Local Guide: Top 5 Events to Visit in Cleveland with Kids this Holiday Season

Kid tested…mother approved!


1. Crocker Park Christmas Tree Lighting- Westlake, Ohio


Enjoy decked out holiday shopping in this open air shopping center. Each year Crocker Park comes alive with their annual Christmas tree and lighting countdown. Eat at popular restaurants such as Cheesecake Factory and the Yard House. You can walk the plaza while the kids drink warm hot cocoa cooled with vanilla ice-cream from the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory.

Invite family and friends to experience their new outdoor ice-skating rink that opens on November 18th. Top the tiresome evening off with a movie and a stay at the beautiful Hyatt Regency within the center.


2. Snow Tubing – Boston Mills Brandywine, Boston Heights, Ohio


This wintertime activity is safe and enjoyable for family members 3 and up! For only $25 per person, grab a snow-tube (no worries, you get a nice lift up the hill) and slide down the best hills ever! If your family is feeling extra adventurous, enjoy sliding down the hills at night too. Afterwards, enjoy a small snack bar which does carry hot cocoa.

3. Coventry Village Holiday Festival – Cleveland Heights, Ohio


This eclectic, hippie, earthy street is known for its love of nostalgia. A trip to Coventry Village is great anytime of year, and the Christmas theme just adds to the fun. Among shopping at the cool unique shops such as Big Fun, and City Buddha, Coventry sets out a money machine (fake money can be used at stores on Coventry only)!

The B-Side Liquor Lounge turns into a kids only club for the afternoon. Kids can dance with a DJ and sing to Frozen (among other kid favorites) on the Karaoke machine. Other activities include photos with Santa at Piccadilly Vegan Ice Cream, and a throwback movie. Grab a selfie with Rudolph, The Grinch, and Frosty!

Enjoy great eating at Tommy’s Restaurant who is know for their great handmade milkshakes, handmade french fries, and huge vegetarian selections.

4. Winter Lights Lantern Holiday Circlefest and GLOW – Cleveland Museum of Art & Botanical Gardens


Known as one of the top art museums in the country, the Cleveland Museum of Art and Botanical Gardens creates a beautiful “Glow” theme on its lawn during the Christmas holiday. Admire beautifully glowing art pieces on the lawn. Throw on those ice skates and don’t fall eating freshly made kettle corn from the local vendors. Come early before the Museum’s annual artsy night parade to enjoy a craft. Watch chefs prepare you an exquisite dish in the cafe, or snack on fresh baked cookies along with a glass of wine or champagne. Of course, there will be plenty of hot chocolate. Best of all – entry into the art museum is FREE!

5. Light Up Lakewood! Lakewood, Ohio


Usually happening on the first weekend in December, this outdoor walk around festival caters to both the very young and old at heart. This annual event is full of plenty of activities for the kids such as Santa pictures and crafts in the library (come early enough to grab a number to meet him!). Eat at the nationally known, Cleveland born restaurant Melt Bar and Grilled for fantastic grilled cheese and beer. Grab glow sticks and free hot cocoa while you pass people dressed as Star Wars and other characters on the street (was that just a black Santa Claus? YEP!). Don’t forget to stay for the night parade and tree lightning. Did I happen to say that a DJ spins the tunes while you’re taking this all in?


Cool Coffee Spots for Cleveland Coffee Lover’s

Calling all coffee lovers! I am talking about the coffee lovers who take their coffee straight black – no sugar, no cream. And, those who need a little bit of sweet to their coffee treat. Regardless of where you fall into this category, I got you covered.

We all know we can easily find a Starbucks or McDonald’s on the next corner, but sometimes (mostly all the time for me) we should support our local coffee shops. Believe me, most of these coffee entrepreneurs are getting their beans from some of the best bean growing countries around the World (i.e. Africa, South America). When you buy local and support local, they want you to come back. They aren’t mass producing on a large quantity. Meaning that they care taking extra care and control about where they are getting their beans from. In return,  we get great tasting, strong, aromatic scents coupled with a unique in store ambiance that only coffee relaxed Cleveland locals or visitors would truly appreciate.


