Why? Weekends!

It was another fun summer weekend in the CLE, with a nice mix of activities and down time. I had a chance to try out a couple new recipes, made mostly with ingredients from our Fresh Fork Market summer share. For dinner on Friday night, I made smoked sausage and zucchini skillet (recipe here), except I substituted Ohio City Pasta linguine for the rice.

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This was an easy, spicy meal!

On Sunday, I made coconut curry pork in the slow cooker (recipe here). I don’t usually use the slow cooker in the summer, but I’m glad I pulled out this go-to winter appliance, because this dish was flavorful and delicious!

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Add a Dark & Stormy for a beverage and you have a great meal!

On Saturday, we met up with friends Amanda and Scott for a fun afternoon at Cedar Point. We started with some time at Soak City Waterpark, which Jeffrey always loves!

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Not only can he splash and slide and play, but he also loved watching the roller coasters from the kiddie splash area.

Then we headed into the park and had lots of fun riding the rides in Camp Snoopy. Jeffrey loved the swings and tilt-a-whirl and I loved going to the park with people who can ride those with him (I’ve outgrown my ability to spin).

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We had dinner at Famous Dave’s, which offers a nice break from the park, a chance to see the boats at the marina, and some pretty tasty BBQ (check out Amanda’s BBQ nachos…yum!).

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We all left tired and happy after a really great day! It’s something truly special when your friends enjoy spending time with your child and we’re lucky that all of Jeffrey’s godparents take such an active role in his life!

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Sunday was mostly spent catching up on things around the house, but I did sneak out for a Slow Flow yoga class at Evolution Yoga, taught by my friend Elizabeth. Elizabeth not only teaches Mom & Tot yoga, but also Slow Flow at 8am on Saturdays and 4pm on Sundays. It was a great class and a nice balance of challenging flow, stretches, and relaxation.

So, that was our weekend! How was yours?

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Why? #IGoRTA!

Driving and parking in and around downtown Cleveland are going to be a wee bit more difficult than usual this week, right? Which is perfect timing for the launch of the new RTA CLE app!

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The RTA CLE app, available for free download at the App Store and Google Play allows RTA riders to purchase, save, and use tickets for RTA bus and rail through a secure account. You can also easily plan your trip using the app, as well as receive helpful service updates.

The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority is working hard to make Cleveland’s public transportation fast, friendly, and convenient. The RTA CLE app is a great way to make your trip faster and more convenient, since you can skip lines to buy tickets and can easily check on routes and service issues.

Especially if you’re heading into downtown Cleveland this week, the RTA CLE app is sure to be one of your go-to best friends in navigating the city.

Anyone who downloads the app by Friday, July 22 will be automatically entered into a drawing for a grand prize of 4 tickets to a Cleveland Indians game, with a backstage tour of Progressive Field.

Plus, leave a comment on this post telling me how you like to #IGoRTA for a chance to win two passes to any Cleveland Cinemas theater and a $15 gift card to Melt Bar and Grilled.

  • For information on how to download the app, plus answers to FAQs, click here.
  • For information on RTA’s RNC service, click here.

Now more than ever is a great time to say #IGoRTA!

***Dislcosure: I was asked to help promote the RTA CLE app launch. In exchange, I will receive 2 Cleveland Indians tickets, RTA fare loaded to my app, and a CLE Clothing Co. gift card. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Ice Cream in the CLE!

It’s been a hot week and there’s nothing better than some creamy, delicious ice cream to cool you off! Although I don’t really need a heat wave to want to eat all the ice cream…

So, I thought I’d do a round-up of some of my favorite places in Cleveland to get a sweet ice cream treat!

