Explore Akron’s Hidden Gems: A Memorable Day Trip Guide to Ohio’s Vibrant City

June 20, 2023

Disclaimer: this post was sponsored by the Akron/Summit Convention & Visitors Bureau. Photos and opinions are my own.

We often find ourselves driving through Akron on our way to visit family in Pennsylvania, but we rarely get the chance to stop in Summit County (and when we have, it’s been to the excellent Blue Door Bakery & Cafe in Cuyahoga Falls or feeding my obsession with fried chicken in neighboring Barberton).

But last month the folks from the Akron/Summit CVB invited us out for a day, and I think we’ve discovered more of the best things to do in Akron – follow along!

1. Java and Sandwiches Porchlight Coffee

First stop is always going to be coffee, and we started with the excellent Porchlight Coffee.

Porchlight sits just off the highway on Grant Street, with a big, open space that invites you whether you’re just stopping through, catching up with friends, or working for a bit.

Their menu spans the usual drip coffee, cold brew, and espresso drinks, plus some great seasonal specialties. I went for a cafe miel (a honey latte), Beth tried their seasonal horchata cold brew generously topped with cinnamon, and the boys split an iced mocha.

Porchlight also offers a small food menu that includes breakfast sandwiches, avocado toast, baked oatmeal, a salad, and grilled cheese. We tried a pair sandwiches with souffled egg, bacon, cheddar, arugula, and Dijon.

Porchlight is also a new member of the Drip Drive, a coffee trail in Summit County that takes you to 20 locally owned shops. If you purchase drinks and collect stamps on at least 16, you can earn a special edition mug and be entered into a drawing to win $500 in prizes! Learn more at thedripdrive.com.

Porchlight Coffee
798 Grant St.
Akron, OH 44311

porchlightcoffee.square.site

2. Stepping Back in Time at Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens

Stop two was a self-guided tour of Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens just outside the city.

The massive estate, which clocks in over 64,000 square feet and includes dozens of rooms, was built between 1912-1915 by Gertrude and F.A. Seiberling. (F.A. started Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company with his brother Charles in 1898.) The name Stan Hywet (pronounced HEW-it) comes from the Old English for “stone quarry,” a nod to the property’s legacy. The hall was their home for more than 40 years, after which it become a non-profit open to the public for tours.

The entire property spans 70 acres and includes gardens, a conservatory, and other features. Remarkably, about 95% of the house and its furnishings are all original! Take a look inside:

There are guided tours scheduled throughout the day, but the self-guided entry lets you wander through the two main stories of the house at your own pace. Depending on the tour, tickets range from $9-10 for youth 3-17 and $19-21 for adults (cheaper if you’re a member). Get a look at all the tours and admission prices here.

You could spend hours examining the common rooms, library, offices, bedrooms, kitchens – even a pool!

The level of preserved detail is amazing.

After touring the house, you need to take time to explore the gardens. There’s a lush English garden, a calming Japanese garden, a conservatory, and much more.

Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens
714 N. Portage Path
Akron, OH 44303

stanhywet.org

3. Grilled Cheese Galore at The Lockview

After our tour of Stan Hywet, we had worked up an appetite, so we followed our host’s suggestion to check out The Lockview downtown.

The Lockview is a cozy spot – indeed, within view of the old canal locks downtown – that’s known especially for their grilled cheese sandwiches. They offer 15 different versions, from classic to creative, plus loads of bar snacks and a full bar.

We tried the #1 classic with American cheese, the #8 with goat cheese, roasted red peppers, and spinach; the #12 with American cheese, mashed potatoes, and a side of gravy; and the #14 with pepper jack and chorizo. All terrific!

The Lockview
207 S. Main St.
Akron, OH 44308

thelockview.com

4. Step Back in Time at The Peanut Shoppe

And while you’re at The Lockview, we highly suggest stepping next door to the Peanut Shoppe.

Similar to the Peanut Shoppe in downtown Columbus, the Akron store has been serving fresh-roasted nuts, candies, and other goodies since the 1930s!

It’s hard not to feel like a kid again when you’re there!

The Peanut Shoppe
203 S. Main St.
Akron, OH 44308

facebook.com/peanutakron

We also spent a little time walking around Lock 3 Park across the street. You can see remaining portions of the Ohio & Erie Canal and some of the locks. Now it features the beautiful Akron Civic Theatre, outdoor spaces used for live music, and stunning murals.

5. Stunning Work at the Akron Art Museum

Our afternoon excursion took us to the Akron Art Museum downtown! The museum has long been on my list to visit. It features a few gallery spaces, a cafe, and a beautiful glass atrium with some interactive activities. Depending on how quickly you move through museums, you could spend a couple hours and easily take it all in.

The main galleries feature an eclectic mix from their permanent collection, from paintings and photography to sculptures and digital pieces. My personal favorite was “Light Atlas” by Cynthia Daignault. She spent five months traveling the perimeter of the U.S., stopping every 27 miles to paint what she saw. The result is 360 small watercolors depicting the changing landscape.

Now through September 24, 2023 they’re hosting a marvelous show of work by Keith Haring. Haring was known for creating thousands of pieces, many of them made in the NYC subways through the 1980s until his death in 1990. This is a rare chance to see so much of his work together; it’s bold, cartoon-ish at times, and fun.

The Akron Art Museum is open Wednesday-Sunday. Non-member admission is $12 for adults, $10 for seniors, $8 for students, and kids 17 and under are free.

Akron Art Museum
1 S. High St.
Akron, OH 44308

akronartmuseum.org

6. Frosty Brews at Hoppin’ Frog Brewery

Our final stop of the day was a place I’ve been wanting to visit for years: Hoppin’ Frog Brewery. Their brewery and taproom sits south of town, across the road from the airfield where the Goodyear Blimp is housed!

We were still full from lunch, but if you’re hungry Hoppin’ Frog offers a surprisingly dynamic food menu, with charcuterie boards, pretzels, wings, sandwiches, flatbreads, soups, salads – even a full vegan menu!

We tried a flight of beers, including my favorite: B.O.R.I.S. the Crusher. The name stands for Bodacious Oatmeal Russian Imperial Stout. It’s rich but balanced, and was one of my early loves when I first got into craft beer in the early 2000s. So fun to taste it right at the source.

Relaxing at Hoppin’ Frog’s taproom was the perfect finish to a fun day!

Hoppin’ Frog Brewery
1680 E. Waterloo Rd.
Akron, OH 44306

hoppinfrog.com

Thanks to the folks from the CVB for hosting us! If you want to learn more about Akron and Summit County, and get ideas for restaurants, parks, museums, bars, family activities, music, and much more, check out visitakron-summit.org!

Disclaimer: this post was sponsored by the Akron/Summit Convention & Visitors Bureau. Photos and opinions are my own.

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FOOD + TRAVEL WRITER

I go by Dr. Breakfast, but in addition to restaurants and recipes, I write about family travel, breweries and distilleries, the arts, outdoor fun, and so much more.

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