'Tis the time of year when you wish you could assume the role actress Lynda Carter did on her TV show back in the ’70s: After all, donning that shapely “Wonder Woman” costume just might be the ticket to guaranteeing continued excellence in the multiple roles life has handed you — plus the stamina to take on those additional jobs of holiday hostess, chef, maid and personal shopper that start cropping up this month.
November 2011 Issue
The Perfect Getaway
your gal-pal friendships with shopping, dining and arts experiences in
But if just reading that last sentence exhausts you, it’s time to take a break from the madness, preferably with the only people in the universe who can relate: your girlfriends.
So, why not escape, at least for a couple of days, to Cleveland, a city that boasts a wealth of great places where you can all relax and enjoy a wide range of exhibits, concerts, plays, meals and other events — all guaranteed to make the season bright.
Any female who’s ever fantasized about strapping on a guitar and becoming a rock goddess will want to check out “Women Who Rock: Vision, Passion, Power” at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. The exhibit, open through Feb. 26, tells the story of women in popular music from the 1920s to the present day, with displays and video/audio stations filling two floors of the I.M. Pei-designed building. The 300-plus artifacts include plenty of iconic fashions — from the fringed white-leather tunic Jefferson Airplane front woman Grace Slick wore at Woodstock to the raw-meat dress (now dried to jerky) Lady Gaga donned for the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards.
Aretha Franklin fans should time their visit to coincide with the rock hall’s 16th-annual American Music Masters series, a weeklong slate of events exploring the First Lady of Soul’s legacy, taking place Oct. 31 through Nov 5. (Franklin is scheduled to be in the audience during the November 5 tribute concert.)
University Circle is renowned for the museums surrounding it, and a must-see is the internationally recognized Cleveland Museum of Art. Among the most thought-provoking current exhibits is “Brian Ulrich: Copia — Retail, Thrift and Dark Stores, 2001-11,” through Jan. 16. The powerful retrospective showcases 50 color photographs examining American consumerism.
If you delay your visit to the art museum until early next year, you’ll be able to see “Rembrandt in America,” an exhibit of approximately 50 works billed as the first major show “to explore in depth the collecting of Rembrandt paintings in America,” on display Feb. 19 through May 28.
Shopaholics will want to stop at the Dredgers Union, the first new department store to open downtown in decades. The 4,500-square-foot retail space, located in a well-appointed structure that once housed a McCrory dime store, stocks moderately priced men’s and women’s apparel — everything from denim to professional wear — as well as home goods and gift items.
According to co-owner Danielle DeBoe, approximately 40 percent of the clothing is dreamed up in the store’s lower-level design studios and made in a Chicago factory under the Dredgers Union label — the perfect souvenir for the fashion maven.
“We specifically strive to buy for a very broad demographic,” she adds. “Young people in their 20s could come and buy something. But the store is primarily for men and women in their 30s to 50s.”
When it’s time to take a midday break, head to the Ritz-Carlton, Cleveland. The venerable hotel offers a traditional holiday tea in its luxuriously cozy lobby lounge on Saturday and Sunday afternoons, Nov. 20 through Dec. 18. (Reservations are required.) The $40-per-person repast includes a presentation of sandwiches, scones and pastries.
Entertainment options abound once the sun sets. The calendar of events for the eight venues on the block known as PlayhouseSquare — the largest performing-arts center outside of New York City — consists of shows ranging from the musical comedy “La Cage Aux Folles” at the Palace Theatre, Nov. 8-20, to concerts by the likes of classic rock/pop band Chicago, taking center stage at the State Theatre on Dec. 4.
Quicken Loans Arena hosts larger draws, including “An Evening With Scott Hamilton and Friends,” Nov. 5, an annual figure-skating show to benefit The Scott Hamilton CARES Initiative at the Cleveland Clinic. This year, the clinic’s most famous cancer survivor hosts an event featuring performances by a dozen fellow Olympic and world champions — including co-host Kristi Yamaguchi, Dorothy Hamill, Ekaterina Gordeeva, Ilia Kulik, Sasha Cohen and Michael Weiss — to live music performed by nine-time Grammy winner Sheryl Crow.
