Aerial view of 2022 Hall of Fame Game at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton (photo by Aerial Agents)
Travel | Cities

7 Ways to Explore Canton and Stark County

From the new Pro Football Hall of Fame Village to a revitalized downtown, this northeast Ohio city delivers a memorable summer getaway.

Celebrate Gridiron Greats 

Autumn may be football season, but summer is when the legends of the gridiron get their due. Canton’s Pro Football Hall of Fame is a must for those who want to immerse themselves in the story of the game.

Enshrinement Week, held Aug. 3 through 6 this year, is the busiest time, as a new class of enshrinees make their way to Canton to don the gold jacket that marks their place among the NFL’s greatest. This year, nine players and coaches will join the more than 350 others honored in Canton. The Class of 2023 includes Cleveland Browns offensive tackle Joe Thomas and Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Ken Riley. 

“We are expecting quite a few Browns fans,” says Rachel Gutting, senior director of communications for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. “But there are many fans from other markets, too. It’s fun to see how far people will travel to see these players when they’re enshrined.”

Canton’s Hall of Fame Village ForeverLawn Sports Complex (photo by Aerial Agents)

Among the notable happenings early in the week is an Aug. 2 event during which thousands of kids line up next to one another and pass a football along a 3-mile route that stretches from downtown Canton to the Hall of Fame. Other events include a parade, fashion show and a preseason NFL football game on the evening of Aug. 3 between the Cleveland Browns and the New York Jets. 

Those making the visit will also want to spend time exploring the Hall of Fame Village, a 115-acre entertainment destination with restaurants, including Don Shula’s American Kitchen and The Brew Kettle. Phase 1 of the Hall of Fame Village began in 2017 and Phase II is now underway.

The ForeverLawn Sports Complex features eight fields with space for tournaments and recreational activities. At Play-Action Plaza, visitors can take a trip across a 90-foot zip line or ride an enormous Ferris wheel. On the way for 2024 is an indoor, football-themed waterpark with a lazy river, wave pool and waterslide tower.

Canton sign in downtown’s Centennial Plaza (photo courtesy of Downtown Canton Partnership)
Explore Downtown Canton

Revitalization efforts have transformed downtown Canton into a hub of art, culture and dining experiences. Locals and travelers alike head downtown for First Fridays, a monthly gathering that features live music and great food. July brings the Italian American Festival, and the August theme is Hall of Fame in celebration of Enshrinement Week. The walkable district is also a Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area, allowing patrons to sip and stroll with a beer, wine or cocktail. 

Downtown Canton is filled with locally owned businesses, and the area is known for its galleries and studio spaces, a lineup that includes the Canton Museum of Art, Patina Arts Centre, Strauss Studios, The Hub Art Factory, Creative Dreams and Julliard Arts Center, Silo Art Studio and BZTAT Studios.

The district is also home to a variety of culinary destinations. Options include H2 Huth & Harris Wine Merchants, Melange and longtime favorite Bender’s Tavern — the oldest restaurant in the city. Canton Food Tours provides a unique opportunity to try a variety of downtown restaurants during a guided trek that also explores the area’s history.

“Beyond Camelot: The Life and Legacy of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis” opened at downtown’s National First Ladies’ Library in May. The exhibition, which runs through April 2024, features never-before-seen artifacts donated by Monte Durham, of TLC’s “Say Yes to the Dress.: Atlanta.”

Just a mile from downtown sits the McKinley Presidential Library & Museum, which highlights the life of our 25th president and the history of Stark County. From July 1 to Sept. 30, the museum hosts “Brick Flicks,” an exhibition of large-scale prints depicting scenes from films such as “Dirty Dancing” and “Casablanca” — all re-created using Lego bricks. The museum also commissioned a depiction of its own McKinley National Memorial that is made entirely out of Lego bricks. 

“Parents have to tear their kids away from the exhibit,” says Kim Kenney, executive director of the McKinley Presidential Library & Museum. “We also have an interactive science center and a life-size indoor town. So, there are lots of other family-friendly things to do here.”

People dining at table at The Cave at Gervasi Vineyard Resort & Spa in Canton (photo courtesy of Gervasi Vineyard Resort & Spa)
Sip & Stay 

Gervasi Vineyard Resort & Spa
has long been regarded for its three distinct dining experiences — The Bistro, The Crush House and The Piazza — while overnight accommodations include Italian-style villas and well-appointed rooms at The Casa. In 2023, Gervasi added a wine cave and luxurious spa to its list of on-site amenities.

The Cave at Gervasi Vineyard opened in March, offering a daily wine-tasting menu and a private event space. Built into the side of a hill, the new addition is also home to the vineyard’s barrel-aging and storage facility, giving visitors the feeling of stepping into an underground sanctuary.

“People are just blown away by the beauty and the drama of the space,” says Scott Swaldo, CEO and general manager at Gervasi Vineyard Resort & Spa. “Our team is also very skilled, and they’re delivering a really personable, intimate wine-tasting experience.”

Unwind in luxury at The Spa, which opened in April and grew out of customer requests for such services while staying at the resort. Couples can relax and rejuvenate together by choosing from indulgent treatment options. One standout unique to the Canton area is the HydraFacial, a deep cleansing and hydrating procedure. Customers are invited to arrive 30 minutes before their spa service to enjoy a Tranquility Welcome, complete with a complimentary Gervasi wine selection.

Gervasi Vineyard Resort & Spa is just the start of Stark County’s wineries. Other nearby finds include Canton’s Forever Craft Urban Winery and Lost Trail Winery and Vineyard as well as Dragonfly Winery in Canal Fulton, Maize Valley Winery & Craft Brewery in Hartville and Cherry Road Winery in Massillon.  

Interior of Hartville Hardware’s Idea House (photo courtesy of Hartville Hardware)
Side Trip
Take a short drive north of Canton to check out the massive Hartville Hardware and its new Idea House.  

Hartville Hardware’s new Idea House offers 1,845 square feet of inspiration, with designers building each room to showcase the latest in home design and decor. Hartville Hardware created the first Idea House in 2012, but the new one that debuted in April 2023 is shaped by modern European architecture and forward-thinking design trends. Customers can walk through each room and get ideas for cabinets, countertops, tile, flooring, fixtures, appliances and much more. Plus, most products featured can be purchased or custom designed in-house.


When You Go
For more information about destinations in Canton and Stark County go to

Downtown Canton

Gervasi Vineyard Resort & Spa 

Hall of Fame Village

McKinley Presidential Library & Museum

National First Ladies’ Library

Pro Football Hall of Fame