DAYTRIPPERS | Exploring Our State

Ohio City Cleveland

Before we knew we’d buy a new home and renovate the first floor this Summer, I had big plans to get out and explore the corners of Ohio with my kiddos. Phil and I love to dream of traveling to far-off places, flying to the west coast, seeing historic coastal cities down south, or booking a trip abroad. Our recent trip to San Francisco was truly a bucket-list experience for us Ohio folks, but the reality of it is, we can so easily miss the fun things our own region has to offer!

We live in Northeast Ohio, an hour south of Cleveland— what they like to call the “north coast” of the U.S. We sort of feel disassociated from cities on the opposite corner of Ohio, like Cincinnati and Dayton, which have never seemed like destination cities to me, but are so close, we really need to visit them more often and uncover the treasures that are surely waiting for us to discover them! But we’ve been so busy working on the house, we could only spare one day this past weekend to do something fun as a family, which made a day trip up to Cleveland’s Lake Eerie the perfect way to spend a sunny Sunday! 

Sometimes you really need to take a long vacation away from it all, but other times, exploring your own state is just what you need to feel refreshed and in love with your home. So last weekend, we installed Juniper’s brand new Evenflo Stratos carseat, loaded the Evenflo Sibby stroller, and drove an hour up north to play on the beach and enjoy a bit of Cleveland.

Cleveland Beaches

hungtington beach bay village ohio

hungtington beach bay village ohio

cleveland beaches

Lake Erie in the summertime is such a joy, because it really does feel like you’re at the ocean. The water sprawls endlessly across the horizon, the sun shines brightly above it, and the Cleveland skyline is easily seen in the distance. A couple of hours at the beach is plenty for a Sunday afternoon with little ones, and as the summer sun dried our wet hair and lulled Juniper to sleep, we loaded up up the kids again to find a parking spot in our favorite Cleveland neighborhood, Ohio City.

evenflo sibby stroller

sibby stroller

When Juniper was an infant, we could just pop her Evenflo Sibby infant carseat out of the base, and snap it into to the Sibby stroller, without missing a beat or disturbing her sleep. It’s a super convenient travel system for not interrupting naptimes at moments like this. But now that she’s getting older, we had installed her new convertable carseat and had to remove her from the carseat and transfer her to the stroller. She just chilled in the reclined stroller until she remembered we were getting ice cream. Then she was wide awake!

Ohio City Cleveland

Ohio City is the kind of neighborhood full of beautiful, historic homes, owned by folks who obviously care about their homes and their community. Schools, churches, playgrounds, restaurants, boutiques, markets, and bars all happily coexist and are bustling with people on the weekends. It’s easy to walk around and pop into a few boutiques and restaurants and enjoy city life, without actually being in downtown Cleveland. And all of this is within minutes of the beach.

We like bringing the Evenflo Sibby stroller along with us on days like this, because Lucy can ride on the platform on the back when she’s tired of walking, but we don’t have to haul a double stroller in and out of shops and restaurants throughout the day. Strollers can be such a hassle in restaurants, but this one is compact, but still easy to push, and comfortable for Juniper to relax in.

Mitchell's Ice Cream Ohio City

The kiddos’ favorite place to visit in Ohio City is Mitchell’s Homemade Ice Cream shop, which is a local chain who makes there ice cream right here in Cleveland. In fact, the kitchen is surrounded by glass walls so you can watch the ice cream being made while you’re enjoying eating it. Or, you can pick a window seat and watch the people walking down West 25th street. Lucy and Juniper like coloring pictures at the kids’ seats while waiting for the train to make its way back around the perimeter of the shop, carrying pints of ice cream as it chugs along.

Mitchell's Ice Cream Ohio City

Mitchell's Ice Cream Ohio City

Mitchell’s Ohio City location is in a charming old theater (converted into an ice cream factory) and situated in the midst of one of the best area for shopping and eating in West Cleveland. Just down the road is the Westside Market, another must-stop place for us when in the neighborhood, and a string of shops and restaurants. On Lorain Avenue, driving west, you’ll find several great vintage furniture and clothing shops that alone make the drive to Cleveland worth the trip! So much to see and do.

Mitchell's Ice Cream Ohio City

Cleveland makes the perfect destination for a day trip, but if we didn’t live so close, I could easily fill up an entire long weekend with activities, and it wouldn’t be enough time! I always tell people how great Northeast Ohio is, but I’m not sure they believe me. The problem is, many people from the area seem to get pleasure from complaining about Northeast Ohio, but they don’t make the effort to get out and see more of the treasures the region has to offer. And I’m sure it’s like that all over the world!

We’ve all felt, from time to time, that it would be so nice to live somewhere else. But with that kind of attitude, it’s too easy to miss out on seeing and doing all of the special things your home has to offer! Feel like there’s nothing in your hometown? Then drive an hour or two in any direction and try something new! It can be the perfect refresher you need to see your home in a new light.

