I’ve always wanted to do a blog post on my hometown of Akron, Ohio! But once I started listing all my favorite things to do, see, and eat, I realized I was going to need to do a few blog posts on it. I thought a fun way to separate them all would be to do them by season. So this past July, Nate and I went to Ohio for a long weekend and tried to check off some of our favorite summer Ohio activities.
Ohio is a seriously underrated place, especially Northeastern Ohio, which is so different than the rest of the state. It’s also used as a “filler” state in just about every tv show, movie, book, etc. What I mean by that is that the average American (not from Ohio) doesn’t know a lot, if anything, about the great buckeye state. So it’s an easy place to say someone is from, or that you’re driving through, or to use as the butt of a joke because…it could basically mean anything and doesn’t have a stereotype or reputation except…for just being Ohio. My friend Chelsea and I always joke that “Ohio is in everything.” and now that you’ve read this, you will also notice that it comes up, A LOT. I don’t really know if this is a good thing or a bad thing but we’ll pretty much take whatever recognition we can get, haha!
Something I LOVE about Ohio, and didn’t realize how unique it was until I moved, was the absurd amount of ice cream that comes out of it. Most people know that the famous Graeter’s Ice Cream and Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream companies are from there, but in Akron alone there are at least 4 amazing mom and pop ice cream places, not to mention Cleveland which houses another 4 great ice cream companies. They all started in Ohio and people are verrrryyy into it, including myself. Once in the 4th grade, I was too skinny for my height, so my parents decided to take me to get ice cream every night at Strickland’s Frozen Custard in the summer to fatten me up. I got a banana split every evening that entire summer. It was a childhood dream. I ironically didn’t gain much weight but my serotonin levels were off the chaaaaaarts. I think that’s when my unquenchable love for ice cream started. So when we were planning our trip home I thought it would be so fun to do a little ice cream tour of the Akron/Cleveland area. I didn’t get to all the places I wanted to since we were only there for 4 days, but I will list them all below. If you have ever met me, you know that Jeni’s ice cream is by far my favorite in Ohio but also anywhere else in the world. They have actually expanded to most major cities in the US (except for nyc, WHY GOD) which is great! Also, VERY randomly…Handel’s and Strickland’s ice cream have 1 location each in southern California where we used to live (Irvine and Redondo Beach) which is fun! All the places listed below I have had except for Mason’s Creamery in Cleveland, which came super highly recommended to me by a few people (it’s new, so I haven’t had a chance to try it) but I thought it would be worth putting it on the list! Also, there are a few good ice cream places I left off the list because it’s too overwhelming to list them all, so I decided to just mark down my top 7.
The Official Akron/Cleveland Ice Cream List
Here’s also a list of…
My Favorite Akron/Cleveland Summer Activies
- Walk around Chagrin Falls, shop around the boutiques, browse the book store, see the waterfall, grab lunch at Lemon Falls Cafe, get ice cream at Jeni’s, and mostly pretend like you’re in Stars Hallow because that’s exactly what Chagrin is.
- Take a bike ride through the Cuyahoga Valley national park on a Saturday, stop at the Countryside Farmers Market at Howe Meadow to get breakfast burritos and a cup of Akron’s best coffee (Akron Coffee Roasters). Keep riding through the bike trail until you come upon the cutest little town called Peninsula and have nice cold craft beer at The Winking Lizard.
- Go to an Indians game! Watching a baseball game on a warm summer night is one of my all time favorite things to do in Cleveland, and bonus! the Indians have actually been pretty freaking good the last few years. There’s a few dollar dog nights every summer, and even a place to get gluten free and veg hot dog options (and gluten free beer!), which happens to be ideal for a New Yorker like myself, haha. Another food option is eating across the street from the field on 4th Street, the cutest little alley, lined with amazing places to dine (my favorite is The Greenhouse Tavern) and all with outside seating and twinkle lights overhead!
- Get dinner in Ohio city (Crop, Townhall, SOHO are all great!) and then see a concert at Jacob’s Pavilion. The neighhorhood of Ohio City has some of the best food in Cleveland, and the Pavilion is hands down my favorite concert venue. It sits right on the river and overlooks the city sky line, boats cruise by or stop for a listen during the concert, it’s such a laid back fun atmosphere. We saw Amos Lee this past July and it was so. damn. dreamy.
- Grab lunch to-go at The Mustard Seed Cafe in Highland Square and take a blanket to Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens for a picnic in the wildflower garden. This beautiful estate is one of, if not my very favorite, thing in Akron. I don’t think I’ve had a visit home without going here at least once. There are so many different gardens (my favorite is the English Garden), all sprawled out over hundreds of acres. It’s worth spending a few hours here alone (and in the summer they do wine and concerts on the great lawns as well!).
- Stop in at the famous Swenson’s Drive-In and get a galley boy burger, fries or potato poppers, and don’t forget a milkshake (my favorite flavor is hot fudge and banana) and take your dinner to http://www.blueskydrive-in.com/ theater just a short drive away for a mid summer viewing of the latest flick.
- Spend an afternoon at Gervasi Vineyard, another gorgeous spot in Northeastern Ohio. I like to sit on their outdoor patio, order a pizza (they have gf, PRAISE.) and roam the stunning grounds with a wine in hand. They also have bocci ball and corn hole which is fun to play as a group! There are SO many other things I love to do in Ohio in the summer but there’s just too many to list! What many people don’t know about this part of Ohio is that the national park covers so much of it, making the area so green, and full of amazing hiking, biking, and picnicking through it’s many hills and valley’s. I really didn’t know how much I would appreciate this, especially about Akron, until I moved away from it. It’s really a magnificent place. And this post goes out to all the haters who have loved to make fun of Ohio, especially to me directly, I think I just sufficiently shut you up ; )