Exploring NEO

Exploring NEO

Written by: Ashley Basile Oeken

I’m not from Cleveland, but I’m from Northeast Ohio by current definitions of geographical scope. I grew up in Boardman, a suburb near Youngstown, and moved to Cleveland six years ago. The thing about Cleveland is, there is so much more than Cleveland proper and Tremont, University Circle, Ohio City, etc. As young professionals, sometimes we get stuck in this rut of going to familiar places that we don’t explore what is in our own backyard. And by backyard, I mean the other 17 counties that make up Northeast Ohio.

So for the past few weekends, I have been exploring my newly discovered playground.



July 18 – I woke my husband, Aaron, up early to head out on a trek to the Cuyahoga Valley National Forest. Our first stop was a quick hike to see Blue Hen Falls. I have been dying to see these Falls since EC’s resident photographer Greg Murray has taken some of the most beautiful shots I have ever seen. While a bit muddy, I wasn’t disappointed. Next up, Brandywine Falls. I hate to admit it, but I knew nothing about these Falls and was surprised to see these beautiful towering falls. It was a great photo op and turned into a great place to take a hike or multiple hikes that had us going for more than two hours. From there, we were starving, and decided to check out Szaly’s, a corn market that Greg had told us about. Interestingly enough, the corn market had so much more than corn to savor. Our lunch stop had everything from corn doused in hot, melted butter to ice cream cones bigger than our heads. After refueling, we headed to the Tow Path, where we got some more hiking in before finally calling it quits in the late afternoon.


Ice cream at Szaly's

July 25 – After a busy and hot start to the day, Aaron, and I headed down to Akron. First stop was Swenson’s. My first Swenson’s encounter was 6+ years ago and I didn’t appreciate it because back then I didn’t eat burgers…weird I know. This time around, I knew I had to try the infamous Galley Boy Burger at the more than infamous drive-in and it definitely did not disappoint. After our somewhat unhealthy, but absolutely delicious dinner, we kept heading south to downtown Akron. We found a street parking space (score!) for the RubberDucks game. A huge line of people were gathered in hopes of attaining one of the 1,000 bobbleheads up for grabs that night. Upsetting to my hubby, we were not a part of the 1,000. We did however, make history by attending the largest game to date with over 8,000 fans in the stands and got to see some pretty cool fireworks set to music of the Transiberian Orchestra.



August 2 – The Cleveland Orchestra + Blossom Music Center + Broadway Divas + Blanket + Wine + Munchies = A pretty fabulous Sunday. I traveled down to Cuyahoga Falls to hear the beautiful music of the Cleveland Orchestra. I can’t even begin to describe how different it is than hearing the Orchestra at Severance Hall. While Severance is stunning in stature, there is something nice about kicking your shoes off and lying on a blanket on that big hill at Blossom.



I absolutely loved all of these excursions, which are all a bit far from my home on the West Side of Cleveland, but I’ve made a promise to myself to continue these mini road trips and encourage you to do so too.


Also, fill me in on where my next excursion should take me – hidden gems much appreciated.