Posted on: January 1, 2024 Posted by: Niru Sherman Comments: 0
Do in Canton Ohio

As a lifelong resident of Canton, Ohio, I’m often asked by visitors about the best things to do in my hometown. While Canton may not be the first place that comes to mind when planning a vacation, this mid-sized industrial city actually has quite a bit to offer visitors of all ages and interests!

From world-renowned museums and historical sites to buzzing arts and entertainment districts, Canton provides plenty of attractions and activities to fill a weekend getaway or longer stay. Whether you’re a history buff, sports fan, nature lover, foodie, or just looking for great family-friendly options, Canton has something for you.

In this local’s guide, I’ll share my list of top things to do in Canton Ohio including museums, landmarks, parks, restaurants, and more. I’ll also offer some tips and recommendations to help you make the most of your visit. Let’s dive in!

Explore the Pro Football Hall of Fame

No trip to Canton is complete without a visit to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. This massive complex dedicated to the history of pro football includes the Hall of Fame itself with exhibits honoring the greatest players, coaches and contributors. Fans will love seeing all the busts of inductees, Super Bowl rings, and fascinating memorabilia.

The Hall of Fame also houses the GameDay Stadium theater, an immersive 4D movie experience that makes you feel like you’re right in the middle of the action on game day. Don’t miss the “A Game for Life” holographic theater either. And be sure to check out the Hall of Fame store for awesome NFL gear.

Football fan or not, the Hall of Fame is an unforgettable experience. I recommend budgeting 2-3 hours to take it all in. Go on a game day for the very best ambiance!

Tour the Historic McKinley National Memorial

History lovers will appreciate a stop at the McKinley National Memorial. This grand mausoleum and museum honors William McKinley, the 25th President of the United States. He was a native of Canton and served as president from 1897 until his assassination in 1901.

The memorial includes the McKinley Museum with interesting exhibits about his life and presidency. Visitors can view his and his wife Ida’s burial vaults in the marble rotunda. The adjacent Discover World is an interactive educational space with hands-on exhibits for kids focused on STEM topics.

The memorial is located on a hilltop in Canton with lovely grounds, fountains and statues surrounding the mausoleum. It’s a nice spot to take a peaceful stroll after learning about this fascinating chapter in American history.

Spend a Day at the Canton Museum of Art

Canton Museum of Art

One of Canton’s real cultural gems is the exceptional Canton Museum of Art. This vibrant art museum has an impressive permanent collection focused on works by American masters like John Singer Sargent, Winslow Homer, Mary Cassatt, and more.

There are also cutting-edge visiting exhibits, from contemporary art to pop culture icons. The experiential installations are always a hit with kids and adults alike. And the special events calendar includes live music, classes, lectures, family days and other constantly changing programs.

Grab a bite in the elegant museum cafe or outside in the sculpture garden. You’ll quickly see why the Canton Museum of Art is considered one of the top small city art museums in America. It’s the perfect rainy day activity but enjoyable any time.

Take a Hike at Quail Hollow State Park

For some fresh air and exercise, head over to Quail Hollow State Park. This beautiful nature retreat has more than 7 miles of hiking trails winding through meadows, woodlands and along manmade lakes.

Walk through wildflower fields in spring, go birdwatching for waterfowl and songbirds, or hike to scenic spots like the iconic Johnny Appleseed Tree, a 250 year old tree planted by the pioneer himself.

In addition to hiking, Quail Hollow offers fishing, boating and kayaking on its two lakes. There are also some short mountain biking trails. With a nature center and lodge, Quail Hollow makes an easy day trip for Canton visitors to soak up some nature without traveling far.

Check Out the Buzzing Cleveland Avenue District

When night falls, Cleveland Avenue is the place to be. This compact downtown stretch comes alive with award-winning eateries, chic bars and live music venues. On a Friday or Saturday night, you’ll find the sidewalks packed with locals and visitors enjoying Canton’s thriving nightlife scene.

For craft beers and cocktails, stop into places like The Auricle, Shlymma’s Grille & Pub,collage.co or Poze. Popular restaurants include Table Six, Grapes in a Glass, The Bistro on Market and George’s Lounge for elevated pub fare. Then rock out to live bands at the Temple, Bourbon & Brews or Canton Brewing Company.

With so many options clustered together, you can easily bar and restaurant hop your way down Cleveland Avenue, taking in the lively downtown energy. The street retains its charm from the Victorian era which makes it extra fun to explore.

Catch a Show at the Canton Palace Theatre

First opened in 1926 as a majestic vaudeville house, the Canton Palace Theatre is still going strong today as a performing arts center. After a multi-million dollar restoration, this architectural stunner looks as opulent as ever with its Baroque d├ęcor and twinkling night sky ceiling.

