THE COST: Research some recipes that sound fancy, but are fairly easy to make (like soy-glazed salmon, pan-seared filet mignon, or lemon-garlic chicken). Visit Pinzone Meats (Stands B-4 and B-5) and grab two fresh sirloin tips for $5 a pound (about $15 per steak), which are great and cheap for grilling. Or visit Kate’s Fish (Stand F-12 and F-13) and pick up two Atlantic salmon filets for $8.99 per pound, for a healthy, late night affair. Throw in some veggies ($10) and a few Great Lakes beers ($15) and you’ve got a pretty cheap date.
THE KNOWLEDGE: Adventurous food choices will show an open mind willing to try new things. In contrast, hunting for the perfect hamburgers between complaints about the cleanliness of the fruit will unleash the miscreant date monster beneath. Pay close attention to their urban diplomacy skills. The ability to wrangle with artful street vendors (while being funny, smart, and getting a good price) will only add bonus points to the long-term relationship formula.
Several cities describe their surrounding park systems as “emerald necklaces.” Northeast Ohio also has a verdant pendant: Cuyahoga Valley National Park. It’s located on 33,000 acres of woodlands, meadows and open farmland between Cleveland and Akron. “It’s the first place we go on a nice day,” says Barbara Greene, an Akron resident and ardent outdoors person. She frequents the park’s Towpath Trail that runs along the old Ohio-Erie Canal Towpath and through diverse landscapes. Greene’s favorite part of the 22-mile trail is between the quaint villages of Peninsula and Boston, where she can check out an art show at MD Garage or refresh at Trail Mix, a country store across from the canal-boat building museum. This part of the Towpath takes Greene through rushing waters, meadow and marshland; plus there’s a great spot for her dog to dip. “As a walker and runner, changing scenery’s important to me.”
For those who dig more manicured landscapes, Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens in Akron is a must-see. This Tudor Revival mansion near the Cuyahoga Valley is open from April through December and has 70 acres of formal gardens. “The grounds reflect the Seiberlings’ appreciation of nature,” notes Marketing Vice President Katie Campbell. Goodyear Tire & Rubber founder F. A. Seiberling built the 65-room house in 1912 and dubbed it “Stan Hywet,” the old English term for stone quarry. The home was ahead of its time incorporating modern conveniences such as electric lighting, central heat and running hot water. Campbell believes the Great Garden’s three acres of cutting flowers, the tropicals in Corbin Conservatory and lovely lagoons that used to be quarries entice return visitors. “Most people come the first time for the museum [house], but they come back for the gardens.” –Submitted by Sarah Jaquay
Editor’s Note: Considering riding the vintage rails of the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad from Independence (just 10-15 minutes south of Cleveland) all the way to Akron.