Surprise! Akron is a Cool City

Akron, Ohio wasn’t our main travel destination for our latest road trip. It wasn’t even our second choice; Cleveland took that spot. We sort of stumbled on it, only because we planned to visit a friend that lived nearby during our trip.

To our surprise, we discovered that Akron has it going on! You name it, they’ve got something for everyone: families, couples, history buffs, art enthusiasts, foodies, or nature lovers.

Akron Civic Theater

We booked a timeshare for two weeks in the beginning of October in the eastern part of Pennsylvania with the hope of catching fall color. We then worked backwards to plan our route out there.

From Chicago, the Poconos is about 12 hours, 760 miles away and smack in the middle of that route is northeastern Ohio.

Akron Ohio Visit

We were indifferent about our plans to visit Akron, but now we are hoping to get back sometime soon!

Here are a few places we explored that convinced us that Akron is a fun and exciting city to visit.

Downtown Akron

Downtown Akron is a walkable area. It’s quite hilly but walkable. Even though it was a rainy day, the baskets of flowers, bright murals and colorful sculptures brightened up the street.


Akron Ohio Visit


It’s home to a plethora of fantastic bars and restaurants, one-of-a-kind stores, Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad station, the Art Museum, and the Civic Theater. Not to mention so many other things we didn’t get a chance to experience like the symphony, zoo, minor league baseball, children’s museum and roller derby.

Akron Ohio Visit

Akron Art Museum

The Akron Art Museum (70 East Market Street) showcases a variety of art dating back to 1850 through present day.

Akron Art Museum


The Northeast Ohio’s Artists and Collectors Exhibit was one of our favorites. We happen to be earshot of a group of young boy scouts visiting the museum. It was amusing to hear the excitement in their voices when identifying with some of the artwork.

It’s a nice reminder that we don’t necessarily have to go far to stimulate creativity and inspiration. Sometimes it can be found right in our own backyard.


Akron Art Museum

Recently coming home from an epic road trip to 13 national parks, Our Land Special Exhibit (through February 12, 2017) also caught our attention. It celebrates the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service by promoting the conservation of our land through sharing its beauty and development over time.

The photographs pull you in to the unique and stunning scenery the parks have to offer and leave you with a great appreciation for the fact that we have them to explore.

Tip: Thursdays are free at the museum! Open 11am – 9pm

Akron Art Museum

Cuyahoga Valley National Park

What’s cooler than being able to jump on a train and head into Ohio’s only national park? Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad’s most southern station is located in downtown Akron.

Read more about our full day in Cuyahoga Valley National Park here!

Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad

33,000 acres of land along the Cuyahoga River is waiting to be explored. Hop on a bike or train, walk on your own two feet, navigate the river on a canoe or kayak or drive the scenic roads through the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

Bike & Hike Trail
We missed out on the Towpath which was on our list, but was able to bike a small section of the Bike & Hike Trail

Nuevo Modern Mexican and Tequila Bar

Update: Unfortunately, the Nuevo Restaurant is permanently closed.

We walked into Nuevo’s (54 East Mill Street) and instantly felt the upscale yet casual and friendly vibe. The welcoming hostess, dim lights and contemporary art hanging on the walls set the tone.

Nuevo Modern Mexican Akron

Nuevo Modern Mexican Akron

A group of four women chatted and laughed enthusiastically at one table, a couple holding hands with puppy love eyes occupied another and two conservatively dressed men in the corner seemed to be having a work meeting. After a glance around, my first thought was Nuevo’s is obviously a place for any type of dinner.

Nuevo Modern Mexican

It took us about 10 minutes to decide what drinks to order. We had to get something with tequila in it. We are at a tequila bar after all! The menu includes a few unique margarita choices.

We finally settled on a mango with citrus sugar rim and a jalapeno cilantro margarita with a chili rim. After a few delightful sips, we both wished we ordered the margarita flight they offer (three 8 oz drinks) so we could have sampled more of their creative concoctions.

Maybe next time…

Nuevo Modern Mexican Akron

We ordered the Habanero Jelly Guacamole for an appetizer. I was worried it would be too hot for me, but it was perfect! The sweet jelly offset the heat and it was delicious!

Nuevo Modern Mexican Akron

Tip: If it’s nice out, be sure to check out the rooftop outdoor patio!

At Nuevo’s, the menu “features fresh, locally-grown produce, the finest locally-raised meats and artisan tequilas.” The chorizo quinoa burrito was built with house made chorizo, pinto bean and roasted tomato puree, crispy quinoa and a house cheese blend. The carnitas (pictured below) is a succulent slow braised and roasted pork shoulder. Both entrees are served with Spanish brown rice and your choice of black or Borracho pinto beans. Nuevo Modern Mexican

The Peanut Shoppe

The Peanut Shoppe (203 S. Main Street) has been a staple in Akron since the 1930’s.

Peanut Shoppe Akron

Peanut Shoppe Akron

Even though they are known for their freshly roasted nuts, the Buckeye candy (you know since we are in the Buckeye state) is what caught my eye. I asked the girl behind the counter and she couldn’t believe I had never tried one.

I explained we were from out of town and with that I found my new favorite confection. Peanut butter fudge partially dipped in chocolate.  So simple, so good!

Peanut Shoppe Akron

Greater Akron Area

Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens

Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens (714 N. Portage Path) is Akron’s first and largest National Historic Landmark. It also happens to be our favorite stop in the area. The tour of the manor and gardens is like stepping back in time. The 65-room Tudor Revival Manor House is well-preserved and still feels full of life.

Read here for more information and pictures on our day exploring the estate!

Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens

Akron, Ohio

The historic gardens are exquisite and will make you feel like you are taking a stroll in England.

Akron, Ohio

The Twisted Olive

The weather did not cooperate with us at all while in Akron. Here we are at another great spot for outdoor dining, but we couldn’t take advantage. Located in Green, just south of Akron, The Twisted Olive (5430 Massillon Road) overlooks a fantastic piece of property.



Akron Ohio Visit

We didn’t fret, because the restaurant has many cozy spots indoor to choose from. We picked the main room with vaulted ceilings, a brick fireplace and enormous windows that let us look out at the beautiful view.


Once we settled into our spot, we were happy to find out it was Happy Hour! $5 appetizers, well drinks, and martinis with $2 select domestic beer and $1 off glasses of wine.


After recommendations from our waitress, we ordered what only can be considered a smorgasbord fit for a party. She warned us the portions were not small, but we didn’t listen.

Tip: Happy Hour is Monday – Friday 2 – 6 pm

The Twisted Olive

First off, the bread. Oh my goodness, the bread! I wanted to ask for seconds (ahem, okay maybe it was thirds) and put the whole basket in my purse to take home. It was fresh, soft and sprinkled with a hint of something sweet.

The calamari served with an herb aioli did not disappoint. The yummy Brussel sprouts are made with pancetta, truffle honey and parmesan cheese. We had the classic meatballs and the Greek chicken balls with garlic cream sauce and feta cheese. Overall, everything was tasty and we would love to come back and try their entrees.

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Have you ever been surprised by a destination? Tell us in the comments below! Maybe we will add it to our next road trip!

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Akron Ohio Visit

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Angela E. is a travel writer from the Chicagoland area who has visited all 50 states in the US and has traveled extensively around the world. She is passionate about exploring the great outdoors and hiking in particular. Her love for nature has taken her to some of the most beautiful locations on the planet. She has written extensively about her travels on her own website, Dang Travelers, and has been published in collaboration with other travel websites and multiple visitor bureaus around the country.

29 Responses

  1. Sarah Stierch

    OK, both restaurants look awesome – and your historic house visit! The art museum is historically one of the best hidden gems in the Midwest. Thanks for sharing your love for Akron – makes me miss my Midwest road trips!

  2. Daniel Bates

    I never heard of this town before and looks amazing. 🙂 If I am in the area I will pop in

  3. Lisa Martin

    Now that I’m done drooling all over my keyboard…Holy excellent food! I’ve never even heard of Akron before, but I can see why it was a hit with you! Those are often the best places to visit, the little ones that you’d never expect. Fantastic post!

  4. Chris Travels

    Hailing from Illinois, I have always just sailed on past ALL States between my home and the Atlantic coast just to get to my ocean destinations as quickly possible. You have been showing me time and again what a mistake that has been as I’vepassed up so many interesting places along the way by doing that!

  5. Sally

    Great post guys! Would love to explore the national park there. The forest looks beautiful. As for those gardens… they are incredible. Can my back garden look like that please lol!

  6. Elisa

    It seems that this Akron has a little bit of everything! If I am in the area I will make sure to stop and experience by myself. Good finding!

    • Dang Travelers

      Absolutely! The city does have a good mix of everything. We will definitely need to go back eventually and check out some of the other places in the area.

  7. Llamateurs

    Akron seems like really worth a visit. One day when we will head another continent… 🙂 Anyway the mural about ice creams stole my heart 😀

  8. Kristina

    You know, I never thought much of Ohio… I didn’t know there was really anything worth going there to see. This opened my eyes a bit! Akron does seem really cool with lots to do! I’m a sucker for gardens too, haha.

  9. Jim Griggy

    I’m a big fan of Nuevo. I’ve been meaning to try the Twisted Olive. As a native Akronite, I can tell you that Akron may not have every amenity, but there is not much you can’t find within about an half hour radius.

  10. Vyjay

    Akron is a lovely place, I would really love to take a walk in downtown. The art museum is another fascinating place that I would love to visit. And finally I would love to head to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

  11. Nicola Hilditch-Short

    I’ve never heard of this city but it looks like a really cool and fun place! I love discovering these lesser known cities when we travel and a road trip is the perfect way to do that!

  12. Keep Akron Beautiful

    We are so excited that a couple of our Keep Akron Beautiful Flowerscapes (Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad and Lock 3) made your posting and pin. Those cheery Limelight Hydrangeas are everyone’s favorite! Very happy you enjoyed our City of Akron, Ohio!

    • Dang Travelers

      They definitely brightened up are otherwise gloomy day so thank you! We can’t wait to get back to the city during the summer and experience some of the other things we missed.

  13. Melody Pittman

    I’m so glad you stumbled on Akron! I’m from West Virginia so I have been there many times. A great city; but definitely underrated!

  14. Judy Abdallah

    Just a slight correction..

    Twisted Olive is in Green, not North Canton. North Canton is it’s mailing address.Green is a fast growing, upscale Akron suburb but doesn’t yet have it’s own zip code. It uses 5 zip codes from other areas, North Canton being one of them.

    • Dang Travelers

      Thanks Judy! I originally had Green and thought that was what we had in the GPS, but then I saw North Canton on something else. Appreciate it!

  15. AnnePackrat

    I am a volunteer at the Akron Zoo. Let me know when you are coming and I will give you a tour. I can’t take you in behind the scenes things, but I can tell you a lot about the animals and the exhibits. We also have an award winning garden.

  16. Neil

    Next time you are in the area, try out Canton just to the south. Like Akron getting overlooked by Cleveland, Canton often gets overlooked by Akron. Canton has great museums, parks, food, dining, and some national history.

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