Brecksville Reservation ~ Brecksville, Ohio

Following our lunch at the Winking Lizard, we seemed to still be getting lucky with the rainy day weather, so we opted to head on over to Brecksville Reservation, another Metropark area that sits adjacent to Cuyahoga Valley National Park. We entered this park from the west entrance along the main road through the National Park.

The first thing we encountered was a fun walking path that had a “fitness trail” along it. We parked by a bridge and did the western part first (which was a little out of order numerically, and then finished with others on the east side of the bridge.

On the way back to our vehicle it was a little bit rainy and we opted to take the Cedar Trail back through the woods for a nice scenic walk along the creek and over a small suspension bridge.

From there we drove towards the middle of the park and made a stop in the Brecksville Nature Center where we got to learn about wildlife local to the area. Outside this Nature Center they also have some very nice park bathrooms, probably the nicest park bathrooms I’ve ever used.

From there we drove towards the north entrance of the park to check out the Chippewa Creek Gorge Scenic Overlook. This was a nice area, but even hiking down the path a little ways didn’t provide as nice of view as I was expecting.

Our final stop in the park was a bit further in towards the southwest portion of the park. We decided to explore the Deer Lick Cave Path. We weren’t quite sure what to expect and didn’t even start at the main trailhead, but where we entered the woods we continued clockwise. This first brought us to a “cave like” area that had a small waterfall and lots of fun creek area for us to play around in and explore. We thought this was the cave and were greatly enjoying it. Please note…..this was not the actual cave! If you reach this point, continue over that bridge shown below and keep going!

Luckily we did keep going over the bridge instead of turning back. This brought us to the real Deer Lick Cave and boy was it impressive! Pictures don’t do it justice, but due to the rainy weather that day, it even had a nice eerie fog/mist inside the cave that made it extra fun to explore!

If you have extra time while in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park area, be sure to give Brecksville Reservation ample time on your schedule! It has a great variety of trails and is fun for all ages!

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Rhode Island Bucket List ~ Newport County Region

Today we explore Newport County in Rhode Island, a county filled with lighthouses, so it makes for a bit longer of a list.

Jamestown

  • Conanicut Battery National Historic Park: Small fort built during colonial times.
  • Beavertail Lighthouse and Museum: Located in Beavertail State Park, this is Rhode Island’s premier lighthouse.
  • Dutch Island Lighthouse: Sits on a rocky island.
  • Fort Getty: Campground area that used to house an old military fort.
  • Fort Wetherill State Park: Beautiful cliff area along the bay.

Little Compton

  • Sakonnet Point Lighthouse: View this plug lighthouse from the beach.

Middletown

  • Boyd’s Wind Grist Mill: Historic mill located in a park.

Newport

  • 1739 Colony House: First state house that held the colonial legislature.
  • Castle Hill Lighthouse: Active lighthouse located along the cliffs.
  • Cliff Walk: Walk the cliffs along the shore of the bay.
  • Eisenhower House: Summer White House of President Eisenhower.
  • Fort Adams State Park: Preserves a large coastal fortification.
  • Hogs Island Shoal Lighthouse: Sparkplug lighthouse located just off of Hogs Island.
  • Ida Lewis Rock Lighthouse: Lighthouse located in Newport Harbor.
  • National Museum of American Illustration: Mansion museum featuring American artwork.
  • Newport Harbor Lighthouse: Located at the end of Goat Island.
  • Newport Tower Museum: Explore this round tower located in a park.
  • Rose Island Lighthouse: Gorgeous lighthouse located on Rose Island.
  • U.S. Naval War College Museum: One of a few museums run by the U.S. Navy to provide history of the Navy.

Portsmouth

  • Prudence Island Lighthouse: Oldest lighthouse tower in the state.

Tiverton

  • Fort Barton: Natural area with several hiking trails.

All attractions found on visitrhodeisland.com

The Winking Lizard ~ Peninsula, Ohio

Our final lunch in the Cuyahoga Valley area may have been my favorite restaurant near the park. The Winking Lizard is a fine place to dine if you are jumping off the Cuyahoga Scenic Railroad tour and need a quick bite and also has ample parking for those touring the area by car as well.

The restaurant is of course aptly named, because their very own “lizard” is front and center when you enter the dining area.

As we were there for lunch, we opted to just order appetizers for our meal. Andrew of course went for the Mac and Cheese wedges. (He somehow managed to have Mac and Cheese in some form every day of this trip!) These were more of a Kraft Mac that was deep fried, but still tasty. I opted for the Soft Pretzel Bavarian Pretzel Sticks. They came with a side of cheese sauce and mustard, but as I don’t enjoy mustard, I just asked for double cheese. These were plenty filling and I had a few extra to take along for later. Note that this is just a standard nacho cheese dipping sauce rather than bier cheese as you can find in some places that offer pretzel sticks/bites. Either way, they are delightful!

