Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Guide to Canton

Photo by OHventures

Whether your into politics and history, sports and football, or arts and music, Canton is the city for you. Visiting Canton is full of fun and it's easily accessible, too. Located right off of Interstate 76, Canton is the county seat of Stark County in Northeast Ohio and is the 8th largest city in the state (with a population of approximately 73,000 residents). It is part of the NE Ohio trifecta of Akron-Canton-Cleveland.

I have done a great deal of work in the Canton area and have consequently spent a lot of time here and learned some of the best spots to go. I'd like to think this post can serve as a great starting point for anyone planning to spend a day in the area!

1. Monument Park (700 - 1150 Park Rd NW): This park is ideal for getting your exercise on! Whether it’s starting out with a morning run along the 1.5 mile running track, buffing up at the chin-up bars, or doing it “Rocky” style up the huge staircase at the adjacent McKinley Monument (see below), this place has got it for you. It’s also extremely picturesque, with a beautiful stream, duck pond (used for ice skating in winter months), and breathtaking gardens. Picnic tables and grills are also on site, so pack some hamburgers and hot dogs and kick back!

2. McKinley National Monument (800 McKinley Monument Drive NW): It is pretty remarkable that the 25th President of the United States is buried here in Canton! Canton was William McKinley’s “adopted” home, having been born in Niles (near Youngstown) and later practicing law in Canton. He lived here when he became Governor of Ohio until he later had to of course move to Washington DC to serve as president! History is rich and deep here at the absolutely stunning and ornate monument (pictured at the beginning of the post) that was built for his final resting place, after being assassinated in 1901. Even if you’re not a history or political nerd like me, you will still appreciate what this building holds and represents.

3. Chips N Salsa (4272 Belden Village Street Northwest): As its name suggests, Chips N Salsa has hands down some of the BEST chips and salsa I have ever had, and is consequently one of the best Mexican joints around! It is located in the Belden Village area, which has a great deal of shopping and is one of the highest concentrations of restaurants in the nation (per capita). That being said, you can find some really great restaurants around if you're not quite in the mood for quesadillas or queso (but why wouldn't you be?)!

4. Canton Palace Theatre (605 Market Avenue North): Like the Civic Theatre in Akron, the Canton Palace Theatre hosts concerts and other live entertainment events of all kinds. If you happen to go when there's a show, consider buying a ticket. If nothing else, treat yourself by popping in and looking around at the architecture. It is really awesome and has great acoustics! OHventurer of the Week Ryan Humbert has previously played a show here and it was definitely a treat being in such a fantastic theatre.

5. Old Carolina Barbecue (4710 Everhard Rd NW): You may think I am crazy for not being a huge barbecue fan (I get that a lot), but Old Carolina Barbecue is one of the few barbecue restaurants I crave! With mouthwatering sauces concocted probably in heaven, this is THE place to have lunch in Canton (even though it does have Carolina in its name). The sides here are also fantastic, especially the mac & cheese! It’s perfect picnic food, so get some food to go and take it to Monument Park if it’s nice!

6. Pro Football Hall of Fame (2121 George Halas Drive Northwest): Ohio has some pretty hardcore football fans, from the Cincinnati Bengals to the Cleveland Browns. The genesis of the nation’s captivity and affection for the pigskin sport had its genesis in the Canton area. A documentary called “Go Tigers” was even filmed a few years back showcasing the football craze in nearby Massillon! I attended the Hall of Fame Game last year (Bengals vs. Cowboys, pictured above) and thoroughly enjoyed it! This is a must if you are a sports fan or not!

7. Sippo Lake Park (5300 Tyner Ave NW): This is the destination of one of my very first canoeing trips ever! This type of canoeing is for the novice who wants a more relaxing experience. You rent a canoe and pay by the hour to navigate freely around an open body of water. I and my friends had a great time here, as you can dock the canoes and go hiking in Sippo Park as well!

8. Canton Garden Center (1615 Stadium Park NW): Found within the aforementioned Monument Park, the Canton Garden Center is an “out-of-city” experience that truly makes you feel like you’re in “The Secret Garden.” Complete with a butterfly-shaped garden, a charming bell tower, The Garden of the Five Senses, and a rose garden, this is a great place to stop and meditate, especially after a long day of travel. Be sure to also check out the awesome waterfalls and creek by the stone garden!

9. Gervasi Vineyard (1700 55th Street Northeast): As described in OHventures’ Top 5 Wine Spots in Ohio, Gervasi is an extremely elegant winery. A glass of wine (which is rather small) is $9! But I wouldn't list it if I didn't think it was worth it. Their wine "experts" created the wines and have nine homemade wines for you to try. Their sangria is also great, I can attest. The food is fantastic as well, as the bistro uses ingredients from local farmers. The atmosphere at Gervasi is of pure opulence. They have an absolutely beautiful pond and acres of fields with gorgeous landscaping. It's definitely a must-see if you want a great wine experience in Ohio.

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