Why? Weekends!

What a beautiful, fall-like weekend in Northeast Ohio! Here’s how we enjoyed our time:

Cafe o’Play

One of our favorite indoor play date spots is Cafe o’Play, which offers a ton of fun things for kids to do from slides and climbing to basketball to video games to a dance party room.

But even more than the chance to run around and burn off energy, I love that Cafe o’Play is run by some of the kindest, most caring people you’ll ever meet. To that end, through the end of September, Cafe o’Play is collecting diapers, Pull-Ups, adult diapers, and wipes to donate to the Houston Diaper Bank.

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We took our donation there on Friday and I think it’s a great way for even little kids to do something charitable in a way that they can understand.

Brunch at The Flying Fig

On Saturday morning, I met up with two of my favorite ladies at what has become our favorite brunch spot.

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Alicia, Amanda, and I enjoyed a chatty and delicious meal at The Flying Fig. I ordered the French toast, served with a crispy chicken thigh, bourbon bacon jam, and berries.

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A perfect balance, this solved my usual brunch dilemma of whether to order savory or sweet. Add a spicy bloody mary and time to catch up with my girls and you have a perfect Saturday morning!

Dinner at BRIM Kitchen and Brewery

Saturday evening, we met up with my parents for an early Grandparents Day dinner at BRIM Kitchen and Brewery. Every time we eat at BRIM, I’m impressed with the quality of the food and friendliness of the service.

I chose the pan-roasted duck, with sweet potato puree and truffle pierogi.

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The duck was tender and flavorful and I loved the pairing with the pierogi and sweet potato!

My mom had the short rib gnocchi, which she is still raving about!

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And of course we can’t pass up dessert. I had the churro pound cake with chocolate ganache and malted milk ice cream and Matthew had the carrot cake with marscapone ice cream.

We all enjoyed our dinners and had a lovely evening at this bright and bustling downtown Willoughby spot.

Woofstock

Sunday was a perfect day to groove, play, and fundraise at Woofstock to benefit the Geauga Humane Society.

There was so much furry fun to take in, from a puppy costume parade with all kinds of creative outfits…

…to a vendor fair with dog toys and treats; services such as grooming, pet sitting, training, and more; and lots of fun things to make life with your pooch even more awesome…

…to my favorite part: Resuce RRRow with adoptable dogs from various humane societies and rescue organizations around the area.

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Woofstock was a celebration of all things fuzzy and it certainly warmed my heart to spend a morning loving on some sweet pups!

So, that was our weekend! How was yours?

***Disclosure: I was asked by the Geauga Humane Society to help promote Woofstock. In exchange, I received one complimentary registration to the event. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? L’Amour du Vin Giveaway!

L’Amour du Vin. The love of wine. Goodness knows I love me some wine. So, I always enjoy the L’Amour du Vin fundraiser to benefit the Arthritis Foundation on Wednesday, September 27 at the Avon Oaks Country Club.

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L’Amour du Vin features small bites from some of the area’s best restaurants, like Bomba Tacos & Rum, Parker’s Grille and Tavern/Parker’s Downtown, Luca West, Wood and Wine, and more.

All of this delicious food will be paired with unlimited tasty wine samplings from a variety of vineyards representing wines from around the world. Plus, you’ll have a chance to bid on some fabulous silent auction items.

There is also a VIP Lounge, with exclusive wines, Brown-Forman cocktails, chair massages from EXHALE: The Spa, and a special dish from Bonefish Grill.

Proceeds from the event benefit the Arthritis Foundation, working to help conquer and cure arthritis, which impacts people of all ages.

Tickets are $75 for general admission and $95 for VIP admission and can be purchased online. Or you can enter to win two general admission tickets to L’Amour du Vin right here!

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

1.Check out the list of participating restaurants and leave a comment here telling me which you’re most excited to try.

2. Visit Arthritis Foundation Ohio and Why CLE? on Facebook and leave a comment here letting me know you visited both page.

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

4. Follow @ArthritisFdn 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 attend #LAmour2017 to benefit @ArthritisFdn thanks to @WhyCLE: https://whycle.com/2017/09/08/why-lamour-du-vin-giveaway-6 #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, September 14 at 11:59pm and the winner will be notified the following day. Good luck!

