Why? Pittsburgh!

This weekend, Alicia, Melissa, and I took a little girls weekend road trip to Pittsburgh. It started with plans to see Sara Bareilles (who wasn’t coming to Cleveland), but turned in to a great chance to get away and explore a different city.

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We’ll start with the original purpose of the trip: seeing Sara Bareilles perform. I hadn’t see her live since her show at House of Blues maybe 8 years ago. She was fantastic! Her voice is gorgeous, her lyrics are captivating, and her personality makes me think we would totally be besties (call me, Sara).

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She played lots of favorites, as well as a bunch of songs from the musical she penned, Waitress and songs from her new album “Amidst the Chaos” (I am seriously hooked on “Fire” and “Poetry by Dead Men” from that album).

We stayed in an AirBNB, which is such a perfect way to travel, especially with a group. We saved money over a hotel, plus we had common area space for hanging out, ordering a ridiculous amount of Thai food which lasted us the whole weekend, and just generally getting more time together in a cozier environment.

We weren’t far from Carson Street, which has a ton of bars. The vibe/crowd is somewhat like the Warehouse District. We checked out Mario’s South Side Saloon, Carson City Saloon, and Local Bar & Kitchen.

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Carson Street is definitely a fun, young, busy place to be. When we were down there on Thursday night, we were in the midst of a ton of Steelers fans watching the game, but we managed to find one other Browns fan in the craziness!

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For dinner before the concert, we went to Morcilla, a beautifully-appointed tapas restaurant in the Lawrenceville neighborhood. Much like the AirBNB, a tapas meal allows for a more communal experience.

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Some of the favorites from our table were the Marcona Almonds (lavender sugar, sea salt, EVOO); the Roasted Pepper Conserva (habanada and sweet carmen peppers, sherry vinegar, olive oil, garlic); the Oxtail Montadito (caramelized onion, machon cheese, baguette); and the Crispy Fried Sunchokes (butternut squash romesco, za’atar).

Don’t skip the churros with chocolate hazelnut sauce for dessert!

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The food was flavorful, the service was spot-on, and the restaurant was just charming!

Speaking of food, we also grabbed a couple great breakfasts while we were in town. We couldn’t resist a trip to the famous Pamela’s Diner.

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Their crepe-style hotcakes are so good! I got the specialty ones with apples, walnuts, and caramel!

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We also checked out Cafe Moulin, a small creperie in the Shadyside neighborhood. Since we couldn’t decide between savory and sweet, Alicia and I shared the Tivoli (fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, spinach, pesto) and the Cheese Cake (marscapone, chocolate chips, berry compote).

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This place is delicious and adorable!

Beyond that, we also explored the Strip District, which kind of feels like the West Side Market writ large.

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Lots of delicious food shops, as well as some kitschy stores, to explore.

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So, that was our trip. We certainly found a lot to enjoy in Pittsburgh, but more than that, we had such a great time just being away and having plenty of uninterrupted moments to laugh and talk and catch up.

Have you been to Pittsburgh? What are some of your favorite places there?

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Why? Weekends!

Every year before Jeffrey starts back to school, we do a weekend away as a family to celebrate the end of summer break. The last two years, we’ve done an overnight trip to Cedar Point.

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While Jeffrey spends a lot of time at Cedar Point over the summer since we’re season passholders, he never gets to see the park all lit up at night, so it makes for a great place for our weekend stay.

This year, we stayed at Castaway Bay, so we had indoor waterpark fun, in addition to Cedar Point fun.

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Jeffrey could ride on all the slides at Castaway Bay, which is always a plus. He loved the colorful tube slides, the water roller coaster, and the wave pool!

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Plus, being season passholders, we saved on our stay, since Castaway Bay is part of the Cedar Fair family.

Of course, we spent lots of time riding the rides at Cedar Point too. From cable cars to Camp Snoopy to lots of spinny rides, Jeffrey is a ride monster!

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We also caught the last weekend of Cedar Point Nights, with lots of light-up fun and music on the beach.

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While we were at Cedar Point, a nice couple who had won one of the midway games offered their prizes to Jeffrey and another little boy, so we ended up coming home with this massive shark!

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We started a lot of conversations walking through the park with this! Jeffrey loves it and it was such a nice reminder of the kindness and generosity of the human spirit.

