Thursday, July 22, 2010

Adventures In Northeast Ohio - Member Nautica Queen

There are many states in this great nation of ours that can only dream of having such a wonderful resource as we have. Yet, many Ohioans have never stepped foot on its banks to truly experience its wonderful grandeur. Why not I ask? What keeps you from coming? We have parks to enjoy all along the lake front. We have some wonderful piers to stroll on, sit and enjoy the view or fish from. And located in downtown Cleveland we have the Nautica Queen to experience it from the water.

This July I had the pleasure of taking my son for a boat ride on Lake Erie. Not just any boat ride, we enjoyed the lakefront and river dinner cruise on the Nautica Queen. And, we could of not have asked for a more beautiful calm night for a lake cruise than we had that evening.

We arrived at the dock at around 6:30pm. Our crew for the evening greeted us with smiles and leis. After being seated at our table our server informed us to feel free to roam the ship before we set sail. So, we headed up to the top deck for a view of Cleveland from the Flats. My son, a picture fanatic, was photographing the many architectural designs seen from the river.

As our departing time of 7pm arrived we made our way down to our table as the Captain started the engines and began to turn the boat away from the pier to begin our 3-hour cruise. ("two passengers set sail that day, for a 3 hour tour, a 3 hour tour"...sorry couldn't help myself.)

The buffet was served promptly at 7pm. Our evening dining consisted of various salad selections, potatoes and rice, vegetables, prime rib, pork, chicken and of course mine and my sons favorite, the breaded perch. Our dinner meal was finished with a slice of cheesecake topped with mango sauce. I can say we were a bit full. (Coffee, tea and ice tea are included in your meals. Alcohol and sodas are an additional fee.)

After our dinner we made our way up to the 2nd level to the front of the boat or "bow" for us sea experienced boating individuals. This area did not offer seating outside as the upper 3rd level, but we so enjoyed the view from this angle that we choose to stay there for the entire cruise. (For those who want to enjoy a more festive mood as they cruise, the Nautica Queen offers musical entertainment on the 2nd level and 3rd level by the on-board disc jockey.)

Our boat ride followed the Lake Erie coast line west from the flats. We enjoyed looking at the homes along the shore as well as the many jet skis, tankers, sail and fishing boats that went by. From this point of view you begin to realize just how vast and special our lake is. How very alive it is.

As we began to make our turn at the half way point the City of Cleveland came into sight. What a beautiful photo from our boat. The evening lights reflecting on the water with beauty of the Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame, the Browns Stadium and Terminal Tower in the background all lit up. For those aboard with cameras it was a picture frenzy. As we passed the light house and made our turn into the Cuyahoga River to the Flats, all the historic bridges just seemed to come alive. All beautifully lighted up to show their unique designs, you could not help but be in impressed.

And just when you think your trip has come to a conclusion, you are given an encore as the railroad bridge is lifted up so you can make your way under.

o, if you have not taken a boat cruise on Lake Erie then you really need to add it to your must do Ohio list. What a fun thing to do with your family, friends or that special someone. And what a great way to get a new perspective on how very wonderful our lake is.

Some items to remember. There are three (3) levels to the Nautica Queen, two of those levels are used for dining and are heated and air conditioned. We were seated on the lower level for dinner. I think had I known I would have requested the 2nd level to sit up a little higher.

The lunch cruise is a bit cheaper, but if you really want the extra thrill of the evening lights on the city a
nd coastline then book a dinner cruise. The Nautica Queen holds special themed cruises throughout its season, such as the Tropical Dinner Cruise that we enjoyed.

Take a sweater even if it is hot outside. We had a beautiful night with not much temperature drop, but as night fell the breeze became a little cool if you were outside.

I suggest you make reservations as some cruises may already be filled. There is a slight parking fee when you arrive. And make sure you take your camera!

For any additional information, pricing and directions call 1-800-837-0604 or visit their website at

would like to say a special thank you to Captain Scott Baker for doing such a great job navigating our cruise. I would also like to thank the crew for being so helpful and answering all my 1000's of questions and finally I would like to thank Ms. Colleen Grey for supplying such a wonderful media kit for the Nautica Queen that I could just not pass up the opportunity to go on the adventure.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Adventures in Northeast Ohio | Member - The Winery at Wolf Creek

I was kind of excited to find a winery in my media kit. Not having been brought up with wine as a family dinner beverage and having many friends who seemed to enjoy having wine, I felt this excursion would give me another opportunity to maybe find an additional local wine that I may enjoy drinking and serving as my house wine.