Juma Gallery

20100 Chagrin Blvd, Shaker Heights, OH 44122

(216) 295-1717

Aside from great coffee and tea, enjoy warm bagels, pastries, mimosas, and a few featured sandwiches such as turkey and swiss. Relax to an array of light music inside or outside (when Cleveland weather allows) on the decorative patio. In the mood for shopping unique shoes and clothing? In the adjoining room find unique men and women’s clothing. And yes, that mimosa can join you while you shop.


Beviamo Cafe – Tremont, Ohio

2275 Professor Ave

Cleveland, OH 44113

This coffee shop gives you a comfy, cozy feel as soon as you enter the doors. Lounge on plush couches or chairs with pillows. Let the kids (or the kid within you) play video games on the flat screen. Enjoy organic smoothies and small plates that are vegetarian inspired.


Gimmie Java Coffee

3427 Lee Rd, Cleveland, OH 44120


Open Until 630

This adorningly decorated coffee shop located at the corner of Lee and Van Aken offers delicious pastries and sandwiches to pair with your cup of Joe. Chat with the friendly owner while he graciously makes your drink. Watch your morning news or read the paper near the fire place.


The Root – Lakewood, Ohio

15118 Detroit Ave, Lakewood, OH 44107

(216) 226-4401

Open until 9 PM

Native Clevender’s from the 1990’s will reminisce of Coventry Arabica days when they step into this coffee spot. Wooden tables and unique arts and plants surround this cozy shop. Enjoy a small unique menu of food (both vegetarian and gluten free) while you sip and enjoy coffee, tea or kombucha. Locals play string bass and other music on select Friday nights.


Café Avalaun

4640 Richmond Rd, Cleveland, OH 44128

(216) 245-6666

Open until 3 PM

Do you love a good french press or pour over? What about an entirely delicious gluten-free menu? The kids can enjoy playing on the chalkboard while you wait


Dewey’s Coffee

13201 Shaker Sq, Cleveland, OH 44120

(216) 991-1101

Open until 8 PM

An old-time favorite amongst the locals, on one side of the entrance sip coffee inside or outside while watching the hustle and bustle of Shaker Square city life. Enter through the other door to enjoy delicious ice cream and popcorn. This location also offers small ready-made pastries and dishes. Come on a Friday night to enjoy a BYOB of wine.

Outside of Ohio? Give these cool coffee places a try when you are passing through…


Amelie’s French Bakery

157 E Main St, Rock Hill, SC 29730

Phone: (803) 403-9409

Open until 11pm

This cutely decorated café in downtown Rock Hill, South Carolina not only offers coffee, but also serves delicious croissant sandwiches and delectable macaroons.


Twin City Hive Coffee & Lounge

301 Brookstown Ave #300 Winston-Salem, NC 27101


Open until 9pm

Quaint, cute and contemporary coffee shop with knowledgeable coffee loving friendly staff. Great pour overs that can be enjoyed inside or within outside decorated corridor. Unique small gifts available for purchase.

Not in the mood to go out to a shop? I recommend supporting local by grinding up some beans from The Fig Leaf Coffee Company. I purchased these great tasting beans from Mexico at a local farmers market at Legacy Village in Beachwood Ohio.



NYC with Kids

Kids. From the moment they come into our lives they bring new situations and adventures.

I can honestly say that I have delightfully experienced many things and met many new people in my life thanks to my girls.

This past weekend’s trip to New York City was no different.

My oldest daughter, who is 15, was invited to play string bass at the world famous Lincoln Center in NYC with her schools Chamber Orchestra.

What an honor and what an opportunity for all of us to finally take a bite out of the Big Apple…..with KIDS!

As a mom, the thought of traveling to NYC with little ones (4 and 7) makes me a little uneasy. We have only traveled through Manhattan by car a few times a year to drop off my step-children who live in Queens. I was overwhelmed just watching the hustle and bustle from the car.

I would stare out the window thankful that my kids were safely strapped into their car seats – peering their eyes above the brim of the window. And my husband taking on the honking and numerous fender benders that we nearly missed inch by inch as we made our way through the city.

