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Explore Akron, OH: Your Guide to the Best Local Experiences

In the heart of Northeast Ohio, Akron is a vibrant city with a rich history, diverse cultural attractions, and a strong sense of community. Known as the “Rubber Capital of the World” due to its pivotal role in the tire and rubber industry, Akron has evolved into a modern urban center offering a variety of experiences for residents and visitors alike. If you are new to the area or are looking to move to the city, get to know what our home unique. 

Table of Contents

I. About Akron: History, Industry & Education

II. Attractions & Recreation

III. Community Events, Dining & Shopping

Life in Akron: History & Industry

History of the City

Akron’s history dates back to its founding in 1825 by Simon Perkins and Paul Williams. The city initially thrived as a key canal town, benefiting from its strategic location along the Ohio and Erie Canal. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Akron’s growth accelerated dramatically with the rise of the rubber and tire industry. Companies like Goodyear, Firestone, and B.F. Goodrich established headquarters here, earning Akron the nickname “Rubber Capital of the World.” This industrial boom attracted a diverse population, fostering a vibrant community that contributed to Akron’s cultural and economic development.

Industry Changes over Time

While Akron’s historical identity is deeply rooted in the rubber and tire industry, the city’s economy has diversified significantly over the years. Today, Akron is a hub for research and innovation, particularly in polymer science and technology, thanks in part to the University of Akron‘s renowned College of Polymer Science and Polymer Engineering. The healthcare sector also plays a vital role in the local economy, with major employers like Summa Health System and Akron Children’s Hospital providing advanced medical services and significant employment opportunities. Additionally, Akron supports a growing tech and startup scene, further contributing to its dynamic local economy.

Education Opportunities 

Akron boasts a robust educational landscape that serves all levels of learners. Akron Public Schools (APS) are known for their innovative programs and career academies that prepare students for various professional paths. Private and charter schools, such as St. Vincent-St. Mary High School, offer alternative educational choices, emphasizing rigorous academic standards and extracurricular engagement. The University of Akron stands out as a major institution of higher learning, offering comprehensive programs in engineering, business, law, and polymer science. Stark State College and Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED) further enhance the city’s educational offerings with career-focused training and medical education. Community resources like the Akron-Summit County Public Library and Community Learning Centers support lifelong learning and community engagement, making education a cornerstone of Akron’s growth and development.

Top Attractions & Recreation in Akron

Akron beautifully blends its historic roots with modern conveniences. Whether you’re interested in exploring the city’s cultural attractions, enjoying its outdoor spaces, or indulging in its culinary delights, Akron has something for everyone. Plan your visit today and discover the charm and hospitality that make Akron a standout destination in Northeast Ohio.

Must-Visit Attractions: Fun for the Whole Family

  • Akron Art Museum: The Akron Art Museum boasts an impressive collection of contemporary art within a strikingly modern building. The museum regularly hosts exhibitions, educational programs, and community events.
  • Akron Civic Theatre: This historic theater, with its Moorish architecture and atmospheric interior, hosts a variety of performances, including concerts, plays, and film screenings. It’s a cultural gem in the heart of downtown Akron
  • Akron Zoo: Home to over 700 animals, the Akron Zoo offers an engaging and educational experience for all ages. Highlights include the Lehner Family Zoo Gardens and the Komodo Kingdom Education Center.
  • Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens: Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens is a must-visit historic estate featuring a Tudor Revival mansion, beautifully landscaped gardens, and numerous seasonal events. It’s a perfect spot for history buffs and garden enthusiasts alike.

Outdoor Recreation Activities

Looking for opportunities to get outdoors? From small city parks to state park land, you have plenty of options to get into nature.

  • Cuyahoga Valley National Park: Just a short drive from downtown Akron, Cuyahoga Valley National Park offers stunning natural beauty, with miles of trails, scenic waterfalls, and opportunities for hiking, biking, and bird-watching.
  • Portage Lakes State Park: Portage Lakes State Park is a popular destination for boating, fishing, and picnicking. With multiple lakes and scenic views, it’s a great place to unwind and enjoy the outdoors.
  • Summit Metro Parks: This expansive park system boasts over 120 miles of trails, catering to hikers, bikers, and nature enthusiasts of all skill levels. The 34-mile long Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail is a popular route for bikers and hikers, offering scenic views of the Cuyahoga River. For mountain bikers, Goodrich Scenic Trail offers challenging terrains.

    Engage in Akron: Community Activities & Events 

    Downtown Akron is the heart of the city’s community activities, bustling with opportunities for shopping and supporting local businesses. Spend a day out on the town to experience the niche boutiques and specialized shops, and round out the evening with dinner at one of the city’s popular restaurants. Make sure you also keep an eye on the community calendar, so you don’t miss some of the city’s major events!