So, I gathered my camera and set out for my drive south to Norton, Ohio. In order to get to my winery destination I had to pass, should I say by antique shops and a cheese house! Somehow one could make a day of this already. But with previous destination in hand I followed my course and arrived at The Winery at Wolf Creek.

The winery sits atop a hill overlooking the countryside and a lake. There is indoor seating, a deck area with picnic tables and a private room for special events. What is nice about the Winery at Wolf Creek is that you can bring your own picnic to enjoy on the grounds with your family or friends while you are sipping your wine purchases.

During my inspection of the grounds, I ran into a few local characters, goats and chickens, which just added to the relaxed atmosphere of the winery. There is just something adorable about those small goats, I think it is that guilty grin they always have.

Now, lets talk about the wine. I already know that I do not favor dry wines, but am more the sweet wine drinker. So I gravitated towards the sweeter wines on the list. I was told that two of their most popular wines were White Lies, a sweet grapey wine, and Redemption, a light sweet red wine. Of course I had my .25 sample in the tasting room and I have to say I enjoyed both wines. If you are looking for me to give you info on clarity, body and such you will need to ask a true wine drinker I go strictly on taste. Wolf Creek offers various white wines, red and rose’ wines, as well as fruit wines to sample and purchase as well as gift baskets. Wouldn’t a nice picnic basket with a gift certificate to the winery make a nice wedding or shower gift?

Besides the various wines, I was impressed with all the events that are held at the winery throughout the year. Like Yappy Hours, which during this event you can bring your well-behaved man’s best friend with you while you enjoy your wine and they enjoy their treats. This event is offered on various dates throughout the summer and benefits GivePetsAChance.

Another event that is offered and sounds like fun is the Cooking with Wine class taught by Jim Reynolds, the Winery's epicurean. The winery also has scheduled a Vineyard Barbeque as well as a Wine and Cheese Cruise event. For all of their events please visit their website listed below.

So in closing, if you are a wine lover, a stop at The Winery of Wolf Creek should be in your summertime plans. What a great way to enjoy a relaxing afternoon or evening. And if love antiques you may want to stop on the square in Copley along the way to the winery, better leave early. And remember, there is just something about seeing grapevines in the distance and the idea of sampling local wines that make living in Ohio such a wonderful place.

For further information about the Winery at Wolf Creek, go to The winery is located at 2637 S. Cleveland Massillon Rd., Norton, OH 44203. There phone number is 330.666.9285.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Adventures in Northeast Ohio | Member Northfield Park

Located in Northern Ohio is the only remaining commercial harness track left in Northeast Ohio that you can go and experience live harness racing. The park has been featuring harness racing since 1957.

The last time I had visited Northfield Park was about 5 years ago and I can say things have changed. They have a newly decorated clubhouse area, as well as a new Trackside Lounge which offers a full service bar, flat-screen televisions to witness all the major sporting events, private seating areas and plenty of open viewing of the track. The Lady Luck’s Restaurant is open every live race night beginning at 6 pm. They offer a full service menu and a buffet on Friday and Saturdays. (Live racing nights are Monday, Tuesday, Friday and Saturday starting at 7pm.)

I will tell you I know nothing about betting horses, but I still had a lot of fun making my $2 and $5 bets on horses just because I liked their names. Watching those beautiful horses race around the track was exciting. And I have to say I broke even in the cash department. Okay, I had to ask a few questions about what win, place and show meant, but everyone was very obliging in answering my betting questions. I did later learn that on their website you can get wagering tips from “The Gisser” who blogs race talk. Also located on their website is racing information and info on any promotions.

