Orientation suggestions?

<p>From a parent of a new Obie to experienced Obie parents: how best to handle where to stay:</p>

<li><p>in town at the motels? Which are admirable and which are to be avoided? </p></li>
<li><p>in town with the ad hoc B and Bs? . . . I like the idea and was wondering how it works in practice </p></li>
<li><p>out of town at what appear to be "better" hotels?</p></li>

<p>What did you do? How did it work out? What would you do differently?</p>

<p>I used to stay at the Best Western in Elyria. It was fine. I think my wife stayed once at the Holiday Inn across the street there, that was fine too. There are a number of other of the usual motel suspects there. They have a mall, Sears, etc. Other than that not a particularly nice place to hang out, but it's not far to Oberlin and it works. Grab a bite at the Bob Evans if necessary, and actually Rubin''s Deli made a decent sandwich I thought. (I don't mean destination dining, more like if you're hungry it won't at all kill you).</p>

<p>There are one or two other big "mall" areas a little further away, forget the names now. These come into play as parents because when I was up there my role was often taking her to buy stuff. I remember I bought her a bike at a bike store near one of those slightly further away big malls, and there was a big department store there where we bought some clothing. BTW I think she liked having the bike there.</p>

<p>If you're into rock music, D1 & I did enjoy the Rock Hall of Fame in Cleveland. Actually the first time I wasn't into it, but the second time I stayed for hours. I could see going one more time, separated by some years, then that would be it. But I am/(or more accurately was) unusually into that music.</p>

<p>Other than that, when we visited, there didn't seem to be much of particular interest going on in Cleveland, though we did drive around there once or twice and spent too much for dinner for no good reason. But you might check what's going on there. D1 did wind up going there occasionally for particular concerts, theater, etc.</p>

<p>The Oberlin Inn is fine and is obviously most convenient but I found it too expensive & wasn't willing to pay. YMMV. The Black River Cafe in Oberlin has good food but it can take a good while to get in & out of there.</p>

<p>We are not experienced Obi parents yet, but we stayed at two places when D had her auditions. Ivy Tree Inn, a B&B in Oberlin: 2 block walking distance, small rooms, nice but a little dusty. Breakfast was good but served the same meal both days (second day seemed like reheated version of first). Then we stayed at the Marriott Courtyard in N. Olmsted to be near the airport: was clean, with a straight and easy drive to Oberlin. Will stay there again when we drop D off in August. Lots of shopping near by (a big mall, Target, Walmart.) and area seemed safer than Elyria.</p>

<p>We have stayed in several hotels in Elyria near the mall - Best Western, Comfort Inn and Suites, and Red Roof Inn. All are fine and as stated above, an easy drive to Oberlin. There are several places for eating in the mall area. Elyria is not a great area, but it is fine for what you will need. I have never stayed in Oberlin itself.</p>

I've stayed at the Oberlin Inn many times. I have no experience with the town B&B's. I thought it was really great to be right in town when our daugher arrived as a freshman. Because she was new, she didn't know what to expect and couldn't predict when she would "need" us (to go to stores, help her organize her room, etc.). Once she got past freshman arrival, we still liked staying right in town. We'd have meals together and maybe some extra time when she wasn't in class/studying/etc. I think, if we'd stayed out of town we would have felt as if we were constantly driving back and forth (though I admit it's not very far) or we would have had to park ourselves in town to wait for her, without having access to a room in which we could relax. The Oberlin Inn is overpriced for what it offers, but to me what it's really offering is location, so I stay there.</p>

<p>I've stayed at the Oberlin Inn, at the Country Inn and Suites in Elyria, and the Marriott Courtyard in North Olmsted. The latter is furthest away but worth it. </p>

<p>You would think the Oberlin Inn would be the least epensive but it isn't. Rooms are unpredictable, both in size variation and in the presence of unwanted "wildlife." For both reasons, I refuse to stay there anymore. I'm sure others have had more pleasant experiences at the Obie Inn, but mine haven't all been perfect. The sole advantage to the Obie Inn is proximity to campus. That's it. </p>

<p>I've stayed at the Country Inn and Suites in Elyria without incident. I found it to be clean and the free breakfast modest but okay. Like at all hotels/motels, prices will fluctuate from one week to the next, and I've stayed there enough that they owe me a free stay. My wife, however, refuses to stay there again because the neighborhood has a seedy, downscale feel to it (her words). To me, its just more of a blue collarish area, and I don't have a problem with it. Next door is a McDonalds. Arby's is literally across the street. Wendy's is to the left. On the other side of the highway is the mall one of the other parents already mentioned. This hotel and a couple of others nearby is approximately 11 miles from campus.</p>