We had eyed up the dessert option before even ordering, so we made sure to leave some space and ordered a slice of their Cookies and Cream Pie to share. It was so super tasty!

The Winking Lizard has a perfect laid back sports bar atmosphere and our server was phenomenal. I do recommend arriving early as I’m sure the place fills up when the train that travels through the National Park rolls through and stops at the Peninsula station. We actually had the joy of seeing it roll in right as we were leaving at the end of our meal. We didn’t pay to ride it through the park this visit, but it was still pretty neat to see!

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Viaduct Park ~ Bedford, Ohio

Our third day in the Cuyahoga Valley region of Ohio was due to bring a lot of rain and storms, but we decided to venture out into the drizzly weather for as long as we could. We started our morning on the hunt for another waterfall, and it might have been my favorite of the trip.

Viaduct Park is hidden away in a more industrial part of town. There is a parking lot and when we arrived we were the only ones there. Right away you will notice some signage that discusses the viaduct and its historical use with the railroad.

This area was known for the electric company that took advantage of this creek area to harness some power. You can take a trail down towards the Falls of Tinkers Gorge and see many remains of old brick buildings and tunnels used during this process. It was really pretty neat!

While this waterfall is not the most impressive set of falls I’ve ever seen, I really enjoyed them as we had the park to ourselves and could really just enjoy exploring the history of the area and take in the beauty of the falls.

I highly recommend taking a trek over to this area of the Bedford Reservation if you are ever in the area. It really was a unique portion of the park and had some stunning beauty.

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Rhode Island Bucket List ~ Bristol County and Block Island Regions

Today I’m combining two Rhode Island regions into one post because both of them were shorter lists! Enjoy this larger list as you read today!

Block Island

  • Cow Cove/North Light Area: This rocky shoreline features a historic lighthouse.
  • Mohegan Bluffs: Beautiful clay cliff area.
  • Settler’s Rock: Commemorates the 16 families that settled on Block Island.
  • Southeast Lighthouse: Sophisticated lighthouse located along the Atlantic shore.

Bristol

  • Colt State Park: Enjoy several paved paths and hiking trails along this bayside park.

All attractions found on visitrhodeisland.com

Whitey’s Burgers and Booze ~ Richfield, Ohio

Our second evening in Ohio, we decided to try a local restaurant just down the road from our hotel. The place was already packed at 5pm so it clearly is a place people like to hit up for happy hour after work.

The inside area was very dark, so I was more than happy to take a seat out on their patio area. This patio space is very much an open “garage” space, so they can easily close it off if the weather wasn’t as nice on a particular day. It was hot the day we were there, but still pretty tolerable as they whole space is covered with a roof.

One other important thing to note about Whitey’s is that they are a cash or local check place only! This worked just fine for us as we always travel with some cash on trips, but if you are used to just card, they did have an ATM just inside the door for you to pull out some cash to use.

Whitey’s had a lot of variety on their menu: appetizers, burgers, sandwiches, pizzas, and even some entrees like Mac and Cheese. Andrew being the Mac and Cheese lover that is is went with that option, while I ordered myself a cheese pizza with white sauce.

As you can see, the Mac and Cheese had a variety of meat toppings you could add in. Andrew opted for crumbled hamburger. It also came with a salad and a side. Since Andrew didn’t want a salad, they offered him two sides instead, so he had fries and hushpuppies. He declared them some of the best hush puppies he’s had.

My pizza was super good but very filling. I had about 2/3 of it that night and took the rest as leftovers. The white sauce has a lot of garlic flavor, which was great for a garlic lover like me, but something to be aware of if it’s not your thing.

We were especially impressed with how quick our food arrived despite them warning that they cook everything after you order to ensure its freshness. A lot of times ordering either of these options at a restaurant can be a hefty wait, but I think our wait was 15 minutes or less from when we ordered!

Whitey’s was pretty tasty and somewhere I would recommend if you are ever in the area, but it wasn’t at the top of our list for places to eat out either! Definitely filling, a quick meal, and does provide a decent amount of leftovers!

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Rhode Island Bucket List ~ Providence Region

Exploring the state capitol region today!

East Providence

  • Haines Memorial State Park: Small state park along the bike path that is a great place to picnic.
  • Pomham Rocks Lighthouse: Historic Lighthouse in the Providence River.