Northfield Park would make a fun place to go with friends to enjoy a little dinner and excitement of betting. Northfield Park also accepts groups and can accommodate seating from 15 to 1,000. What a unique place to celebrate a 50th or other birthday. Have a race named after you and photo in the Winner’s Circle. They do offer various party packages. (For any special events questions you should contact Mary Randall at 330-467-4101 ext 203/204)

So, if you are looking for something a little different, that maybe you have never done before or have not done in a awhile, grab a few friends and head to Northfield Park. They are located at 10705 Northfield Rd., Northfield, OH 44067. For addit5ional information contact 330-467-4101 or visit their website at

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Adventures in Northeast Ohio | Member Blue Canyon Kitchen * Tavern

On March 16, 2010 I made a horrible mistake. It is not always easy to admit that you may have done something wrong, but I had. I contacted Mary Grace Hejl, the Private Dining Coordinator at the Blue Canyon Kitchen and Tavern in Twinsburg and explained to her that I was going to be fulfilling a promise I had made to myself in a prior blog, which was to write about all the Adventures In Northeast Ohio members. She was so accommodating on the phone, answered all my questions as well as gave menu suggestions to try and it was then that I made arrangements with her to arrive on a specific day and time.

Here is where the I blew it. Like all my reviews on restaurants I try to be just a normal customer. Big time journalist snooping around incognito looking for the inside scoop. Actually, I like to kind of melt into the woodwork. Anyway, I arrived on the day I said, asked for a tab
le for one and proceeded to decide what to order.

Meanwhile, in another area waiting for my arrival was Mary Grace, who I found out later the next day, had gone home to get all dressed up, had arranged to have a special chef come in to cook a special meal for
me and to top it off made special arrangements to give me a private tour of the lodge. Guess who looks like the idiot here?

So first, I would like to apologize to Mary Grace who went out of her way to accommodate me. I am so very sorry for not realizing that such a classy restaurant like the Blue Canyon would make such a fuss and work so very hard to make my visit as well as every guests experience an enjoyable one.

But let me tell you Mary Grace,I had an enjoyable time anyway. Yes, I w
ould of felt so very honored to have had a chef cook something special for me and I would of loved to have met you in person, and had I not taken so long to enjoy my meal before announcing myself, I could of maybe caught up with you before you left. I hope that you please accept my apologizes for not figuring things out sooner.

But rest assured, my evening was still very delightful. If you have never been to the Blue Canyon Kitchen and Tavern then you are missing a wonderful treat. Nestled on the side of a hill in the City of Twinsburg Ohio this western style log cabin designed lodge offers great food, a warm welcoming feel and a very gracious staff. What a wonderful place to take that special someone to celebrate that special occasion like a birthday, prom, proposal, or host a rehearsal dinner, small wedding or family reunion.

After being seated, I proceeded to debate over the many meal choices. I eyed the Beef Tenderloin with whipped potatoes and crispy onion rings, hesitated over the Yankee Style Pot Roast, debated over the Lobster Linguine, thought twice over the Lobster Bacon Mac and Cheese, but when it was said and done, I ordered what Mary Grace had suggested, their famous Pretzel Crusted Trout.

Not sure if I would really like trout I held my breath and prayed for the best, while still thinking should I have ordered the Lobster Bacon Mac and Cheese? After a delicious salad served on a chilled plate and the sampling of fresh rolls, my trout arrived. First, I should of brought a friend to help me eat that much food and second the way they prepared the trout and placed it over their special potatoes and covered it with capers and sauce was absolutely scrumptious. What a wonderful unique taste. I can see why it is a customer favourite. After a few bites, I was glad I had made the Pretzel Crusted Trout my selection. However, I still am thinking about that Lobster Bacon Mac and Cheese! Another day.

I did learn why I was at the tavern that they have Mystery Tours about three (3) times a year, which sounded like a lot of fun. The Tavern can cater your special party, from 10 to 100. They offer beautiful patio seating, a very picturesque porch, fireplaces to enjoy, large dining area with an unbelievable view, seating for 12 at the Chef’s Table or you can ask to dine at the bar where you can watch all the kitchen action from. (I think I would like to sit there next and have my Lobster Bacon Mac and Cheese.)

What a great stop to get pampered after a hard day of shopping at one of the local malls or outlets. The Blue Canyon Kitchen and Tavern would also be a great place to host a business meeting or if you are a tour operator the tavern would be a wonderful treat for your group. I am sure if Mary Grace went so far out of her way to accommodate me, imagine what the staff must do for groups and special events.