Do you ever go exploring new places close to your home? If I traveled through your state, what are some lesser known places we should visit?

Thank you to Evenflo for kindly sponsoring this post. All opinions are 100% honest & completely my own.

How to Create an Idyllic Childhood Summer

Radio Flyer Giveaway

When I think about my childhood summers, I think about never-ending games of Capture the Flag, sharing swiftly melting popsicles with the neighbors, catching lightning bugs in a jar with holes poked in the lid (did that even help those poor things?), solo bike rides around the neighborhood with no hands on the handlebars, discovering creepy earwigs crawling on my sleeping bag during campouts on the back porch, chlorine-crusted hair that still smelled of campfires in the morning, watching neighborhood pick-up baseball games from the roof of my dad’s Oldsmobile Cutlass. I know my memories are colored with the nostalgia of an idyllic childhood, but I can’t help but mourn the loss of a carefree childhood that perhaps my children will never enjoy.

Gone are the days when parents simply tell their children to “go play outside and be home by dinnertime.” I am old enough to remember hearing all of the neighborhood moms calling their children to come home for dinner. But that will never be me. I feel like if my kids are outdoors, it’s my duty to vigilantly watch their every move, maybe not hovering, but certainly engaging with them and looking out for their safety. It stresses me out to the point where they don’t tend to go outside as much as they probably should. But I worry about child abductors, broken legs, stray balls begging to be caught, and heck, even bee stings.

Did my parents think about those parental concerns as much as I do now? Maybe they did, but perhaps they felt safe enough, knowing their neighbors well enough that they felt comfortable giving us a little more independence each Summer. Either way, I lived for those hot, carefree days, and I often wonder if my children will be able to experience a similar childhood. Lately I’ve thought maybe I should just let go of the pressure to recreate something similar for them. After all, we live in different times.

Radio Flyer Giveaway

Now that Phil and I are using most of our spare moments to renovate our new house, I worry even more that my children are missing out on some kind of idyllic image of what I want their childhood to be. Maybe I’m too worried about personal productivity and my children’s safety, and therefore am missing out on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity as a mom. Am I being too hard on myself? It’s not as if I have them plopped in front of the tv while I mindlessly scroll through apps on my phone. But I do try to be aware of how we spend these days of their childhood, as fleeting as they may be.

My own parents worked on home renovations during much of my childhood, and my dad was always building furniture in his garage workshop. (Now you know where I get it from, eh?) But I don’t remember missing out on fun family experiences. Did they purposefully set aside time to put down the hammer and power drill to get out and bond as a family? I’m pretty sure the answer is yes! How else would I have such great memories with my family as a kid?

I know that I’ll never be comfortable just telling my kids to “go outside and play,” unless I can see them easily from where I sit or work, but that doesn’t mean my kids won’t have special memories of Summers as I did. It just requires a little more planning, I think. And hey, I like planning, so I’m pretty confident I’m up to the task!

Recently I made a list of all of those things I mentioned earlier that made my childhood summers feel magical, and I realized I don’t actually need an idyllic Pleasantville-style neighborhood to make any of them happen. They just require making space in our lives, which means knowing when to quit working on house projects so we can spend time with our kids, without phones or other distractions.

Idyllic Childhood Summer

So what does our Idyllic Childhood Summer list look like? It’s not a list to make me feel stressed about completing it or failing as a mom, but it gives us some fun ideas of things to do together as a family, building our relationships with our kids and gifting them with memories that I hope they’ll always cherish. And if we don’t get around to everything this summer, hey! There’s always next year, right?

  1. Help Lucy learn how to ride a bike
  2. Have as many picnic dinners as possible
  3. Go berry picking
  4. Take the kids to the beach
  5. Catch lightning bugs
  6. Enjoy a campfire and make s’mores with friends
  7. Go to the fair and let Lucy go on as many rides as she wants
  8. Make popsicles to share with friends (Did that already!)
  9. Go camping with friends (probably will just be in one of our yards!)
  10. See fireworks
  11. Pool days
  12. Play dates at the park

Idyllic Childhood Summer

Radio Flyer Giveaway

Idyllic Childhood Summer

We recently got Lucy a Radio Flyer balance bike to help her gain confidence riding a bike without needing training wheels. It’s been difficult to motivate her to try something more challenging than a trike, but The Radio Flyer travel agency has given us some fun ideas to motivate her to get outside and learn to ride, engaging her creativity as we imagine fun destinations she can get to from within the comfort of our neighborhood park! But only on her Radio Flyer balance bike. :)

enter to win

When I think of timeless, nostalgic toys, Radio Flyer is the first brand that comes to mind. The classic children’s toy company was started in 1917 by Antonio Pasin, whose dream was to “bring joy to every boy and every girl.” Today Radio Flyer is still admired for their attention to quality and consistency in quality and design. Some things really do never change!