***Disclosure: I was asked by the Arthritis Foundation to help promote L’Amour du Vin. In exchange, I will receive two complimentary VIP tickets for myself and two general admission tickets to give away. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

Why? Firefly Expeditions!

One of my favorite local yoga teachers, Melissa Klimo-Major, is branching out from yoga and beer experiences with Balance & Brews and handmade soap and yoga products with Terra Verde Handmade. This winter, Melissa will be offering Firefly Expeditions, yoga retreats that allow you to practice on and off the mat.

In January 2018, Melissa and her husband Sean will lead a Firefly Expedition to Lake Atitlan in Guatemala.

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The trip will offer a balance of yoga and exploring local culture. Your days will start with a 60-minute yoga practice, then you’ll have time to explore or join group expeditions such as lake kayaking and volcano hiking. Each day will also include 30 minutes of meditation.

Your Firefly Expedition also includes daily breakfast and dinner, two boat trips to neighboring towns, and 7 nights accommodations. Price ranges from $1,600 to $1,700 depending on your room selection. Click here to learn more.

In February 2018, Melissa and Sean will lead a Firefly Expedition to Antigua y Copan in Honduras.

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Similarly, this trip will offer a balance of yoga and exploring local culture. Your days will start with a 60-minute yoga practice, then you’ll have time to explore or join group expeditions such as the archeological Mayan ruins of Copan, a local German brewery (includes dinner and a beer), and a private group evening with a lead archaeologist at the Copan site (includes local home cooked dinner and history lessons). Each day will also include 30 minutes of meditation.

Your Firefly Expedition also includes daily breakfast and dinner and 7 nights accommodations (3 nights in Antigua and 4 nights in Copan.) Price for this expedition is $2,000. Click here to learn more.

Not only are Melissa and Sean experienced travelers and travel planners, but they’re also really cool people who go out and make their dreams come true and their passions a reality. The chance to travel to amazing places alone would be awesome, but the chance to do it with people like that is even better!

Consider escaping the snow and cold with an amazing Firefly Expedition this winter! And when you register, mention Why CLE? as your referral on your registration form, too!

***Disclosure: I was asked to help promote Firefly Expeditions. I will receive a referral fee for each paid-in-full registration mentioning Why CLE? as the referrer. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Cleveland Eats Festival!

Everyone is buzzing about the Cleveland Eats Tri-C Culinary Festival. Maybe it’s because of the unique line-up of events. Maybe it’s because the event itself is put together by chefs. Maybe it’s because the chefs involved are a powerhouse, who’s who of Cleveland culinary talent.

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Maybe it’s because we just really love food in this town. We also love supporting good causes, like the Tri-C Hospitality Management programs and the Greater Cleveland Food Bank.

Here’s the run-down of what you can expect from this culinary extravaganza:

Thursday, September 14 – Cleveland Eats Benefit: Small Bites, Big Dreams

  • Held at Tri-C’s Hospitality Management Center on Public Square
  • Features small bites from chefs such as Chris Hodgson, Brandt Evans, Dante Boccuzzi, Douglas Katz, Karen Small, Rocco Whalen, Eric Williams, and more
  • Specialty cocktails and brews from Vitamix and Great Lakes Brewing Co.
  • Music from DJ and Producer Flaco Flash
  • Benefits scholarships for hospitality students
  • Tickets are $150 and include valet parking and a VIP pass to the festival. Purchase tickets online.

Friday, September 15 – Trucks, Taps and Tunes Street Party

  • Free admission
  • Held on Mall B, it’s a happy hour street party celebrating Cleveland’s best eats
  • Food trucks including Betty’s Bomb A** Burgers, Fahrenheit, Proper Pig, and Sweet! The Mobile Cupcakery
  • Craft brews from Great Lakes Brewing Co., Goldhorn Brewery, The Brew Kettle, and more
  • Culinary competitions featuring local high school students and Tri-C Hospitality Management staff and students will be attempting the world’s largest pierogi
  • Local bands like The Big Ship and Sunrise Jones

