Tag Archives: getaways

Smartphone Rehab (or An Excuse to Get Away to NY)

It doesn’t matter where we are, Scott will always ham it up for the camera (and that’s why I love him)

Some blogkeeping: Today’s the last day of the L’Amour du Vin giveaway. You can enter here until 11:59 tonight and I’ll announce the winner tomorrow.

I have an addiction. To my cellphone.

Whether it’s checking my email, refreshing news apps to see if there are new articles to read (regardless of whether or not the topic interests me) or checking Twitter and Facebook for the nth time today, I spend almost every moment I’m not doing something (and some moments I am) with my hands on that touchscreen.

I know it’s not an unusual – or new – compulsion to have (my similarly unhealthy WebMD obsession gave me this guide to smartphone addiction).  But the first step is admitting you have a problem, right?

So, seeing how disruptive my phone habits had gotten, I turned my cell off on Friday night and headed out of town for a bit of a social media getaway.

Enjoying a glass or two at Johnson Estate Winery, New York’s oldest

Our destination was Westfield, NY outside of Chautauqua. The area had come highly recommended from Alicia @ Poise in Parma, who had visited the Chautauqua Institute last year.

Despite the area’s reputation, though, for providing a tranquil escape, I could feel the withdrawal setting in as we headed out.  I mean – between FourSquare and Instagram alone – I think I actually use my phone more often when I’m on vacation than at home.

I feared that not having my phone for two days on a scenic roadtrip was going to be too difficult of a test.

However, I had the support of Jen, Kimberly and Alicia – a few of my other social media/smartphone addicts with me, a pile of books and board games and a weekend full of plans to keep me from suffering from withdrawal.

If you’re looking to escape, the Captain Storm House B and B is picture-perfect

The 8 of us took over the Captain Storm House Bed and Breakfast, a beautiful Queen Anne revival house whose rooms were reminiscent of the house in CLUE.

Fitting, since our Friday and Saturday nights were spent playing board games like Apples to Apples, Say Anything, Marry-Date-Dump and a childhood favorite Fireball Island.

After throwing together a homemade waffle bar, we set out on Saturday morning for a tour of some of the area’s wineries. We enjoyed Noble Winery’s beautiful fall foliage against the backdrop of Lake Erie, as well as some interesting historic cellars like the one at South Shore Wine Company.

While I didn’t think some of the wines stood up against those from our trip to Geneva, I enjoyed the white and ice wines at the Johnson Estate Winery and picked up a bottle of their spice wine to savor over the winter.

Samplings at Southern Tier

Our last stop for the weekend was Southern Tier Brewing Co. It was my first visit to the brewery and after I sampled a bit of their brews, it was the highlight of the weekend’s sight-seeing.

I picked up a couple of bottles of Mokah and Choklat and took advantage of a nice buy 2, get 1 free sale on Back Burner. I love Barley Wine ales and can’t wait to break into those.

All of that beer got me in the mood for Cleveland Beer Week kicking off this Friday and running through the 27th (because you know you need more than just 7 days to fit in all of the great beer events!).  Fortunately, Cleveland Food and Brews posted a helpful guide for Cleveland Beer Week on his blog.

Now I just need to narrow my list down! No easy task though I know I’ll at least be starting things off with Fat Head’s Victory brunch and Lilly’s Big Bang Theory-inspired chocolate and beer pairing on Saturday.  Bazinga!

Ohio’s Fall foliage and a picnic welcomed us back from the weekend

As Scott and I enjoyed a roadside picnic on our drive home from New York, I was happy to realize I only thought about tweeting 2 times the entire weekend. Instead I focused on having a fun time with friends without being constantly distracted by my phone.

Now that I’m home I’ve noticed my “smartphone rehab” was much-needed and that I’m not constantly checking my phone as much as I did – in fact it’s sitting very comfortably at the bottom of my purse right now.  But while I’m not hoping for a relapse, I wouldn’t mind another excuse to getaway again. :)

Do you think you’re too dependent on your phone or social media?  If so, what do you do to try and break the habit? (I could use all the tips I can get!)