    Annual Events & Festivals

    Throughout the year, Akron hosts a variety of annual community events that cater to all interests and ages.

    • Akron Marathon: The Akron Marathon, held annually in September, attracts runners from all over the country. The race features a scenic route through the city and is a major event on Akron’s calendar.
    • First Night Akron: Celebrate New Year’s Eve with First Night Akron, a family-friendly festival featuring live entertainment, fireworks, and a variety of activities throughout downtown.
    • Italian-American Festival: This summer festival celebrates Akron’s rich Italian heritage with food, music, and cultural activities. It’s a lively event that brings the community together.

          Dining with Local Favorites

          Whatever your family is craving for dinner, you have a wide selection of restaurants to choose from that can satisfy everyone’s taste buds. Enjoy international cuisine, American favorites, casual fare, and much more!

          • Crave: Crave offers an eclectic menu of contemporary American cuisine in a stylish setting. It’s a great spot for a date night or a special occasion.
          • Diamond Grille: A landmark in Akron since 1935, Diamond Grille is renowned for its classic steakhouse experience. With its old-school charm and impeccable service, it’s a favorite for special occasions and business dinners. The menu features top-quality steaks, fresh seafood, and signature dishes like lobster tail and lamb chops, making it a prime spot for a memorable dining experience.
          • Lock 15 Brewing Co.: This brewery and restaurant, located in a historic building along the Ohio & Erie Canal, offers a selection of craft beers and a menu featuring locally sourced ingredients.
          • Luigi’s Restaurant: For a taste of Akron’s Italian heritage, visit Luigi’s Restaurant. Known for its hearty portions of pasta and pizza, Luigi’s has been a local favorite since 1949.
          • Saffron Patch: Saffron Patch brings the flavors of India to Akron. The menu features a wide array of traditional dishes, including flavorful curries, tandoori specialties, and a variety of vegetarian options. 
          • Swenson’s Drive-In: An Akron institution, Swenson’s Drive-In is famous for its delicious burgers and old-fashioned carhop service. It’s a nostalgic dining experience that’s perfect for families and casual diners.
          • The Lockview: Located in the heart of downtown Akron, The Lockview is known for its extensive grilled cheese menu and relaxed atmosphere. This cozy spot offers a wide variety of gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches, from classic cheddar to more adventurous options like lobster or mashed potatoes on your grilled cheese. 

          Shopping Centers

          The Downtown Akron area is home to quite a collection of shops, boutiques, and markets that offer unique goods and services. Even window shopping, you can check out some of the local artisans’ talents, colorful offerings, and one-of-kind collectibles. 

          • Highland Square: Highland Square is a vibrant neighborhood with a mix of independent shops, cafes, and entertainment venues. It’s a great place to spend an afternoon browsing unique boutiques and enjoying local flavor.
          • Summit Mall: For a more traditional shopping experience, Summit Mall features a wide variety of stores, from national retailers to specialty shops.


          Valley Storage Facilities Serving Akron, OH

          Need a hand as you settle into Akron? Valley Storage has two locations in Akron that provide a range of solutions, including drive-up storage units and vehicle storage. Browse our available self storage units online at the location closest to you to find a rental space quickly and easily. Use our storage calculator to guide you to the best storage unit size to support your load. Explore the Valley Storage options near you to find your perfect self storage solution!

          Two Valley Storage Locations in Akron

          With a location in Chapel Hill and another nearby in Tallmadge, we ensure easy access to self storage space north of Downtown. We provide a variety of drive-up unit sizes that can accommodate personal items or business inventory. Each unit allows for easy loading and unloading, ideal for frequent access or large items. 

          In addition to our units, Valley Storage provides secure storage options for vehicles, including cars, boats, and RVs. Our facilities feature advanced security measures such as gated access, surveillance cameras, and on-site management to ensure your vehicle’s safety.

          Our knowledgeable staff is ready to assist with any questions or concerns, helping you choose the right storage unit size and guiding you through the move-in process. Visit our facility on Home Avenue for personalized assistance and a look at our available storage units.

          Let’s Get Organized

          Discover the convenience and flexibility of self storage with Valley Storage in Akron. Explore our website to find the perfect storage solution near you, and take advantage of our online tools to make your storage experience as efficient as possible. Let Valley Storage be your trusted partner in Akron for all your storage needs.

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          Bella Quill

          About the Author: Bella Quill is a Marketing Intern at Storage Asset Management. She is exploring all parts or marketing, including content writing and social media. In Bella's free time, she loves to travel, bake, and spend time with her horse, Sunny.