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Where: Mitchell’s Ice Cream, with locations in Rocky River, Westlake, Avon, Strongsville, Beachwood, Uptown at University Circle, and Ohio City, open 11am-11pm daily

My Favorite Item: A taster’s duo (the equivalent of a single scoop split between two flavors) with the Toasted Pistachio and the Toasted Hazelnut

Bonus: Visit the Ohio City location to see a Willy Wonka-type kitchen where the ice cream is made (you can also take a Tasting Tour, but they’re sold out through September)

Where: Mason’s Creamery, open 2pm-10pm Tuesday through Thursday, 2pm-11pm Friday and Saturday, and 2pm-10pm Sunday

My Favorite Item: the Mexican Chocolate flavor

Bonus: Mason’s is run by some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet

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Where: Malley’s Chocolates, with ice cream parlors at the Aurora Premium Outlet (summer only), Bay Village, Lakewood, Mentor, and North Olmsted shops

My Favorite Item: The Raspberry Delight sundae (vanilla ice cream, raspberry sauce, and almonds) with an add-on of Malley’s signature hot fudge. I can’t take credit for this one, as Jen created this somewhat off-menu treat!

Bonus: Enjoy your ice cream at a table on the (very slow-moving) carousel at the North Olmsted location

Where: Rosati’s Frozen Custard, open noon-9:30pm Monday through Thursday and noon to 10pm Friday through Sunday

My Favorite Item: the Higbee’s Chocolate Malted flavor (see the special flavor calendar to see when it is offered)

Bonus: Vanilla and chocolate are always on the menu, but the rotating special flavors offer lots of variety

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Where: Sweet Moses Soda Fountain and Treat Shop, open noon-11pm Sunday through Thursday and noon-midnight on Friday and Saturday

My Favorite Item: The Shoreway Sundae, with coffee ice cream, hot fudge, toffee pieces, and almonds

Bonus: This throwback to the days of soda fountains is as adorable as it is delicious

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Where: East Coast Original Frozen Custard, with locations in Lyndhurst, Mentor, Painesville, Parma Heights, and Fairview Park

My Favorite Item: the Turtle Sundae

Bonus: The custard is styled after what was sold at Cleveland’s famed Euclid Beach Park, so you’re enjoying a bite of Cleveland history

 

Where’s your favorite spot in Cleveland to cool off with some delicious ice cream?

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Why? New Downtown Attractions!

There are lots of great things happening in downtown Cleveland! While some of these developments were prompted by the RNC, Clevelanders will be able to take advantage of them even after the Convention is over.

Public Square recently underwent a major renovation and the result is truly breathtaking!

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On one side is plenty of tiered green space, where everything from live music to yoga classes can take center stage.

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Closer to the Terminal Tower and the Soldiers and Sailors Monument, a large fountain attracts those of all ages, especially with our recent heat wave! Jeffrey and I stopped by last week and he had so much fun running and splashing in the shadow of some of Cleveland’s iconic buildings and monuments.

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The new Public Square is an amazing gathering place! Having grown up in Cleveland, I can remember going to Public Square from the time I was little for the Christmas tree lighting and other major events. To see this new version of Public Square and to be able to take my own child to enjoy it is something really special!

Next, #flockCLE from LAND Studio is taking over downtown Cleveland through October 14, 2016.

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376 colorful animals, such as birds, meerkats, snails, and foxes are scattered throughout downtown including Public Square, the Mall, the Cleveland Public Library, and the green space near the Great Lakes Science Center.

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These critters, created by Cracking Art Group, are fun, playful, and make for great photo opps for Clevelanders of all ages!

And I also want to give you a sneak peek at an upcoming downtown Cleveland project: the redevelopment of the historic 925 Building (formerly the Huntington Bank Building).

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The 925 Building is filled with gorgeous marble, columns, artwork, and ceilings that will be maintained in the redevelopment. The 925 Building is right across the street from another recently redeveloped downtown space: the Heinen’s Downtown Cleveland.

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We’re very fortunate that our developers, such as Hudson Holdings who is developing the 925 Building, in Cleveland see the value in maintaining these buildings in their original beauty!

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The plans for the 925 Building include a hotel, offices, retail, and a rooftop restaurant with 2 outdoor seating spaces, which will take over the old Metropolitan Club space.

