Cleveland Rocks! as we roll into vacation season

By Melanie Yingst

Folks, we are in the heat of summer travel season.

My social media feed has been filled with beach photos, sleepy children huddled in the backseats, and friends floating on the various oceans and lakes in the eastern United States.

Since I’m a card carrying member of the AAA, I feel like I have to back up my street cred with some sort of travel statistic. More than 44.2 million people hopped in their wagons and traveled at least 50 miles or more last weekend. That’s about 3 percent more than last year.

And I was one of those 44.2 million people on the road.

I didn’t go to see nature’s wonders in the hollers of Tennessee. I didn’t seek sun and the sand of the Carolinas. I didn’t flock to the nation’s Capitol to smell the sweat equity of politics or reflect on our nation’s founders and their rugged plight of a new nation.

I went to Cleveland. Also known as “The Land” since condensing any and all words has been fashionable for quite some time.

Evan and I loaded up the car and headed to my twin sister’s home in Avon Lake for an extended weekend stay and some downtime with my nephews.

My sister is a pretty good vacation planner when it comes to our visits. I had requested we do “All-Things Clevelandish” during our visit.

So, of course, the first evening we arrived we shipped the boys to see “Wonder Woman” with Uncle John and we went to T.J. Maxx.

OK, it was a slow start to the sight seeing, but boy do I love seeing other T.J. Maxx stores in the tri-state area.

It didn’t disappoint folks.

Then we headed to a local brewery to meet up with the children for dinner. We got there well ahead of them so we enjoyed a pint of Strawberry Cider and soaked up the sights like the Wal-Greens and the Dairy Queen next door.

North Olmsted is really pretty this time of the year.

Fat Head’s food was delicious and the Speedway gas station on the way home had superior customer service.

Anyhow, we did soak up the Cleveland skyline in true out-of-towner fashion the following day. We headed to the Gordon Square for an urban renaissance experience. I love the urban renewal movement and this area was a true treat to see up close after watching the television show “Cleveland Hustle.” There were several theaters, art galleries and an amazing streetscape. When you see benches along a side walk, the word “fun” usually doesn’t come to mind. But Gordon Square had really creative stained concrete benches that were kinda funky as well as functional.

This place was so cool, its benches were styling.

The vibe had a 70’s “Saturday Night Fever” flavor along with a contemporary flare that would appeal to the bearded and flanneled hipsters in all of us.

I had asked Megan to take me to Cleveland’s version of K’s Hamburgers and she didn’t disappoint. This unassuming joint, “The Happy Dog,” had everything a dive bar with great food could ask for.

The ’50s booths and dining chairs were fun and best of all, the two pin ball machines and a lamp made out of an Elvis bust screamed throw back fun.

And the food was amazing. It was all based around its hot dogs and your choice of wacky toppings, including Captain Crunch or alien relish, Korean BBQ or a fried egg.

I went the safe route with their homemade ketchup and stadium mustard and tater tots. I’m all about the tater tot movement, folks.

We walked off those calories with a quick stop to see the Cleveland sign at Edgewater Park. It’s an Instagram hot spot with the Cleveland skyline in the background. You are encouraged to climb up on the sculpture and have friends snap photos. Maybe we should look into getting a TROY sign to do the same?

We wrapped up the quick trip with an evening at the pool, burned a few hours on Lake Erie at the local wine festival and some Whiffle Ball in the front yard.

All in all, it was a great way to see God’s Country and, of course, North Olmstead’s T.J. Maxx.

By Melanie Yingst

“Twin” Melanie Yingst appears weekly in the Troy Daily News. Are we there yet?

“Twin” Melanie Yingst appears weekly in the Troy Daily News. Are we there yet?