Saturday, September 16 – The Culinary Festival

  • Held on Mall B
  • Over 30 chefs from restaurants such as Mabel’s BBQ, Table 45, Spice Kitchen & Bar, Bomba Tacos & Rum, Deagan’s, Red the Steakhouse, Toast, Ushabu, and more preparing $5 a piece small plates ranging from savory to sweet
  • Craft beer from Great Lakes Brewing Co., Sibling Revelry Brewing, Butcher & the Brewer, Fat Head’s Brewery, and more
  • Live entertainment from Red Wanting Blue, Carlos Jones and the Plus Band, and more
  • Culinary demonstrations and family-friendly activities
  • Fireworks display over downtown Cleveland
  • Tickets are available online: $5 for general admission, $15 for general admission plus two drink tickets, and $50 for VIP admisison (additional seating, private cash bar, great stage view, cheese and charcuterie, and a glass of champagne before the fireworks)

The Cleveland Eats Festival is a great example of the passion, commitment, and community spirit of Cleveland’s chefs. A group of chefs came together for a good cause and created something that is sure to be an amazing event for the entire city. Don’t miss the Cleveland Eats Festival!

***Disclosure: I was asked to help promote the Cleveland Eats Festival. In exchange, I will receive two complimentary tickets to the Small Bites, Big Dreams Gala. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Lake Metroparks Farmpark Apple Harvest Pairing Dinner!

Boy, this weather has me thinking about fall! And while I love a lot of the flavors of the season, one of my absolute favorites is apple. Which is why I can’t wait for the Apple Harvest Pairing Dinner at Lake Metroparks Farmpark on Friday, September 29.

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The dinner is a celebration of all things apple and is about more than just eating! You’ll have the chance to hand-press cider, as well as explore the orchards with the Farmpark’s Horticulture Education Specialist to learn more about the varieties and harvesting of apples.

Then you’ll enjoy dinner in the Machinery Barn, a rustic, yet modern setting overlooking the Farmpark grounds. Dinner begins with a harvest favorite of pumpkin soup, followed by apple-braised pork osso buco, layered white and sweet potatoes, and curried butternut squash with honey and candied pecans. If that isn’t fall-like menu, I don’t know what is!

All of this delicious food, including dessert, will be expertly paired with wines from Debonne Vineyards.

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Tickets are currently on sale for the Apple Harvest Pairing Dinner for $45 per person. Click here to reserve your spot!

***Disclosure: I was asked by the Lake Metroparks Farmpark to help promote the Apple Harvest Pairing Dinner. In exchange, I will receive two complimentary tickets to the event. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Weekends!

I wanted to hold off to do an evening edition of the Weekend Recap, so we could squeeze as much juice out of the unofficial end of summer as possible. So, here’s our weekend:

Memphis Kiddie Park

On Friday, Jeffrey and I met up with friends for a play date at Memphis Kiddie Park. This park is the perfect size for small kids, with just the right amount of rides to keep them entertained, but not overwhelmed.

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Jeffrey’s favorite is the roller coaster, but I still managed to convince him to enjoy some of the “tamer” rides like the carousel and the train, too.

Downtown Willoughby Corn Roast

I love me a good festival and I also love me some good sweet corn. So, of course I couldn’t miss the Downtown Willoughby Corn Roast.

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We enjoyed Mexican street corn and cheeseburgers from The Wild Goose/The Morehouse/Fiona’s Coffee Bar & Bakery folks. There was live music and bounce houses to enjoy, too.

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And we snuck over to Fiona’s after our dinner for some Mitchell’s Ice Cream (try the sundae with Fiona’s homemade mini donuts…yum!) The Corn Roast is in its early stages and still small, but I’m hoping it will grow bigger each year!

Good Home Cooking

Between Friday night at home and Sunday at my mom’s, we enjoyed some yummy home cooking! On Friday night, I made this Cheesy Ham and Gruyere Bake (recipe here) but added in some hatch chiles from Heinen’s for some extra kick.

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My mom made way too much delicious food when she had us over on Sunday, but my favorite was this tomato tart, which looks complicated, but is easy to make and so delicious (recipe here.)

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It’s tomato season, so don’t pass this one up!

Lake Metroparks Farmpark

On Sunday, we attended a birthday party for one of Jeffrey’s friends at the Lake Metroparks Farmpark.

We got to see lots of critters, as well as take a wagon ride through the Farmpark.

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We also enjoyed the birthday party classics of pizza and cake, although the dirt cups were my personal favorite!

