Community Focus: Akron’s Urban Chic

Community Focus: Akron’s Urban Chic

- in Community Focus, June 2016, Uncategorized
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Akron offers all the appeal of a larger city without big-city attitude. It’s the perfect place in Northeast Ohio to catch a ball game, grab dinner and listen to live music at venues that all are within walking distance of each other. Akron’s variety of attractions and walkability make it a perfect destination for families. Check out the area’s highlights to start planning your visit.

Arts & Culture

From art and music to ballet and theater, Akron has plenty to offer.

If art is on your agenda, be sure to visit the Akron Art Museum (akronartmuseum.org), which houses more than 5,000 works of art, with a strong focus on contemporary painting, sculpture and photography. The museum features nearly a dozen exhibitions each year and also offers plenty of learning opportunities, including children’s programs, lectures, workshops, tours and more.

Also located downtown, Summit Artspace (summitartspace.org) is a community art center bringing together in one location some of the best local artists, art education and arts organizations.

On almost any given night — particularly in warmer months — there’s a venue in Akron to catch a show or concert. For live music, try The Tangier (thetangier.com) or E.J. Thomas Performing Arts Hall, which often hosts the Akron Symphony Orchestra (akronsymphony.org). From May through September, look for outdoor concerts at downtown’s Lock 3  (loc3live.com) or Blossom Music Center (the summer home of the Cleveland Orchestra), located a short drive away in Cuyahoga Falls.

The Ballet Theatre of Ohio (ballettheatreohio.org), presents classical ballets at downtown’s historic Akron Civic Theatre. In addition to performing The Nutcracker every holiday season, Ballet Theatre of Ohio also presents other full-length ballets, including Cinderella, Coppelia, Sleeping Beauty and The Wizard of Oz, each spring.

Also, the Akron Civic Theatre (akroncivic.com), built in 1929 and restored and expanded in 2001, maintains a full event calendar year-round, including concerts, films, plays, special events and more.

The Weathervane Community Playhouse (weathervaneplayhouse.com) presents live theater with volunteer artists, designers and technicians under professional direction; it also provides education and training in theater arts and appreciation.

If your art interests take the form of fashion, shop vintage at Blue, A Goodwill Boutique in Akron and Kent, which provides an array of high-end clothing, jewelry, clothes and accessories. (goodwillakron.org/blue)

Making Education Fun

Akron offers even more venues that are so much fun, your kids won’t even realize they’re taking part in an educational experience.

The city is home to famous estates that offer lessons in architecture and area history. Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens (stanhywet.org), with five historic buildings and 10 historic gardens on 70 acres, was the family home of F.A. Seiberling, creator of The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. The estate offers a variety of tours, in addition to special events year-round and a kid-friendly Playgarden filled with unique, interactive experiences. Hower House (howerhouse.org), the 28-room Victorian mansion built by Akron industrialist John Henry Hower, offers public, private and group tours, as well as many special events throughout the year.

Hale Farm and Village, located in nearby Bath Township, is a 90-acre living history museum that depicts life in the 19th Century.

Operated by the Western Reserve Historical Society, the museum is open June through August for general visitation and offers an experience of a working farm, and learn about period crafts pottery, glassblowing, spinning and weaving.

With more than 700 different species, the Akron Zoo’s tagline, “You’ve never been this close!” rings true as merely a pane of glass separates visitors from most animals. The zoo participates in more than 60 conservation programs and conducts almost 900 education programs per year. Open year-round, the Akron Zoo (akronzoo.org) also hosts dozens of events for kids, families and adults.
More action-packed adventures for the whole family at Derby Downs, which has been the home of the All-American Soap Box Derby. It’s a center of activity and interest from the spring through the fall for special events, Derby rallies and local races leading up to the FirstEnergy All-American Soap Box Derby. Derby Downs is home to the Hall of Fame & Museum and also offers STEM-based education programs, summer camps and more. (soapboxderby.org)

In the summer, kids can have fun participating in role playing experiences in a medieval world in Bath Township at Camp Christopher. (campchris.org)

Also, the downtown Akron-Summit County Public Library (akronlibrary.org) with roughly 270,000 square feet of space houses an auditorium, computer training labs, a bookstore, meeting rooms and plenty of space to curl up with a good read. Year-round events include crafts, storytimes, free movie screenings, seminars and more.

Sports & Recreation

Whether your family wants to participate or spectate, Akron has the bases covered when it comes to sports and outdoor activities.

Catch a ball game at either Firestone Stadium, home of the National Pro Fastpitch Akron Racers (akronracers.org), or Canal Park, home of the Akron RubberDucks (akronrubberducks.com), the Cleveland Indians AA baseball team. Both venues offer affordable family fun, up-close seating and a variety of concessions.

Each year, thousands flock to Firestone Country Club for the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational (worldgolfchampionships.com). Take in the greens and watch the pros play from up close at the event, which is slated for June 29-July 3 this year.

If you’d rather work on your own swing, visit Good Park Municipal Golf Course in West Akron. Designed in 1924 by Bertie Wey, the same course architect of the famed Firestone South, “The Park” offers 180 acres of tree-lined fairways, well-placed bunkers and subtly contoured greens that are enjoyable for golfers of all abilities.

The Akron area has a wealth of parks, from city playgrounds and a skate park to the Ohio & Erie Canalway (ohioanderiecanalway.com) and neighboring Cuyahoga Valley National Park (nps.gov/cuva). Pedal a portion of the 110-mile Towpath Trail or hop aboard the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad for an enjoyable day for the whole family.

In addition, Summit Metro Parks (summitmetroparks.org) operates 21 separate parks and trails that offer year-round options for hiking, biking, archery, fishing, boating and more. In all seasons — and no matter what ages and interests make up your family — the Metro Parks has a location, event or special program to meet your needs.

About the author

Denise Koeth is managing/digital editor of Northeast Ohio Parent. She writes for and assists with production of the print magazine, as well as manages digital content on the NortheastOhioParent.com website and oversees the brand’s social media activity. Denise grew up in Northeast Ohio and she and her husband are currently raising their two boys here.

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