Race at The All American Soap Box Derby in Akron (photo courtesy of All American Soap Box Derby)
Travel | Cities

11 Summer Stops in Akron and Summit County

With a great mix of downtown attractions and nature to explore, the Rubber City and the area surrounding it offer plenty of summer fun for the family.

Family Fun

For those who want to step into history and see how one of Akron’s most famous families lived, a trip to Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens is in order. The former estate of Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. co-founder F.A. Seiberling and his family welcomes visitors to tour its 64,500-square-foot manor house and explore the property’s 70-acre grounds, which makes for an outing that promises to capture the imagination.

Wednesdays and Saturdays through October bring Seiberling Explorers days. Children and their families can learn about geocaching, butterflies, various Ohio animal habitats and more. Those looking for an evening activity out of the sun can opt for a Twilight Walk, a guided or solo trek throughout the grounds that highlights native nocturnal creatures.

In nearby Bath, travelers can step back in time to the 19th century at Hale Farm & Village. The living history museum presents a look at the lives of settlers who called the area home around the time of Akron’s founding in 1825. Explore true-to-the-time trades in 34 buildings across the 96-acre property, including blacksmithing, glassblowing and pottery, all presented by costumed guides who explain their craft to visitors. Kids and adults alike find fun in checking out the animals who live at Hale Farm & Village.

“We have a historic breeds program, so our animals that we have here are breeds that would have been in the area in the 19th century,” says Travis Henline, director of Hale Farm & Village. “We have some short-horn milking oxen, Merino and Tunis sheep [and] heritage breeds of chickens.”

Another time-honored Akron tradition is The All-American Soap Box Derby World Championship, held on July 22 at Derby Downs, just southeast of the city center. Since 1936, racers have brought the gravity-powered, motorless racers to this 989-foot-long track to compete for the title of Soap Box Derby champion. Festivities kick off July 17 with the Soap Box Derby parade and opening ceremony.  

View of Akron RubberDucks’ game at Canal Park
In the City  

The Akron RubberDucks — a Double-A affiliate of the Cleveland Guardians — play in the heart of downtown at Canal Park. In addition to the slate of fun themed nights and ballpark giveaways, there are also fireworks displays after every Friday night game of the season.

“We’re all about affordable family fun,” says Jim Pfander, president and general manager of the Akron RubberDucks. “You can always come to a RubberDucks game and get a $5 ticket, [and] you can always get a $2 hot dog.”

Just a short walk away on South High, travelers can check out the Akron Art Museum. It’s hard to miss with its angular and modern structure, which was added as part of a 2007 renovation and expansion and designed by Austrian architectural firm Coop Himmelb(l)au. This summer’s featured exhibition is “Keith Haring: Against All Odds,” on view through Sept. 24.

Special events offered throughout the season include a Mindful Art yoga series as well as a variety of Sip in the Studio events that focus on The Art of Food Styling (July 19) and The Art of Floral Design (Aug. 10) among other topics.

Kids and families can take a walk on the wild side at the Akron Zoo located just west of downtown. Attracting about 400,000 visitors annually, the zoo draws in people of all ages to visit the Grizzly Ridge area with its playful grizzly bears and splashing otters, or the giant Komodo dragon.

Special events throughout the summer include Princess, Pirate and Superhero Day (July 15), where kids and families are encouraged to don the gear of their favorite characters for a day of activities and meet and greets. Clue at the Zoo (Aug. 26) invites mystery lovers of all ages to play a larger-than-life “Clue” game, visiting animals along the way to solve the case of the missing zookeeper radio.   

Akron’s Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad train and passengers (photo by iStock)
The Great Outdoors

Climb aboard the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad for a sightseeing excursion through the state’s only national park. Ride the rails for 13.5 miles between Peninsula and Akron on the National Park Scenic Excursion, during which an app-based program shares information about the route and the river valley it runs through.

The Explorer program is for bikers, runners, and hikers who want to jump on and off the train with their gear, using the railway as transportation to get from one section of the park to the next.

After arriving at Cuyahoga Valley National Park, stop at the visitor center before departing for one of the winding trails including fan favorites like the Brandywine Gorge Loop or Ledges Trail, which passes by huge natural sandstone outcroppings. 

“It can be a cooler spot to visit on a hot summer day just because of the shade and the moisture in the sandstone,” says Pamela Barnes, community engagement supervisor and public information officer for Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

Summit County’s famous outdoor performance venue, Blossom Music Center is nestled within the national park, hosting a variety of national music acts throughout the summer (Jason Aldean, Barenaked Ladies and Nickelback are part of this summer’s lineup.) The venue is also the summer home of The Cleveland Orchestra, which offers a slate of both classical and pop culture-oriented musical presentations throughout the summer.

For those who want to hit some trails beyond Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Summit Metro Parks offers 16 locations to explore with more than 150 miles of trails. 

Paddlers can bring a kayak or paddleboard to Liberty Metropark for a day on the water. Avid anglers will find lake and pond fishing at 10 different locations in the park system, as well as six locations to fish on the Cuyahoga and Tuscarawas rivers. For something a little different, check out the archery ranges at Liberty Park and at Silver Creek and Hampton Hills Metro Parks that are free and open to the public to use with their own gear.  

Double imperial stout and meal at Hoppin’ Frog Brewery in Akron (photo courtesy of Hoppin’ Frog Brewery)
Sip Shape 
Discover new brews along two different drink paths that take you on a tour of the region.

Sample from 21 participating breweries across Summit, Stark and Medina counties along the Summit Brew Path. Longtime Ohio favorites like Hoppin’ Frog Brewery and Thirsty Dog Brewing Co. are just a couple of the stops along the trail, which also includes newer locations like Eighty-Three Brewery on Market Street on the east side of Akron. (Those who visit all locations have a chance to win $1,000.) If a cup of coffee is more your style, The Drip Drive maps 20 coffee shops across Summit County. (Participants who stop at 16 of the 20 earn a Drip Drive mug.) summitbrewpath.comthedripdrive.com

When You Go
Go to visitakron-summit.org for more information about destinations in Akron and Summit County. 

Akron Art Museum

Akron RubberDucks

Akron Zoo

The All-American Soap Box Derby

Blossom Music Center

Cuyahoga Valley National Park 

Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad

Hale Farm & Village

Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens

Summit Metro Parks