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We all renewed our season passes for next year and found some great deals: Matthew and I have the new Gold Pass and Jeffrey has the Pre-K Pass. The Gold Pass and the Pre-K Pass include unlimited visits to Cedar Point and Cedar Point Shores. Plus, the Gold Pass includes parking, as well as discounts on food, souvenirs, and resort stays. Check them out! Season passes make it easy to enjoy lots of fun at Cedar Point all year.

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Do you do anything special as a family before your kids start back to school?

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Why? Moon Cleveland!

You’ve probably read Douglas Trattner‘s writing over the years, from Cleveland Scene Magazine to co-authoring four of Michael Symon’s cookbooks to Eater to Food Network Magazine.

This prolific local author has just written a new Cleveland guidebook: “Moon Cleveland.” The guidebook is easily broken down into sections that will help both locals and visitors find their perfect Cleveland experiences.

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Start with the “5 Top Experiences,” for the must-do, top-level Cleveland things, like food, sports, and beer.

Visiting (or entertaining visitors) for a weekend? The “Three-Day Best of Cleveland” will have you hopping all over town hitting some impressive highlights that will certainly leave your guests wanting to come back again and again.

Just moved to Cleveland or to a new location in your hometown? The Neighborhood Guide can help you find the best spots in your new locale.

From Sights to Restaurants, Nightlife to Recreation, “Moon Cleveland” covers it all, with digestible, but still informative descriptions, prices, hours, websites, and maps.

Love Cleveland, but want a quick trip away? The “Day Trips” section shares Trattner’s favorites from Amish Country to the Lake Erie Islands.

I like to say that Cleveland has so much to see, do, eat, and explore that it can be impossible to keep up with it all. But Douglas Trattner certainly does an impressive job in “Moon Cleveland.” The book can help you ease into learning about Cleveland or give even a seasoned local some great suggestions of new places to try.

“Moon Cleveland” is on sale now at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, Google Play, Kobo, and Ebooks.com. Click here to order your copy and start (re)-exploring Cleveland!

***Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of “Moon Cleveland” from the author. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

 

Why? Toledo!

Remember my 2019 blog bucket list? One of the things I wanted to do was take more day trips around Ohio.

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Yesterday, Jeffrey and I checked off a day trip to Toledo with the help of our friends Haylie and Zak (remember when they came to visit me in Cleveland) and our new pals at Destination Toledo.

We started our day at the National Museum of the Great Lakes.

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From tales of shipwrecks…

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…and WWII aircraft carrier practice drills…

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…the Great Lakes have a storied history to share.

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The National Museum of the Great Lakes has plenty of hands-on elements that kept Jeffrey entertained, too!

We also had a chance to visit the Col. James M. Schoonmaker, once known as the Queen of the Great Lakes.

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Our guided tour let us see the sheer size and majesty of this ship.

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Captain Jeffrey approved!

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Then it was off to lunch at a location of a Toledo classic: Packo’s at the Park, located right near the Toledo Mud Hens stadium.

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This casual café serves loaded hot dogs, as well as Hungarian classics of stuffed cabbage and chicken paprikash.

Tony Packo’s is a Toledo institution and has attracted national attention. The walls are covered with autographed hot dog buns signed by famous visitors from actors to politicians.

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Tony Packo’s is also known for their pickles (you can try the sweet hots at B Spot). I ordered some fried pickles to share with the table and didn’t share any!

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Next up was Jupmode, because everyone loves city-themed merchandise! The store is fun and funky, with a pinball machine…

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…and a wall of very good puppers who have visited.

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I couldn’t resist this Lin-Manuel Miranda-themed shirt and I am currently wearing it as a write…

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Then it was off to Imagination Station, a wonderland of science-themed fun for all ages!

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I especially enjoyed the Popnology: From Sci-Fi to Wi-Fi special exhibit, open through April 28.

Imagination Station lets you truly experience science, from becoming a human yo-yo (Haylie was brave enough to try it) to flying a flight simulator.

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Imagination Station is bright, fun, and engaging…a perfect place to spend an afternoon with your kiddo and kids at heart!

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We said goodbye to Toledo with a stroll through Promenade Park, which especially comes to life in the summer with a splash pad and outdoor concert series.

It was a jam-packed day that gave us a taste of the family fun that Toledo has to offer.

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You know I’m always encouraging you to explore Cleveland, but there are also lots of other great places to explore in Ohio, so take a day trip beyond your backyard and see what you can find!