So, if you are looking for a place that offers a little something different and treats you a little special, why not make a reservation at the Blue Canyon Kitchen and Tavern. Let them know you read about them on our blog. For additional information about the tavern and to review their menu, check out their website at

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Adventures in Northeast Ohio | Member Inn at Brandywine Falls

Nestled in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park next to Brandywine Falls is one’s of the parks true treasurers, The Inn at Brandywine Falls, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The home was originally built in 1848 for the James and Adeline Wallace family. The Wallace’s owned mills and land in the area. As timed passed the home became abandoned and left to its demise. Waiting and waiting for years for someone, maybe a family to bring it back to life.

In 1988 the home was rescued. The Wallace home could of not received a more perfect family to save it from near fate. Armed with wit, determination and a desire to become Innkeepers, George and Katie Hoy opened the Inn at Brandywine Falls to the public. (We will let George tell you the whole story.)

Unlike some bed and breakfasts, this one sits next to the picturesque Brandywine Falls, a favorite stop for visitors to the National Park. Walking trails abound, and it is centrally located between Cleveland and Akron with easy access to all the local attractions, restaurants and events.

But to me the best attraction is George and Katie.
George and Katie are true innkeepers. Yes, they have had (21+) years of practice, but there are just some things you cannot learn. Like how to make your guests feel like they belong.

The Inn offers three (3) historic rooms with private baths and three (3) suites with private baths. My favorites are probably “The Granary” or “The Loft” suites. These suites are located a few steps behind the main house in the Carriage Barn. Not that the rooms located in the home are any less, I just like the rustic look of the plank floors, the wood beams and the wood burning stove. Gives a very calming feeling and a great place for an avid reader like myself to cozy up with a good book.

I have had the pleasure of partaking in the Inn’s wonderful breakfast on a few occasions and all I can say is yum. The fresh fruit, grains and other wonderful homemade items served by the gracious hosts are simply heavenly. George is a wonderful bread maker and offers up some pleasant surprises.

And lets not forget to talk about the hosts, George and Katie. Katie, so soft spoken and warm along with George’s stories and wonderful whit makes a visit to the Inn absolutely charming and a must stay on anyone’s list. What a wonderful spot to spend a special occasion or just by yourself as a getaway.

The Inn also offers Cooking Seminars, which I have promised myself to sign-up for one this year. The Inn would also make a wonderful spot to host an event, such as a shower, wedding or corporate meeting.

Now, when visiting the Inn, please make sure you ask George for directions to the six infamous Fairy Lakes where the “Fairies” live. Also, make sure to be included on their mailing list so you can receive the wonderful “Inn Absentia” publication mailed every year. I so enjoy the tales of the Inn as well as the sharing of Inn recipes. The Inn also sells their own cookbooks, which make wonderful gifts, as well as hypo/allergenic hand soap. (see photo)

With so much to do in Northern Ohio and with the Cuyahoga Valley National Park walking trails, bicycle trails, train rides and historical stops, you may need to make it a three day visit. George and Katie will be more than happy to share with you a park map as well as a list of Cuyahoga Valley points of interest.

To find out how you can make a reservation please go to or contact the Inn at 330-467-1812.
And please, tell George and Katie I sent you.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Adventures In Northeast Ohio | Member – Mavis Winkle’s Irish Pub

As I began to review my Adventures In Northeast Ohio Media Kit last week, I found the hardest part of my assignment was deciding what attraction or business venue to start with first. After much deliberation, I made my choice. Being that this is the month of March and St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner and in my media kit is an Irish Pub, I decided I would start there. Stomach first is what I say. So last week I set off to explore one local Irish pub, of course in my undercover funky green shirt and St. Patty’s Day buttons.

Destination - Mavis Winkle’s Irish Pub. Now if you have not ventured to this local eatery, you are missing such a wonderful treat. According to the story told at the media event by Mary Jo and Bill Demopoulos, the owners, the name “Mavis Winkle” was derived from a character their daughter had played in a play. In the play Mavis Winkle was a wise older woman who always liked to have a good time. (Maybe that is why I find such a connection!)