<p>My favorite place to stay is North Olmsted. It's furthest away but has the nicest accomodations and is price competitive with the closer Elyria. I've always paid less to stay at the Marriott Courtyard on Country Club Boulevard than at the Oberlin Inn and enjoyed accomodations that are plusher, cleaner and without any hint of room wildlife. They even give me an "Oberlin College rate" now. Always check. The Obie College rate can be more expensive or less expensive than say AAA rate, depending on the day. To the right of the Marriott is a cheaper suites hotel (I think its a homestead inn) that allows pets. I stayed there once with my daughter for only $59 for us + $25 for the Jack Russell. The room was very clean, better than the Obie Inn which cost twice as much. But I prefer the more expensive Marriott because they have a dining room for breakfast, a pool and a decent workout/exercise room. Next door has none of these things, and the desk help/hotel employees disappear literally after about 11pm. There is a Ramada hi-rise across from the Marriott Courtyard and Homestead. I've never stayed there.</p>

<p>The real bonus to North Olmsted is all the shopping and restaurants nearby. This will sound a bit snobby, but the area has a much nicer, more upscale feel to it than Elyria. The Great Northern Mall, a big enclosed mall, is on the other side of a busy road from the hotels but you can drive directly into it from Country Club Boulevard, so it's a piece of cake. There are about a half-dozen strip type malls (they're nice, don't worry) surrounding the area, some are sort of hidden behind the Great Northern Mall, but everything is within a mile to a mile and a half of the Marriott. Restaurants abound. You can find every kind of food including ethnic and boutique burger joints, fast and sit-down, and all manner of shopping, within two miles. Right next door to the Marriott - you can walk there in 30 seconds - are 3 restaurants: The Lonestar Steakhouse, Macaroni Grill, and Chilis. Of the three, Macaroni Grill is the best, if you like Italian food. But all three beat Arby's and McDonalds, the only eateries next door to the Country Inn and Suites in Elyria.</p>

<p>About seven miles from Country Club Boulevard is Crocker Park, a shopping, entertainment and yuppie condo development that includes "Promenade Shops." This is an upscale shopping, dining and entertainment area, with state-of-the-art multiplex theaters and some eateries like Liquid Planet and First Start that I wish were located where I live. The omelets, Carrot Cake pancakes and Georgia Pecan pancakes at First Start are not to be missed.</p>

<p>The only negative to North Olmsted is that you need a car. It's about 20 miles from campus. The good part is you can get there without getting on the Interstate Highway (80), and I've never experienced any traffic going back and forth between Oberlin and N. Olmsted, except this winter when I visited during a snow storm. Yikes! Snow removal is not as good in Ohio as it is in Minnesota (when we lived there), that's for sure. Other than that one occasion, it takes only about 22 minutes to drive from Oberlin to N. Olmsted regardless of the time of day or night. But I understand that some people hate to drive any distance. I don't. If I've already driven 7 hours to campus from my home in eastern PA, 20 minutes back and forth to campus and North Olmsted is nothing if it means staying in a nicer area with a ton of conveniences, and options not available in the town of Oberlin or in Elyria. But to each his own. Hope this helps.</p>

<p>You mean "first watch", not "first start".</p>

<p>Re#5, the game plan when you're not staying right in town is drive to Oberlin and then stay there with the kid all day.Or drive out with the kid. If the kid doesn't need you for a while, which happened frequently, take a walk downtown, browse in the bookstore, grab a cup of coffee someplace and read the newspaper, etc. Or if you must go back to the room, it's only , what'd he say, 11 miles? I recall that I did go back to the room in between at least once, but in any event this was never any big issue to me, it's not that far. It's not like a room at the Oberlin Inn is any great place to hang out, any more than one of the coffee shops on the main street are. </p>

<p>Anyway different strokes, but for me any actual inconvenience associated with staying in Elyria seemed immaterial in practice to me and did not outweigh the benefit of the significant cost savings. If it did I wouldn't have kept staying there. I stayed at Oberlin Inn twice I think, the first year, then never again once I tried Elyria.</p>

You mean "first watch", not "first start".


