I’m up in the air a lot more than down on the road, but I decided to stick to the ground and check out some places not far from home. I brought along my friend Lisa and together we discovered some Midwest locations worth returning to.
The first stop was Indianapolis, home of the 2012 Super Bowl. This city is buzzing with excitement around the big game, but it’s a really a fun place anytime. We checked into the Omni Severin and then went to Mesh on Mass Avenue for lunch with Morgan Greenlee from the Indianapolis Tourism Office. She had an exciting girls getaway itinerary for us and I heard all about it while enjoying the Short Rib Slow Cooker.
After lunch we went to the Indianapolis Art Museum for our own private tour. In fact, they had opened the museum just for us and we were escorted around from Van Gogh to Georgia O’Keefe. It’s a beautiful museum down in White River Park and best of all it’s free to the public (a few of the exhibits do have charges).
After the museum, we stopped at The Best Chocolate in Town shop (it is) and then took a quick run through the memorial library for one of my favorite authors, Kurt Vonnegut. Dinner was at a popular places for visitors and residents in Indianapolis. St. Elmo’s is best known for their Spicy Shrimp Cocktail, but even without that (I’m allergic) we enjoyed the cocktails in the new upstairs lounge and the steak and Peach Blueberry Pie down in the restaurant.
We discovered a cool place for after dinner, Tastings. This wine bar allows you to choose “tastings” of 100 wines. After you purchase a card for any amount you want, you can pick the size of your pour throughout the self-service wines from around the world.
After a good night’s sleep, we met Morgan for breakfast at Café Patachou, known for their Cinnamon Toast and Broken Yolk Sandwich. We sampled both before heading to our appointments at the Evan Todd Spa in the Conrad Hotel. We relaxed by their indoor pool with some herb tea and then had a full facial experience (including acupressure, aromatherapy and light massage), followed by pedicures.
We left the spa and hit the road for stop number two, Hocking Hills, Ohio. It was a four hour scenic drive to the Inn at Cedar Falls. This Select Registry property is a unique combination of cozy log cabins (without televisions, phones or internet), gourmet dining and some of the most amazing scenery I have ever seen in the Midwest. Our cabin had two bedrooms, as well as a kitchen, living room, dining room and bathroom. It was adorable and comfortable, but it was rather strange to be “disconnected” from the world.
Our fear over lack of modern connections disappeared after an incredible dinner by Chef Anthony Schultz, accompanied by Wife of the Chef Martinis (Ciroc Vodka, Chocolate Liqueur and Chambord). Lisa and I then went back to the cabin for bottle of sparkling wine and found the game “Chat Pack: Fun Questions to Spark Conversations.” I felt like we were having an old fashioned slumber party and we chatted like a bunch of school girls when faced with the questions.
The rustling of the deers in the leaves woke me up in the morning and we had a full breakfast up at the restaurant to get us started for the day (French Toast Stuffed with Raspberry Cream Cheese, yum). We walked through the spacious property, admiring the cabins and cottages, before heading to Cedar Falls for a hike. Lisa and I navigated through the area for a while and ended up at Ash Cave, an incredible enclave with its own waterfall.
We probably could have stayed and walked through there for hours, but we had an appointment at Hocking Hills Candle Works to make our own candles (you can choose the scents) before lunch back at the inn. Chef Anthony once again wowed us, this time with a Pressed Turkey with Pineapple & Swiss Cheese sandwich.
In the afternoon, we had a cooking lesson (which all guests can arrange). I watched while Lisa helped the chef make Paw Paw (a tropical fruit grown in Ohio, who knew?) Crème Brulee for the night’s dessert. Then it was off to the spa for me for a wonderful massage while Lisa went back to Cedar Falls for a another hike.
We were joined for dinner in the evening by Matthew Barbee of Rockmill, a local brewery. He brought some of his brews for tasting with our final spectacular dinner at the Inn at Cedar Hills. When dinner was over, we all had a farewell toast with Chef Anthony, vowing to visit again.
After many years as one of the top tennis writers in the country, Marcia Frost now devoting most of her time to travel writing, with a focus on food, wine and spirits. She has her own blog at WineAndSpiritsTravel.com and does weekly columns for Inspirato on Sonoma and Paris (two locations she visits often). Marcia also freelances for many other outlets, including Yahoo!; AOL; Michigan Avenue; Rum Bum; Los Angeles Confidential; Travel, Food & Drink; and Air Tran’s Go! Magazine. She has been contributing to Girls’ Getaway since 2010. For more information on Marcia, visit her website MarciaFrost.com.