Today, the theater hosts touring Broadway musicals, well-known musicians, comedy acts and other live entertainment. Even if you don’t catch a show, you can take a guided tour during the day to admire all the ornate details and learn about the rich history. Stop at the bar for a pre-show cocktail to really immerse yourself in the glamorous era.

With over 2,500 seats, stellar acoustics and gorgeous historic ambiance, seeing any kind of show here is a memorable night out in Canton. Check their online calendar for upcoming performances.

Take the Kids to the Canton Classic Car Museum

Canton Classic Car Museum

If you’re traveling with kids or just appreciate classic cars yourself, make a stop at the Canton Classic Car Museum. This impressive private collection contains around 100 vehicles spanning from a 1907 Rauch and Lang Electric Car to a 2015 Tesla Model S P90D.

You’ll see gorgeous specimens from all eras including antique cars from the 20s and 30s, flashy fins and chrome models from the 50s, muscle cars from the 60s and 70s and exotic rides from today. Car fanatics will be in heaven reading all the detailed informational displays. It’s an especially fun outing for auto-loving families.

Enjoy Urban Green Space at Stadium Park

Right in downtown Canton, Stadium Park provides a wonderful oasis of urban green space. Locals and visitors alike come here to relax, exercise, attend events and just generally enjoy the outdoors in the heart of the city.

There are walking paths weaving through tree-covered acres down to a duck pond. The Canton Blues Festival and other summer concerts bring music to the open-air pavilion. An ice skating rink offers winter fun. And the manicured gardens with benches and fountains make an idyllic spot for a picnic lunch.

Whether you play at the playground, go for a scenic jog, throw a frisbee or just find a shady spot to read, Stadium Park is a delightful place to while away an afternoon.

Shop and Dine in Belden Village Mall Area

For some retail therapy or an extensive dining selection, make your way to the Belden Village area, about 10 minutes north of downtown. Belden Village Mall is the premier shopping destination in Canton with over 130 stores, from department shops like Macy’s and Dillard’s to specialty boutiques.

Right near the mall, you’ll find a huge array of chain and local restaurants covering all types of cuisines. For a taste of Canton’s foodie scene, try Belden Village mainstays like El Rincon del Sol, Basil Thai, Gervasi Vineyard Canton Bistro, Bender’s Tavern or La Pizzaria. The area also has movie theaters, cafes, dessert shops and late night hangout spots.

On a rainy day or when you need some down time after sightseeing, Belden Village offers covered, convenient shopping, dining and entertainment all in one place.

Cheer on the Scrappers at Canal Park

Root, root for Canton’s home team, the Scrappers! The Mahoning Valley Scrappers are a minor league baseball team affiliated with the MLB’s Cleveland Guardians.

Their home field is the charming and family-friendly Canal Park right downtown. With affordable ticket prices, kid perks like a fun zone and mascot Scrappy, fireworks nights and community events, Canal Park makes for an easy and budget-friendly evening out. Of course, the star attraction is America’s pastime itself. Grab a hot dog, crack open some peanuts and enjoy classic baseball with the locals.

During the off-season, the stadium also hosts various concerts, festivals and high school sports championships that are worth checking out.

Tour the MAPS Air Museum

Tour the MAPS Air Museum

 

Aviation enthusiasts of any age will love the MAPS Air Museum, dedicated to preserving Northeast Ohio’s rich history of aircraft manufacturing. The massive complex contains over 50 vintage aircraft from WWII fighters to commercial planes to experimental test models.

You can even go inside many of the planes to get a pilot’s perspective. Exhibits spotlight local aviation companies like Timken and highlights the role this region played in technological innovations. There are also flight simulators, historic collections and a research library.

Whether you’re a serious aircraft expert or just think planes are cool, the MAPS Air Museum makes for an only-in-Canton experience with its focus on local aviation history.

Sample Local Brews on the Canton Brew Trail

Beer lovers, this one’s for you! Canton’s impressive craft beer scene has given rise to the Canton Brew Trail featuring 10 breweries all located within 1.5 miles of downtown. Just pick up a passport, then embark on a tasty tour of Canton’s top breweries at your own pace.

Some standout stops include Canton Brewing Company, the oldest brewery in the city, Shlymma’s Brewing Company, known for small batch brews and Brick City Beer Company inside a former bank. The trail is a fun way to experience Canton’s burgeoning craft beer culture, chat with passionate brewers and try all styles from IPAs to stouts to sours. They’ve all got unique charm and beer worth sampling.

