Why? Tavern of Little Italy!

On Friday night, Matthew and I enjoyed a delicious dinner at Tavern of Little Italy. We may have missed the Feast of the Assumption, but we more than made up for it with this feast!

Tavern of Little Italy has a relaxed vibe, an adorable courtyard for outdoor seating, and a more diverse menu than a lot of Little Italy restaurants (think, burgers and flatbreads, as well as pasta).

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Matthew and I started by sharing the angry mussels and the beet salad. The angry mussels were served with bacon, garlic, hot peppers, and crumbled bleu cheese in a white wine broth.

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The broth was delicious, especially when soaked up with the bread! And a bite that included all the elements of this dish was just about perfect!

The beet salad had roasted beets, cherry tomatoes, asparagus, goat cheese, balsamic glaze, crispy garlic, and pistachios.

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Yum!

We decided to get a burger and a pasta entrée and share. The burgers are from Betty’s Bomb-Ass Burgers, which makes award-winning burgers. Matthew chose the Boeing Fortress burger, with bacon jam, chunky peanut butter, peppered strawberry preserves, and Tillamook cheddar.

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The combination may sound unusual, but it was totally delicious! It was like a burger snuck into a PB&J sandwich!

I chose the gnocchi ala primavera, with handmade gnocchi, peas, and shallots in a spring pesto with lemon and mint gremolata.

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This dish was fresh and delicious!

The next time you’re in Little Italy and looking not only for delicious pasta, but also some killer burgers and a fun vibe, look no further than Tavern of Little Italy!

***Disclosure: I was invited to Tavern of Little Italy and received a complimentary dinner. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Weekends!

It was a busy weekend in Cleveland! And while I didn’t have the chance to attend the Rock Hall Induction or the first Cavs playoff game, I am so proud of how Cleveland put on a fabulous show on the national stage!

So, here’s what I was up to as Cleveland was rocking it out:

Providence House Luncheon

On Friday, Kimberly and I attended the Providence House Annual Luncheon at the Renaissance Cleveland Hotel.

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Providence House is a crisis nursery that is committed to ending child abuse and preserving families in the Cleveland area. Providence House was founded by Sister Hope Greener in 1981. This year, Providence House turns 37 and its founder Sister Hope turns 90.

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Friday’s luncheon feted Sister Hope and raised $90,000 for Providence House.

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It also introduced a powerful new brand campaign designed by Twist Creative. This campaign showcases the impact of Providence House on its residents and volunteers.

The Providence House luncheon was a wonderful way to not only celebrate the organization’s history, but also look forward to a bright and exciting future for the house. If you want to be part of that future, you can find out more online about how to donate or volunteer.

***Disclosure: I was invited to attend the Providence House Annual Luncheon with a guest. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

Children’s Theater Series

On Saturday, we attended the final show of this season’s Children’s Theater Series at Playhouse Square.

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The show, put on by the Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia, brought to life the sweet story of “Guess How Much I Love You” and the imaginative story of “I Love My Little Storybook.” We’ve been reading “Guess How Much I Love You” since Jeffrey was born. It was so touching to experience it live on stage together!

The shows for next year’s Children’s Theater Series are “The Ugly Duckling,” “The Rainbow Fish,” “Emily Brown and the Thing,” and “Junie B. Jones.” Season tickets go on sale May 21. We love attending the Children’s Theater Series shows and experiencing culture together as a family!

Mass and a Meal

Saturday evening, we attended the sixth annual Mass and a Meal event put on by the John Carroll University Cleveland Alumni Chapter. We started the evening with Mass at Holy Rosary Church in Little Italy.

Then we headed across the street to Nido Italia for a delicious family-style dinner with breaded eggplant, cavatelli, and chicken piccata.

Of course, I can’t be that close to Presti’s and not stop for a cannoli, too!

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Mass and a Meal has become a Chapter favorite event and a yearly tradition for many alumni. If you’re a John Carroll alumni, the Chapter has some great upcoming events including our Founders Day Celebration this Thursday, April 19 at Market Garden Brewery. I hope to see you there!

***Disclosure: I am the president of the John Carroll University Cleveland Alumni Chapter. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

Yoga Roots

Sunday evening, I met up with Mom for her first class at Yoga Roots. We took a restorative yoga class which was a great chance to recharge our minds and bodies before a busy week.