***Disclosure: We received complimentary admission to the National Museum of the Great Lakes and Imagination Station and complimentary lunch, courtesy of Destination Toledo. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

jenclesig_pur

Why? South Florida!

This weekend, Mom, Jeffrey, and I headed down to South Florida for a little spring break trip. The reason for our visit was to celebrate my Great Uncle Ray’s 80th birthday, but we also squeezed in some other South Florida fun.

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We stayed at B Ocean Resort in Fort Lauderdale, which was right on the beach. Jeffrey loved both the time on the beach and at the hotel pool.

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We brought home lots of seashells (and sand!) The last time Jeffrey was in this part of Florida, he was just under 2 years old, so his excitement over the ocean was almost brand new.

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While at B Ocean, we had a delicious lunch at the Naked Crab. The rock octopus was so smoky and good!

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We also took a stroll down A1A…

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…and found Bo’s Beach, a perfectly-situated beach front restaurant with delicious Frose cocktails and yummy churrasco steak.

Everything tastes better with beach breeze blowing through your hair!

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By chance, we happened to be in Florida for a John Carroll Alumni Presidential Reception, so we had a chance to attend the luncheon at The Capital Grille.

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Not only was the lunch so tasty, but it was a great chance to connect with some Florida alumni and hear what’s been going on at campus lately from the new president, Dr. Michael Johnson, and his wife, Jill.

Now, to the point of the whole trip: Great Uncle Ray’s birthday! We surprised him and he was truly shocked when he opened his door to the three of us standing there!

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From a delicious birthday dinner at Cooper’s Hawk (get the gnocchi with roasted butternut squash)…

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…to time spent at their house in the pool, it was a wonderful chance to catch up and celebrate!

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And while we had lots of other fun on the trip, the whole point was the family time. There’s truly nothing like face-to-face connection and I’m so glad we had a chance to make it happen for this big birthday!

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How was your weekend? Are you doing any spring break travels?

jenclesig_pur

Why? St. Kitts!

I’m ba-a-a-a-ck. Literally at 1:30am today. And here I am, writing to you all. That’s true love, right?

Also, I figure the window on me talking about my vacation is closing, so here we go…

It had been awhile since Mom and I had traveled just the two of us. In fact, the last “girls only” trip was when we went to Scottsdale a couple months before Jeffrey was born. So the chance to get away together was much appreciated.

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Which means right off the bat, I have to give mad props to Matthew for holding down the fort (seriously, the literal fort is still standing) and my dear friend Mariah for helping out too.

So, now to the trip: As you may remember, my dad owns a tire business (Tireman USA) and this trip was part of an incentive program with Goodyear. When we first got to St. Kitts, we spent a day with the other Goodyear folks and incentive-earners working on clean-up and building projects at a local school.

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The group built picnic tables, re-tiled a kitchen, cleaned up classrooms, painted playground equipment, did landscaping, and packed nearly 200 bookbags stuffed with donated school supplies.

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It was surely a different way to kick off a vacation, but so worthwhile!

We stayed at the St. Kitts Marriott Resort, which boasted amazing ocean and mountain views, beautiful pools, and delicious food and drink.

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Matthew and I honeymooned in St. Lucia and the topography of St. Kitts reminded me very much of that destination.

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Some of our favorite things we ate at the Marriott included the Chilean sea bass at Blu Seafood Restaurant, the St. Kitts BBQ Pizza from Pizza Shack, and the mushroom soup en croute at Royal Grill Steakhouse.

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We also explored St. Kitts and it’s neighboring island, Nevis, a bit. On St. Kitts, we went to a wonderful dinner at Marshall’s Restaurant.

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I had lobster jerk pasta and Mom had grilled local lobster tail, both of which were so fresh and delicious.

On Nevis, we saw the home where Alexander Hamilton lived as a child, which was a great piece of history and obviously much more popular because of the musical. They were actually playing the soundtrack at the house!

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We also had lunch at the world-famous Sunshine’s Bar.

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The walls are covered with celebrities who made their way to this beach shack restaurant for the Killer Bee cocktail, a rum punch that packs quite a sting!

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Nevis is a much quieter island than St. Kitts, with a smaller population and tons of wild monkeys running about.

We also went on a snorkel catamaran cruise off St. Kitts, which was a gorgeous way to see the island. The Caribbean waters are so clear that we could see tons of fish and turtles and coral, too!

