Feb 10, 2011

Cleveland great for the grandkids

Cleveland never fails to surprise me. Cleveland’s University Circle includes The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Cleveland Botanical Garden, and other attractions.

Over the holidays we took our grandsons to Cleveland for a couple of days. One day we spent around the Wade Oval, which is part of University Circle, and home to three amazing museums. We started at the Cleveland Museum of Art. It is very kid-friendly and free. The Hall of European Arms and Armor was reminiscent of Harry Potter and a perfect place for the boys. The museum has designed a Treasure Hunt especially for kids but John and I also had fun. Using “It’s a Zoo in There” Treasure Hunt card we searched out the animals in paintings.

From the art museum it was a very short walk to the Museum of Natural History. We were just in time for the show in the planetarium. They will never forget the Pleiades, also known as the Seven Sisters and Subaru, because the rest of the week we were on the lookout for Subaru cars so we could confirm that the car’s logo is the star cluster. The museum also has a great activity book to go along with their current exhibit “Extreme Mammals” an amazing display of the small and tall. We always stop to pay our respects to the real Balto, the dog that inspired the Iditarod sled race.

Our last stop for the day was the Cleveland Botanical Gardens, which may not sound like a logical choice during the winter but the Eleanor Armstrong Smith Glasshouse makes it a multi-season destination. We picked up identification charts before entering gardens. It is amazing what kids know today. The seven-year-old quickly identified the display of Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches. Maybe he learned that from the movie.

It was a great day. We stayed at the Marriott Residence Inn Downtown where we had the perfect suite with two bedrooms. We ordered a pizza and had a quiet evening.

The next day we headed to the Great Lakes Science Center. It is located in another great area with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame next door and, if it had been summer, we could have taken a scenic boat ride and explored the Steamship Wm. G. Mather docked nearby. I like the idea of parking once for the day and doing a variety of things.

Surely they had three active preteens in mind when they created the Strange Matter exhibit with instructions to “Touch it, Twist it, Smash it.” It was a totally hands-on place that got rid of a lot of energy – not ours – theirs! In the NASA John Glenn Visitor Center they had fun pretending they were astronauts. This was a good place to let each of them do whatever interested them as long as they stayed in the same area. All the museums had cafes for lunch. After lunch it was quiet time so we went to the IMAX Theater to see Under the Sea. We have done a lot of snorkeling in many places around the world but had never seen most of the creatures in the film. In some cases it was a good thing.

This wasn’t our first trip to the Cleveland museums and it won’t be the last. Cleveland is a great destination for all ages.