You know how much I love practicing, so I’m so excited to share that with Mom too. And I can’t think of a more supportive community than Yoga Roots to practice.

So, that was my weekend! How was yours? Did you get in on any of the Rock Hall excitement?

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Why? Weekends!

Aside from my Friday evening sweat session, there was a lot of other fun to be had this weekend. Let’s get to it…

Children’s Museum of Cleveland

On Friday, Jeffrey and I met up with friends for a fun play date at the Children’s Museum of Cleveland.

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I love how bright, open, and engaging the new Museum is! And I’m not the only one…the Museum was packed on Friday! From building cars to making crafts to caring for cats…

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…Jeffrey had a great time and burned off a lot of that stuck-inside winter energy.

After the Museum, we headed for lunch at a spot that makes both kids and adults happy: Mama Santa’s in Little Italy.

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Pro tip: if you’re at any of the museums with your kiddos and heading there, give them a call and they’ll have your pizza ready to eat when you arrive!

New Year, New Beauty at The Beauty Room

Saturday afternoon, I popped into The Beauty Room for a blowout and some bubbles at their New Year, New Beauty open house.

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Aside from getting a killer blowout, there was a photo booth, snacks, skincare consultations, and lots of fun gifts and prizes. It was a great event to thank current clients and introduce new people to this fabulous finishing salon.

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Kimberly can certainly plan a great party!

AECOM Holiday Party

There was a reason I needed a killer blowout, which was because we had Matthew’s work holiday party on Saturday night. We got to take part in a murder mystery themed “Killigan’s Island.”

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Floriano Productions put on an entertaining romp through figuring out “who dunnit,” which got people talking and working together and helped break some of the awkward corporate party vibe.

This was my first experience with a murder mystery dinner and I definitely want to try my detective skills at another one!

Great Lakes Science Center

On Sunday morning, we went with my parents to the Great Lakes Science Center. It’s a toss-up who enjoyed All Aboard! The Science of Trains more: Jeffrey or my dad.

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This exhibit is open through February 19, so don’t miss your chance to explore the rails!

From railway fun to space adventures, it was a great family morning at the Great Lakes Science Center!

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This was a perfect way for my dad and Jeffrey to connect over common interests!

Puppies and Pilates at Soza Fitness and Wellness

From science to snuggles, I spent my afternoon at Puppies and Pilates at Soza Fitness and Wellness.

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The event combined an hour-long pilates class with the chance to play with some adorable, adoptable pups from the Parma Animal Shelter.

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You could also sign an anti-puppy mill petition, purchase dog treats and clothes, and make donations to the Shelter. If you’re interested in getting fit with the fuzzes, Soza Fitness and Wellness is hosting another Puppies and Pilates class on Sunday, March 4. Cost to attend is $17.

So, that was my weekend! How was yours?

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Why? Michaelangelo’s Amarone Wine Dinner!

In order to properly prepare myself for Thanksgiving, I put on my eatin’ pants (OK, a boxy dress) and headed to Michaelangelo’s for their Amarone Wine Dinner.

Michaelangelo’s is one of those restaurants that fell into a black hole for me…I always heard great things, but somehow never got there. After last night’s dinner, though, I have a feeling I’ll be a regular at this charming and delicious Little Italy spot.

We started our evening with prosecco (as all evenings should start) and a selection of appetizers, including crostini with artichoke espuma, arancini, and crimini mushrooms stuffed with ricotta and spinach and truffle cream.

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I tried to restrain myself, knowing how many courses were to come, but the appetizers were delicious!

We were treated to the history and wine-making techniques associated with Amarone wines, courtesy of Alfred from Southern Glazers. These big red wines pack a higher alcohol content, but also a lot of body and flavor.

Our antipasto course was an Ora King Salmon torte, served with baby arugula, white peach emulsion, and Amarone glaze.

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Next was the risotto course (shouldn’t risotto always have it’s own course?!), with Amarone risotto with grilled Nebrodini Bianco mushrooms.

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Rich, earthy, and so delicious!

Our next course was grilled New Zealand lamb chops with parmesan roasted cauliflower and red currant-Amarone reduction.