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We ended the trip with a party on the beach with live music, a huge fire pit, and lots of fun!

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It was an amazing chance to get away, relax, do some good, and see a new place in the world! I am so glad to have gone, but also so glad to be back home in CLE!

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Why? Legoland Discovery Center!

On Friday, Jeffrey and I took a road trip down 71 South for the grand opening of the Legoland Discovery Center in Columbus.

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Located in Easton Town Center, the Legoland Discovery Center is an immersive LEGO experience, with something for every age of LEGO enthusiast.

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You begin your experience with a LEGO factory tour and a chance to make your own virtual mini LEGO.

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From there, you enter the Kingdom Quest area, where you can go on the Kingdom Quest ride and help rescue the Princess and protect the dragon. Jeffrey found parts of this ride a little scary, but he was delighted with the cute baby dragon made out of LEGOs at the end.

We spent a lot of time exploring MiniLand, which features LEGO versions of Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Columbus.

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From the Rock Hall to the Free Stamp to A Christmas Story House to the Terminal and Key Towers to the Fountain of Eternal Life, the LEGO version of Cleveland hit all the high points.

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There was even one of the iconic Cleveland script signs!

We could also check out the Horseshoe and watch a LEGO version of a Buckeyes game.

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Many of the elements of MiniLand featured movement, sound, and lights, from the football game to a concert to a dragon boat race.

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The lights in MiniLand also went from day to night and back again. What a cool room and a testament to the amazing things you can build with LEGO!

From there, we checked out the building areas, with places to build and race your own LEGO race car,

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tables to test your building’s earthquake stability,

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and specialty LEGO Friends and DUPLO Farm areas.

These areas were Jeffrey’s favorite and he easily could have built and tested cars for hours!

We also went on Merlin’s Apprentice Ride (twice.) This ride spins you around and you can control the height of your car by how fast you peddle. Considering Jeffrey could barely reach the pedals, I got a good workout from this ride!

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There is also a LEGO City play area with slides and climbing challenges…

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…and a LEGO 4D theater screening the latest LEGO movies.

There is also an amazing birthday room, which kind of makes me want to invite everyone to drive 2+ hours for Jeffrey’s next birthday party!

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Speaking of that, it’s obviously a drive from Cleveland to check out Legoland Discovery Center. But, there is a ton for families to enjoy both there and in Columbus (check out our trip there from last summer), plus Easton Town Center itself has great shopping and restaurants you can enjoy without even leaving the Legoland Discovery Center’s immediate area.

Tickets and annual passes are currently on sale online. So, take a road trip and build yourself a perfect day!

***Disclosure: I was asked to help promote Legoland Discovery Center. In exchange, I received two complimentary tickets to Legoland Discovery Center. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

jenclesig_pur

Why? Weekends!

This weekend still felt like summer to me! So, despite the appearance of pumpkins later on in my post, I’m hanging on to the end of summer…

Brewnuts

On Friday morning, while the kids were in school, I went with my friends Mariah and Ashlie to Brewnuts for their Harry Potter-themed donuts that were available this weekend only.

Brewnuts not only makes gigantic, creative donuts, but they come up with lots of fun theme days to sprinkle even more magic on the donuts. I opted for a Sorting Hat donut, whose yellow buttercream filling told me I was a Hufflepuff.

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Add in a Butterbeer latte…

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and the cute, tiki-themed decor…

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and you have the makings of three very happy moms!

Bloggy Con

On Saturday, I attended Bloggy Conference, a conference for bloggers. Held at Cedar Point’s Hotel Breakers, the location was perfect for soaking in a bit more of summer.

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We heard speakers on everything from SEO to brand ambassadorships and had a chance to connect with other bloggers from around the country.

This was my first blog conference, despite how long I’ve been doing this, and I really feel like I came away with some valuable insights into things I can implement with the blog, as well as things that I don’t want to change.

Small City Taphouse

Since we were spending the night in Sandusky, I had dinner at one of my favorite restaurants out that way: Small City Taphouse.

This restaurant boasts 80 beers on tap, which obviously means you have to get a flight because it is impossible to choose just one.

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My two favorites from my flight were the Big Bad Baptist from Epic Brewing and the Haunted Hayride Pumpkin Ale from Masthead Brewing.

