Akron: Outdoor Fun & Tourist Trails
These favorites throughout Summit County allow travelers to embrace history and nature. Plus, there is great coffee, craft beer and vintage shopping along the way.
Ohio & Erie Canalway Towpath Trail
The Towpath Trail currently stretches more than 90 miles, allowing travelers to trace the route mules once used to pull canal boats along the Ohio & Erie Canal. Today, the trail is beloved by hikers, bikers and runners of all ages and levels. One of them is biking enthusiast Kevin Madzia, who works at Century Cycles, a bicycle shop located along the trail in Peninsula.
One of the most popular sections of the Towpath Trail runs through Cuyahoga Valley National Park, starting on Rockside Road in Independence and stretching 22 miles south through the park to the Botzum Trailhead.
“People who hear about the national park say, ‘Let’s go and check it out,’ and a good way to do that is riding bikes on the Towpath,” Madzia says.
If you’re looking to bike a shorter segment, he recommends starting in Peninsula, where you can rent bikes from Century Cycles if needed, and riding south to Beaver Marsh and back — about 9 miles roundtrip. Beaver Marsh is a wetland traversed by an inviting wooden boardwalk that’s ideal for wildlife watching.
“There are places where the path widens out with benches so you can stop and hang out without people running you down on the trail,” Madzia says. For more information about the Towpath Trail, visit ohioanderiecanalway.com. To learn more about Century Cycles, visit centurycycles.com.
Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens
Exploring the former estate of Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. co-founder F.A. Seiberling is on the short list of must-visit spots in Akron. While there’s plenty to see inside the 65-room Tudor Revival Manor House, the Gate Lodge and Corbin Conservatory, you also can’t go wrong spending a summer day outside walking the grounds designed by landscape architect Warren Manning. Part of what makes Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens special is the landscape is kept true to how it appeared when the Seiberlings lived there.
“That’s one of the unique things about our property,” says Tom Hrivnak, superintendent of horticulture and facilities at Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens. “Most historic homes in the U.S. cannot say that.”
With admission, travelers may stroll the grounds’ 70 acres at their own pace on several self-guided outdoor tours or as part of a Guided Garden Tour.
Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens president and executive director Sean Joyce says the estate has a full slate of outdoor events planned for summer, including the Off the Vine wine-tasting event on July 23 and Ohio Shakespeare Festival performances of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” during July and August.
“There are a lot of fun things for the family to do, and the gardens will be beautiful as always,” Joyce says. “It should be a great summer.” 714 N. Portage Path, Akron 44303, 330/836-5533, stanhywet.org
Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Brandywine Falls is the most popular spot within Ohio’s only national park. Visitors can view the 60-foot cascade from a boardwalk with or without descending its steps, but making the trek pays off with a spectacular view.
“It’s really something to see, especially after a big rain,” says Pamela Barnes, park ranger and community engagement supervisor for Cuyahoga Valley National Park.
The best way to avoid the crowds is to come on weekday mornings or evenings. The relatively small parking lot fills quickly on weekends, especially between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.
“There’s also a great option of hiking [about 5 miles roundtrip] to the falls from Boston Mill Visitor Center, which should be your first stop anyway,” Barnes advises. “You can talk with a ranger and plan your trip.”
Another favorite area of the 33,000-acre park is The Ledges, Barnes says.
“It’s quite nice in the summer because it’s shady and the sandstone makes it cooler,” she says, adding that it also has ample parking. “You can do a short part of the trail, do the entire loop or watch the sunset at the overlook.”
Although some national park sites and centers may be closed this summer due to construction, there’s still plenty to do, including pop-up park ranger activities, as well as concerts and volunteer opportunities through the Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Visit Cuyahoga Valley National Park’s website for alerts and updates. nps.gov/cuva
Hale Farm & Village
The 90-acre grounds of this living history museum in Bath, located just 10 miles from downtown Akron, are fun to visit for families and history buffs alike. Visitors learn what it was like for Western Reserve settler and Connecticut native Jonathan Hale and his family to live on a 19th-century homestead.
“We have 32 historic buildings, craft and trade demonstrations on a daily basis, the farm animals and gardens,” says Catherine Sterle, acting director of Hale Farm & Village. “There’s plenty of space to spread out and explore Ohio’s past.”
In addition to the farm’s regular sites and demonstrations, this summer brings several ticketed outdoor events, including movies under the stars presented by The Nightlight, Music in the Valley Folk & Wine Festival (July 10 and 11) and Made in Ohio Art & Craft Festival (Sept. 3 through 5).
Travelers looking to combine multiple Akron-area attractions into one trip may want to consider the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad’s Hale Farm Excursion, Sterle says. Board the train at Rockside Station in Independence or the Akron Northside Station and ride it to Indigo Lake, where a tram takes you to Hale Farm.
“Here you’re free to explore at your own pace,” she says. “Then board the tram and finish up your train ride.” 2686 Oak Hill Rd., Bath 44210, 330/666-3711, halefarm.org
A Different Route
Follow a new path this summer by exploring these tourist trails that crisscross Summit County.
Summit Brew Path: Pick up a passport at one of 24 stops and earn stamps along this craft beer trail before Dec. 7 in pursuit of prizes. Locations include Akron-area craft beer mainstays like Thirsty Dog Brewing Co. and Hoppin’ Frog Brewery as well as newer stops like Eighty-Three Brewery and Missing Mountain Brewing Co. summitbrewpath.com
The Drip Drive: Get your passport stamped at 18 coffee shops in the Greater Akron area to earn a coffee mug and a chance for a grand prize. Enjoy a cold brew on Kave Coffee Bar’s rooftop patio or sip on a spice-infused double espresso called a Chihuahua at one of three Nervous Dog Coffee Bar locations. thedripdrive.com
New Again Akron: The Rubber City’s “retail adventure trail” is full of unique finds for vintage lovers and antique hunters. Use the map provided online to hit the 20-plus locations. Just be sure to check days and hours of operation of individual shops along the trail before heading out for your second-hand haul. newagainakron.com