Over the past few months, I have had the great opportunity to visit some of the most significant and beautiful historic homes in the United States. Why visit historic homes? You will be able to learn the history and charm of some of the most famous leaders in the United States, have a closer look at their personal lives, and get a taste of the first class lifestyle and elegance throughout history. Several sources highlight the best historic homes, such as Fodor’s Travel and Traditional Home. While I have not traveled to all of them, below I have described four of my favorite historic homes in the United States:
- Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina: America’s largest home, the 8,000-acre Biltmore Estate was built in 1895 by George Vanderbilt. My first reaction upon arriving to estate was how fresh the air was. The estate resides in the middle of the Blue Ridge Mountains, with beautiful natural scenery and the cleanest air I have ever felt. It is self-sustaining, with a farm, winery, hotel and entertainment. George Vanderbilt lived there with his wife until 1914 when he passed away, and then his children resided in the home. The home is elegantly decorated with a French influence and has some of the largest and most majestic fireplaces I have ever seen. As a sustainability consultant, I was interested to learn that the estate was awarded in 2012 for environmental stewardship, including a new solar array and tree projection project.
- Mount Vernon, Virginia: According to the interactive website, Mount Vernon “offers a glimpse into 18th-century plantation life through beautiful gardens and grounds, intriguing museum exhibits, and immersive programs honoring George Washington’s life and legacy.” I toured the home while attending a public policy business course in Washington D.C. I was impressed by the beautiful gardens and scenery surrounding George Washington’s home. I also appreciated the handouts of Martha Washington’s favorite recipes, some of which I brought home with me (that reminds me, I still need to cook them :))!
- Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens in Akron, Ohio: As I described in my post, Favorite Ways to Spend Fall in Cleveland, the Stan Hywet Hall was the home of F.A. Sieberling, who created The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company in 1898. The home was built between 1912-1915 and was one of the finest examples of the American Country Estate Movement. It includes five historic buildings and eight historic gardens on 70 acres. Learn more about the history of the Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens here. I enjoyed the several gardens and yard games – it would have been a lot of fun to grow up with so many outdoor activities and free land to explore!
- Hearst Castle in San Simeon, California: According to the website, William Randolph Hearst built the “estate on his ranchland overlooking the village of San Simeon in 1919. He called the estate “La Cuesta Encantada” – Spanish for The Enchanted Hill. By 1947, the hilltop complex included a twin-towered main building, three sumptuous guesthouses, and 127 acres of terraced gardens, fountains, and pools.” Given the significance of the Hearst family in journalism, I was interested to see the Gothic Study, where Hearst would preview newspapers every night before printing them the following morning. I also enjoyed the Spanish influence in the home decor given my Spanish language and culture studies.
Visiting these estates reminds me of how much more engaging and rewarding it is to learn history through site seeing rather than reading a school textbook. If I ever have the opportunity to teach, my goal will be to encourage hands-on learning, allowing students to actually visit the locations we discuss in class. I look forward to traveling to the remaining famous estates throughout the United States in my lifelong pursuit to learn about the world.
Fall is one of the best ways to experience any Midwestern United States city, especially Cleveland. Leaves are changing colors. Moderate temperatures mean you can spend time outside with a cool breeze and a light jacket. Three exciting sports seasons overlap: the end of baseball season, the heart of football season, and the beginning of basketball season. Cider and donuts are available at apple orchards, grocery stores, and cider mills (which I have quickly learned is a “Michigan thing.”) Pumpkin and apple flavors cover our plates. And some may say, the highlights are celebrating Halloween and Thanksgiving.
Edgewater Park View of Downtown Cleveland
Now that I have spent two falls in Cleveland, I have compiled a list of some of my favorite activities to do in and around Cleveland in the fall:
- Go on a Segway Tour of Downtown Cleveland. This is a fun way to learn about Cleveland’s architecture and history while riding a segway.
- Tailgate a Browns game. The Muni Lot has some of the craziest tailgates I have ever seen, with kegs and grills coming out of pick-up trucks and dance parties in school buses. Cleveland sports fans are some of the most spirited fans- and the spirit is contagious! Don’t tell my Detroit roots that I am slowly cheering for Cleveland now that I live downtown and am surrounded by all the major sports stadiums!
Browns Season Opener Tailgate
- Shop for fall produce at West Side Market. The late harvest lends some of the best local produce of the year. The market makes it fun for you to find the ingredients for your favorite fall recipes and you can buy decorative gourds or pumpkins for carving festivities!
- Go hiking through the Cleveland Metroparks or parks in the suburbs. I love to jog through Edgewater Park and have enjoyed hiking through Liberty Park near Aurora, Ohio.
Hiking through Liberty Park
- Need more than hiking? Another great way to be in nature during the fall is to volunteer at local parks. During my company’s fall retreat, we spent an afternoon volunteering at a park clean-up with the Western Reserve Historical Society and Thriving Communities Institute in the Buckeye Neighborhood.
- Dress up in a Halloween costume and go dancing in the Warehouse District. Each year the best venues vary, but the regular favorites tend to be Velvet Dog, Barley House, and Dive Bar. Dancing is always fun, but there’s nothing better than being silly while in disguise and watching others do the same.
- Go on a brewery tour at Great Lakes Brewery. I have toured the brewery with family and friends four times throughout the year, and I have decided that fall is my favorite time, particularly when the brewery is making Christmas Ale. The aura of cinnamon spice is delicious and makes the brewery experience come to life.
- On the topic of beer, try pumpkin ales at the breweries on West 25th in Ohio City, especially during Cleveland Beer Week in October. I was not a beer fan until I moved to Cleveland, but the pumpkin ales at Nano Brew, Town Hall, Market Garden, and Bier Market quickly made that change.
- Pick apples at Eddy’s Fruit Farm and explore the grounds of Patterson Fruit Farm. For the city dwellers, this is a great escape from the busy city life and helps you appreciate the scenery in Ohio’s countryside.
- Tour Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens, which was the home of F.A. Sieberling, who created The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company in 1898. The home was built between 1912-1915 and was one of the finest examples of the American Country Estate Movement. It includes five historic buildings and eight historic gardens on 70 acres. Learn more about the history of the Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens here.
Touring the Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens
- Go wine tasting at the vineyards of Geneva on the Lake. It is an hour outside of Downtown Cleveland, but totally worth the drive. Each winery has its own unique personality and the hosts will teach you about wine production and what types of wine will be best for your palate.
Geneva on the Lake
- Take your bike to Peninsula, Ohio to ride the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad train out to your distance of choice and bike back on the towpath past Szlay’s farm shop for hot butter-dipped corn. You could also run through the Maize Maze and wrap up the trip with a Winking Lizard beer when you get back to Peninsula! [Thank you to one of my favorite Clevelanders, Victoria Lowery, for the idea!]
Every weekend I learn about new exciting events and opportunities in and around Cleveland. Clevelanders, please comment with any of your favorite events that I should add to the list. Everyone, let me know if you would ever like to visit Cleveland. I would be happy to give you a tour.
Hopefully I have captured something interesting for everyone in Cleveland, whether you’re an adventurer, a sports enthusiast, a beer fan, a nature lover, a dancer, or a historian. Making the most of any of these experiences relates to the inspirNational mindset, which I aspire to have and encourage others (no matter where you live or travel!) to have every day. Learn more about the inspirNational mindset in my post, How to Live Like a Traveler Every Day.