Taste & Explore: Columbus, Ohio

Last week my daughter and I took a quick trip to Columbus, Ohio. My daughter is a Justice Girl with Heart Ambassador and was invited to take a tour at their retail headquarters. What an amazing facility and staff they have there! It was very cool to get a behind the scenes look at the Justice brand. Check out the video of the HERE!

12:00 PM

Being that we are major foodies, we had to hit a few places to eat. Before heading to our tour, we decided to grab brunch at SuperChefs. SuperChefs is located in Gahanna, Ohio, about 15 minutes outside downtown Columbus. It’s the cutest spot to grab breakfast or brunch with your little sidekick.

The restaurant features a superhero themed menu that has many delicious offerings. We decided on the Juggernaut, 2 waffle sandwiches with fried chicken, fried hard eggs, American & pepper jack cheese, candied bacon drizzled with maple syrup and Honey. We were very happy to say the least.

4:30 PM

After the Justice Retail Headquarters tour, we headed downtown to check in to our hotel. We stayed at the beautiful Sheraton at Capitol Square. Check-in was a breeze as the hotel attendant was very professional and accommodating. Our room was very spacious and furnished with all the basic amenities plus a great view. The beds were beyond comfortable. Later that night I slept like a baby.

6:00 PM

After resting a bit, we decided to go get a bite to eat. Sage wanted pizza, so I found a place not too far from the hotel with amazing Yelp reviews. Harvest Pizzeria was our destination! This cute little pizzeria is located in the German Village neighborhood. Everything on their menu sounded absolutely amazing!

I ordered the Harvest Salad. It was huge and so so good. We also decided on the Almond Pesto Pizza. YUMMMMM!! Now that’s a tasty pizza!

From the awesome staff to the delicious food, we had an amazing experience at Harvest Pizzeria. Make sure you put Harvest Pizzeria on your foodie adventure itinerary next time you’re in Columbus.

7:00 PM

We were suggested a very cool place to visit that was also in the German Village neighborhood. Not to far from Harvest Pizzeria was The Book Loft, a 32 room book sale. Sage was in heaven! So many books!

7:30 PM

After a few minutes exploring the bookstore, we headed next door to the neighborhood coffee shop called Staufs Coffee. I got my usual, a Honey Latte with Almond Milk. It was pretty delicious. Staufs Coffee has been rated the number 1 coffee shop in Columbus several years in a row and I see why. They have great coffee! “All of the coffees that [they] offer are roasted by [them] by hand, everyday.” As Columbus’s first micro coffee roaster, they achieve to elevate the quality of coffee they offer to coffee connoisseurs like myself.

Day 2

8:30 AM

Our second day in Columbus started pretty early with a visit to Pistacia Vera. Also located in the German Village neighborhood, this coffee shop is also serving up fresh baked pastries. As soon as you walk in, you’re hit in the face with the smell of fresh baked deliciousness coming from the full service bakery in the back of the coffee shop.

The selection is just incredible. You really want to say, just put it all in the bag! I showed a little restraint and just order a coffee. It was hard!! My daughter got an Orange Brioche Muffin. It was real tasty. To her dismay, I ate half of it. Oops.

9:00 AM

Our next destination was to The Kitchen Columbus. Here, Sage was on site taping as part of a special Justice video series. She had the opportunity to interview and spend some time in the kitchen with owners, Anne and Jen. This place is pretty cool. So you get a group of friends together and book a spot at The Kitchen. When you get there you get a little cooking lesson and help with food prep as well. Then you sit down and eat! I just love this interactive dining experience. We were there for few hours. I’ll be sure to come and postthe completed video from the day!

2:00 PM

With the suggestion of a Columbus resident, we made our way to Erawan Thai. Here we indulged in their Pineapple Fried Rice. It was served in a pineapple! Filled with seafood and amazing flavor, Erawan Thai is a definite foodie destination.

3:45 PM

Our last stop was a bit of a surprise. Back in Atlanta, my daughter loved visits to Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams. What she did know was that Columbus, Ohio is the home of Jenis. So we had to make a stop at the original scoop shop. I just loved her reaction when we turned the corner and she saw the gold Jenis Splendid Ice Creams sign. Pure delight. Fantastic way to end our adventures in Columbus!