Soak Up Some Culture at the Canton Museum of Art

I already gave a preview of the phenomenal Canton Museum of Art earlier, but it deserves a second mention here because it’s just that good. If you’re wondering where to get your dose of arts and culture in Canton, this vibrant museum is the place to go.

Their robust permanent collection coupled with thought-provoking temporary exhibitions means there’s always something new to appreciate and discover. Don’t miss experiences like the crowd-favorite Pop Up Art Park with larger than life pop culture sculptures scattered across the front lawn.

Alternatively, cozy up to live chamber music in one of their galleries. Take a ceramics workshop or drawing class. Have lunch on the scenic terrace of their cafe. However you experience the Canton Museum of Art, you’ll leave feeling creatively inspired.

Relax at Crystal Springs Lake Park

When you need a peaceful nature retreat right in Canton, head to Crystal Springs Lake Park. As the name suggests, the focal point here is the spring-fed 70-acre Crystal Lake, perfect for fishing, kayaking, paddle boarding and more.

Walking trails loop the lake and surrounding meadows. There are also volleyball courts, playgrounds and a disk golf course. Or just spread out a blanket on the lakeshore and enjoy a serene atmosphere ideal for reading, cloud gazing, picnicking or just clearing your mind.

The cooling breezes off the lake make it a refreshing place to visit a relaxed summer day floating away the stress. Pack a lunch or rent some equipment at their activity center.

Catch a Show at Buzzbin Art & Music Shop

Buzzbin Art & Music Shop

For some quintessential local Canton character, don’t miss Buzzbin Art & Music Shop. Located right downtown, this long-running shop and art gallery also has a performance space hosting live music and other underground arts happenings.

Show up early to browse their stellar selection of vinyl records across all genres. Then grab an artisan cocktail and listen to some of Northeast Ohio’s best indie bands and stand-up comics take the stage just a few feet away. Comedy Open Mics on Tuesdays are especially lively.

Buzzbin exudes a hip, youthful vibe. It’s the perfect spot to let your alternative side out in Canton, whether you’re shopping for a new record, checking out an art opening, or taking in some killer live music.

Other Notable Things to Do

And there are so many other worthwhile ways to spend your time in Canton! Here are some bonuses and hidden gems I recommend you add to your itinerary:

  • McKinley Presidential Library & Museum – Dive deeper into the life of favorite son President McKinley with their interactive exhibits and collections.
  • National First Ladies Library – This library and museum highlights the often overlooked contributions of First Ladies throughout history. Very unique!
  • Canton Classic Car Museum – See incredible vintage autos from Model Ts to muscle cars. Car buff heaven.
  • German Culture Museum – Learn about the strong German heritage of Canton and Stark County. Great cultural exhibits.
  • Sippo Lake Park – Rent a kayak, hike or play disc golf at this beautiful county park outside the city.
  • Monument Park – This downtown pocket park features notable statues honoring Canton figures like former NFL coach Paul Brown.
  • Buzzbin Shop – Check out their mini-golf course and huge selection of craft beer at this offshoot location from the OG Buzzbin.
  • TimkenSteel Tour – For a look at modern steelmaking, take a tour of this famous local steel mill.
  • Canton Food Tours – Try bites at the city’s best eateries on these fun walking food tours. A tasty way to explore!

Tips for Visiting Canton

To help make the most of your time exploring Canton, here are some tips, tricks and recommendations:

Come in the summer – For the best weather and to catch summer events/festivals like Canton Blues Fest, Rib Fest and the Hall of Fame Enshrinement Festival.

Book hotels early – Rooms fill up fast during major Hall of Fame events. Stay downtown to be centrally located.

Allow at least 2 days – You’ll need a couple days to even scratch the surface of great things to do in Canton. Extend if you can.

Rent a car – Having a car makes it easier to access attractions beyond downtown like parks, malls and outlying museums/landmarks.

Take the museum combo deal – Buy a combo ticket to save when visiting both the Pro Football HOF and McKinley Memorial.

Do a brewery crawl – Ride R.A.R.E. downtown trolleys between Canton’s breweries. Leave the driving to them.

See a show at the Palace Theatre – Catching a performance in this stunning historic theater is a bucket-list Canton experience.

Eat downtown – Make time for places like Table Six, Grapes in a Glass, George’s Lounge. The downtown food scene shines.

Shop small – Find boutiques, record stores, art galleries and other charming independents around downtown.

Visit in shoulder season – Enjoy milder weather and thinner crowds if you come in spring or fall.

Take a food tour – Trying lots of eateries at once on a guided walking tour is delicious fun.