Small City Taphouse also has a full sushi and Asian cuisine menu. The TNT roll, with tuna and jalapeno was a great choice, as was the spicy egg noodles with beef.

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If you find yourself in Sandusky, definitely check out Small City Taphouse!

Cedar Point Halloweekends

On Sunday, my best guys joined me at Cedar Point for Halloweekends.

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From trick or treating through Kiddie Kingdom…

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…to trying out the new-this-year challenge course…

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….to catching the It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown parade…

…there was so much to do on top of the rides that Jeffrey always loves. It was a fall festival in summer-like weather!

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Halloweekends continue every weekend through October 28, so don’t miss this chance for some family-friendly thrills and treats!

So, that was my weekend! How was yours?

jenclesig_pur

Why? National Cheeseburger Day at Kalahari Resorts!

It seems there’s a day to celebrate just about everything nowadays. This Tuesday, September 18 is National Cheeseburger Day! To celebrate this all-American classic meal, Kalahari Resorts and Conventions is offering a special promotion.

If you order an adult entree burger at B-Lux Grill & Bar at Kalahari this Tuesday, September 18, you will receive a free waterpark pass to return for a future visit of splashtastic fun! This offer is valid for the first 500 customers at the Sandusky Kalahari Resorts location.

Matthew, Jeffrey, and I went to Kalahari last weekend and enjoyed some tasty burgers at B-Lux Grill & Bar. Matthew had the Black & Bleu Burger, with bleu cheese and stout steak sauce.

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And I had the Frenchie burger, with Brie, caramalized onions, bacon, and dijonnaise.

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Also, don’t skip the boozy milkshakes. It’s a drink and dessert all in one! I love me some multitasking.

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Jeffrey chose the cheese pizza and giant pretzel, which just goes to show that it doesn’t have to be a cheeseburger meal at B-Lux (but it IS a great spot to celebrate National Cheeseburger Day).

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Then we headed down to the waterpark for a ton of fun! Jeffrey is tall enough now to go on a lot of the slides, including the Zip Coaster, which is essentially a roller coaster and water slide combined.

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We all had a great time splashing and sliding the day away! And we definitely can’t wait to go back!

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So, head to Kalahari and grab a cheeseburger at B-Lux Grill & Bar to celebrate National Cheeseburger Day, so that you not only get a tasty meal, but a chance to return for even more family waterpark fun!

***Disclosure: I was asked to help promote Kalahari Resorts’ National Cheeseburger Day promotion. In exchange, I received three complimentary waterpark day passes and a gift card to B-Lux Grill & Bar. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

jenclesig_pur

Why? LEGOLAND Discovery Center Columbus Giveaway!

Is your kid as nuts for LEGOs as Jeffrey is? From DUPLO to LEGO Junior, we have tons of LEGO sets at our house. Which is why we’re so excited about the new LEGOLAND Discovery Center opening in Columbus in a couple weeks!

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LEGOLAND Discovery Center is geared for families with children ages 3-10 and includes tons of fun attractions like 2 LEGO-themed rides, 10 LEGO play zones, a 4D Cinema showing the latest LEGO movies, classes with Master Builders, and a DUPLO and Soft Play area for younger children.

You’ll also get to see MINILAND Ohio, which includes LEGO models of Ohio landmarks from Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati. I can’t wait to see the Rock Hall made out of LEGO bricks!

LEGOLAND Discovery Center opens exclusively for annual pass holders on Friday, September 21. You can purchase an annual pass here. The Grand Opening to the public takes place on Friday, September 28.

And I have a giveaway for a family four-pack of tickets to check out LEGOLAND Discovery Center Columbus, good for any day from September 28, 2018 on. Here’s how to enter to win (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 your child’s favorite thing to build with LEGO bricks (Jeffrey’s is a roller coaster).

2. Visit LEGOLAND Discovery Center Columbus and Why CLE? on Facebook and leave a comment here letting me know you visited both pages.

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

4. Follow @ldccolumbus 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 tickets to the new @ldccolumbus thanks to @whycle #giveaway https://whycle.com/2018/09/13/why-legoland-discovery-center-columbus-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 Tuesday, September 18 at 11:59pm and the winner will be notified the following day. Good luck!

***Disclosure: I was asked to help promote the LEGOLAND Discovery Center Columbus. In exchange, I will receive complimentary tickets and a swag bag for myself and 4 tickets to give away. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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