TRAVEL: Chagrin Falls, Home of Calvin and Hobbes & Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream
By hometownbetty on July 15, 2014
We’ve exposed our children to the artsand sciences in Cleveland, and then some military history aboard the William G. Mather Steamship. Rather than walking through another museum, we took a small detour to the town of Chagrin Falls, Ohio, the home of Bill Watterson author of the famous comic strip, Calvin and Hobbes. Thanks to Piano Man’s aunt and uncle, who introduced Piano Man to the beloved comic strip characters last year, he’s been hooked ever since. Our Cleveland friends mentioned Bill Watterson and the best ice cream in Cleveland is at Chagrin Falls, plus a historic natural waterfall feature.
We quickly found open parking at the back and walked down a flight of wooden stairs to the falls.
In the 1830s and 1840s, Chagrin Falls became a industrial settlement full of craftsmen, mechanics, and carpenters. The Chagrin River created a 150 feet drop, which powered saw mills, flour mills, foundries, axe factory, paper mills, and a whole host of other factories. Although I’m not entirely sure if Chagrin Falls is mainly powered by water today, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), 7% of the U.S. is still powered by hydroelectricity. And since you can’t move a natural resource, like a water fall or dam, I can safely guess there must be some water power generated for the city.
The mist from the water was refreshing on a warm summer afternoon. While the roaring sounds of the falls crashed below, it was a pleasant sound different from the hustle and bustle of cars and buses roaring through Cleveland’s busy city streets.
We walked down main street of Bill Watterson’s hometown, and then found Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream Shop. We decided to keep walking, not quite ready for ice cream, and enjoyed some family time at the local playground on the other side of main street.
The view and sounds from the smaller water falls back to main street created a soothing and serene feel as the sun began to set. But even these manmade dams provided nice sounds on our walk back to main street. Too bad that the empty business shop situated along the water is vacated. It would have a made a pleasant place to shop. The USGS mentioned that generators under water dams power electricity these days, which you can see a photo of a dam here. My guess is that power generators are located under this dam to help fuel electricity for the town.
The popcorn shop nearby Jeni’s looked tempting to try as well, but we kept our temptations at bay and stuck with ice cream instead.
Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream
Our Cleveland friends told us to make a trip out to Chagrin Falls, not because of Bill Watterson, but because of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream. Jeni Bauer, owner of the shop, turned her passion of baking and mixing flavors into an art. Apparently, Jeni’s makes the best homemade ice cream in Cleveland. When we visited, the speciality flavors of the week were Cherries Kickapoo, Salty Caramel, and Black Coffee…yummmmm.
I saw these books on display and thought nothing of it until her bio mentioned that she’s on the road this summer giving a book tour of her new book, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream Desserts. Her first book, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream at Home, was on the New York Times Best Seller List.
An order of small serving comes with two scoops of your choice. The boys picked chocolate, a classic, and then I chose a complementary flavored Riesling Poached Pear Sorbet. The sprinkles, of course, were for the boys. The long busy line was totally worth the wait.
We didn’t see Bill Watterson walking around town, but again, we weren’t looking because he is notoriously known to be a private person. While this was the birthplace of all the Calvin and Hobbes creative magic, it was nice to know that Watterson’s childhood imagination ran wild in Chagrin Falls. Thank you Chagrin Falls for the beautiful scenery, Bill Watterson, and Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream.
From my hometown to yours,