However, we survived New York City! Not only did my daughter’s school place in the competition, but we all grew from the experience.

Here are some cool pics and tricks to help you out if you are considering heading out to the city that truly never sleeps.

We stayed at the Holiday Inn in Newark, New Jersey to save money before heading into the big city for the weekend. You can save big and it’s only a 20 minute drive away. Great cocktails, ambiance, and kids eat free!

The food trucks making their way through traffic in true New York fashion.


We choose The Watson Hotel on 57th St. so we wouldn’t have to walk too far with the little ones. It was about an 8 minute walk to our event at Lincoln Center. It had some of the least expensive parking at $37 a day, and the rooms were clean and decent. The prices for rooms were fairly inexpensive as compared to other hotels in the city.


The premise of our trip! My daughter playing string bass (far left standing) at Lincoln Center. Her schools Chamber Orchestra placed second runner up (third in the nation) and received the honorable Forte Award for most distinguished group. Good news parents: there is an upscale snack bar in the lobby that serves sandwiches, chips, fruits, and cocktails. Perfect breather that your kids will definitely need in between performances.


We made reservations at The Colesium Bar and Grill. We choose this restaurant based on location (an 8 minute walk from Lincoln Center), a diverse menu that both adults and children could find something they would like, and they were okay with kids eating there. The prices were a little high for bar priced food, but the food was very good.

Next, we headed underground in a glass elevator which was located in the middle of a sidewalk. The elevator took us to an underground mall and food eatery called TurnStyle. The kids went to the well know Dillon’s Candy Store full of a candy emporium!


We were anxious to hit up Times Square, but getting there was a 20 minute walk. Not good for the little one’s unless you have a stroller. It was also freezing so Uber and Lyft was a MUST! The cost was inexpensive $8 to $12 for a 7 seater vehicle to fit my entire family. We waited less than 10 minutes going and coming back.

Stepping out into Times Square was like stepping into a fish bowl. Wall to wall people. Hang on to your kids and enjoy the lights, sights and people watching.


The Statue of Liberty and other characters were dressed to take photos with eager tourists, but BE AWARE! They want your money. $20 to be exact for snapping a photo with you.



Hold on tight to your children! My daughter and I got caught in the middle of another NY traffic jam!


Inside the NYC subway near Times Square.


I had no idea that it was similar to an airport. There were places to eat, small shops and loads of people hanging out. There was live music to watch and people dancing. You buy your tickets ($2 to $4 range) and wait to hear what gate you need to to be at to jump on the train.

If you enjoy a nice beer/cider you are in luck! They have beer/cider on tap in the subway. A small to large costs $6 to $8. You get a cup to go and are free to walk around with it.

I felt more comfortable than I thought I would be waiting at the Subway Station with kids in tow.




Call it cliche but we wanted to experience all the “New York” like things. On a short walk from our hotel we found Morningstar Restaurant for breakfast. They served lunch and dinner . A cute typical neighborhood New York diner. The food was great, the staff was super nice, fast and accomadating.

A Yummy New York bagel sandwich with turkey bacon, scrambled egg and cheese. This won my kids heart. I enjoyed a coffee with many selections of Brandy to go inside! Morningstar Restaurant.




Key points to consider when traveling with kids:

1) Google the address and area of your stomping grounds. I always investigate the area with Google Earth when planning where we will stay and where we will go. It helps to familiarize yourself with the area. Many things look better on a website than they do in person.

2) Map the distance between certain attractions you plan to visit. Everything can seem appealing to visit, but may be further away from where you thought. Mapping out the distance between each location will save you so much frustration!

3) Visit the websites of each city, attraction and hotel. Websites are a wealth of information. You can find reviews from recent visitors and events that are going on during your visit. That gives you a step up on visiting as a well informed tourist.

Enjoy your Family Time!


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Experience a Native American Pow Wow in your State


Grab your family, pack up the van and head on out for a taste of history you can’t find in the school books. If you ever wanted to experience a Native American Pow Wow, keep reading to find out where you can find one, and just what exactly a Pow Wow is.