When you arrive at Mavis Winkles the first thing you will notice is the bustling atmosphere, the feeling that you are really at the local gathering place. Now please do not be fooled by the name Irish Pub. Mavis Winkle’s is definitely a family friendly restaurant. In fact they offer a “Wee People” menu, which includes selections like chicken tenders and a Baby Boxty.

For those not familiar with what a Boxty is, which I was not until just recently. A Boxty is a traditional Irish potato dish, similar to a potato pancake. And who does not love potato pancakes? Well, at Mavis Winkle’s they offer a Corned Beef Boxty, which is warm corned beef piled atop a boxty, then melted swiss cheese is placed on top. Also included in your meal is a side of coleslaw, sliced pickles and a horsey mustard dressing. I being the traditionalist asked for Thousand Island to go with my somewhat Rueben. But I have to confess I really liked the horsey mustard much better has a nice kick. The corned beef was very good and I have decided that I could easily become addicted to boxty’s.

Of course, like the true spy that I am, I checked out what everyone else had ordered around me. The chicken paprikash and the shepard’s pie both looked very good. According to their menu, they also offer pot roast, a salmon or chicken boxty, pierogi’s, ruebens, strip steaks, cajun pasta, healthy menu items and of course fish & chips to name just a few items. And let’s not forget to talk about the staff. My waitress was an absolute pleasure. The facilities seemed very clean and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves. I think even “Chef Gordon Ramsay” would have been pleased.

So, may I suggest that you plan to make a date and visit Mavis Winkle’s Irish Pub where everyone is welcome and per the Demopoulos family, the staff will always try to make your experience a “moment in time”. Hence the Mavis Winkle clock I received in my media packet.

For more information about Mavis Winkle’s go to their website at They have two locations, Twinsburg and Independence. Both locations are full service restaurants. They also offer a catering menu and take-out. Besides the regular menu they also offer monthly specials, like for St. Patty’s Day they are offering Kegs & Eggs from 8 to 11 am and a special menu 11 am to 10 pm.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

One Adventure At A Time as presented by my Adventures In Northeast Ohio Goodie Bag

Earlier this week I was invited to attend the Adventures In Northeast Ohio’s Media Showcase event held at the Wyndham Hotel downtown Cleveland. This event was for the purpose of giving all local media a quick overview of all upcoming events and to suggest possible travel destinations located in northeast Ohio.

My invitation to this event came from Ms.Geauga herself, Lynda Nemeth, Director of Geauga County Tourism Council. I had originally met Lynda on Twitter, of course her code name being @MsGeauga and over the last 5 to 6 months began to twitter back and forth about events being held in Geauga County and about my need for a Geauga County Amish pie. I so looked forward to finally meeting her in person.

Armed with a her smile and an Apple pie from the Amish Home Bakery in Middlefield, Lynda could not of given me a more warmer welcome. I was seated with a charming group who also represented Geauga County, and who made me feel a bit underdressed. Robin and Donna from Settler’s Village arrived in Renaissance attire and came excited to talk about their village and large recycled cow. (We will talk about that later as well as the live animal at the end of the event. Taller than me, a baby and so adorable!)

Anyway, after our enjoyable lunch, each member representing a different venue gave a 3 minute overview about
their respective business or attraction. It was about half way through that a sudden cold sweat came across me. I suddenly realized I had wronged my readers. There was so much more I needed to add to, so much more to blog about northeast Ohio and so many places I had not yet visited. I needed to set things right. But how? How could I do justice to these wonderful presenters? Then it hit me.

Armed with my 3-inch presentation binder and my big bag of goodies which I had received, I am setting off to correct my mistake. I will attempt to travel Northeast Ohio one adventure at a time. One brochure and goodie at a time. Of course this will require me to eat the goodies in the bag as I come to each attraction, play with the toys I have received and do additional reading and follow-up, but I am ready. Armed with my delicious Apple Amish pie I will perceiver.

As I start my Blog adventure through Northeast Ohio I want to say a special thank you to all the members of the Adventures In Northeast Ohio organization and say without your passion and enthusiasm about your Ohio venue, we would not be
"Rock'in Ohio One Adventure At A Time®" . You prove to me that there are a lot of very passionate people about Ohio and who care about all the wonderful adventures we have to offer. And I thank you, our unsung heroes.

For more information about Adventures In Northeast Ohio click here.