10 Unique Things to Do in Akron

by Paul Joseph  |  Published April 7, 2023

Home to dozens of museums and cultural venues, as well as several outdoor attractions, Akron makes for a worthy stop-off for those travelling through northeast Ohio.

A giant artwork at the Akron Art Museum (Photo: Knight Foundation via Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0)

The state of Ohio’s fifth largest city may be a little off the radar of your average tourist, but Akron routinely makes it on to lists of the region’s most liveable cities. Leafy, tranquil residential neighbourhoods encircle the bustling downtown district, where the bulk of the city’s attractions and places of interest can be found. Below is our list of 12 unique things to see and do across Akron.

Take in some culture at a top-class museum

A captivating fusion of architectural styles makes Akron Art Museum one of the city’s most distinctive landmarks and a tourist site in its own right. Once a 19th-century Renaissance revival building, in recent decades it was mixed with glass and steel to create a harmonious masterpiece that captured the attention of all who see it. Venture inside, and a fantastic collection of art awaits you, with works hailing from 1850 through to the present day, including sculptures, photography exhibitions, and paper drawings.

1 South High Street / Weds-Sun 11am-5pm Closed Mon-Tues

The sheer diversity of art on display at the Kent State University Museum is a sight to behold, spanning everything from textiles, fashion and costumes to furniture, glassware, paintings and decorative pieces. Represented are both local and international artists and designers hailing from all over the globe, with their works showcased across eight museum galleries, including both permanent and temporary exhibitions. Exhibit highlights include a large selection of 18th and 19th– century Chinese costumes, Central European apparel, and a number of outfits that once belongs to iconic actress Marlene Dietrich.

515 Hilltop Drive, Kent / Tues-Sat 11am-5pm Sun 12pm-4pm Closed Mon

Marvel at an array of exotic animals

For families visiting Akron, a day out at the zoo is likely to be a sure-fire winner. Founded in the 1900s, Akron Zoo has grown significantly since those early days when it housed just two lonely brown bears. Today the facility has grown dramatically to cover some 77 acres of land, featuring a huge assortment of more than 100 animal species from around the world, including tigers, snow leopards, red pandas, penguins, and more. Also on-site is a fascinating museum that explores natural history.

500 Edgewood Avenue / Mon-Sun 11am-4pm

A resident at Akron Zoo (Photo: David Ellis via Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0)

Delve into Akron’s rich jazz scene

Between the 1930s and the 1960s, Akron was widely known as the jazz corridor of the Midwest due to its geographical position between the jazz heartlands of Chicago and New York. During that time, clubs across the city welcomed such eminent musical acts such as Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong. Today this legacy is celebrated at the annual Rubber City Jazz and Blues Festival, which sees performances take place in multiple venues throughout downtown.

Downtown Akron / September each year

A stage performance at the Rubber City Jazz and Blues Festival (Photo: Rubber City Jazz and Blues Festival)

Also at the epicentre of Akron’s jazz scene is Blue Jazz+, a renowned live music bar in the heart of downtown. Featuring exposed brick and rafters, the club combines a retro mid-century feel with the style and sophistication of a hip and modern music venue. Some of the best jazz musicians in the country regularly perform here, along with up-and-coming acts from the local area. There’s also an on-site jazz photography and memorabilia gallery showcasing the music genre’s rich history.

47 East Market Street / Tues & Thurs-Sat 7am-12am Closed Weds & Sun-Mon

A live show at the BLU Jazz+ club (Photo: BLU Jazz+)

Get your kids learning about fossils

Situated just outside the city, the Akron Fossils and Science Center is home to a wide range of hands-on and interactive exhibits and displays designed to imbue children with a passion and a thirst for learning all about science and fossils. First opened in 2005, among the notable items on show include the jawbone of a woolly mammoth, dinosaur teeth, bones and eggs, and the skeleton of a giant mastodon. There’s also a  live animal collection and the chance to make your own fossil replica to take home as a memento.

2080 S Cleveland Massillon Road, Copley / Sat 10am-5pm Closed Sun-Fri

Stroll around a historic home and gardens

Once the home of F.A. Seiberling, co-founder of The Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens is one of Akron’s most popular visitor attractions. The 65-room Tudor revival manor house is the 6th largest home open to the public in the U.S. and outside there are 30 acres historic gardens and grounds as well as a conservatory with a tropical garden. Family-friendly areas include the children’s play garden and butterfly habitat. Both guided and self-guided tours of the house and grounds are available.

714 North Portage Path 

The scenic environs of Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens (Photo: The scenic environs of Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens (Photo: Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens)

Hit the slopes

Located a 20-minute drive north of Akron, Boston Mills is widely considered the snowboarding capital of Ohio. Home to two acclaimed ski resort – Boston Mills and Brandywine – the area attracts tens of thousands of skiing and snowboarding enthusiasts during the region’s winter months, with some 19 ski runs providing suitable terrain for both beginners and experienced skiers alike. More advanced thrill-seekers may choose to brave the Tiger Run, the steepest ski slope anywhere in America. As well as skiing, snow tubing and snowshoeing are also available.

Visit scenic shoreline bluffs

Nestled between downtown Akron and the city of Cuyahoga Falls, Cascade Valley Metro Park was named after the small river cascades dotted all over the area. But perhaps the prime attraction here is the steep bluffs that stand nearly 130 above the river. A deck stretches out from these bluffs and makes for one of the most dramatic viewing points anywhere in the region  The park is also popular for fishing and hiking,  as well as picnicking families and couples.

837 Cuyahoga Street / Mon-Sun 6am-11pm

Verdant greenery at Cascade Valley Metro Park (Photo: Greg Habermann via Flickr / CC BY 2.0)

Take a tour of a 19th-century Italianate mansion

Designed in 1871 by leading Akron industrialist John Henry Hower in the Second Empire Italianate style, the 28-room Hower House is among the city’s most historic landmarks. Topped with an eye-catching mansard roof and soaring tower, the mansion is packed with hundreds of treasures and furnishings collected by Hower and his family during their globe-trotting travels. The house is open for both public and private tours.

60 Fir Hill / Thurs 10am-1pm Fri-Sat 12pm-3pm Closed Sun-Weds

Catch a college football game

Like in so many other parts of America, college football (of the American variety) is a seriously big deal in Akron. At the heart of the city’s football scene is InfoCision Stadium–Summa Field, a state-of-the-art 30-000 capacity spots arena that plays host to the Akron Zips football team at the University of Akron. A loyal and noisy band of fans come to support the team for each game, but it’s also possible for visitors to buy tickets online so they can get to savour the fun atmosphere and white hot noise for themselves.

375 E Exchange Street

A football match in full flow at InfoCision Stadium (Photo: Erik Drost via Flickr / CC BY 2.0)

Watch some live theatre

Built in 1929, the Akron Civic Theatre is a major cultural landmark that harks back to the great movie palaces of the Roaring Twenties, a time when the US entertainment industry flourished. Inside, the theatre has been designed to resemble a Moorish Castle with Mediterranean decor, complete with medieval style carvings, European antiques and Italian sculptures. Other notable features include a grand full-sized organ hidden beneath the stage that rises to stage level during performances. As well as live theatre, the venue also hosts frequent live music acts.

182 South Main Street