Making Our Escape to Geneva-on-the-Lake

On a recent visit to Geneva-on-the-Lake, we found The Lodge offered the perfect getaway amidst a region teeming with things to do.

As a kid, my favorite time of year would be when we’d travel down to the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia during the summer. Mornings would be spent waking up to the sound of the waves outside our windows, followed by days fishing, swimming, and rowing. If I wasn’t in the water, I’d be nearby – biking up and down the beach or digging into a bucket of crab legs.

When Scott and I were considering our move to Cleveland, one of the deciding factors was that it was right off the coast of Lake Erie — because with the lake, comes small lakeside towns and resorts waiting to be explored.

Scott and I packed up the car for just such a getaway when we traveled out to Geneva-on-the-Lake a couple of weekends ago.

One of the most peaceful sunsets I’ve enjoyed in a longtime – looking out on Lake Erie from our hotel balcony.

Called Ohio’s First Summer Resort, Geneva-on-the-Lake is an aptly named, quaint lakeside town in Ashtabula County. Although some establishments are open year-round, Geneva-on-the-Lake is really coming alive right now. As the summer season is about to start, with it comes fishing, boating and swimming during the day, and arcades, amusement rides, restaurants, live music and other various nightlife in the evening.

As Scott and I quickly discovered during our visit, it was the perfect mix of the Chesapeake’s laidback respite with the more high-energy shoretown of Brigantine, New Jersey where Scott spent his summers.

Although we visited Geneva-on-the-Lake at the tail-end of the winter season with many businesses yet to open for summer, we were able to find a lot to do – like a stop by the Old Firehouse Winery (which boasts a dinner theatre, ferris wheel and great views of the lake in addition to wine and food) as well as indulging in our mutual love of arcades at Adventure Zone which we left with a handful of winnings – a set of dominoes and 3 plastic dinosaurs.

Nearby Geneva offers antique shops and corner stores like Rees’, an old-fashioned soda fountain and ice cream shop in the town’s old pharmacy.

What sets Geneva-on-the-Lake apart from other shore towns, though, is that the surrounding area offers even more to do.

For those looking to take in Ohio countryside, there’s no shortage of rolling hills and beautiful scenery (including over 15 covered bridges).

In nearby Geneva we enjoyed a morning of eclectic antique shops and a visit to Rees’ Corner, an old-fashioned soda fountain and ice cream shop in the town’s old corner pharmacy. If you visit Geneva, I definitely recommend stopping by for a lime phosphate or a rootbeer float.

With so many wineries, there were a lot of difficult decisions to make when planning our trip.

And then, of course, there are the wineries. With 20 wineries in the area, many make a trip to Geneva, Geneva-on-the-Lake and the rest of the Ashtabula region just to sample the wine.

Because we wanted to pack as much of the area as possible into 2 days, Scott and I paid a visit to just 6 of the wineries – the aforementioned Old Firehouse in Geneva-on-the-Lake, heavy-hitters like Ferrante and Debonne, and more intimate settings like South River, Laurello, and Spring Hill.

I loved that every winery had something unique to offer – whether it was the wine, the food, the setting or all of the above. While it was difficult to choose, our favorites were Laurello, South River and Debonne.

Even though you’re likely there for the wine, dessert lovers should try the Lemoncello Truffle Sorbet at Laurello Winery.

At Laurello, we savored a lemoncello truffle sorbet – an absolutely delightful dessert that was the perfect complement to their wines. They also offered one of the best tasting deals with 6 wines of our choice, cheese and crackers, and a souvenir wine glass for $10.

Sipping wine on Debonne’s patio provided us a rustic last stop for our tour – where we watched an old plane practice landing and taking off at the adjacent airstrip and also sampled some of their Cellar Rats beer. Scott and I are planning our return trip for hot air balloons and remote controlled planes later in the season.

South River was so peaceful and relaxing, I don’t think Scott ever wanted to leave.