Go on a game day – The energy and excitement is electric in Canton on Sundays during football season.

Canton’s Best Restaurants: Where to Eat

No destination guide would be complete without a rundown of the top restaurants in town. And as both a lifelong Canton resident and passionate foodie, I’ve got you covered on all the best dining spots to know. Here are my picks for quintessential Canton restaurants you simply can’t miss:

Gervasi Vineyard Canton Bistro

For an upscale dining experience coupled with lovely vineyard ambiance, don’t miss Gervasi Vineyard Canton Bistro. Their seasonal cuisine paired with award-winning wines has made this Tuscan-inspired bistro a go-to fine dining choice. Standouts include the house-made pastas, perfect steaks and their mouthwatering olive oil cake.

Table Six

Table Six helped spark Canton’s downtown dining renaissance, wowing diners with its sophisticated yet cozy atmosphere and adventurous small plates. Their menu excels at fusing global flavors into dishes like the Korean BBQ pork belly, Szechuan Brussels sprouts and Moroccan chicken. An inspired cocktail menu completes the experience. Table Six captures all that’s exciting about modern Canton dining.

Basil

No foodie’s visit to Canton is complete without savoring the complex flavors of Thai food at Basil. This beloved spot serves Canton’s most authentic, crave-worthy Thai food using family recipes and fresh ingredients. Can’t miss dishes include the chili basil fried rice, chicken larb salad and pad thai. For heat seekers, the curry dishes will satisfy. The cozy ambiance enhances the whole experience.

Bender’s Tavern

This great American tavern excels at both filling bar food and hearty entrees. No matter your mood, Bender’s satisfies with wings, burgers, flatbreads and other satisfying pub grub along with steak frites, maple glazed salmon and inventive sandwiches. Good for groups and solo diners alike. Don’t skip their famous pretzel bite appetizer when in Canton!

Grapes in a Glass

Food and wine make the perfect pair at this downtown Canton hotspot. Grapes in a Glass impresses with its fresh, seasonal new American dishes and extensive, expertly curated wine list. The menu changes often but some favorites include the bacon-wrapped dates, beet salad, shrimp bucatini and coffee-crusted filet mignon. Knowledgeable staff help match wines to each plate. Grapes in a Glass offers a refined yet relaxed fine dining experience.

The Bistro on Market

Tucked away right downtown, the Bistro on Market feels like a cozy neighborhood restaurant thanks to its quaint storefront location. But the cuisine rises far above typical fare with standouts like lobster mac and cheese, braised short ribs and heavenly brussels sprouts. Go for their daily lunch specials or leisurely dinner. Either way, the Bistro on Market delivers bistro classics at their finest.

Shlymma’s Grille

With exposed brick walls, repurposed wood decor and chill vibe, Shlymma’s Grille nails the gastropub atmosphere. Their menu features awesome bar bites like Korean bbq wings and poutine along with sandwiches, salads and comfort food entrees. Of course, Shlymma’s also brews its own excellent craft beers to wash it all down. Locals flock here for the friendly spot-on service, great food and house brews.

Twist of Thai

For Thai food in sleek, modern environs, Twist of Thai hits the spot. This downtown favorite impresses with contemporary takes on Thai staples from curries to noodles along with chef’s specialties. Classic pad thai, crispy duck and tom kha soup are all standouts. The contemporary vibe, along with a great cocktail menu, attract a stylish young crowd.

George’s Lounge

George’s Lounge proves delicious pub fare can also be inventive and sophisticated. Their menu balances unique options like an amazing crab cake sandwich, truffle fries and bourbon glazed salmon alongside classic burgers and fish & chips. No matter your order, it’s sure to be top-notch. George’s cozy atmosphere filled with locals eating and drinking cheerfully is the perfect cap to an evening out.

Day Trip Ideas near Canton

Day Trip Ideas near Canton

One great bonus about Canton’s central Ohio location is having numerous awesome day trips at your fingertips. If you’re looking to venture outside the city for a day during your visit, here are some amazing nearby places worth making the easy drive to:

Cleveland

The “Rock and Roll Capital of the World” is just an hour north of Canton, making it an easy day trip to take in Cleveland’s many attractions. Catch an Indians game at Progressive Field. Tour the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Wander through the world class Cleveland Museum of Art. Chow down in the West Side Market. Stroll along Lake Erie. However you spend your day, Cleveland offers big city fun right up the road.

