Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Summit County, OH

  • Published 2023/04/02

Summit County is one of Ohio’s most vibrant regions regarding culture, heritage, and natural beauty.

This county encompasses 1,086 square kilometers.

Summit County is home to over half a million inhabitants making it Ohio’s fourth most populous county.

It’s best known as a central hub for education since it is home to several universities, including the University of Akron.

Summit County is as progressive as the major counties in Ohio and is roughly 40 minutes south of Cleveland.

Many people around Ohio love to work, study, or even settle down in Summit County.

However, it’s also an ideal vacation destination for many reasons.

It’s home to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, which spans over a thousand acres.

At the same time, Akron, its county seat, is a destination of its own.

It offers visitors entertainment, arts, history, and culture.

Explore this region in the Buckeye State with this list of the best things to do in Summit County, Ohio.

Celebrate Art at the Akron Art Museum

Entrance to Akron Art Museum

Eric Glenn /

Start your Summit County travel adventure at the Akron Art Museum.

This art museum is along S. High Street in Akron.

Whether an art lover or an average tourist, you should have an excellent time wandering this art museum.

It houses over 7,000 artworks from the 1850s to the present day.

Interior view of the Akron Art Museum

Milena Ramirez /

While touring the Akron Art Museum, you’ll come across dozens of exhibits.

It has sculptures, paintings, photography, glass works, digital arts, etc.

In addition, it also hosts various art-related events such as workshops, film showings, and concerts, adding excitement to your visit there.

Unique architecture of the Akron Art Museum

Threeblur0 at en.wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Check Out the National Museum of Psychology

The National Museum of Psychology is a one-of-a-kind place for historical experiences.

This museum mainly focuses on exhibiting the study of the human mind and behavior.

You can visit this place along S. College Street at the University of Akron.

It’s also part of the Smithsonian Institution Affiliations Program’s History of Psychology.

Visiting this museum offers you the not-so-typical ‘museum vibes.’

It’s mainly because its exhibits focus primarily on the fascinating study of psychology.

You’re guaranteed to have fun and learn plenty about psychology and its history through its interactive exhibits and activities.

Remember to spend an hour or two at the National Museum of Psychology.

Explore the Vast Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Brandywine falls at Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Kenneth Keifer /

The Cuyahoga Valley National Park is nestled in the northern portion of Summit County.

This national park sits between the cities of Akron and Cleveland along the Cuyahoga River.

The park encompasses over 32 570 acres, home to over 42 animal species.

Besides its rich flora and fauna, this park is also an excellent place for sightseeing.

Deer at Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Kelly vanDellen /

You can find pristine waterfalls, scenic overlooks, and lush rolling hills.

The national park becomes a winter wonderland during winter.

You’ll enjoy plenty of outdoor activities in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

It includes hiking, sightseeing, wildlife viewing, camping, and winter-related activities.

Remember to include this national park in your itinerary when visiting Summit County.

Boardwalk at Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Zack Frank /

Discover the Hidden Gems at the Richfield Heritage Park

The Richfield Heritage Park is a beautiful place to explore nature and history.

You can find this park along Broadview Road in Richfield.

The park, which covers 336 acres, holds plenty of history which dates back to the pioneer era.

At the same time, it’s also home to plenty of nature trails that take you to some scenic locations.

Exploring this park lets you see the wooden houses of the Richfield pioneers in the early 1900s.

On the other hand, you’ll come across the historic 200-acre peach and apple orchard of the Neal Family.

Also, see the hundreds of patented properties of James Kirby on the south of the park, which includes the nation’s only patented lake.

Of course, besides history, Richfield Heritage Park is a popular outdoor destination.

You’ll enjoy hiking, boating, fishing, and nature orienteering, making this heritage park a recommended attraction.

Ride a Steam Train along the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad

A train passing through the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad

Kenneth Sponsler /

One of the best attractions you mustn’t miss is the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad.