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The lamb was tender, flavorful, and perfectly cooked and the cauliflower could make anyone love eating their vegetables. This course was paired with Valpolicella Ripasso, a more cost-friendly version of Amarone.

Our last savory course was braised beef shortrib with dried Washington state cherries, rosemary spaghetti squash and fried leeks. We were treated to two different Amarone wines with this course!

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The shortrib by itself was amazing, but a bite with all the elements on the plate was truly something special. And the flavors stood up to the large and in charge Amarone wines paired with this dish.

The meal ended with the decadent and sweet triple chocolate mousse torte that was as fluffy as the cloud of foodie happiness I floated home on.

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The food, the wine, and the knowledge and experience that were all shared at the Amarone Wine Dinner made the entire evening truly a treat!

Stay tuned for more special event dinners at Michaelangelo’s (they had a Truffle Dinner a couple months ago) and, the next time you’re thinking about dining in Little Italy, pop into this delicious restaurant for an experience you’ll love!

***Disclosure: I was invited to attend the Michaelangelo’s Amarone Wine Dinner in exchange for covering the event. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Mia Bella Restaurant!

On Wednesday night, I met up with Ann of Annie’s Signature Sweets for a chatty and carby dinner at Mia Bella Restaurant in Little Italy. We started with generous drinks: a Moscow Mule for Ann and a Old Vine Zinfandel for me.

After devouring the delicious bread with garlic butter, it was entrée time (AKA, bring on more carbs). I chose the scampi risotto, with butternut squash, zucchini, huge scampi, and a slightly spicy red sauce.

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The seasonal vegetables were the perfect compliment to the not-too-creamy risotto. And as someone who is almost always in the clean plate club, I will confess to taking some of this large dish home for leftovers!

Ann chose the Mia Bella pasta, a traditional linguini with marinara dish that was executed flawlessly. I totally approve of Ann’s decision to add mushrooms…I love me some pasta with mushrooms.

 

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Photo credit: Annie’s Signature Sweets 

We had decided to go to Presti’s Bakery for dessert, but we lingered over dinner too long and they were closed. There’s nothing sadder than pressing up against a bakery window, longing for a cannoli.

Luckily, since I had dinner with a baker, I got to take home some of Annie’s Signature Sweets ginger cookies, which helped to satisfy my sweet tooth!

The next time you find yourself in Little Italy, Mia Bella is a delicious, cozy, friendly choice!

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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? Weekends!

It was a busy and fun first weekend of April! On Saturday morning, Matthew and I took Jeffrey to see Sesame Street Live at Playhouse Square. We purchased “Sunny Seats,” which not only provide great seats for the show, but also a Meet-and-Greet beforehand.

Jeffrey got to meet Elmo, Grover, and Telly, with lots of hugs, fist bumps, and dancing (on both sides). Seeing his total excitement over getting to meet the characters was the best part of the day!

Then it was on to the show, which was themed “Make a New Friend.” From classic characters and songs to new ones, the show was bright and engaging and filled some sweet and heartfelt lessons.

 

We all had a great time and from the laughter and dancing from the rest of the audience, we weren’t alone in feeling that way!

Saturday evening, Matthew and I attended the fifth annual Mass and a Meal event put on by the John Carroll University Cleveland Alumni Chapter. This mainstay chapter event combines Mass at Holy Rosary in Little Italy with dinner at Nido Italia for a really nice evening! My favorite part of the event is getting to have dinner with other alums, usually people I didn’t know before, and sharing stories and memories of our time at John Carroll.

The food at Nido Italia is always so good, served family-style for our event. We enjoyed breaded eggplant, salad, bread, lemon chicken, cavatelli, and spumoni. We were stuffed! But we couldn’t be that close to Presti’s Bakery and miss a chance to take home a couple cannoli!

If you’re a John Carroll alumni looking to connect at an alumni event, click here for a list of upcoming happenings in Cleveland and beyond!

On Sunday, we hosted friends for brunch. We’ve found brunch is a great time to get people together, but since we wanted to include kiddos and all, it was easier to make brunch in and be able to linger over our bloody mary or mimosa and talk as long as we wanted.

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I made crab, roasted red pepper, and gruyere strata (recipe here) and baked almond French toast (recipe here). These two recipes made me not have to make the always difficult brunch choice of savory or sweet…just have both!