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The Farmpark is a great place for a birthday party (we had Jeffrey’s second birthday party there)! It gives your guests lots of things to do and see beyond just eating and opening presents and it makes a theme pretty fun and easy too (ours was Elmo on the Farm.) Stay tuned for some grown-up happenings at the Farmpark tomorrow…

Air Show Family Picnic

One of my favorite Cleveland summer traditions going back to when I was a kid is watching the Cleveland National Air Show.

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Last year, Jeffrey saw some of the planes from a downtown parking deck and really enjoyed it. So, this year, I wanted to find a fun way for him to see the Air Show, but realizing that he’s not ready to sit out at Burke Lakefront Airport yet.

Which is why I jumped at the Great Lakes Science Center‘s Air Show Family Picnic. You got admission to the Science Center, lunch on their outdoor deck, and a great view of the Air Show. When there was a break in the action (or Jeffrey just needed a break), we could pop inside and explore the Science Center. Plus, there were experiments and bubbles set up outside to keep kids entertained too.

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The Air Show views were outstanding (including quite a few flyovers of the deck we were on) and it was the best way to experience the Air Show with a three year old!

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So, that was our weekend! I think we sent off summer in style! How was your long weekend?

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Why? Cleveland Zoological Society Ambassadors Circle!

Last night, Team Porcupine Rainstorm stormed our way through the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo hunting for clues (and brews) at the Cleveland Zoological Society Zoo Clues and Brews scavenger hunt.

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We fueled up for the scavenger hunt with small bites from the Zoo, as well as beers from Great Lakes Brewing Co., as we studied Zoo maps and planned our route to victory.

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Throughout the hunt, we learned more about the Zoo, its mission, and its residents; walked (or ran – go, Scott, go) a lot; and took a ton of silly photos.

The scavenger hunt is put on by the Ambassadors Circle Young Professional Group, which combines the benefits of Cleveland Zoological Society membership with opportunities for volunteering, networking, and leadership.

Membership in Ambassadors Circle is $120, which includes a full-access Zoo membership, as well as invites to events such as the signature scavenger hunt and FUNdraisers like a World Giraffe Day event at Platform Beer Co. and charity brunch at Lago.

Ambassadors Circle helps connect young professionals to the Zoo and shows them that it’s not just a great place for kids to play and learn, but also for adults to enjoy. The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo has an important role in the fabric of Cleveland, setting standards in animal care and welfare, acting as a hub of research for graduate students from Case, Otterbein and other local colleges, providing educational support for over 100,000 local schoolchildren, and working with partners around the globe to help secure a future for endangered species.

If you’re a young professional looking for a way to connect to not only other YPs, but also to some curious critters, check out the Cleveland Zoological Society Ambassadors Circle! Click here to learn more and join!

***Disclosure: I was asked by the Cleveland Zoological Society to help promote Ambassadors Circle. In exchange, I received complimentary registration for two for the Zoo Clues and Brews event. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Zoma Ethiopian Restaurant!

When I moved to DC in 2003, I was amazed at the wide variety of ethnicities represented in the city’s cuisine. One that always intrigued me, but I somehow never tried, was Ethiopian food. So, naturally, 14 years later, back in Cleveland, I would finally try Ethiopian cuisine (and wonder what the hell took me so long.)

My friend Melissa and I met up for dinner at Zoma Ethiopian Restaurant last night. The decor was colorful and welcoming and the restaurant staff was similarly so friendly and inviting.

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Our table came with helpful instructions on how to enjoy Ethiopian food.

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Melissa and I started with an order of sambusa, which is fried dough stuffed with lentils. We both loved the spicy (and I mean, spicy) sauce served with the sambusa.

For my entree, I chose the lamb tibs, which is cubed lamb prepared with onion, garlic, rosemary, and jalapeno peppers and served on a sizzling skillet (think: fajita-syle.) For my side, I chose the flavorful split yellow peas, with onions, garlic, and turmeric.

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The food is served atop injera, a spongy Ethiopian bread used to dunk and eat the food. The texture of the bread is really different, almost pancake-like, but stretchier. And while it’s a great compliment to the food, it definitely takes up a lot of space in your stomach, so even our server warned us to not overdo the bread!

Melissa is a vegetarian and Zoma offers a ton of flavorful options for non-meat eaters. Melissa got a combo platter with chickpea stew, cabbage with ginger and curry, and red lentils in hot garlic and onion sauce.

