As a state that borders the Great Lakes, Ohio is one of the primary epicenters of the United States. Owing to its central location–with northeast states like Pennsylvania to the east, midwest states like Indiana to the west, and southern states like Kentucky to the south – Ohio seems to attract people from all walks of life.
This is especially true in its diverse cities. Places like Cleveland and Cincinnati retain real national clout as major cities, but as desirable locations go, one of the best in the state is the city of Akron.
Over 190,000 people call Akron home, making it the fifth-largest city in Ohio. The greater Akron area has over 703,500 people in total! With such a large population, Akron is steeped in local history and deep heritage. It’s the birthplace of American food staples like hamburgers, oatmeal, and processed cereal. It’s the first city in the U.S. to install a graded school system centralized under a superintendent.
It’s also known as “The Rubber Capital of the World” because of the old rubber and tire factories that sparked the city’s growth. Perhaps the greatest national historical aspects of Akron are that it’s the home of abolitionist John Brown, and the site of Sojourner Truth’s “Ain’t I a Woman” speech.
Along with a racially diverse population, high-quality affordable housing and lots of opportunities make Akron a great place to raise a family. In fact, it’s consistently on the list of best places to live. Back in 1999, it even won first place in livability at the U.S. Conference of Mayors. The local families need plenty of constant entertainment and things to do. To that effect, we’ve compiled 23 of the best family-friendly things to do in Akron, Ohio.
Table of Contents:
- 1. Akron Zoo
- 2. Akron Children’s Museum
- 3. Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens
- 4. Sluggers and Putters Amusement Park
- 5. Akron Art Museum
- 6. Clay’s Resort Jellystone Park
- 7. Akron Rubberducks at Canal Park
- 8. The Great Escape Room
- 9. F.A. Seiberling Nature Realm
- 10. Lock 3
- 11. Spins Bowl Akron
- 12. InfoCision Stadium at the University of Akron
- 13. Cedar Point
- 14. Highland Square Theater
- 15. Barc Akron Dog Park
- 16. Akron-Summit County Public Library
- 17. Portage Lakes State Park
- 18. Portage Lakes Cruises
- 19. E.J. Thomas Performing Arts Hall
- 20. Akron Rubber Worker Statue
- 21. Waterworks Family Aquatic Center
- 22. Cuyahoga Valley National Park
- 23. Special Annual Events
1. Akron Zoo
The Akron Zoo is a classic! It started in the early 1900s as a park for children with just two bears serving as the main attraction. In the intervening years, the zoo has become a family favorite attraction. Today it’s home to more than a thousand animals spread out over 77 acres of various habitats.
There are also numerous events held here year-round. The most popular is the holiday light event that starts every November and runs through the new year. It’s great for lighting up any family’s night.
2. Akron Children’s Museum
The mission of the Akron Children’s Museum is to encourage curious children to become lifelong learners. The facility is modern; it just opened in 2016. Kids who visit will find dozens of play areas, exhibits, learning demonstrations, and even a challenging obstacle course. The entire facility is available for private events, of course, so your child’s birthday party can be educational and unforgettable.
3. Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens
The picture of Akron’s history could never be complete without the story of the Seiberling family. F.A. Seiberling, who founded the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, had an instrumental role in the development and growth of the city. The Stan Hywet Hall was not only the family home, but also a community venue for gatherings, events, and entertainment.
Today the estate and its sprawling garden is a nonprofit historical site where the public can come for tours. It is also available for private events. For families who love to learn about the history of their home, this is the place to go.
It boasts a cost of living that’s 20% lower than the U.S. average. While Ohio does have some generally desirable cities, Port Clinton is one of the more attractive places to visit. Along with nearby Sandusky and the easily-accessible Lake Erie Islands, the area is fondly known as “Vacationland.”
4. Sluggers and Putters Amusement Park
Just south of Akron in the city of Canal Fulton, the Sluggers and Putters Amusement Park is fun for kids and parents alike. The facility is owned and operated by the McCully family, who wanted to recreate the magic of a long-gone local amusement park that closed down in the 1970s. The park is impeccably clean and offers tons of activities such as mini golf, batting cages, go-karts, bumper boats, a Ferris wheel, and a popular roller coaster called the Little Dipper.
5. Akron Art Museum
Every city needs at least one great visual art museum. Akron’s art museum has been around since the 1850s. Its proprietors are dedicated to inclusivity, working with the community, and making a positive contribution to the city. Case in point: they have been open for free all summer 2022, in an effort to promote healing after some difficult and tragic Ohio shootings. The art collection here spans three whole centuries and is a true reflection of Akron’s rich artistic history.
6. Clay’s Resort Jellystone Park
If you’ve ever taken your whole family on vacation, you’ve probably wished for a more kid-friendly resort. Well, this is your spot! Clay’s Jellystone is a fun-filled getaway located about a half hour south of Akron in North Lawrence.
It’s a perfect place to take a break from the daily grind of life. Take a load off in one of their deluxe cabins or campsites. Cool off in the onsite water park, enjoy a swim in the lake, or enjoy their playgrounds, mini golf course, or one of the nearby dining options. Spanning 500 acres, there’s something to do for everyone.
7. Akron Rubberducks at Canal Park
Minor League Baseball has some unique team names, and the Rubberducks are right up there with the best of them. As the AA affiliate of the Cleveland Guardians, the Rubberducks provide a family-friendly, more affordable way to catch a ballgame. Their home field is the impeccably maintained Canal Park, which hosts plenty of themed nights catering to all the families of the Akron community. Play Ball!
