Getting OUR Griswold On: Day 6 – Cleveland, OH

Peace, Love, & Chappelle

This morning we bid adieu to Yellow Springs. This quaint little enclave, with its peace/love/hippie vibe, really charmed us. If we ever moved to Ohio (don’t worry, mom…we’re not!!), we’d love to live in Yellow Springs.

I mean, it’s good enough for Dave Chapelle. We’re told he has his home here and locals spot him wandering the streets all the time. We didn’t have any close encounters of the Chapelle kind, but we did walk through the neighborhoods to take in all the liberalism.

Team Skyline

You know what else charmed us? Our dinner from Skyline Chili last night. I already knew I was a fan, but with Tara, you never know. Cincinnati chili is so unique, locals say you either love it or hate it. As notoriously picky an eater as Tara is, I wasn’t sure which camp she would fall into.

Fortunately, she’s Team Skyline! I convinced her to try a 3-Way last night (ha!). For the uninitiated, it’s their signature dish: Steaming spaghetti covered with our original secret-recipe chili and topped with a mound of shredded cheddar cheese.

She really liked it. Which was a relief, because we had just stopped at Kroger and stocked up on a dozen cans to take home.

Skyline Chili is one of those quintessential Ohio experiences I will miss most.

Long Live Rock

We left Yellow Springs at 7 a.m. It was considerably cooler this morning, only in the 40s, with intermittent light rain/drizzle/fog the whole way to Cleveland. After stopping for breakfast at a Bob Evans just outside Columbus, we made a detour into Mansfield.

First off, Mansfield: ugh. What a drabby, depressed town. According to Wikipedia, Mansfield has a violent crime rate particularly high. Mansfield’s crime rate is worse than 92.2% (of) other cities in the United States. I can’t say I’m surprised given the part of town we drove through, but Mansfield does have one big thing going for it:

If you’re a fan of The Shawshank Redemption, this is going to look pretty familiar to you. That’s the Ohio State Reformatory, which was used as a filming location for the seminal 1994 movie. It was an actual prison up until 1990 and happens to be widely known as one of the most haunted sites in America. They offer daily tours, and Tara and I would have loved to have gone, but they didn’t open until 11:00 and we had tickets for our next stop in Cleveland at 11:30.

That next stop, of course, was the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame.

You have to understand, Tara and I love rock ‘n roll. We bonded over it. The R&R HoF has been a bucket list destination forever. The opportunity to visit it in person was nothing short of a dream come true. I’m just going to let a whole bunch of photos do the talking.

We were there for 4.5 hours and probably could have spent the night wandering through the place if they’d let us. It’s absolutely amazing and a must-see stop for anybody who digs music.

As if The Shawshank Redemption and rock ‘n roll weren’t enough already, after we left the R&R HoF we had one more Cleveland landmark to see.

Why yes, that is the house from A Christmas Story. Complete with the infamous leg lamp in the window, of course! Be careful, though. I hear it’s fra-gi-le.

Cleveland Rocks

I have to say, Cleveland impressed us. My impression of the city, before ever setting foot there, wasn’t exactly positive. Cleveland tends to be the butt of a lot of jokes. I was picturing a seedy, decrepit place…kind of like a Mansfield on steroids, if you will…but it wasn’t at all like that. It was actually quite picturesque, despite the gloomy skies. And Lake Erie is simply massive. I would like to come back someday and explore some more.

It’s nice when you’re pleasantly surprised by a place.

After Cleveland, we hopped onto I-90 and drove a few miles west to Westlake, where we checked into our room for the evening. Which means we have now gone as far east as we’d planned and are beginning our long trek home. We still have stopovers in Madison, WI and Austin, MN, so our vacation isn’t over quite yet…but it’s beginning to wind down.

We drove a mile down the street to The Yardhouse for dinner and drinks before returning to our room for the night. Tomorrow will be a long travel day—about 7 hrs. and 40 min.—but we will also gain an hour as we move into the Central time zone. Which means we should arrive at a pretty decent time, probably mid-afternoon.

Catch you in Wisconsin!