Amish Country

Just 30 minutes from Canton, Amish country provides a glimpse into simple pastoral life. Tour Amish farms and shops selling quilts, baked goods and crafts in charming small towns like Berlin. Have a traditional Amish meal at places like The Farmstead Restaurant. Learn about Amish culture at museums and on buggy rides through the countryside. It’s like taking a step back in time.

Akron

Akron is only 40 minutes south and has plenty to see including Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens, Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad and the rockin’ Rock & Roll Hall of Fame annex. Hike overlooks in Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Check out the massive Goodyear blimp hangars. Akron has a lively arts and food scene well worth exploring on a quick day trip.

Columbus

Ohio’s capital and largest city Columbus is just an 80 minute straight shot south on I-77 making it very doable for a day visit. Wander German Village, explore world-class museums like the Wexner Center, cheer on the Columbus Blue Jackets NHL team and enjoy dining and shopping in the trendy Short North Arts District. Columbus offers big city vibes and attractions within easy reach.

Mohican State Park

For a day spent immersed in nature, head 50 minutes west to Mohican State Park nestled in the hills and forests of north central Ohio. Hike 100+ miles of trails past waterfalls and gorges. Rent a canoe or kayak. Go camping or stay in a cozy lodge. There’s much rugged natural beauty to take in at Mohican just under an hour away.

Malabar Farm State Park

Continue the nature theme 30 minutes northwest at Malabar Farm State Park, once home to famed author and conservationist Louis Bromfield. Tour the 32-room manor house then hit miles of trails on horseback, by bike or on foot. Make a stop at Pleasant Hill Lake for swimming, fishing and boating. With its rolling pastures and woods, Malabar Farm offers a blissful countryside escape.

Where to Stay in Canton

Canton provides plenty of great lodging options to accommodate any traveler. Here are some of my top recommendations for where to hang your hat during your Canton getaway:

The McKinley Grand Hotel – This upscale downtown hotel connects directly to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Ultra convenient with full amenities like a fitness center, restaurant and bar.

Residence Inn Canton – All suite extended stay hotel near Hall of Fame and downtown. Great for families or longer visits with included breakfast, indoor pool, free WiFi.

Historic Onesto Lofts – Quaint loft-style suites housed in a historic 1920s building right downtown. Full apartments provide extra room, kitchens and charm.

Home2 Suites by Hilton – Brand new property just off I-77 with modern suite-style rooms with kitchens. Pool, fitness center, free breakfast and WiFi.

Fairfield Inn & Suites – Reliable Marriott hotel close to Belden Village dining and shopping. Great value for the amenities including indoor pool and free breakfast.

Holiday Inn Express & Suites – Affordable rates and convenient highway location near restaurants and shopping. Extra roomy suites, free breakfast, pool.

Louis Inn B&B – For a cozy, romantic B&B stay, this Victorian inn provides period charm along with gourmet breakfasts. Steps from downtown.

Days Inn by Wyndham – Budget rates with super friendly service. Outdoor pool, complimentary breakfast, clean rooms. Great value pick.

Last Words

With its unique blend of history, sports, arts and culture, Canton truly has something for everyone. If you’re looking for things to do in Canton, Ohio, this guide will surely help you out. I hope this guide gave you tons of inspiration and insider tips to plan your own unforgettable Canton getaway. Let me know if you have any other questions – I’m happy to help make your visit one you’ll cherish.

FAQ’s

Is Canton safe for travelers?

Yes, Canton is generally very safe, especially in the downtown and tourist areas. Like any city, just use basic precautions like not leaving valuables visible in your car, being aware of your surroundings at night, etc. But violent crime rates are low here.

When are the best times of year to visit?

Late spring through early fall (May-October) brings the warmest weather and most outdoor events/activities. Summers can be humid but great for water fun. Fall offers pleasant temperatures for exploring. Early spring is still chilly. Avoid winter unless you’re here for the Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinement festivities.

How walkable is Canton?

The downtown core with museums, restaurants, shops and theaters is very compact and walkable. You can also walk/bike urban trails like the Stark Electric Trolley Trail. But having a car makes it easier to reach attractions scattered outside downtown like parks, malls, and landmarks.

Is there good nightlife in Canton?

Yes! While not a huge party town, Canton has a lively downtown scene with fun brewpubs like Shlymma’s, live music at Buzzbin and the Canton Brewing Company, hip bars/clubs like the Auricle and plenty of eateries open late. Just avoid residential areas after dark.

What’s the best way to get to Canton?

Canton doesn’t have an airport but does have an Amtrak station downtown. However, most visitors arrive via Cleveland Hopkins International Airport one hour north then drive or take the Stark Area Regional Transit bus to Canton. Driving the Ohio Turnpike or Interstate 77 directly to Canton is also easy.