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8. The Great Escape Room
If you haven’t experienced the latest craze of being locked up and left with a series of puzzles as your only way to escape, then come down to Akron’s Great Escape Room! This place was voted the number 1 escape room in the entire nation. It doesn’t only host onsite escape room puzzles, but also has scavenger hunts for all ages and skill levels, private rooms for parties, and a mobile escape room puzzle for family gatherings or corporate events.
9. F.A. Seiberling Nature Realm
Named for the founder of the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, the natural realm is a peaceful sanctuary. Three different trails both paved and unpaved provide the most enjoyable walk in town. The site is well-maintained and has picnic tables, restrooms, a visitor center, a suspension bridge, a scenic pond, and three separate raised areas for sightseeing.
10. Lock 3
Downtown Akron isn’t only a fun place for shopping and dining, it also has live entertainment! The Lock 3 venue hosts all types of concerts, festivals, and community events year-round. Family-friendly outdoor movies play weekly during evenings in the summer, and there’s a popular Pizza Fest in early September. Food is served at all of the venue’s many concessions stands, and food trucks are in full effect during most events. The grass provides great open seating and there are even chairs for rent.
11. Spins Bowl Akron
This is no normal bowling alley. In addition to dozens of lanes, Spins Bowl has areas for throwing axes, playing laser tag, and hitting some old-school arcade games. Of course, patrons can enjoy the full kitchen and bar featuring all kinds of creative weekly specials.
12. InfoCision Stadium at the University of Akron
Sports fans won’t want to miss a football game on campus at the University of Akron. This stadium has seating for 30,000 total fans, with 27,000 seats and 3,000 capacity on the grassy knoll. The team was originally called The Zippers in 1927 but has recently been shortened. Go Zips!
13. Cedar Point
It’s one of the midwest’s favorite amusement parks! Though it’s a little over an hour from Akron, this place is worth the drive. Over 70 rides, a waterpark, live shows, dining, and of course all types of family fun. They even have an 18-hole public golf course. Come down to the beautiful shores of Lake Erie to check this one out.
14. Highland Square Theater
According to the venue’s website, the Highland Square Theater is the jewel of Highland Square, a popular downtown commercial neighborhood. During certain screenings, viewers can enjoy the unique dance floor, booths, and tables as well as some classic interior design.
15. Barc Akron Dog Park
Don’t forget the non-human family members! Barc (Better Akron Recreation for Canines) has open spaces where your furry friend can play off-leash with other dogs and enjoy some much-needed exercise. Agility courses, shaded areas, water fountains, and ample parking are all hallmarks of this fun attraction. Have a small dog? Don’t worry. There’s a separate area for them to play too, worry-free.
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16. Akron-Summit County Public Library
Few activities aid in the development of young minds as much as reading. The people at Akron Summit Public Library understand this perfectly. The staff is dedicated to including the locals in all types of special literacy events like book clubs, yoga and tai chi, cooking classes, language classes, educational speakers, and even jigsaw puzzle nights. The library is a huge asset to the city.
17. Portage Lakes State Park
This stunning 411-acre park has water accessibility at eight separate lakes. For families, nothing beats a day of swimming, boating, sailing, fishing, or picnicking next to a tranquil body of water. Each area has its unique perspective on the natural landscape of the area.
18. Portage Lakes Cruises
The lovely people at Portage Lakes Cruises show their guests how much they care by aiming to always offer the most enjoyable experiences. They’re the closest thing to owning a boat without actually owning one. All summer long they take out their passengers on public and private cruises, some with live music, some with food, and some with specially curated seasonal themes.
19. E.J. Thomas Performing Arts Hall
Broadway shows musical acts, comedians, and speakers all headline this modern theater on the University of Akron campus. The shows aren’t just for students either. Some of the more highly-rated acts in the country make stops through Akron, providing entertainment for the whole family.
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20. Akron Rubber Worker Statue
The rubber workers of yesteryear are the ones that built Akron into the city it is today. This 12-foot statue was erected in 2021 to honor that heritage. The sculptor, Allan Cottrill aimed to present a pleasant-looking monument while honoring Akron’s heritage at the same time. An interactive kiosk of rubber workers’ stories and commemorative brick work also are on site.
21. Waterworks Family Aquatic Center
Just down the road in Cuyahoga Falls, Waterworks is a perfect trip for beating the summer heat. They have a half dozen water slides, multiple pools, waterfalls, lazy rivers, and rentable cabanas so families can maintain privacy while cooling off for the day.
22. Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Bordering Akron and spanning close to Cleveland, this is the premiere natural reserve in the region. The Cuyahoga river is the central attraction here, winding through rolling hills, forests, and farmland. A scenic train ride is even available for families to enjoy all the natural splendor. Don’t forget to check out the website for some fun scavenger hunts and educational material for the kids.
23. Special Annual Events
Akron is home to some pretty big annual events. All of them get the locals excited. The PGA Tour Bridgestone Invitational has been held at Firestone Country Club. Since 1934, Akron has also hosted the All-American Soap Box Derby, a popular youth racing downhill event. There are countless other local events each year that are inclusive and full of community pride.
Families from all over Ohio know that Akron is a hotbed of entertainment. This is a community that takes care of its children, providing many educational opportunities and entertaining activities. It’s a town with a rich history and a deep sense of civic pride. All families can feel confident that they will never run out of things to do here in Akron, Ohio.
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