Thanks Columbus for a most wonderful time! See you soon!

Taste & Explore: A Travel Guide to Cleveland, Ohio

Last week I traveled with my mother and daughter to Cleveland, Ohio. It was our first road trip of many together.  We were pretty excited to explore the great city of Cleveland. I had contacted Destination Cleveland for an itinerary of things to do during our stay. Their list included various attractions and places to eat as well. We also had a list of places we wanted to check too. Because we were traveling from Toledo, Ohio, our road trip was only about 2 hours. We left early Wednesday morning to get the most out of our 2 days in Cleveland.

10:45 AM

We arrived in Cleveland at about 10:45 AM. The first stop I wanted to make was to Brewnuts. I’ve been kind of stalking them on Instagram for months now. I really wanted to go early since they have a reputation of selling out early in the day. Brewnuts is located in a neighborhood on the West Side of Cleveland called Detroit-Shoreway. This donut shop is the result of two genius Clevelanders, Shelley & John Pippin, who quite their jobs “to pursue their three favorite things: donuts, beer and Cleveland.” Today, Brewnuts is serving up delicious craft beer based donuts and is being stalked by people like me.

When we arrived at the corner donut a signed that illuminated on the side of the building read “DONUTS & BEER”. I was so excited!! We entered the shop by pulling on a door handle that was a pink rolling pin. Love! The inside was just the cutest! I probably took about 20 pictures before even making it to the counter.

Once we made it to the counter, we were then presented with a major decision. What donuts we were going to get! They all looked amazing! I finally decided on the Hibiscus Limeade. My daughter went for the Mocha Toffee. So how did they taste?? AMAZING!! I tried not to eat all of it and save some for later. That plan did not work out too well. This is definitely a stalk-worthy donut shop in every sense!

12:00 PM

Next, a quick stop to another cool mural by muralist, Victor Ving. I’ve been a fan of his Greetings Tour ever since I discovered on of his murals in my hometown, Toledo. What a cool way to welcome visitors from out of town! I found out where the Greetings from Cleveland mural was from the list of murals on their website. I put the location in my google maps and shorty we were there! Let the photo shoot begin!!

12:45 PM

Our next stop was to our hotel for the night. With the amazing assistance of Destination Cleveland and the generosity of the Holiday Inn Express, I was hosted at one of the most beautiful hotels in downtown Cleveland. Now this is not your ordinary Holiday Inn Express. As soon as you walk up to the building you realize that right away. Located in the renovated 19th century historic Guardian Bank Building built in 1894, this building was once one of the tallest building in America. In 1999, it was converted into a Holiday Inn Express. In 2000, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places. This hotel has an incredible vintage feel about it that can’t be denied.

Upon arrival, we were warmly greeted by valet. Valeting your car is a good idea, with it being a fee of $24 flat, from check-in to check-out. In and outs are allowed as well. Located in downtown area, it’s definitely convenient to just valet and just walk around and explore rather then trying to find parking. Holiday Inn Express is also in walking distance to many coffee shops, restaurants, attractions and even a market.

Check-in was a breeze! My room was even ready early! The hotel attendant provided me with two key cards and some useful tips to make my stay even more comfortable. She also gave me two cocktail tickets to use at the hotel’s Evening Refresher. Nice!

Our room was on the 6th floor. When we got off the elevator, we noticed the floor was hardwood, which continued into our suite. I thought that was a very cool feature of the hotel. My mother really appreciated it because she suffers from allergies. Carpet is definitely not her friend. The room was very nice! It had high ceiling, huge floor to ceiling windows, and a cute kitchen and living room area. There was ample space for all of us. The queen sized beds were super comfortable! Our stay also included free WIFI, hot complimentary breakfast and a 24 hour fitness center.

