It’s been a busy past two days with meetings outside of Cleveland and Columbus, and regardless of having to work a lot, there are few highlights I want to share. Ohio is rich with natural spaces and historical sites. Two of those historical sites are James A Garfield National Historic Site (Mentor, Ohio) and First Ladies National Historic Site (Canton, OH). There are plenty of others all over the state, and you can find the list and map of all of them here: http://www.nps.gov/state/oh/index.htm?program=parks. History isn’t my thing, but I had a meeting at First Ladies and enjoyed viewing a different perspective of American History that we don’t normally see or think about. The main building has a rotating exhibit displaying a specific First Lady or topic involving the Ladies – art work, written documents, clothing, etc., that show us a part of their lives and contributions to our country. Down the street is the Saxton-McKinley house, which is a charming, well-preserved historical building that greatly contrasts with the concrete new construction of the city. For lunch, I walked down the street in search of something local and unique, and landed at Arcadia Grill. It looks like a typical not-so-special bar on the outside; but inside, you enter into a local down-home Midwestern gathering place with staff that calls you “honey,” plastic table covers, and locals that hang out to chat and enjoy the homemade Italian and American food at outstanding prices. I got the portabella mushroom ravioli which was on special, and it came just as I would expect in a Midwestern family Italian joint – smothered in red sauce with a side salad of iceberg lettuce and a slice of tomato with homemade Italian dressing. I felt satisfied for finding a local hang-out and barely making a dent in my travel budget.
Also in the area that I want to note is Cuyahoga Valley National Park. I was not able to stop by, but the pictures are incredible. Check it out – there aren’t too many National Parks in the Midwest.
Upon arriving in Columbus, it was already dinner time, and luckily, I already had dinner decided for me – my boss’ sister’s restaurants. It meant more Italian food, but it’s hard to have too much Italian, and this place was well worth the Italian meal repeat. There are two restaurants to choose from – Figlio and Vino Vino. Figlio has been open longer, and it has a more laid-back atmosphere and a menu filled that focuses on wood-fired pizza, pasta, and salads. Vino Vino, which is connected to Figlio, is a wine bar with a more sophisticated menu. If you sit in Vino Vino, you can order from both menus. Not the case if you sit in Figlio (the kitchen for Vino Vino is much smaller). The staff is so friendly and knowledgeable, and the menu makes it hard to choose. I highly recommend the goat cheese appetizer at Vino Vino and trying one of their three (or maybe all three!) wine flights.
This morning was dedicated to working in the hotel room, but on suggestion from my boss’ restaurateur sister, we had lunch at the Northstar Cafe. Healthy, fresh, sustainable, satisfying…I wish this small chain (3 locations in Columbus) was in Chicago. And since they knew it was our first time there, they comped our meal! I find that a lot of sustainable, farm-to-table restaurants are vegan, or too “granola.” Not this place. There are plenty of vegan/veggie options and the menu is far from meat heavy, but the meat they do offer comes from local farmers and is anti-biotic/hormone free. And coming from a former 10-year vegetarian (myself), the chicken is delicious. I highly recommend the Korma Bowl with Chicken and their Shooting Star juice. My only complaint – which is more of a preference – is that the only option for coffee is coffee – no espresso machine. Other than that, there’re plenty of loose leaf teas, a few beers and wines, and fresh squeezed juices to choose from. My meal was so big and filling that I took a to-go box and had the leftovers for dinner.
Although Columbus seems to have a great food scene, I have to admit that I will not be trying any other places tomorrow, which is my last day. Back to Northstar for lunch and Vino Vino for dinner.
Often when I travel, it’s really hard to stick with a work-out and yoga routine. I try as best as I can to do workouts and yoga self-practice in my hotel room or the tiny hotel gym if one is available. Luckily, my boss’ niece, whom I met at dinner the previous night, is a wonderful yoga teacher and happened to be teaching tonight. I ventured out to Replenish, a spa that just started a donation-base yoga program this week, focusing on yoga for everyday life. In a refurbished garage, the yoga space is wonderful, calming, and inviting. If you happen to live in Columbus or find yourself there for business or pleasure, do yourself a favor and take Kevlin’s class. This isn’t your gym-rat, do chaturanga after chaturanga yoga. Very calming, Kevlin guides a practice that is appropriate for everyone, and especially if you have never done yoga before. The only thing you have to “worry” about is your breath. I am writing this very zen-like right now and my breath is slow and steady, quite the opposite than when I walked into class. Thanks Kevlin!
James A Garfield National Historic Site
8095 Mentor Avenue
Mentor, Ohio 44060
May 1- Oct 31: Tues-Sat 10am-5pm
Nov 1-April 20: Fri and Sat 10am-5pm
Closed on major national holidays
First Ladies National Historic Site
205 Market Avenue South
Canton, OH 44702-2107
Visits to the Saxton House and the Education and Research Center are by paid guided tour only.
Children under age 18: $5.00
Tuesday – Saturday 9:30 a.m. & 10:30 a.m. and 12:30, 1:30 & 2:30 p.m., plus Sundays in June, July & August at 12:30, 1:30 & 2:30 p.m. Reservations required for groups of 6 or more only, recommended for all others.
Closed on major national holidays
321 Court Ave NW
Canton, OH 44702
Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Main Visitor Center: Boston Store Visitor Center
1550 Boston Mills Road
Open every day, some areas close at dusk, otherwise, open 24 hours.
Visitor centers closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, and New Years Day
The Northstar Café
3 locations in Columbus
Open daily 9am-10pm
(I’ve been told their breakfast is fantastic! Breakfast stops being served at 11am)
Replenish Spa Co-op
124 S Washington Ave
Columbus, OH 43215