Ladies who prefer classical music should head to Severance Hall in University Circle, home of the world-renowned Cleveland Orchestra. Although the orchestra’s 2011-2012 schedule consists of 65 performances, among the best to catch are those taking place during Fridays @ 7, 70- to 75-minute concerts followed by what director of communications Ana Papakhian calls “world music after-parties” in the hall’s breathtaking Egyptian-Revival Grand Foyer. She describes a scene in which a band plays Indian, Lebanese, country, bluegrass or polka music while patrons belly up to cash bars and refreshment stands selling snacks that often complement the sounds.
“We usually have people dancing and cheering the band on,” Papakhian says. “The lobby almost turns into a mini nightclub.”
Papakhian says Fridays @ 7 end around 8:30 p.m., which gives patrons enough time to enjoy one of the many eateries in University Circle or nearby Little Italy. In fact, Cleveland is endowed with so many fantastic restaurants that you’ll want to reserve one night solely for eating.
Some of the hottest spots in which to break a diet are located along East Fourth Street, a short-but-charming brick thoroughfare lined with some of the city’s best-known dining establishments. Food Network Iron Chef Michael Symon — who began co-hosting ABC’s new daytime show, “The Chew,” in September — owns Lola Bistro, offering modern spins on such favorite dishes as scallops, lamb and rib eye. At The Greenhouse Tavern, chef/owner Jonathon Sawyer — named one of 2010’s best new chefs by Food & Wine — prepares French-inspired dishes with local, sustainable ingredients. Restaurateur Zack Bruell’s most recent addition to the menu of Cleveland dining options, Ristorante Chinato, features a smorgasbord of Italian delights.
Nearby, inside the gorgeous late-19th-century Arcade, is The Chocolate Bar, the first and only franchise of a decadent Buffalo, N.Y., eatery that caters to the chocolate-lover’s cravings in every way. One side of the menu lists appetizers, soups, salads, sandwiches and entrees, including chocolate-centric selections such as pasta tossed in a white-chocolate cream. The other side is devoted to more than 20 chocolate desserts — everything from raspberry truffle cake to make-your-own s’mores. The bar uses real chocolate ganache to mix martini flavors, including Black Forest, peanut-butter cup and chocolate banana-cream pie.
“They’re right on the mark in flavor,” boasts co-owner Dominic Fanelli. Each martini purchased between 7 and 10 p.m. on the second Monday of each month comes with an express manicure done by pros right in the restaurant. It’s the best way to end a day in a girlfriend getaway to Cleveland — hands down.
WHEN YOU GO
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, 751 Erieside Ave., Cleveland, 44114; 216/781-ROCK. rockhall.com
Cleveland Museum of Art, 11150 East Blvd., Cleveland, 44106; 216/421-7350. clevelandart.org
Dredgers Union, 2043 E. Fourth St., Cleveland, 44115; 216/357-2911. dredgersunion.wordpress.com
Ritz-Carlton Cleveland, 1515 West Third St., Cleveland, 44113; 216/623-1300. ritzcarlton.com
PlayhouseSquare,1501 Euclid Ave. Cleveland, 44115; 216/771-8403. playhousesquare.org
Quicken Loans Arena, 1 Center Court, Cleveland, 44115; 216/420-2200. theqarena.com
Severance Hall, 11001 Euclid Ave., Cleveland, 44106; 216/231-1111. clevelandorchestra.com
Lola Bistro, 2058 E. Fourth St., Cleveland, 44115; 216/621-5652. lolabistro.com
The Greenhouse Tavern, 2038 E. Fourth St., Cleveland, 44115; 216/ 443-0511. thegreenhousetavern.com
Ristorante Chinato, 2079 E. Fourth St., Cleveland, 44115; 216/298-9080. chinatocleveland.com
The Chocolate Bar, 347 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, 44114; 216/622-COCO. chocolatebarcleveland.com