Later that night, it was a tad bit chilly in the room. The heat didn’t seem to be working, so I called down to the desk and requested an extra blanket. The young lady at the desk ask if I had turned the heat on. I said yes. So she offered to send maintenance up to take a look at it along with a blanket. About 4 minutes later, there was a knock at the door. Maintenance came in to looked at the thermostat and determined it needed to be reset. They left and came back and let me know it should be warm in the room very shortly. And it was! I really appreciated their quick attention to this

*Big Thank You to Holiday Inn Express for hosting me during my stay in Cleveland. As always all options are that of my own.

2:00 PM

After getting settled in our room, we left to explore some more! Our next stop was to the the Cleveland Museum of Art. The Cleveland Museum of Art was founded in 1913 and opened in 1916. Its collection includes “45,000 objects and spans 6,000 years of achievement in the arts.” All of this FREE OF CHARGE TO ALL!!

Our visit the Cleveland Museum of Art was amazing. There was so much to see! I enjoyed stopping and speaking to Museum employees about the art. You could tell they also had an appreciation of the art and the Museum.

3:30 PM

Before dinner, we made a quick stop to the Cleveland’s oldest publicly owned market, West Side Market. Since its opening in 1912, it’s been a Cleveland landmark. This place is incredible! With I’ve 100 vendors offering baked goods, coffee, spices, and meats, it is most definitely a foodie’s playground.

5:00 PM

One block from the market, was another place I found on Instagram while planning my trip to Cleveland, Soho Chicken + Whiskey. I had to visit! I found out that on Wednesdays you can order chicken and fixings À la cart and their prices were very reasonable. Everything on the menu sounded amazing. I ordered 2 wings, rosemary waffles, and roasted asparagus. A plate of warm biscuits with whipped butter and apple butter to share was also included. It’s making me hungry just thinking about how good it was.

Day 2

8:00 AM

Thursday, we got an early start on the day and headed across the street to Pour Cleveland to grab some espresso. Located in the heart of downtown Cleveland, Pour Cleveland is a multi-roaster pour over and espresso bar. They strive to “serve really good coffee and make people happy.” And that is exactly what they did on my visit. The baristas were very friendly and made everyone in my party very happy. What a great way to start the day! In addition to serving and array of espresso and tea beverages, Pour Cleveland also offers fresh pastries, catering, brewing equipment, power sourced tables/ free wifi and good vibes. They even featured my daughter on their Instagram account!

9:00 AM

The day before we noticed a market not too far from the hotel we were staying at called, Heinen’s. Heinen’s is a Cleveland based family-owned grocery store that’s been around since 1929. Today the founder’s grandsons keep the legacy alive with 23 neighborhood stores across Northeast Ohio and the Greater Chicago area. The downtown Cleveland location is a sight to see. Located in the historic Cleveland Trust Rotunda building, this grocery is like no other. It’s definitely a downtown Cleveland landmark. When you walk through the doors you just have to stop and admire the beautiful architecture of the inside. The ceiling is just breathtaking!

Once you get done taking dozens of pictures of the ceiling, you realize this “grocery store” is not just like any other grocery store you have ever been in. This place is a foodie’s paradise. There is an insane selection of artisan cheese, meats, local products, and prepared foods. I imagined this to be the spot to grab lunch if you worked downtown. On the second floor you will find a very large selection of craft beers and wines. They also hold several wine tastings and dinners in this department as well. I was totally in love with Heinen’s!!

10:00 AM

Back up street we walked to find the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland. Inside this building historic building you with learn about what a bank does in its Money Museum. My daughter enjoyed all of the interactive displays throughout the museum and of course getting a bag of shredded money at the end. The Money Museum is free for all!

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I’m on the dollar bill!! 💰 #TravelWithSage #ThisIsCle

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12:00 PM

After a short rest at our hotel, we continued our day of adventure at the Great Lakes Science Center. With the mission “to make science, technology, engineering and math come alive”, they are also making it fun. Just ask my daughter! What a cool place! We started our exploration of the center in Cleveland Clinic Dome Theatre to watch a very interesting film called Amazon Adventure. Watching it under the gigantic 6 story high domed screen made the film even more interesting.

Next we explore the HUNDREDS of hands-on exhibits. It was science overload and we LOVED it!!! My daughter was very sad we had to leave. She could have been there all day. This is a must-do attraction for kids and adults alike.