Beyond good food, the company was wonderful! I especially love seeing Alicia‘s daughter Brenna and Jeffrey playing together!

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Sunday afternoon, Jeffrey had his first race in the Healthy Kids Running Series. The program offers a five-week race series, open to ages from 2 through 8th grade. For Jeffrey’s age division, the kids run a 50-yard dash.

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Jeffrey did a great job! Beyond just the race, there’s pre- and post-race stretching and local businesses that provide healthy snacks.

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It’s such a fun activity and a great way to ease into an organized, group sport. I’m excited for next week’s race!

And to counterbalance the healthiness, we made a stop at Rosati’s Frozen Custard on the way home, which just opened for the season this weekend. The Higbee’s Chocolate Malted was calling my name!

So, that was our weekend! How was yours?

***Disclosure: I am the president of the John Carroll University Cleveland Alumni Chapter. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Mia Bella Restaurant!

In a town that is packed with amazing restaurants, it can be tough to get around to all the places you want to go. I consistently heard great things about Mia Bella Restaurant in Little Italy, but I had yet to eat there.

On Sunday, we met up with friends for dinner at Mia Bella. We all met when our kids were in the same class at Goldfish Swim School…who knew swim class would produce such great adult friendships too?!

Matthew and I started by sharing the crab bruschetta, a special for the evening. The flavors were light and citrusy.

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For my entrée, I had the veal ravioli with artichoke, marinara, and basil. This traditional Italian dish was done perfectly and I enjoyed every single bite!

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Matthew chose the cheese tortellini, with tomato cream sauce, peas, and prosciutto. He also added a chicken breast to his meal. Mia Bella’s cheese tortellini was named a Taste of Little Italy Award Winner and it’s not hard to see why. Creamy, spicy, rich, and delicious…this dish had it all!

Our tablemates branched out beyond just the amazing pasta selections. The Chef’s Favorite pizza, with pesto, chorizo, smoked mozzarella, onions, and peppers, received rave reviews.

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The ribeye steak with baked rosemary potatoes and asparagus was also devoured!

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For dessert, the chocolate decadence (a light and airy mousse with a ganache shell) and the sea salt caramel chocolate soufflé (more lava cake than soufflé, but still delicious) made sweet endings to a lovely evening.

I’m so glad I finally got to Mia Bella Restaurant and I’m sure we’ll be visiting again soon! What is a restaurant that you keep meaning to try, but not getting around to?

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Why? John Carroll Alumni Events!

On Wednesday night, the John Carroll University Cleveland Alumni Chapter hosted a pre-St. Patrick’s day happy hour at the Flat Iron Café. From sipping on a Great Lakes Brewing Co. Conway’s Irish Ale to catching up with old friends, it was a relaxed evening of alumni fun!

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The Cleveland Alumni Chapter has a lot of great events planned for spring and summer and we would love for you to join us! There are over 20,000 alumni in the Greater Cleveland area and you’re all a part of our Chapter, just by being a Carroll graduate. So, grab your old buddies and relive some Dolan memories at these events:

Day of Service at Ronald McDonald House

When: Monday, March 20, 3pm-6pm

Where: Ronald McDonald House Cleveland

What: Join other alumni to prepare a meal for the residents of the Ronald McDonald House (note: this event repeats on the third Monday of every month, so you have multiple chances to participate).

Cost: Free

Register here

5th Annual Mass and Dinner in Little Italy

When: Saturday, April 1, 4:30pm Mass, followed immediately by dinner

Where: Holy Rosary Church and Nido Italia

What: One of our favorite events! Mass is followed by a delicious multi-course Italian dinner with plenty of chance for conversation and catching up.

Cost: $35 for adults, $15 for children ages 4-13 (you can also reserve an entire table of 8 for $280).

Register here

2nd Annual Founders’ Day Celebration

When: Wednesday, April 19, 6pm

Where: Great Lakes Brewing Co. Tasting Room

What: Gather to celebrate the 131st anniversary of the founding of John Carroll University. Appetizers and one drink ticket included.

Cost: $20

Register here

Outings to the Cleveland Indians Games

When: Saturday, July 8 at 7:10pm (versus Detroit Tigers) and Sunday, August 6 at 1:10pm (versus New York Yankees)

Where: Progressive Field

What: Cheer on the defending American League Champions and have fun with your fellow alumni too!

