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The Driftwood Group provided delicious food, from passed appetizers (the coconut chicken was my favorite) to small bites (the beet and goat cheese pasta was to die for) to mixology drinks, including a special and yummy Zootini, served in a souvenir martini glass.

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There were also fun giant games to play, like Jenga, Scrabble, and Connect 4.

Melissa and I got to take on some of the Cleveland Gladiators in Connect 4! And how’s this for symbiotic content: I have a Gladiators ticket giveaway going on now!

We also got the chance to meet the Zoo’s new Amur tiger, Hector, who was enjoying his first night in the Roseborough Tiger Passage.

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From delicious food and drinks to games and music to majestic creatures to benefiting a great cause, Zippity Zoo Doo had everything that makes an event truly spectacular! There are two more great events to benefit the Cleveland Zoological Society scheduled this summer: Twilight at the Zoo and Date Night at the Zoovies.

On Saturday morning, Jeffrey, my mom, and I went to the Macedonia Funfest because we love summer festivals with rides, games, and fun!

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Plus, it gave us an excuse to stop by Rosati’s Frozen Custard, which is just so yummy on a hot day!

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Then on Sunday, we decided to beat the heat at the newly-opened Cedar Point Shores Water Park.

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From the brand new kids area with tons of slides and fun critters for the kids to great new thrill rides for the grown ups, Cedar Point Shores expanded the water park fun and the access to and views of Lake Erie.

There are also expanded food selections, updated seating and cabanas, and more. This will definitely be a summer destination for us!

So, that was almost all of the weekend…stay tuned tomorrow for my recap of the Cleveland American Heart Association Heart Ball! How was your weekend?

***Disclosure: I was asked by the Cleveland Zoological Society to help promote their events. In exchange, I received one complimentary ticket and one discounted ticket to Zippity Zoo Doo and I will receive complimentary tickets to Twilight at the Zoo and Date Night at the Zoovies. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Cleveland Gladiators Tailgate Zone and Ticket Giveaway!

We love our sports in Cleveland and we’re lucky to have so many options to watch great teams play. The Cleveland Gladiators have earned a reputation for fun, high-energy, affordable, family-friendly games.

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And now the Gladiators have increased the excitement with the addition of a “Gladiators Tailgate Zone” for the remainder of the 2017 season.

Gladiators Announce Tailgate Zone to Debut June 16th Against Baltimore

Admission to the Gladiators Tailgate Zone gets you up close and personal with the players and the game. Plus, you’ll have access to an unlimited buffet with concession-stand favorites, as well as beer, wine, and Pepsi products.

Gladiators Announce Tailgate Zone to Debut June 16th Against Baltimore (3)

The Tailgate Zone debuts at the game on Friday, June 16 against the Baltimore Brigade with a “Summer Picnic at the Q.”  The first 10,000 fans to arrive that night will receive a Gladiators Tumbler presented by Phantom Fireworks.

There will be two other opportunities to experience the Gladiators Tailgate Zone during the remaining home games of the 2017 regular season as the team hosts “Go Pink Night” on Saturday, June 24th and “Fan Salute Night Presented by The Brew Kettle” on Saturday, July 8th.

Tailgate Zone tickets are $49 per person and can be purchased online. You can also enter to win a family four-pack of tickets (not Tailgate Zone tickets) to the Gladiators game on Saturday, July 8 right here! Here’s how to enter (you can do one, two, three, four, or all five entries, just leave a separate comment here for each):

1.Leave a comment here telling me who you would take to the game.

2. Visit Cleveland Gladiators and Why CLE? on Facebook and leave a comment here letting me know you visited both pages.

3. Follow @clevelandgladiators and @whycle on Instagram and leave a comment here letting me know you’re following both.

4. Follow @clegladiators and @WhyCLE on Twitter and leave a comment here letting me know you’re following both.

5. Tweet the following phrase and leave a comment here letting me know you tweeted:

I want to win a 4-pack of tickets to @clegladiators thanks to @WhyCLE: https://whycle.com/2017/06/10/why-cleveland-gladiators-tailgate-zone-and-ticket-giveaway #giveaway

You can tweet once per day for additional entries, just leave a separate comment here each time you tweet.

The giveaway will close on Thursday, June 15 at 11:59pm and the winner will be notified the following day. Good luck!

***Disclosure: I was asked to help promote the new Gladiators Tailgate Zone. I will receive a four-pack of tickets to give away. I declined my own tickets due to scheduling conflicts. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? 2nd & High Social House!

Downtown Cleveland is certainly having a moment, isn’t it? So many great new places opening up and so much energy with Cavs, Indians, concerts, and summer fun. A couple weeks ago, I was downtown for a Cavs game and decided to pop into the new 2nd & High Social House for a pre-game drink and nosh.

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This intimate bar and restaurant is located at the corner of 2nd and High (appropriately named), near the Jack Casino and just a short walk from Quicken Loans Arena. The biggest attraction is the build-your-own cocktail menu, where you can choose your alcohol, syrup, fruit, herb, and wash.

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If you’re a bit impaired at building your own drinks (as I definitely am), there’s a menu of original and creative cocktails to enjoy. I had the strawberry habanero margarita, which was a perfect balance of spicy and sweet!

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2nd & High has a menu of “medium plates,” burgers, sandwiches, and salads, with a focus on innovative pub food. I couldn’t pass up the Meat & Potatoes, with 2High fries, pot roast, cheddar and jack cheese, fried eggs, mushroom gravy, and onion straws.

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What a bowl of decadent frite goodness!

And the next time you can bet I’m getting a boozy snow cone!

I loved the casual, yet high-end vibe at 2nd & High. The cocktail and food menus are the perfect blend of accessible and interesting and the location can’t be beat! The next time you’re downtown, stop in at 2nd & High!

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