We loved our meal and I really enjoyed exploring a different way of eating and different flavor profiles. After dinner, we popped across the street to pick a bottle of The Wine Spot‘s rose tree and enjoy some more good girl time.

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It was a lovely, spicy evening! I’m so glad I finally tried Ethiopian food and I can’t wait to go back and dip my injera in more flavorful offerings!

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Why? PAW Patrol Roll Patrol Giveaway!

Jeffrey is hooked, I mean completely hooked, on PAW Patrol. From his birthday cake and matching birthday shirts…

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…to attending a PAW Patrol Lake Erie Crushers game…

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…to general wardrobe and toy choices…

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…Jeffrey loves the PAW Patrol. And I love the positive messages and cute characters too!

Which is why I’m so excited that the PAW Patrol Roll Patrol Road Tour will be stopping by the Northeast Ohio area at the end of September!

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From September 29 through October 1, the Roll Patrol Road Tour will be bringing the chance to meet and greet PAW Patrol characters, play in an interactive life-sized Lookout Tower, go on a Roll Patrol Ride, and more to Canton and Cuyahoga Falls. Click here for times and locations. Also, send help, because I am seriously geeking out over the activities planned!

And I have giveaway for you, courtesy of Spin Master Children’s Entertainment, for a box full of PAW Patrol and more toys. Here’s what you need to do to enter:

  • Complete the pre-registration for you and your family for the PAW Patrol Roll Patrol Road Tour online.
  • Send a screen shot of your pre-registration confirmation email to whycleblog@gmail.com to be entered to win – no purchase necessary.
  • Two winners will be chosen at random for a free prize box filled with a compilation of Spin Master PAW Patrol, Rusty Rivets and Kinetic Sand toys.

The giveaway will close on Tuesday, September 5 at 11:59pm and the winners will be notified the following day. Good luck!

I hope to see you rolling with the PAW Patrol soon! It’ll be PAWSOME! (Seriously, send help. Or the latest season of “House of Cards.”)

***Disclosure: I was asked to help promote the PAW Patrol Roll Patrol Road Tour. In exchange, I will receive complimentary passes to the Road Tour, as well as a complimentary box of toys for myself (I mean, Jeffrey) and two boxes of toys to give away. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Shaker Lakes Hike, Run & Explore Giveaway!

Just because summer is winding down doesn’t mean that you can’t still get out and enjoy the outdoors. Which is why the Shaker Lakes Hike, Run & Explore is the perfect event to transition to fall.

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Taking place on Sunday, September 17 at the Nature Center at Shaker Lakes, Hike, Run & Explore allows your whole family to do just that. There are guided nature hikes, with everything from a 12-mile round trip hike to Gordon Park along Lake Erie to a 1-mile family and pet-friendly hike along the Nature Center trails. The hikes are $20 for adults and $10 for children ages 4-12.

There are also a 5K and 10K races. You can take advantage of $20 early bird registration until September 4.

Once you get your workout in, stay for the beer garden, food trucks, archery, tree climbing, music, and crafts in the Shaker Parklands. There’s truly something for all ages and interests to enjoy!

The Nature Center at Shaker Lakes serves 13,000 children each year through school based programs, which include the Applied Science for Kids (ASK!) program with the Cleveland Metropolitan School District, and other districts such as Cleveland Heights-University Heights, Shaker Heights and various Head Start programs. The annual Shaker Lakes Hike, Run & Explore benefits those environmental education programs.

You can register online for any of the nature hikes or races. Or you can enter to win a complimentary registration for any of the events 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 letting me know which event of the Run, Hike & Explore in which you’re most interested in participating.

2. Visit Nature Center at Shaker Lakes and Why CLE? on Facebook and leave a comment here letting me know you visited both pages.

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

4. Follow @ShakerLakes 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 Run, Hike & Explore @ShakerLakes thanks to @WhyCLE: https://whycle.com/2017/08/29/why-shaker-lakes-hike-run-explore-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, September 3 at 11:59pm and the winner will be notified the following day. Good luck!

***Disclosure: I was asked by the Nature Center at Shaker Lakes to help promote Run, Hike & Explore. In exchange, I will receive one complimentary registration for myself and one registration to give away. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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