Cost: $26 per game or $47 if you purchase tickets for both games

Register here

Even if you’re not a Carroll alum, I bet you know one or two (I mean, there’s 20,000 of us around town)! Let them know all the great things happening to not only stay connected to Carroll, but also have fun around town!

***Disclosure: I am the president of the John Carroll University Cleveland Alumni Chapter. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? 10 Things to Do if You’re an RNC Visitor!

So, there is about to be an influx of visitors to Cleveland. Perhaps you’ve heard. So, in the spirit of rolling out a big Cleveland welcome, I decided to revisit a post from a few years ago, with a slightly different slant.

This list is meant to chronicle just some of the great things going on in CLE. A Cleveland primer, if you will, that can start to give you the sense of what is so unique, fun, exciting, and special about this city. And for those of us who have been here a long time, this can get us back to basics; to some of the amazing things that even we forget to take advantage of.

Top 10 Things to Do in CLE (RNC Edition)

1. Rock out! Visit The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. This is one of the things that non-Clevelanders immediately associate with our city. From special exhibits to the permanent collection to the on-site radio station, the Rock Hall is a monument to amazing music and Cleveland’s unique role in the history of rock.

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2. Take a hike through The Cleveland Metroparks system. We are so lucky in CLE to have “The Emerald Necklace,” encompassing parks, trails, horseback riding, golf courses, fishing, outdoor education, the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, toboggan runs, and much more.

3. Have a celebrity make your meal. From Michael Symon to Jonathon Sawyer to Dante Boccuzzi to Rocco Whalen, Cleveland chefs have made names for themselves from the Food Network to ABC to the James Beard Awards. Dining at any of their establishments is a true gastro treat!

4. Get flat out. The Flats are Cleveland’s newest revitalized hot spot, with dining, entertainment, boating, the Greater Cleveland Aquarium, and more. Sing your heart out at the Big Bang Dueling Piano Bar, sip a margarita at Coastal Taco, or jump aboard the water taxi to experience the full panorama of the Flats.

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5. Eat a pierogi (maybe even in Parma). CLE boasts an incredible mix of ethnicities and cultures, which have held strong to their traditions. One of my personal favorites is the prevalence of the pierogi. Whether you check out Sokolowski’s University Inn or the Little Polish Diner, eating pierogi cements you as a true CLE-er.

6. See a play (and take a selfie with the GE Chandelier). CLE boasts a lot of great theater programs, but as you’re starting out in this town, there’s no better place to see a show than Playhouse Square. These gorgeous theaters comprise the largest theater district in the country outside of New York City, with a variety of shows for all tastes.

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7. Be a beach bum. Lake Erie is one of CLE’s greatest resources and attractions, combined in one. Whether it’s Whiskey Island, Edgewater Beach, Huntington Beach, or Headlands Beach State Park, there are stretches of beach for sunning, swimming, jet-skiing, and general enjoyment.

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8. Feast in Little Italy. CLE’s Little Italy neighborhood is packed with rich culture and delicious food and is not far from my next must-do…

9. Get cultured! The Cleveland Museum of Art, which just celebrated its centennial year, contains over 30,000 works of art you can stroll through for free and is recognized as one of the premier art museums in the world. While you’re in the University Circle area, check out the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Severance Hall and the world-renowned Cleveland Orchestra, the Cleveland Botanical Garden, the Cleveland History Center of the Western Reserve Historical Society, and more.

10. Raise a glass! Cleveland boasts some great local breweries,including Great Lakes Brewing Company, Market Garden Brewery, and Platform Beer Co., all in Ohio City. Great Lakes Brewing offers beers named after significant events and characters in the history of CLE, so a stop there is an education in more than just great beer. Grab a pint in their pub, take a tour, or attend the popular Beer School.

This just scratches the surface of all the amazing things to experience in Cleveland! I hope you enjoy your visit and have an opportunity to get a sense of why we love this town so much!

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Have a question about where to go, what to see or how to get there? Use #AskCLE to get answers, tips and recommendations on the can’t-miss spots in town. Or, take a look around at what Clevelanders are doing now.

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