Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Spectacular Holiday Lights

It's the sparkliest time of year thanks to all of the gorgeous holiday light displays. Hop in your car and head to these beautiful spots both near and far to enjoy the magic of the season. 

Cleveland Area

Downtown Bedford - Bedford
This southeast suburb has one of the prettiest city displays around! You can walk through the town square and listen to music. Stop by the Bedford Falls Café for a hot drink or a bite to eat and enjoy the lights while you dine. Head there this Saturday 12/8 from 12-4pm for the annual Christmas in Bedford Falls. Santa and Mrs. Clause will be there as well as lots of other activities and giveaways. {free}

Nela Park - East Cleveland
Northeast Ohio’s oldest and most famous holiday light display returns for its 94th year. The display is located at GE's 92-acre campus at Noble Road south of Euclid Avenue. It includes more than 500,000 LED lights and a replica of the National Christmas Tree in Washington, D.C. GE has lighted up the tree for 56 years!! {free}

Public Square - Downtown Cleveland, OH
Right in the heart of the city is a magical wonderland. In addition to the beautiful lights, there is also ice skatingGeneral admission is just $10 per skater, which includes skate rental. If you bring your own ice skates, tickets are $7. 
Grab a FREE cup of coffee or hot chocolate from Rebol, now through 12/24/2018. Just connect to the free WIFI now available in Public Square and they will send you an instant REBoL Reward via email. {lights - free}

Pinecrest - Orange Village
Take a stroll down Park Ave at Pinecrest and enjoy original holiday window displays from the iconic Higbee’s Department Store in downtown Cleveland. The 22 consecutive windows are located between REI and West Elm.
You can also enjoy the magic of outdoor skating in Central Park at Pinecrest. Skate around the decorated tree and take in the sights and sounds of the season.
Seabury Avenue - Fairview Park, OH
This neighborhood takes Christmas decorating very seriously. There are over 700 homes participating on Seabury and the surrounding area. In many areas you can walk along the sidewalks to enjoy the spectacular views. Check out their Facebook page for details. They even have a map to help you find all of the homes.
Just a short roadtrip away!
Image may contain: night and outdoor

Road Trip Worthy Light Displays

Hop in the car and plan a quick getaway to see this road trip worthy displays. 

Wildlights at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium – One of the most cherished holiday traditions in central Ohio runs until January 6, 2019. Featuring 3 million LED lights, this is the 30th year of the annual event.
During Wildlights, the Zoo’s 500 acres are transformed into a winter wonderland featuring an animated light show, holiday star light star bright seek-n-find, Santa’s holiday home, Polar Bear Express, camel rides, a 1914 historic carousel rides, meet and greet with Rudolph and friends and access to a variety of animals, including polar bears, reindeer, lions, gorillas and more.
Admission is $14.99 for ages 10 to 59, $10.99 for ages 60 or older, $9.99 for ages 2 to 9 and free for children younger than 2. Parking is $8.

Butch Bando’s Fantasy of Lights - Delaware, OH
This drive thru light show is located right on the water at Alum Creek (the largest inland lake in Ohio) and features over a million LED lights (and over 450 displays). The three mile display features animated lights, synchronized music displays and visits to Santa’s House to meet Santa and enjoy free hot chocolate. Cost: Monday-Thursday: $20; Friday-Sunday: $30.
A portion of proceeds from the event go towards Recreation Unlimited and A Kid Again. Organizers also offer three sensory sensitive nights for children with Autism, so they can enjoy the display while not being startled or scared.

Holiday Lights on the Hill – Hamilton, Ohio
Remember when we visited Butler County? We went to the fabulous Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park. That's when we first learned about the award-winning drive through lights display at one of the area’s most loved parks.
This winter wonderland contains over 2 million lights covering the surfaces of the sculptures. Cost: Monday – Thurs $20; Friday – Sunday $25 (Per carload). Combine this with a the Donut Trail for the perfect winter weekend getaway!

Light Up Middletown –  Middletown, Ohio
This is a great display to combine with the Holiday Lights on the Hill. This annual display takes place from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Eve. This driving tour of lights takes you through a 100 acre park and features several themed displays, including the American flag, Sea Serpent in the reflecting lake, penguin village and more.