To celebrate their 100 anniversary, Radio Flyer is giving away one toy daily until June 30th. Check out the Stars and Stripes Giveaway and enter to win! The prize changes every day. Share your own family’s Radio Flyer adventures on Instagram and tag them with #radioflyer100 for an extra chance to win.

Idyllic Childhood Summer

Radio Flyer Giveaway

Did you have a red wagon when you were a kid? We used ours to transport supplies for fort building and other neighborhood adventures. Maybe I should add a Radio Flyer wagon to our summertime list, eh? Oh, and be sure to check out Radio Flyer on Facebook and Instagram for an extra dose of nostalgia!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Radio Flyer. The opinions and text are all mine. 

Our Glamping Trip in Sonoma County

Airstream Glamping in the California Redwoods

Phil and I were excited to be able to do two things we’d been longing for our ten year anniversary— A week away from our kids, and a trip to California! I already shared the cute a-frame cabin we stayed at during the second leg of our trip, but check out our third stop in Sebastapol! How cool is this Airstream trailer?

Our Glamping Hub hosts, Ene and Scott, are artists who’ve carved out a spot in the redwood forests for inspiring studio spaces, family living, and for hosting travelers like us. We enjoyed making meals in the spacious kitchen of their guesthouse, while returning from vineyard visits to enjoy drinks by the Airstream.

Glamping in the California Redwoods

Airstream Glamping in the California Redwoods

Glamping in the California Redwoods

A highlight of my trip was to be able to steal away for large chunks of time to catch up on my reading. Ene had supplied the kitchen with plenty of coffee for guzzling, so I indulged myself by leisurely sipping cup after cup while cuddling with Phil on this cozy sofa— books in our hands and a generous view of the redwoods across from us.

Did I mention we made pancakes every morning for breakfast? We’re obviously not ones to deprive ourselves while on a vacation. We also shamelessly made frozen pizzas for dinner, which we enjoyed on the private patio just off the living room of the guest house.

Glamping in the California Redwoods

Glamping in the California Redwoods

Glamping in the California Redwoods

Glamping in the California Redwoods

Check out the tree swing in the meadow by the Airstream trailer! We’ve got to get one of those for our new house. Made me feel like a kid again. (I’m talking about the swing, but man, wouldn’t it be great to have such a gem of a trailer?)

Airstream Glamping in the California Redwoods

Airstream Glamping in the California Redwoods

Airstream Glamping in the California Redwoods

Airstream Glamping in the California Redwoods

Airstream Glamping in the California Redwoods

Airstream Glamping in the California Redwoods

I was in awe of the beautiful wood-clad ceilings throughout the guest house. Ene indulged me in talking about the renovations she and Scott had completed at the house, which had been a far cry from the peaceful home it is now. I can really appreciate a renovation done right, and love that the California mid-century character of the home is still in tact.

Glamping in the California Redwoods

One thing that shocked us about our visit was how much change we experienced just driving one hour across one end of Sonoma County to the other. We started on the Pacific coast in Bodega Bay (site of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds!), where we shivered against the cold breezes of the bay as we licked ice cream cones, as any good Ohioan would do.

Phil drove up the rocky coastline of Highway 1, listening to my reminders to keep his eyes on the windy road, as I soaked in the magnificent flower-speckled cliffs I had only seen in the movies, but had never seemed real to me until that moment. Driving eastward, we drove through charming California towns with no cell reception, and then into the rolling hills of Sonoma that resembled the Italian countryside (or at least what I imagine it is like). I observed that the cows in California do appear happier than the ones we have back at home. :)

Bodega Bay

Ene showed us the guestbook which included a treasure trove of vineyard recommendations from sommeliers who’ve shared wine-wisdom for the benefit of future guests, like Phil and myself. We don’t claim to be wine connoisseurs by any means, though I do like to think I know a quality glass of wine when I taste it! But for me, my experience in Sonoma County was as much about the sights as it was about the wine— if not moreso.

I had selected a vineyard in the heart of Sonoma, near the town center, specifically because of how beautiful the grounds looked in photos. Perhaps a vapid reason for selecting a vineyard to visit, but we were fortunately not disappointed by our visit to Scribe Winery! Phil said it was his favorite part of our trip, being in such a beautiful, relaxing space for an enjoyable wine tasting experience.

Scribe Winery

We’d love to get back to California one day soon, and plan to carve out more time for wine tasting and exploring the natural landscapes of the region. I was disappointed that our visit was a week too soon to rent canoes to take out on the Russian River during a weekday. But that just gives us something new to look forward to next time, eh?

Thank you for hosting us, Ene and Scott! Be sure to check out their rental listing at Glamping Hub. Phil and I really enjoyed our time we spent at their peaceful home in the redwoods.

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