Akron, the "Rubber Capital of the World," is known for its connection to B.F. Goodrich Tires and more recently its innovations in polymer and liquid crystal technology, but the city has much more to offer, including an eclectic mix of historic treasures from the past and progressive culture featuring trends of the future. Downtown Akron is vibrant and active, teeming with art, museums, restaurants, theaters and other nightlife staples, and just outside the urban landscape, visitors can escape to a national park. Check out our sample itinerary and discover some of the best things to do and see in Akron, all within a weekend visit.
Vegetarian and Italian-Mediterranean Food at Chrissie Hynde's Vegiterranean Restaurant
Dine on fresh fare from Northeast Ohio farms served with a rock 'n' roll vibe at Vegiterranean Restaurant, owned by Pretenders rocker and Akron native Chrissie Hynde. Located just north of downtown Akron in the Northside Lofts, the vegan eatery offers a menu full of hearty choices for vegans and meat lovers alike, including veggie- and herb-filled pizza and pastas and faux chicken- and steak-like concoctions. Watch the sunset over the Cuyahoga Valley from the sleek black décor inside while noshing on hot Italian banana peppers stuffed with risotto and mozzarella glazed with fresh basil lime sauce or savoring a bowl of penne gratin topped with pine nuts, wild mushrooms and cashew cream. Vegiterranean fills up fast, so visit www.thevegiterranean.com or call (330) 374-5550 to make reservations.
Evening Show at Akron Civic Theatre
Catch a ballet, jazz concert or touring Broadway show downtown at the historic Akron Civic Theatre. Built in 1929 by Marcus Loew and designed by famed theater architect John Eberson, the restored Depression-era building is one of only five remaining atmospheric theaters of its size in the county. Marvel at the twinkling starlit sky and drifting clouds across a fabricated horizon and impressive acoustics inside. When the show wraps, head over to Quaker Square for a night's stay at a 19th-century Quaker Oats mill-turned-inn, with rooms housed within towering grain silos and decorated with marketing memorabilia from Akron's former industry giant and cereal conglomerate.
A Walk Through Akron's Historic District and Coffee at Mocha Maiden
Take a brisk morning walk through Akron's Historic District and stop for your morning caffeine and creativity fix at Mocha Maiden, a coffee shop in the heart of the district where local arts and commerce converge. Take a seat in the Art Nouveau-inspired cafe with your mocha and sample a pastry, and peruse the headlines of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Akron Beacon Journal. Before you leave, be sure to check out the gift shop gallery, which showcases leaded glass, jewelry, pottery, paintings and other handcrafted works by local artists.
Explore Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Surround yourself with the sights and sounds of nature in Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio's only national park which sits just minutes from downtown but feels like a world away. The Cuyahoga (Native American for “Crooked River”) covers 33,000 acres of meadows, waterways, ravines and forests and is home to beavers, foxes, deer and owls. Hike or bike along the Towpath Trail, which mules once used to pull barges down the Ohio and Erie Canal, visit Brandywine Falls and be sure to snap some pictures of the nostalgic Everett Road Covered Bridge. If you make it back to the Akron Northside Station by 11:30, climb aboard the aboard the vintage Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad for a 26-mile trip back in time. Take the narrated audio tour, “Voices of the Valley” to immerse yourself in stories of the Cuyahoga's earliest settlement and historic canal, or hop off to photograph the flora and fauna or shop at the visitor's center, which houses a museum chronicling the area's rich boat-building history.
Cheeseburgers at Swensons Drive-In
Hungry yet? Ease your cravings with cheeseburgers at Swensons Drive-In―and you're sure to be satisfied. Swensons' burgers were voted best in the country by Gourmet magazine, and it's no surprise since Akron is one of several Ohio towns that claims to be the burger's birthplace. Legend has it that the Akron-bred Menches brothers were the first to serve ground beef inside a bun while traveling with a concession circuit in the 1880s. Whatever the real story, there's no argument that Swensons has the best cheeseburgers in town, so go ahead and try one. And order fries and a milkshake, too!
A Trip to the Akron Art Museum
Spend your afternoon soaking up culture with a visit to the Akron Art Museum downtown. The museum, which recently completed a $41 million expansion, displays regional, national and international exhibitions dating from 1850 to modern day. Browse works from famous artists like Andy Warhol and Frank Stella and renowned photographers such as Margaret Bourke-White and Robert Frank. If you're more interested in innovation than art, check out the American Toy Marble Museum. With interactive exhibits that trace the history of the marble, the classic American toy invented by Akron resident Samuel C. Dyke in 1884, the museum celebrates the city's toy industry legacy.
Drinks and Appetizers at Crave Bistro
Before hitting the town for the evening, stop for a drink at Crave, a favorite hotspot for Akron's young professionals. Refresh yourself with a Pear Tini, a Frozen Tini or one of the bistro's long list of signature martinis and feast on fried pickle chips. Enjoy the eclectic art on the walls and the funky ambiance inside that draws a diverse group of Akronites from students to scientists. It's the perfect place for people watching!
Dinner and a Show at Carousel Dinner Theatre
Add some glitz and glamor to the evening with a night at Akron's Carousel Dinner Theatre. The downtown dinner theater is the largest of its kind in the country and offers an upscale three-course meal and first-class entertainment featuring professional performers in Broadway blockbusters―all in an elegant, candlelit setting. Call (800) 362-4100 for tickets or reserve them online at www.carouseldinnertheater.com.
A Stroll Through Highland Square and Breakfast at Angel Falls
Take a morning stroll through one of Akron's most unique neighborhoods, Highland Square, the place where famous residents like presidential candidate Wendell Willkie and industrialist Paul Litchfield got their start. Don't miss the Portage Path nearby, which runs along the 8-mile route once used by Native Americans to carry their canoes from the Cuyahoga to the Tuscarawas River―an event commemorated by sculptures along the path—and see what once served as the western boundary of the United States. Circle back to Angel Falls Coffee Company for a spiced latte and quiche.
Visit Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens, the 65-room Tudor-Revival country estate once owned by Frank A. Seiberling, co-founder of the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, and designed between 1911 and 1915 by famed American landscape architect Warren Manning. Open April Through December, visitors can tour the interior, which showcases original furnishings such as French and Italian reproduction furniture, 18th-century British portraits and priceless antique heirlooms, and view formal gardens, lagoons, a greenhouse and a birch tree walkthrough surrounding the mansion.