As summertime pours in, the search for unique experiences for my family within my home state of Ohio continues. In fact, I encourage you to do the same within your home state for numerous reasons.

For one, you can save time and money on traveling expenses. Next, you get to see how awesome and unique your State truly is when you venture beyond the cracks and crevices of your city.

Finally, the chance to experience something new should never be put on hold. Many times we stay stagnant in our city because we are comfortable with the familiar. Or, you could also be saving up for the perfect trip out of state and/or to get out of the country. In the meantime, let the hidden jewels within your state and outside your city tie your family over until the next big adventure!

In a conversation with a friend, she explained how (on a summers eve zip lining a few years ago near (Hocking Hills, Ohio) she heard enchanting drums and bells bellowing throughout the air. To her surprise she was told a Native American Pow Wow was in full action. Although she didn’t finish her zip lining in time to go, it definitely piqued my interest to find out more.

I began to search Pow Wow’s in the State of Ohio and came across a plethora of information. The vastest website pertaining to this gathering was called Pow Wows.com. Within the site you can find a monthly Pow Wow event going on in states all across America. Some more elaborate and others more intimate like the one that my family attended in June, at Baby Bison Ranch in Cadiz, Ohio.

This particular Pow Wow was special for my family because of the close proximity it was to where my mother was born in Smithfield, Ohio. We have been told that my grandmother’s side of the family carried Cherokee Indian by way of Oklahoma. Most of my mother’s family have moved away from Smithfield. However, we had been planning to visit my Uncle who has a beautiful home with a scenery of land for miles. The combination of the two events created the perfect opportunity to discover what this gathering was all about.

As we began our journey, the scenic rolling hills and desolate winding roads gave way to hot summer sun that tanned all our skin. Anxious for the adventure, my family and I reached our long awaited event.

This precious girl in the white cap welcomed my family to her family’s ranch. She was a Cherokee Indian.


As we walked through the gates, somewhat unsure of what we were stepping into, we were kindly greeted by a young girl, age 11, eager to welcome us and explain the sacred grounds that we stood on.

She explained that her great grandmother, a full Cherokee Indian owned Boss Bison Ranch. They were honored to be able to throw this tradition annually and welcome new faces who know little or a lot about their culture. We were warmed to be told that All were welcome.

For admittance to the event they required one canned good per person which would be given to local charities in the area.

Beautiful garb and colors adorn the Native Americans as they began their sacred dance.


As soon as we walked through the gates, we were met with lively colors, the rumble of the drums, and a sacred dance began. We took our seats on barrels of hay around the grassy dirt dance floor.

Plenty of beautiful energy stones to choose from.


Around the perimeter of the Pow Wow were Native American Vendors who we quickly learned were friendly and a wealth of information. Although our attention was easily diverted to the beautiful jewelry, stones, herbs and oils that lie on the table, we soon realized how diverse the Native American’s there were. There were various shades of dark, brown and white skin tribes in attendance. Some had blond hair and blue eyes while others were black with dark brown or black hair. This was a discovery that most school history books have rarely shared. Here is my husband’s take on a conversation with a vendor:

A history lesson from a man that called himself a White Indian.

“I was told there was a lot of diversity in the Native American background particularly in Ohio. In speaking with a White Native (what he considered himself to be) American vendor that the Woodland Indians were known for capturing black runaway slaves and white women during battle. They would then take them back to their tribe and the elder mothers of the tribe would then decide if they could be adopted into their society to live side by side and learn their culture and their ways. Once one (white or black) was adopted into the tribe they virtually never wanted to leave because they were considered free.”



My brother-in-law made a new friend. We all did that day.


As hard as it was for us to pull away from this event, what we took home with us that day was invaluable. The most memorable moment of the entire experience was removing the misconceptions I had been taught in the past about the culture and how welcoming the Native Americans were from the moment we stepped into the Pow Wow until the moment we left. To find a Pow Wow near you visit www.powwows.com


Someone had a real wolf as a pet. He was chained up nice and tight though.

pow wolf