This historic railroad features a Class III steam-powered locomotive.

It offers visitors a scenic trip throughout the scenic Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

Joining one of its trips lets you virtually travel back a century ago when this railway served as a coal transport hub in Ohio.

View of the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad

Zack Frank /

The trips aboard the train are a splendid and unique experience exploring the national park, especially with your family or friends.

You’ll see a different perspective of the national park’s beauty while racing along the Cuyahoga River.

Besides the scenic locations you’re passing by, you’ll also encounter various local wildlife.

So, hop on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad for an incredible history and nature tour.

Stunning view of the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad

Kenneth Sponsler /

Ski Down the Slopes of the Boston Mills Ski Area

Summit County is also famous for winter activities, which you can enjoy at the Boston Mills Ski Area.

This ski area is situated along Riverview Road in Peninsula.

It features 19 runs from its 240-foot vertical slope with 79 acres of skiing and snowboarding area.

Visitors across Ohio and neighboring states flock to this ski area yearly to enjoy its top-notch skiing amenities.

This one is beginner-friendly compared to other ski areas because of its smooth and gentle slopes.

Bring your skiing gear and head to the Boston Mills Ski Area for a fabulous time shredding on snowy slopes.

Meet the Animals at the Akron Zoo

Leopard at Akron Zoo

TheMadClicker /

Akron Zoo is a must-visit tourist attraction because of its wide variety of featured animals.

You can visit this zoo along Edgewood Avenue.

The zoo, which lies on a 50-acre property, is home to over 1,000 animals from over a hundred species.

Otter at Akron Zoo

Anthony Sarvabui /

More than a hundred thousand visitors flock to this zoo annually, making it one of Akron’s top tourist attractions.

While strolling inside this zoo, you’ll encounter tigers, Komodo dragons, penguins, jaguars, snow leopards, birds, reptiles, etc.

Besides being a zoo, the Akron Zoo helps in animal conservation by being a member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).

Llama at Akron Zoo

Milena Ramirez /

Try Your Luck at the MGM Northfield Park

MGM Northfield Park is one of Summit County’s most popular entertainment hubs.

You can visit this casino and entertainment center in Northfield.

This place isn’t just your typical casino.

It’s also home to Northfield Park, a top-notch horse racing arena hosting over a hundred racing events annually.

At the same time, it has over 200,000 square feet of gaming space.

It features over a hundred machines, tables, and gaming rooms with a Vegas-style gaming experience.

Head to MGM Northfield Park to experience Vegas-style gaming without flying to Sin City.

Go on an Outdoor Adventure at the Nimisila Reservoir

Picturesque sunset at Nimisila Reservoir

Joe Emery Mullens /

Nimisila Reservoir is in Summit County’s southeastern portion.

This reservoir is known for having 13 bodies of water.

It includes the Portage Lakes, within its 825-acre area constructed in 1936.

Historically, the area was a vital trading post for Native Americans and settlers.

Deers at Nimisila Reservoir

Joe Emery Mullens /

Today, it’s an important stopover area for migratory birds from the north.

Its surroundings feature an unspoiled natural area, perfect for various outdoor activities.

Visiting this reservoir lets you enjoy boating, fishing, camping, hiking, birdwatching, nature photography, and plenty more.

Pack your outdoor gear and head to the Nimisila Reservoir in Green to enjoy outdoor activities.

Step Back in Time at the Cuyahoga Falls Historical Museum

The Cuyahoga Falls Historical Museum is the town’s local museum that houses essential backstories of its past.

You can visit this museum along Cuyahoga Falls’ Cook Street.

The museum opened in 1980 through the Cuyahoga Falls Historical Society.

They curate, preserve, and collect historical items to promote their history.

Visiting this museum is a fascinating place to learn more about Summit County, particularly Cuyahoga Falls and Cuyahoga Valley’s rich history.

Inside are exhibits that feature artifacts and memorabilia from the town’s first residents and notable people.

