by Jeff Barr | Kalamazoo Gazette
CLEVELAND — Seems like I’ve been running a little bit of everywhere in the last little while, taking weekend journeys just far enough from Kalamazoo to call them getaways.
The lodge at Boyne Mountain, the Renaissance Center in Detroit and last weekend, it was the Hyatt and a surprise in Cleveland.
The surprise? The city long ago mistakenly derided as “The Mistake on the Lake,” is no mistake at all. It’s less than 5 hours from Kalamazoo, and the only mistake would be to forego the opportunity to get in the car and hit a truly happenin’ town.
It’s a positively great place to go. I packed three days with memorable activities that (how do I say this?) were positively …. positively …
Here are just three of countless reasons to take a quick trip to Cleveland:
Animal attraction: Rhinos and leopards. Giraffes and armadillos. Sharks and kangaroos. I went absolutely ape for the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo.
This is a zoo worth at least one full day on your calendar. It’s so much more than a place to see animals, although that is worth the price of admission.
Wildlife culture and conservation concentration area also big parts of the Cleveland Zoo. It has more than a few endangered species, including a condor, the largest flying bird in the world. There are less than 500 condors left and one of the magnificent birds resides in Cleveland.
A day at the zoo not only is sensory overload of beautiful sights and wild sounds, but it’s also a whale of a learning experience. No, there are no whales at the zoo. At least not yet.
Visit www.clemetzoo.com to check out the latest news.
“I can’t put my arms down!”: Those of you who count yourselves among the cult followers of the 1983 classic, “A Christmas Story,” might be surprised to know you can take a trip back in time with Ralphie and Randy at the house where scenes of the movie were shot.
The home, in an old neighborhood a few miles from Downtown Cleveland, is both iconic and ironic. Surely, it’s a great time to be in the 1940s kitchen, living room, staircase and front porch of the Parker family. The irony of the home is that a place where the great fear was that “Daddy’s gonna kill Ralphie,” actually brings to life a movie that’s become a holiday ritual for millions.
The place is authentic as it can be. From the old-fashioned radio in the living room, to the family Christmas tree, to the bar of Lifebuoy soap Ralphie was forced to put in his mouth for foul language. You want authenticity? The soap is imprinted with teeth marks.
And, of course, there’s the legendary Red Ryder Leg Lamp, which, by the way, is available at www.achristmasstoryhouse.com.
No loss of the Boss: I just happened to be in town when a Bruce Springsteen exhibit was on display at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Downtown Cleveland. Lovers of the Boss have the fourth and fifth floors of the museum all to themselves.
The Springsteen memorabilia included early publicity posters, hand-written songs, gold records, an Oscar, a sparkling Harley-Davidson and his vintage Corvette convertible. All of this is taken in while watching Springsteen performances on a mini-theater screen.
Even those who don’t care for Springsteen (are there any of you out there?) have plenty to view and hear on the first three floors at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The rockin’ museum’s top two floors are devoted to the New Jersey rocker throughout the spring, but the first three are rock and roll heaven year round.
Mementos, memorabilia and music from the Beatles, Chuck Berry, Jimi Hendrix, Elvis Presley, the Rolling Stones and a full chorus of other stars make the place a rumbling hall of greatness.
For more information, visit www.rockhall.com.
Jeff Barr’s column is published in Sunday’s Kalamazoo Gazette, and a second column is posted online during the week. Reach him at 388-8581 or email@example.com.