Just a short distance across the state line is one of the nation’s largest holiday light shows. The Winter Festival of Lights features three hundred acres of twinkling lights over a six-mile drive. The dazzling display includes 90 lighted attractions boasting more than one million energy-efficient LED lights.  Enjoy a kid’s train ride and family wagon ride at the new Winter Carnival, encounter Santa’s reindeer at the Good Zoo, unwind with live music at the Nightly Holiday Reception, and much more! Your $25 donation also includes a family 4-pack of 3D Sleigh Bans glasses where holographic technology transforms every point of light into a magical display.

Pro tip: pack a thermos of hot cocoa and some popcorn for the ride.
And if you are visiting a house or neighborhood, please be courteous and cognizant of the families that live there.

Northeast Ohio Family Fun has a county by county guide for NEO that has even more great spots.

What is your favorite holiday light display? 

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Lake Effects Holiday Pop-Up Bar

Now that Thanksgiving is over, everyone is thinking about the holidays. And the perfect place to embrace all things Christmas is the fun and festive Lake Effects, a holiday pop-up bar at the Kimpton Schofield.
They have a huge color-changing tinsel chandelier, beams wrapped up in festive paper, tons of lights, giant ornaments, a leg lamp, and a Christmas tree of course. They even have a 20 foot custom bar with several kinds of vintage televisions playing classic Christmas movies (or static, just like the olden days!)
But my favorite spot is the photo backdrop that practically guarantees you a smooch. Seriously, who can resist a completely Instagram worthy backdrop of tinsel adorned with tons of of cleverly placed mistletoe and a neon Kiss Me sign?
And not only is it fun, but the bar is putting the Holiday spirit to work for a good cause. For every Great Lakes draft beer sold, Great Lakes Brewing will donate $1 to the Shoes and Clothes for Kids special 50th Anniversary Program Growth Fund. The CLE non-profit provides new shoes, school uniforms, clothes and school supplies to kids in need. Sounds like a good excuse for a beer to me!
As an extra dose of holiday cheer, all guests of the Kimpton Schofield Hotel will enjoy special perks, including 20% off their entire Lake Effects bar tab.

Where:  2000 E. 9th Street (corner of E.9th + Euclid, across from Heinen's)
When:   Friday, Nov. 23, through Monday, Dec. 31 
            4 p.m. to close Monday-Saturday
You can follow Lake Effects on Instagram or head to their website for more details.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Der Braumeister 12 Beers of Christmas

Der Braumeister is a 100 year old German restaurant that has a long history of being family owned for generations. Recently, they have taken the much loved German classics that they are known for and freshened them, incorporating farm-to-table sourcing and modern updates.
Every year they host an annual 12 Beers of Christmas event -  on the night before Thanksgiving, they debut all 12 of their featured Christmas beers and it is quite a party!
This year, head to Der Brau on Wednesday, November 21 from 5:30 p.m.- midnight to try this year’s seasonal features including Brouwerij Corsendonk Christmas Ale, Boulevard Brewing Plaid Habit, and lots of other unique and hard-to-find beers.
There are two seatings 6pm & 8pm. After eating and drinking, join the entire restaurant in a “Silent Night” sing-a-long in English and German at 7pm and again at 9pm.
Reservations are required — this event will sell out! Reserve your spot by calling 216-671-6220 and receive an early Christmas gift from Der Brau, a retro beer glass or mug filled with candy for your table. 

Our evening started off with a platter of assorted cheeses, sausage, and meats with pickles, spreads and fruit. 
photo from Kristian at Ohio Festivals
The thinly sliced radishes with butter on a baguette were incredible and something I will definitely be attempting to recreate at home. I am still wondering how something so simple can taste SO good!
We were provided a few bites each of Sauerbraten - Burgundy wine, ginger and juniper marinated Ohio beef in a sweet and sour sauce, and served with spätzle + red cabbage and the Rheinlander Platter - smoked pork chop, bratwurst, potato croquettes and red cabbage. Both left me wishing for more but the smoked pork chop, spätzle + red cabbage were my favorites. 
It was a fun evening and I found several beers that I will be stocking up on for the holidays. I'm looking forward to visiting Der Brau again for a full meal and more of their unique beers. They have an extensive beer selection and offer 40 German and 30 Belgian imports and 24 American craft brews so there is definitely lots of reasons to return.

13046 Lorain Avenue
Cleveland OH 44111

You can also follow Der Braumeister on Facebook and Twitter.

** Disclosure: I was invited to get a sneak preview of the event along with some other bloggers. We were provided beer and food samples. As always, all opinions are my own. **