*Special thanks to the Great Lakes Science Center for providing complimentary tickets to me. As always all options are my own.

4:30 PM

We decided to check out one other local coffee shop before heading back called Passengers Cafe. This Ohio City coffee shop is located in the lobby of the Cleveland Hostel. They offer amazing espresso drinks, bagels, toast, and local pastries. Head upstairs to their cool rooftop situation, perfect for sipping lattes.

5:00 PM

Our last stop before heading home was to B Spot Burgers. B Spot Burgers is located right outside downtown Cleveland in Westlake, Ohio. This restaurant is the brainchild of Food Network Iron Chef, Michael Symon. The menu had so many delicious options! I order The Gobbler with rosemary fries! So good!! AND I was excited to see that they had a pickle bar to further dress my burger. Be sure to check out their happy hour menu for more delicious deals!

Cleveland is an amazing city! I definitely need to come back and do some more exploring. I need about a week there! If you’re planning a trip to Cleveland, Ohio in the near future consider adding these places to your itinerary.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

The greatest stories and biggest names in rock and roll shine on at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, which celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2015. The experience includes four theaters, multiple interactive stations and seven floors that tell the story of the world’s most powerful art form. Visitors can pay homage to rock icons and see video, artifacts, memorabilia and other cool, “one-of-a-kind” stuff on display at the Rock Hall. The Rock Hall is dedicated to exploring the past, present and future of music and the cultural context from which it emerges.

Children’s Museum of Cleveland

Excitement, enrichment and inspiration await during an afternoon of creative play at the new Children’s Museum of Cleveland. From thinking like scientists to embracing their inner artists to designing, building and exploring a pretend city, kids can write their own script in this open- ended learning environment. Families can get hands-on in the new Wonder Lab with water tables and magnetic walls; create their own masterpiece in the Arts & Parts room and discover their own adventures throughout this former Millionaire’s Row mansion, the stately Stager- Beckwith home.

Greater Cleveland Aquarium

The Powerhouse, located in the West Bank of the Flats, is now home to the 70,000-square-foot Greater Cleveland Aquarium. The historic building includes eight galleries and over 50 exhibits with aquatic life from around the world. Visitors have the chance to dive right into interactive experiences with stingray and tortoise encounters and aquarium feeding times. One of the most exciting exhibits includes a sea tube that allows visitors to experience life under the sea in a clear, 150’ walk through tunnel.

Cleveland Museum of Natural History

From dinosaurs to diamonds, the Museum is a beautiful blend of traditional and interactive galleries that show kids of all ages how history and art connect with the natural world. At the Ralph Perkins Wildlife Center and Woods Garden visitors can marvel at bald eagles, owls, foxes, bobcats, deer and other animals in this 2.2 acre outdoor gallery that connects to the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. The different mixture of creatures, ranging from endangered animals to animals that have learned to live with humans makes this nature center unique.

Cleveland Metroparks Zoo & Rainforest

Home to more than 3,000 animals located throughout 165 rolling wooded acres and a two-story Rain Forest full of exotic creatures and striking plant life from across the globe, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and Rainforest is one of the city’s must-see attractions. Families can get “nose- to-trunk” with a six-ton elephant at the five-acre state-of-the-art African Elephant Crossing, the nation’s first LEED certified major outdoor animal exhibit.

Thank you Destination Cleveland for all your assistance during my stay in Cleveland! I look forward to returning soon! #ThisIsCle

Ohio Love

Today is National Ohio Day and guess who’s from this great state? Me!! I was born and raised in the northwest Ohio city of Toledo. Growing up a Buckeye was pretty good. Those winter months were very challenging the older I got though. Ohio can get brutally cold. The weather ultimately ran me out of Ohio and to the South. Lol. Nonetheless, Ohio is a beautiful state, rich in history, culture and culinary experiences. I encourage you to travel to the “Heart of it All” in the very near future. Here’s a few places to get you started!

Visitor Guides

Cincinnati

Cleveland

Columbus

Dayton

Toledo