Finally, South River not just had our favorite wines of the trip (I may have brought home more than a few bottles of Riesling and Semillon), but the historic church that the tasting room is located in is a unique, quiet setting for sipping wine. It looks out on a beautiful pavilion and 70 acres of vineyard.

Because you can’t explore everything in one day, you’ll most likely need to look for a place to spend the night. And as we learned when we stayed there, The Lodge at Geneva is the perfect place to rest up.

If I could have taken home one thing from The Lodge, it’d be their beautiful stone fireplace in the lobby

Adjacent to the State Park, The Lodge offers everything this visitor needed and then some:

  • on-site dining and a bar that overlooks the sun setting on the lake
  • indoor and outdoor pools
  • access to park trails and walkways that will either lead you for a stroll along the lake or into town
  • a lobby reminiscent of a mountain lodge featuring a beautiful stone fireplace

For many rooms at The Lodge, the scenic views aren’t limited to just the Ohio artwork hanging on the walls. Many rooms look out on beautiful Lake Erie.

The rooms themselves are styled like a country inn – complementary to the Geneva wine-country. Guests can choose between rooms with views of the lobby or the lake, and large suites, family rooms, and whirlpool king rooms are available in addition to standard-sized rooms.

When we stayed at The Lodge, our room featured a balcony which looked out on the lake. Waking up in the middle of the night to hear the lake and see the lights of the buoys was a nice reminder of growing up in Virginia. Plus, having the sun wake me up instead of an alarm was a much needed break from my normal morning routine.

Although it was a little chilly, The Lodge’s beautiful walking paths were worth bundling up for.

The rooms come with standard amenities as well as free wi-fi.  Additional amenities such as mini-fridges and microwaves are available upon request.

We didn’t spend a lot of time in the room, of course! During our downtime from traveling around the region, we spent the rest of our weekend exploring what the hotel offered. From bike rentals to swimming and massage services, there are a lot of activities to help you escape without leaving the comfort of the hotel.  And if you don’t have a designated driver for the wineries, you can reserve a spot on The Lodge’s wine shuttle (be sure to call ahead for this because we learned the hard way that the shuttle fills up fast).

If forest trails are more your thing instead of the lake, The Lodge is also adjacent to Geneva’s State Park.

Depending on the season, there’s fishing, birdwatching, an outdoor playground for children, volleyball nets and horse-shoe courts; winter fun includes snowshoeing and cross country skiing.  Many of these activities are family-friendly as well — during my visit, I was impressed by how child and pet-friendly The Lodge is, while still accommodating conference groups and adults on vacation.

While we were at The Lodge, we enjoyed a dinner at Horizons restaurant, a swim in the indoor pool and walks along the shore – it was hard to choose, but I think the pool was my favorite highlight.  I haven’t been swimming since last summer and their huge indoor pool features gigantic windows that look out on the lake.

I would have gladly spent my entire day in this pool if I had had the time.

Regardless of the amenities, though, a hotel stay can often be easily ruined by subpar service. Fortunately, that wasn’t a problem with The Lodge. No matter whom we spoke with – whether it was our server at dinner, housekeeping or the team at the check-in desk – everyone was proactive in ensuring their guests’ stays were comfortable.  In particular, I was impressed by Jason who helped us when we arrived a bit early for check-in – he was very friendly and made a number of great suggestions on how to spend our time before check-in.

Although Scott and I have been big into long roadtrips this year, we recently started to discover there is a world of daytrips right outside of Cleveland just begging to be explored. And if they’re anything like our trip to Geneva-on-the-Lake, I have the feeling Scott and I will be trading in the 8-hour car rides for much closer locales this summer.

A weekend sipping wine and lounging by the lake makes for a very relaxed Amanda.

Disclosure: After being unavailable to attend a Blogger Weekend last Fall at The Lodge at Geneva, I was invited to stay at The Lodge this Spring. One night’s accommodations and one dinner and breakfast were included; however, I paid for the rest of the trip.