<p>Someone help me...I can't seem to get the name of that place correct. Oh well, so long as I can find it again. Yummy!</p>

<p>FYI, there's a First Watch opening in Oberlin soon. </p>

<p>Also, my parents liked to stay at a budget motel (I think maybe a Days Inn?) in Amherst -- it's a nicer area than Elyria, and about the same distance.</p>

<p>The Oberlin Inn, though fairly minimal in its amenities (including soap and sheets, which are on the tiny and threadbare side) is very convenient, and it's nice to be able to go (very early - like when they open) to the Black River Cafe or The Feve for breakfast - and drinkable coffee (watch out for JavaZone unless they have a new owner or you aren't used to a good strong espresso drink). There are also local Oberlin alums and community members who put people up in their homes and donate the fee to charity. I don't know if that is a possibility during orientation, but you might try to check into it if that is appealing; we found it to be convenient and pleasant, but I don't remember how we arranged it.
There aren't many restaurants in Oberlin (though there apparently are some new ones opening up), but the few there are can be quite fun to try. My favorites are Black River for breakfast and the Feve for lunch or dinner (though I think the hamburgers are better at Black River, and I haven't had dinner there). Weia Teia is more upscale...Gibsons has ice cream and a little bit of everything else - kind of a crazy, old-fashioned store in that way, including a multitude of candies, some made by them - but the ice cream at Black River is far better (though you can't take it out on a cone). There is also a little eating place at Oberlin Market which is hidden near the new Kohl building.<br>
Take some time to wander around Oberlin - walk to the Arb and try to see the Frank Lloyd Wright house if you have the time; the Allen Museum is, unfortunately, closed for repairs, but very well worth seeing once it reopens. The drives outside of Oberlin are also interesting to take at some point - you can go through lots of little towns that are reminiscent of New England, with similar names as well, and into the Amish country; there are little farms, and it is quite scenic.<br>
I thought Cleveland had some interesting things to see on our brief visit there - among other things, there is an art museum that is gradually reopening, which has a good collection, a botanical garden, and an Italian town (more like a street, but some good restaurants and local color) - these are in the area of Severance Hall and Case Western, which has a very attractive campus. Westside Market is supposed to be worth seeing if you are interested in food. The downtown area where the ball parks are located is depressed-looking; we didn't get out of the car, even to visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but it supposedly has some night life of note.
Orientation is interesting and fun for the parents - there's a concert (it is hot in Finney, so keep that in mind when choosing your seat); meeting the faculty is also a nice part of orientation.</p>

<p>There are several organizations in Oberlin that raise funds by having members provide B&B services for visitors. These are detailed at Accommodations</a> - Oberlin College starting about a quarter of the way down the page. We stayed with a very interesting couple who were members of the Oberlin Heritage Center in their lovely home less than a mile from campus. That organization only runs this particular fund raiser during orientation, but there are others that open up members' homes either year round or on other high-demand weekends.</p>

FYI, there's a First Watch opening in Oberlin soon.


<p>No! You're pulling my leg, Elizabeth. You must be pulling my leg. When, what street? I can't believe they would do that given the small population in the Oberlin area. I find that really hard to believe. From a business standpoint, it doesn't make sense. Are you sure it isn't someplace near Oberlin and not in Oberlin?</p>

<p>Wait -- First Watch, or Fresh</a> Start? Or are we getting both?</p>

<p>(First Watch, First Start, Fresh Start - it's all too much...)</p>

<p>It's Fresh Start that's opening in Oberlin.</p>

<p>Too bad, I have to agree with Plainsman, First Watch is pretty good.
Hopefully Fresh Start will be as well.</p>

<p>Aw darn it! 'Lizbeth got my hopes up only to have them dashed. I'm not interested in Fresh Start Diner. I'm more of an Asian Fusion guy than a diner guy. </p>

<p>Come August, I guess I'll be trudging up to Westlake to get those First Watch panckes after all. I didn't think First Watch would come to a town the size of Oberlin. First Watch is a high volume, yuppie-type business that doesn't serve dinner. The business model doesn't fit a town the size of Oberlin. Take out the wealthier students and faculty and the demographics in the town (from what I've seen) would not work. I'm just saying. It's all about the business model. A diner is a different story.</p>

<p>Oops, I messed up the names! I've clearly been listening to Plainsman too much. Sorry about that. Regardless, it's a breakfast/lunch place, and will be an exciting new development.</p>

<p>"Oops, I messed up the names! I've clearly been listening to Plainsman too much"</p>

<p>Makes sense, he's already admitted that he can't keep the names straight. I guess it's catchy.</p>

<p>BTW they have decent lunch items too. I used to get the Cobb salad, IIRC..</p>

<p>Could use one of those around here, IHOP is looking pretty long in the tooth these days. The diners here are good though.</p>

<p>If there's a big mall in Westlake maybe that's where we went for the bike, and the department store. Can't remember.</p>

<p>Thanks, all</p>

<p>great suggestions, good comments</p>