Category Archives: Cleveland

Chautauqua/NY, Conneaut/Ohio cheap gas & dog park – drive back to Chicago from Ithaca

To my surprise we drove right into the Chautauqua Institution, the famous educational/ cultural retreat in the western NY town of, yes, Chautauqua, on our drive back to Chicago from Ithaca. Years ago we got as far as the firmly shut outer gate, when passing through the area during in the peak 9-week summer season for tourists and visitors. Back then, we had to pay to get through the gate and enter the enclave, so we didn’t. From the confusing information on various Chautauqua websites (the town tourism website ( was clearer than the institution’s website), a “Gate Pass/fee” ($30) is required to enter the grounds during the summer. Except Sundays when it’s free at least until 2 pm. In spring, fall and winter, all drive-in gates are open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, no passes/fees required

Still almost everything was shut down …or felt shut down …on the crisp Fall day when we dropped by for about an hour. The sign on the post office said “Closed until June 2023.” Apparently some events are offered beyond during the summer season, and some residents live there year-round.

It was fun to be able to drive through and gawk at the pretty gingerbready cottages and stately buildings that host lectures, concerts and dance performances. We also found a table in the almost deserted village green that worked well for a picnic. (And yes, sadly, this is the place where author Salman Rushdie was stabbed by a madman last summer.)

Not Chautauqua….this is Lake George (Adirondacks)

Over the Pennsylvania border in Ohio, we found cheaper gas, as promised: $3.49 at the Love’s station in Conneaut, Ohio vs $3.89 in Chautauqua and $3.79 in Erie. Love’s also has a dog park.

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Quick visit to Cleveland -Airbnb dilemma, cultural gardens.

I didn’t give this segment of the trip my usual careful attention since we were just passing through, with a one-night stop. And it showed. Our Airbnb was in a “historical” (read “transitional” or “iffy”) neighborhood in western Cleveland (may have been Ohio City), with houses in various stages of disrepair or repair. Ours looked like a mess from the outside (which explains why there were only interior photos on the Airbnb listing).

Inside it was nicer and clean but still had a musty old smell. The decor was shabby chic teetering on shabby. The bed and pillows were predictably soft. The blinds were off-white verging on dirty white, and closed, presumably so we didn’t see the very transitional wooden deck. Now I will have to decide what to do about my Airbnb review. I don’t like to give bad reviews because often the hosts depend on their Airbnb for income and they are well-intended. But the flip side is I feel a responsibility to future Airbnb customers to give them a heads up if a place isn’t so great. It doesn’t help that these hosts overtly requested a 5 star review, mentioning this in their directions by inviting us to text if we need anything (and presumably find something lacking). What I may do is offer faint public praise and mention the soft bed (since I would want to know this …) and then offer constructive criticism/suggestions in private comments to the host.

As for stars, I cannot give it 5. That was our DC Airbnb, which cost twice as much as the Cleveland one, had a great bed and everything else.

Our 5-star Airbnb in DC

We drove around Cleveland a bit, trying to find a way to park quickly and affordably so we could pop inside old buildings to see some of the gorgeous-looking shopping arcades, inspired by arcades in Milan, but I refused to pay $7.50 per 15 minutes. I also would have liked to look closer at some of the stately old buildings and park monuments. (Several are mentioned in this sort of stale travel story:

We also went to the much touted (by NYT travel writer) Gordon Square Arts District/Detroit Shoreway but this seemed outdated or aspirational. Didn’t help that the few shops we found were closed on a Monday. The pandemic may also have done its damage.

To get our bearings, we did a quick drive by The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Flats, Little Italy and the Case Western Campus. We found some cool ethic-themed gardens along MLKing Parkway that I learned are known as The Cleveland Cultural Gardens. Dating back to 1916, the 33 separate gardens are each designed and tended by a particular cultural or nationality group. I’d like to return and explore on bike and foot.

I don’t know why Cleveland’s lakefront is so less noticeable or seemingly less people-friendly than Chicago’s and Milwaukee’s. (Too industrial?)

We did pop into the famously atmospheric West Side Market, just before it closed at 5 pm (and we discovered wouldn’t reopen until Wednesday. Oops.) Dinner was nearby at a trendy Mexican place Avo (as in avocado). Good service. Food okay. The best things were the margarita and the carne asada grilled meat. It was too cold to eat outside so we requested a socially-distanced table which worked well. The place wasn’t too crowded.


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Cleveland: takemewithyou

For my neighbors who are heading to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (BRUCE!!!) over spring break, here are a few finds in Cleveland:

– West Side Market (1979 West 25th Street; 216-664-3387; – cavernous old indoor market made of yellow brick (as I recall) and dozens of stands selling good stuff – meat, cheese, middle eastern food, sweets. It’s not  THAT far from the RR Hall of Fame, downtown. It’s a National Historic Landmark to boot.

– Guarino’s, an old-fashioned southern Italian restaurant in Cleveland’s little Italy – There are hipper places but nothing older, apparently. This is Cleveland’s oldest restaurant – opened in 1918 – and has an old world feel, and a mean red-sauce.

– Little Italy isn’t far from Case Western, which we visited briefly to see the Frank Gehry building on campus. (also worth a drive by.)



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