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I also can’t wait to see what Hudson Holdings does with the vault space, which includes all the original safe deposit boxes!

The redevelopment of the 925 Building is a 2-year project, but the space is currently available for private events (we were there for the Veggie U event and it was a lovely place for a party). And if you’re watching Politico during the RNC, keep your eyes out for this…

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This painting is in the President’s Room on the top floor of the 925 Building. Politico will be broadcasting from the top floor of the 925 Building throughout the RNC!

There is so much new development in downtown Cleveland! It’s a really exciting time to be in the heart of the CLE!

***Disclosure: I was invited to attend a media preview tour of the 925 Building. As always, all opinions are 100% my own. Much thanks to Matthew for some of the pictures of the 925 Building in this post.***

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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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Why? Legacy Village Food Truck Mondays!

Yesterday was the perfect summer day to enjoy a bit of a picnic, which is why I headed to Legacy Village for one of their Food Truck Mondays. Held every other Monday through August, these events combine a selection of great food trucks, live music, and access to Legacy Village’s stores for a fun afternoon.

I enlisted the help of a fabulous “street team” (friends Elizabeth and Melanie, their kiddos, Jeffrey, and my mom) to gather food from the various trucks and report back on their findings.

My mom and Elizabeth both chose tacos from The Orange Truk for their lunches. Mom got the steak tacos and Elizabeth got the fried avocado tacos (each are 2 for $8).

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Both sets of tacos garnered rave reviews! Mom loved the spiciness of the steak tacos. Elizabeth reported that the avocado tacos had nice, crispy batter with loads of fresh toppings and had the added bonus of being loved by her toddler daughter! That’s a definite win-win.

I snagged Jeffrey’s lunch from 216 Bistro, which offered a $5 kids’ grilled cheese, served with a small side of tater tots.

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The bread was a bit crispier than Jeffrey is used to, but the cheese and tots were a hit! Plus he loved their jumbo chocolate chip cookie ($2).

Melanie reported in from the Manna Truck. She and her daughter enjoyed the caprese grilled cheese, with mozzarella, tomatoes, and pesto, and the beef brisket with a cherry cola BBQ sauce and Gouda cheese.

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Photo courtesy of Melanie 

Not only was the Manna Truck’s food tasty, but it supports a great cause. The Manna Truck creates jobs for formerly homeless men and women too! That’s one fabulous food truck lunch!

For me, I had a coursed lunch because I am incapable of resisting dessert. For my main dish, I went with Fork Fuel‘s BBQ brisket mac n cheese ($8).

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This was decadent and delicious and completely worth the near-nap it induced later.

For dessert, I hopped over to Donut Lab and, dear readers, my life was changed by the Boston Creme parfait.

This is a parfait situation that involves mini donuts smothered in custard and chocolate and topped with whipped cream and another mini donut.

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It’s as amazing as it sounds. The donuts were so fresh and crisp and light. And the idea of just covering them with the traditional donut filling…brilliant! Best enjoyed while listening to the live music offered at Food Truck Mondays, of course.

It had been awhile since I was at a food truck event and I forgot how much great food comes out of these kitchens on wheels, as well as how much camaraderie there is in checking out everyone’s food, chatting while you’re waiting in line, and such. It was a really fun afternoon!

The next Food Truck Monday at Legacy Village takes place on Monday, July 25, with Slyman’s Food Truck, the Orange Truk, 216 Bistro, Zydeco, Barrio, Chef Grey Wolf, Streat Mobile Bistro, The Beachcomber, and Off the Griddle slated to be on hand. Hope to see you there!

***Disclosure: I was asked to help promote Legacy Village Food Truck Mondays. In exchange, I received vouchers for use at the food trucks. As always, all opinions are 100% my own (or my street team’s, as it were).***

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Why? Weekends!

What a busy and fun weekend it was! We had nothing but family time planned and it was pretty perfect. On Friday evening, we went to the St. John Vianney church festival. From good food to fun games to live music, this festival is always on our summer must-do list.