Also, the Cuyahoga Falls Historical Museum is where you can visit the 1800s-built Boston Township Hall and the Peninsula Library.

Shop ‘Til You Drop at Summit Mall

Exterior view of the Summit Mall

AProvchy /

Summit Mall is the only remaining shopping center in Summit County.

You can visit this mall along West Market Street in the suburban community of Fairlawn.

The indoor shopping center encompasses over 850,000 square feet.

Locals throughout Summit County flock to this mall for quality leisure time after the Rolling Acres and the Chapel Hill Malls closed down.

If you want to enjoy shopping, dining, and leisure, visit this mall to get everything you need for quality leisure time.

This mall houses brands such s Macy’s, Pandora, J Crew, Brighton Collectibles, and many more.

Also, Summit Mall has many restaurants, from your favorite fast-food chain to locally owned restaurants, to satisfy your cravings.

Pour a Glass of Wine at Sarah’s Vineyard

It’s rare to see vineyards thrive in Ohio, so seize the chance to visit one in Sarah’s Vineyard.

You can visit this vineyard along W. Steels Corners Road in Cuyahoga Falls.

Fascinatingly, this vineyard is inside a pre-Civil War barn, giving you that rustic and cozy ambiance.

It has a three-story stone fireplace, a covered patio, and a tasting room.

You can enjoy a glass or a bottle of its finest wines.

Besides its fine wines, you can pair it with its wood-fired pizzas, salads, and sandwiches to satisfy your cravings.

You can also check out its small art gallery featuring unique artworks which are up for sale.

Take a break from exploring Summit County and unwind at Sarah’s Vineyard.

Explore the University of Akron

View of the University of Akron

Milena Ramirez /

The University of Akron is more than your typical college campus.

Besides its accolades in the academic scene, this university is home to several attractions the public can visit.

It’s home to the Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens, a historic building with many backstories of the university’s early days.

It’s also where you can find the F.A. Seiberling Nature Realm, like Dr. Bob’s Home, Akron Civic Theater, and plenty more.

Remember to include the University of Akron in your itinerary to see one-of-a-kind attractions.

Make a Splash at the Water Works Family Aquatic Center

The Water Works Family Aquatic Center is a massive water park in Cuyahoga Falls.

Like most water parks you’ve visited, this one offers plenty of attractions, features, and amenities that guarantee you and your family a great time.

It has a long, winding, lazy river where you can drift on an inflatable.

You can also feel the adrenaline pumping by going down its hundred-foot slides.

Those who want to relax can enjoy its lounge chairs beside the pool.

There are many ways to enjoy your time at the Water Works Family Aquatic Center, making it a recommended attraction, especially with your family.

Hike through the Ohio and Erie Canalway Towpath Trail

Mesmerizing view along the Ohio and Erie Canalway Towpath Trail

Marked Imagery /

The Ohio and Erie Canalway Towpath Trail is a premier outdoor destination in Ohio.

The trail passes through Summit County and stretches over a hundred miles.

Historically, the trail was a vital thoroughfare to transport goods and commuters beside the Ohio and Erie Canals.

Today, it’s an excellent place to set out on an outdoor adventure.

View of the Ohio and Erie Canalway Towpath Trail

Kevin Payravi, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Explore Summit County’s hidden gems, mainly historical sites that the public rarely visits on this trail.

Besides its fascinating history, you’ll see beautiful scenery, parks, and neighborhoods you’ll pass by.

Bring your hiking boots when visiting Summit County to explore the Ohio and Erie Canalway Towpath Trail.

Final Thoughts

South of Cleveland, Summit County features some of the best attractions in Ohio.

It has everything you need for a memorable weekend getaway or even a vacation with your loved ones.

The history, culture, heritage, and natural beauty make Summit County unique among other places in Ohio.

Start planning your itinerary with this travel post about the best things to do in Summit County, Ohio.

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