23 thoughts on “Getting OUR Griswold On: Day 6 – Cleveland, OH

    1. I had no idea you were from Cleveland! How cool. Do/did you like it?

      I saw some Pearl Jam memorabilia, but there was so much sensory overload, I couldn’t possibly photograph it all.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Technically I’m from a small town outside Cleveland. My mom worked for the Cleveland Plain Dealer. The Rock Hall was fun, as I recall, but it was so long ago, I don’t remember much. I see you got Cobain, so I am appeased, albeit a little disappointed. I will be the better person and forgive you. This time.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. My first job out of college got me transferred to Mansfield!!! What a hell hole it was. That was the mid-80’s and trust me, it’s actually a lot nicer now! I’m still traumatized by what took place in our store’s bathrooms…

    Oh man, you were only here for one night? I’m sorry the weather sucked, but at least you got the typical CLE experience! Sounds like you stayed by Crocker Park. That’s where I go for my Trader Joe’s.

    My son and his wife did the Reformatory tour a few months ago and loved it. I’m not a movie person, so it’s not for me, but I do get a kick out of the Christmas Story house in Tremont.

    Safe travels back!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What kind of work were you doing in Mansfield? I’m dying to know about the bathroom story, ha.

      The weather wasn’t ideal in Ohio, but it was nice to see clouds and rain again. At least we stayed dry walking around Cleveland, though it was definitely chilly and brisk. Yes, we stayed right there in Crocker Park. I actually saw there was a Trader Joe’s .3 mile away from where we were and for a split second debated trying to go, but we don’t have a cooler big enough to bring back everything we would want to.

      It’s our goal to come back and do the Reformatory tour someday! I didn’t realize there’s another prison right behind that one, and it’s currently in operation. Kept wondering what all the yelling was about.


      1. I was a department store manager, May Company, if you’re familiar with that deceased chain. The bathrooms on my floor were frequented by drug users and those looking for a gay rendez-vous. Security had their hands full! It was classic 80’s!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I didn’t grow up in Mansfield but an Ohio town just like it. Depressing to be sure. That’s why we all move to the big cities. I’d like to see the Christmas Story house, and maybe the R&R HoF again. It’s been years and your take on it renews my interest.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I get it. I was slightly terrified we’d get a flat tire in Mansfield and end up stuck someplace we didn’t want to be!

      If we’d gotten there earlier, we would have visited the Christmas Story museum and gift shop, too. But alas, they were closed.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m beginning to like this Cincinnati chili idea more and more. Smother anything in shredded cheese and I’m in. I was born and raised in your next stop after all: Wisconsin.

    LOVE the Shawshank Redemption AND A Christmas Story. The only reason it didn’t win Best Picture was because Forrest Gump came out the same year. Bad timing.

    I wonder if THIS comment will go through even though all my others haven’t. C’mon WordPress…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahh, yes…Shawshank Redemption was the critics’ fave, but the people just love Tom Hanks to death. Both are great films, but I wish Shawshank had won.

      Where in Wisconsin were you born? It was SO beautiful there!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Are those pieces of breakfast cereal atop the chilli? I love the mid west btw (if that’s what this is) – your trip is really making me nostalgic

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yep, those are them! The article even mentions Cincinnati chili. They’re meant to add more texture and crunch to the meal. They’re especially good in clam chowder.


  5. We have a skyline chili here, but I’ve never been. I’m wondering if it’s the same? For me, it’s almost always TOO hot for chili even though I make it a few times a year in the ‘winter’. (when it’s below 75*!)

    The reformatory would be an interesting tour although, I’d be afraid that some spirit(s) might attach themselves to me and come back home. NO thanks. Or should I say No SHANKS?

    The Christmas Story house. I wonder if someone lives there or is it a museum as well?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Skyline Chili is a VERY regional chain, but you might very well have one where you live! (I’m not sure where that is exactly.)

      There is a museum and gift shop right across from the house, but sadly, that was closed when we arrived. Guess that just gives us an excuse to go back for another visit, right?

      Liked by 1 person

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