Cleveland Date-rday: CLE Botanical Garden and Shakespeare

Congrats to entry 6 – Jess(ly) in Cleveland – for winning tickets to Band Aid Bash! Tickets are available for MedWish’s fundraiser at back Friday to win tickets to Tri-C Jazz Fest!

Band Aid Bash

It’s no secret, Scott and I spend a lot of time together. A LOT.

We carpool and work together. We share most of our hobbies like model train and comics collecting. And in what I think may test both our patience, we’re starting to write a comic book together.

Not to say everything’s the same (he has his vintage video game collection and he puts up with my hockey obsession). But for all the fun we have together, Scott married a worrier. And sometimes I worry we’re going to fall into a rut.

Although I know it’s unwarranted. we decided to mix things up last weekend by declaring Saturday ‘Cleveland Date-rday’ with a cross-town date of our favorite things in our favorite city.

Cleveland date

At Alex Bistro, getting a night-cap after Date-rday

With the cold weather breaking (finally!), Scott and I were excited to start our days again with a walk to the lake. One of the reasons we decided to move to Avon Lake was being two blocks from Lake Erie. With views like this, how couldn’t we?

Lake Erie Avon Lake

Lake Erie last summer in Avon Lake

It was then off to the eastside for the Cleveland Botanical Garden’s Big Spring. The birds and the bees will put a spring in anyone’s step and the Garden’s new Spring show has plenty to go around.

CBG has super-sized the season with colossal ladybugs, towering flowers and enormous garden tools. I felt like Alice in Wonderland, stepping into this world through the Garden’s giant flowerpot:

Big Spring

Cleveland Botanical Garden Big Spring Entrance

Although the beautiful scent of flowers hit us first, it was the colors I was most entranced by. You forget how brown everything gets during Winter, until it’s set against the colors of Spring.

Big Spring is a fantastic show for families with plenty of activities for children – a clubhouse for tea parties, an indoor garden hedge maze, and the Toadstool Theatre where young guests can dress up as bugs and put on a show:

That’s only what’s indoors.  Outside, the Hershey Children’s Garden has been dressed up with more to do!

Don’t get me wrong, though, adults will find their own fun.

Cleveland Botanical Garden's Chameleon in the Madagascar Glasshouse

Cleveland Botanical Garden’s Chameleon

Last time we were at the Garden for Glow, we forgot to pay a visit to the Glasshouse’s Madagascar exhibit. Not this time! It was good to catch up with the Garden’s chameleon, frogs and giant tarantula.

And out on the patio, Scott and I faced off in a fierce battle of oversized checkers (there’s chess, too, if that’s your game of choice).

Cleveland Botanical Garden outdoor checkers

We could’ve played checkers all day but ended up calling a truce

Big Spring is at the Cleveland Botanical Garden until Sunday, April 28. Besides their normal schedule on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, the Garden is open Mondays 10am-5pm and late on Wednesdays and Fridays til 9.

Tickets are $8 for children, $12 for adults and FREE if you’re a Cleveland Botanical Garden member.  Learn more and buy tickets at

Of course, no trip to University Circle is complete without us stopping by the Cleveland Museum of Art – even a quick one for an early dinner at Provenance.  A bottle of Pinot Gris and a claybread sandwich with lamb, hummus, eggplant, cabbage, and yoghurt sauce – delicious!

Great Lakes Theater Much Ado About Nothing

Great Lakes Theater’s Much Ado About Nothing is at the Hanna through April 14.   (Photo by Roger Mastroianni)

After dinner, we headed back East for our last stop of Date-rday.

When I saw Blithe Spirit in February, we heard about Great Lakes Theater’s Much Ado About Nothing.

With my excitement bubbling over for Joss Whedon’s film adaptation in June, Great Lakes’ 1920s-set production was a must for me.

And it should be a must-see for you too.

Dogberry and Verges in Great Lakes Theater's Much Ado About Nothing

M.A. Taylor (left, as Verges), Dougfred Miller (center, Dogberry), and a member of their motley watchmen (right, Austin Blunk) in Great Lakes Theater’s Much Ado About Nothing. (Photo by Roger Mastroianni)

A spritely charmer, Much Ado about Nothing delights with quick-witted performances, smart twenties fashions, and Eric Damon Smith’s jazzy rendition of “Sigh No More” (which in my opinion must now always be accompanied by a ukulele and nautical wear).

Much Ado was also further proof that Great Lakes’ Laurie Birmingham (as Antonia / Sexton) and David Anthony Smith (Don Pedro) can do no wrong. If their performances don’t put a smile on your face, Dougfred Miller and M.A. Taylor’s Keystone Kops will.

Much Ado is only playing through April 14 so get your tickets now for Shakespeare’s “battle of wits and wills” at

The only thing that could make me more lovestruck than the Bard was splitting this rich slice of tiramisu at Alex Bistro after the show. Their Curtain Closer cocktail was pretty sweet too.

Tiramisu at PlayhouseSquare's Alex Bistro

Tiramisu at Alex Bistro

I’m going to call it and say our first Date-rday was a success.  From east to west to downtown, Cleveland is for lovers.

Whether it’s your first or five-hundredth date, where do you like to go in Cleveland?

Disclosure: I had been invited to attend the Botanical Garden with a guest in exchange for sharing my experience. All opinions expressed here about Big Spring, anything else we attended, or how much I love Scott (just seeing if he reads this far) are 100% my own.

7 thoughts on “Cleveland Date-rday: CLE Botanical Garden and Shakespeare

  1. Crystal W. (@EatDrinkClev)

    What a fantastically wonderful date :)
    You beat me to Provenance – I’ve been dying to get over there! We actually are planning the Big Spring/ CMA date after the Film Fest wraps up. We wanted to give the flowers a little more time to wake up from their long cold sleep. Your pictures, and the awesome weather, are making me want to go NOW!

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