Providence

  • The Big Blue Bug aka Nibbles: The largest artificial bug, this huge blue termite is the mascot for the exterminator company.
  • Museum of Natural History: Rhode Island’s only natural history museum.
  • Old State House: Played a pivotal role in Rhode Island politics since colonial times.
  • Rhode Island State House: Current state capitol building that features a museum about the colonial charter.
  • Roger Williams Landing Place Memorial: Where Roger Williams first stepped ashore after being exiled from the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
  • Roger Williams Park Botanical Center: Holds the largest glasshouse display garden in New England.

All attractions found on visitrhodeisland.com

Sims Park ~ Euclid, Ohio

As I eluded to in the previous post, our one other main goal while in Ohio was a chance to visit Lake Erie for the first time. Finding a “beach like” area actually proved trickier than we thought, but we finally settled on Sims Park in Euclid as it seemed to have a nice area to park and had decent access to a beach area so that we could officially stick our feet into the third Great Lake we have visited together.

Sims Park is just off of a the interstate and a busier street runs to the south of the park. It is not very clearly labeled, so we nearly missed the turn into the park entrance. This park had a lot to offer, including a historic mansion, playground, and disc golf course. It was pretty hot that day, so we took a pass on the round of disc golf and headed straight down to the beach.

This beach area had plenty of room for groups/families to spread out while still maintaining a small beach atmosphere. There were about 5 other groups there when we visited, which seeing as how it was a hot day, helped this beach still feel like a hidden gem. Much of the beach was rockier as seen in the photo above.

We spent a bit of time wading in the waters of Lake Erie, and then walked further east to explore the pier area that appears to be a recent addition to the park. I few people were using that space to get some fishing done, but I’m not sure they were having much luck.

If you are looking for a nice place to spend an afternoon enjoying the lake, I highly recommend giving this park a try!

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Rhode Island Bucket List ~ Warwick and West Bay Region

Today’s Rhode Island list mainly focuses on the city of Warwick! Enjoy!

Johnston

  • Snake Den State Park: Offers beautiful hiking trails, especially in fall.\

Warwick

  • Conimicut Lighthouse: Located offshore, this lighthouse can be viewed from Conimicut Point Park.
  • George B. Slater Memorial Grove Park: Enjoy this riverfront park with picturesque views.
  • Goddard Memorial State Park: Rhode Island’s most popular metropolitan park located along the bay.
  • Rocky Point State Park: Once an amusement park location, this park now is open space with beautiful views.
  • Warwick Neck Lighthouse: Historic lighthouse in Warwick.

All attractions found on visitrhodeisland.com

Cuyahoga Valley National Park Day 2 ~ Peninsula, Ohio

When we awoke on our second day in Ohio near Cuyahoga Valley National Park, a quick check of the weather forecast over the next few days showed us that we needed to attempt to cram as much as possible into Day 2 of our time in Ohio since Day 3 had lots of storms and rain predicted. Here’s a breakdown of our whirlwind time in Cuyahoga Valley National Park on Day 2 of our adventures.

We began our day driving to nearly the southern most portion of the park to hike the Beaver Marsh portion of the Towpath Trail. This started out as a gravel path, quickly turned to boardwalk, and then returned to more gravel further north on the trail. At the trailhead there was a nice description that shared the differences between otters and beavers.

This area of the trail was especially fun. There were lots of birds hanging around the marsh and when we reached an overlook section there was a giant snapping turtle hanging out in the water. From there we walked a little further north on the trail and once we had turned around to begin heading back to the parking lot, we saw an otter swimming out in the distance. It was pretty cool to see so much wildlife in just a mile stretch of trail.

From there we headed back north towards the middle of the park on the east side and explored the Ledges Trail. The parking area for this gives no indication that this is anything special. There’s a large park shelter, a huge open field, and a trail that runs along the perimeter of the field. BUT…take that trail further into the woods and you come across a whole new atmosphere! So many fun rock outcroppings. It doesn’t take long to reach the Ledges overlook. The overlook was fun, but more fun was the trail we took to reach the bottom of the Ledges as we could meander under the rocks!

From here we decided to head into the nearby town of Macedonia for lunch as they had several fast food options in the area. After we had enjoyed a nice lunch in the car of Chick-fil-a, it was time for our third stop in Cuyahoga Valley National Park: The Canal Exploration Center.

This area clearly is a nice visitor center/museum space in non-pandemic years, but for us, we were simply able to explore the grounds of the area. Even without the museum area being open, I highly recommend stopping into this area as they have a detailed explanation of how the locks along the canal work. It’s the one lock that is still considered functional in the area. They also had a nice display about the mules that worked along the towpath.

From there it was time to venture outside of the park as we had one more important stop in the area we didn’t want to miss out on: Lake Erie. But that’s a tale for another post!

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