This year at the festival, we also took Jeffrey for a ride on the Euclid Beach Rocket Car!

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He had so much fun (and I dare say we did too)! There’s something about flying along in the shiny silver rocket ship, listening to oldies music, and having passers-by wave at you. It was a perfect summer evening!

On Saturday, we had our friends Elizabeth and Andrew over for dinner, along with their adorable daughter Mia. Jeffrey loves having his friends over to play and he and Mia had a great time, especially since the weather was so lovely to be outside!

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Elizabeth and family are vegetarians, so I had to go outside my typical stash of recipes to try to find something to make. I chose this Spicy Sun-Dried Tomato and Broccoli Pasta recipe and was really happy with the results.

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The pasta was flavorful and satisfying and a great choice for summer. I also imagine the leftovers would have made a tasty chilled pasta salad…if there had been any leftovers! Even non-vegetarians can appreciate this tasty recipe.

Sunday was a super busy day, but also so much fun! We started out at a birthday party for one of Jeffrey’s little friends. It was held at the Orange Community Recreation pool. The pool is perfect for all ages, with a zero-depth wade in and a nice splash area, as well as a water slide and lap pool.

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The lunch at the party included pizza from Jim Alesci’s Place, which meant everyone enjoyed their food! And I think you can tell how Jeffrey felt about the birthday cake…

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After the party, we took Jeffrey to his first Indians game. The tickets we purchased for the game were part of a fundraiser for Autism Speaks. Since we never even made it to our seats, I’m glad the ticket price went to a good cause!

We spent our time getting Jeffrey his “first game” certificate (there are so cute and you can get yours at Section 176), doing all the standard photo opps…

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…and hanging out in the Kids Clubhouse. This area is awesome! It’s filled with fun toys from Step 2 and offers an air-conditioned spot for kids to run around and play during the game. There are plenty of baseball-themed activities, too, like this giant home plate for bouncing.

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Plus there are massive windows that look out on to the field, as well as some outdoor seating, so you don’t have to miss all the on-field action.

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Pro-tip: while the line to get into the Kids Clubhouse does keep moving, you’ll have time to get yourself a Summer Shandy to enjoy while you’re waiting. And once inside the pandemonium of kids, you’ll be glad you did!

Jacob’s (I mean, Progressive) Field holds a really special place in my memories and being able to take Jeffrey there was really special for me.

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Also, check out this awesome giveaway truck from W.B. Mason – Jeffrey has not put it down yet! 

It was a really wonderful summer weekend! Hope yours was lovely, too!

***Disclosure: I am a member of the Autism Speaks Cleveland Chef Gala committee. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Arcadian Food & Drink!

On Tuesday night, my friend Stephanie and I met up at the new hot spot for drinks and dinner: Arcadian Food & Drink. Arcadian bills itself as sustainable seafood, snacks, and spirits, which sounds pretty perfect, if you ask me!

Arcadian offers a fun and inventive cocktail menu. I loved the Mango Sparkler, with prosecco, green chartreuse, St. Germain, and mango.

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Also in this photo are the french fries, served with truly the most amazing onion dip I’ve ever tasted. Simple things like french fries, when done well, are so satisfying.

Stephanie and I also shared the sausage and mushroom pizza, with pickled peppers, caramelized onion, and smoked blue cheese.

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Our server recommended adding the housemade hot sauce, which was the perfect addition to this delicious Sicilian-style pie!

I’m already planning my next meal at Arcadian, as the fried chicken that some neighboring tables ordered looked phenomenal. Also, the seafood menu, with oysters, caviar, and a seafood platter is too tempting to not inspire another visit.

Speaking of too tempting, Stephanie and I both had to indulge in the chocolate snack for dessert, a pot de creme with white and dark chocolate and caramel. The mix of flavors and textures in this dessert made it a great end to a tasty meal!

