This week we continued to make our way back south with stops in Cleveland and Cincinnati. In Cleveland, we had to head straight to the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame first, a bucket list stop for us! With thousands of artifacts from musical artists from Elvis Presley to Michael Jackson, this museum offers an entire day of fun and entertainment. There are jukeboxes touch-screen TVs that will play videos for just about any song you want to hear. Nicole chose "Rock Me Amadeus", which brought back memories of her youth. Someone chose "We are the World", which we just had to stop and watch too. There are interactive displays that let you learn about and listen to categories like one hit wonders. We found this quite addictive and spent about 45 minutes listening to them all, alphabetically. We also came to the conclusion that one hit wonders tend to be used more in commercials, because we were able to tie so many of them to several different brands, which was a fun side game for us. There are great displays that show all the influences of blues, country, and other genres on Rock & Roll.
Just south of Cleveland is the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, another Bucket List stop! This is a must see for any football fan. Currently, they have a football card collection on display on the 1st floor, which was quite impressive. One floor has Madden games set up on big screen TVs where people can sit on a couch and play for a while. We were able to sit in on a presentation about helmets and how they have changed through the decades, and how they are addressing the current safety concerns with concussions. It was interesting to see the new helmets players are using and how much they have improved just from the time that we've hung up our cleats (2006). A volunteer there, Bill, started talking with us and ended up giving us a personal tour of a few things he wanted to be sure we didn't miss. He was excited to tell us that they were about to get a briefing on a new helmet that day from a company called Zenith that is supposed to be the safest helmet to date and may take the market by storm. He then showed us the plans they have for a huge expansion to the property. They are adding a retirement home for NFL players where they will be able to get proper medical care. They are also adding a resort that will have all types of restaurants, shopping, a watermark, and football related activities. We also learned that there is one house still on the property that is owned by a 90 year old woman. When they bought the property they told her that she can stay there until she dies, which is unheard of. We continue our tour and spend about 4-5 hours looking at the Hall of Fame Busts, the artifacts, and learning about the history of football. There are some interactive displays here as well. One of our favorites was a real Instant Replay experience, which give you insight of how the referees use this tool, using real-life scenarios from games. Though the museum doesn't have a section that represents the Women's Pro Football Leagues yet, there were a few displays to honor the women of late that have broken into some coaching, refereeing , and broadcasting roles in the NFL. Actually, just the day before, Jennifer Welter, a previous Women's League player and currently an NFL coach, was at the Hall of Fame. Maybe someday there will be a section to represent women who have been playing for decades, like Cooperstown has done.
We found a few other stops interesting in Cleveland. We went to 'The Christmas Story' House and it's exactly as it looks in the movie. There are tours available, though we opted to skip the tour. You are able to walk up to the porch and you can see the Leg Lamp in the front window. Across the street is a garage that has the "Old Man's Oldsmobile" and the Fire Truck that was on the scene to help the kid with his tongue frozen to the pole. There is also a museum and a gift shop. The gift shop has gift items from several favorite Christmas movies like Elf and National Lampoon's Christmas for sale. They do have an online shop if you are looking for some unique Christmas gifts!
A hidden gem that we found is the International Women's Air & Space Museum. Right next to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, in the terminal of the Burke Lakefront Airport, this small museum has some artifacts and shares some great stories about women who have led the way in aviation. The museum and parking are free and is a great way to spend about an hour learning about these amazing women.
The West Side Market is worth checking out. The fruit and vegetable displays are beautiful, and there are a lot of vendors selling a variety of mostly unprepared fresh foods, though there are some beautiful looking
baked goods that you could certainly snack on as you stroll. If it's nature you are looking for, head to the Cayuhoga National Park and take a short hike to the Brandywine Falls. The National Park has several trails you can hike, and the drive out there is also very pretty.
Cleveland is definitely a great city to get out and explore. There is plenty of things to do to fill a long weekend in this city and its surrounding areas. We enjoyed our stay here and would recommend adding it to your weekend getaway lists!