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Arcadian offers a more casual dining experience on the first floor and a more intimate dining experience on the second floor. There is also happy hour offered Tuesday through Saturday from 4pm-6pm, with discounted snacks, including the fun #doubledouble: two spicy fried turkey wings with a 16-ounce can of Rolling Rock for $8.

Arcadian Food & Drink is a wonderful addition to Gordon Square and I can’t wait to go back for more deliciousness!

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Why? Twilight at the Zoo Giveaway!

We’re getting close to the 23rd annual Twilight at the Zoo, Cleveland’s largest fundraiser! On Friday, August 5 from 7pm-12am, the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo will be filled with bands, food, adult beverages, and lots of fun all to benefit the Cleveland Zoological Society.

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Nineteen local bands from a wide variety of musical genres will perform simultaneously throughout the Zoo during the event. You’ll hear everything from 80’s hits to swing to current pop favorites from bands like Disco Inferno, Robbing Mary, Almost Famous, and more.

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Admission also includes food, Samuel Adams beer, Twisted Tea, Beach House wine, and soft drinks. Plus, you’ll get to explore the Zoo and get to see some of the animals while dancing the night away under the stars. This is truly one of my favorite events of the summer! Twilight at the Zoo is always a blast!

Need proof? We love it so much, we made the video!

General admission tickets for Twilight at the Zoo are $85 and can be purchased online. Or you can enter to win two general admission tickets right here (you must be 21 years + to enter and win this giveaway):

1.Leave a comment here telling me your favorite animal song (e.g., “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”).

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

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

4. Follow @clevezoosociety 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 have a #wildaboutCLE night at @clevezoosociety Twilight at the Zoo thanks to @WhyCLE: https://whycle.com/2016/07/07/why-twilight-at-the-zoo-giveaway-2 #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, July 12 at 11:59pm and the winner will be notified the following day. Good luck!

***Disclosure: I was asked by the Cleveland Zoological Society to help promote Twilight at the Zoo. 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.***

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Why? Weekends!

It was a great holiday weekend in the CLE! We kicked things off on Friday by meeting up with friends at one of our favorite play date spots: Memphis Kiddie Park. Jeffrey loves the rides and I love that the size, crowd level, and pace are perfect for his age.

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Look at that face! Pure joy! I think we have a burgeoning ride monster on our hands!

Friday evening, Matthew and I met up with Kimberly and Chris for dinner out on the patio at Pier W. Much thanks to Mark and his awesome staff for not only flawless service and delicious food, but also for saving us a table and surprising us with complimentary appetizers!

Matthew and I shared oysters, lump blue crab cocktail, and scallop ceviche. I also snagged a couple bites of Matthew’s halibut taco. Everything was so fresh and yummy!

Plus, you can’t beat the gorgeous view of Cleveland from the Pier W patio. After dinner, the wind kicked up a bit too much off Lake Erie, so we headed downstairs to the lounge for after-dinner cocktails and dessert, accompanied by the Pier W piano player.

The desserts were as tasty as they were pretty.

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I had the lemon semifreddo, with frozen lemon and blueberry mousse, blueberry coulis, creme Anglaise, and coconut almond granola. This is a perfect summer dessert!

It was a perfect evening of non-stop talking and delicious food at one of Cleveland’s classic restaurants!

On Saturday, Matthew and I took Jeffrey to the Fairport Mardi Gras. There was lots of summer carnival fun to be had, from rides to live music to classic fair food (I can never resist the elephant ears)!

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Jeffrey played his first game of chance and won a new blue race car for picking the right duck!

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I love summer festivals! And Fairport Harbor is such a cute town! They’re hosting the Tall Ships this coming weekend.

The rest of the weekend was spent with family, as we hosted Matthew’s family for a BBQ on Sunday, then headed to my parents’ house for the same on Monday. Lots of good times with family and friends, plenty of good food, and some time to just relax. Well done, America! Thanks for having such a great birthday weekend!

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***Disclosure: We were surprised at Pier W when the manager comped the majority of our food bill. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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