August is when school sports practices begin, teachers count down the days to resuming class and plans are made for one last family vacation.
But it’s also a time to squeeze in more fun before temperatures drop and summertime slips away.
Stark County and the region offer a host of excursions and weekend activities.
Here’s a look at seven things to do before the end of summer
On a recent weekday afternoon, I experienced both the tranquility and fun of a kayak ride down the Tuscarawas River.
Renting kayaks at the Trailhead Canoe Livery through Ernie’s Bicycle Shops in the Massillon area, a weekday afternoon meant we were the only group drifting along the river for most of our three-mile trip.
A gentle current turned the water into an oversized lazy river. Alternating between shade and bright sunlight, the conditions were ideal, with a burst of small rapids mixed in while passing beneath a few bridges.
Kayaks also can be rented through Stark Parks, including at the Sippo Lake and Walborn Reservoir marinas. For more information, go to https://starkparks.com/kayaking/ or call Sippo Lake at 330-479-2358 and Walborn Reservoir at 330-935-0367.
Options also include Canal Fulton Canoe Livery and NTR Canoe Livery in the Bolivar area. Burning River Adventures also offers kayaking on the Cuyahoga River.
Road trip to Cleveland
On a recent road trip to downtown Cleveland, I checked out two popular destinations — the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and West Side Market.
About 15 minutes after walking into the rock hall, my 16-year-old daughter declared: “Dad, this place is so you.”
And she was spot on. History, rock music and cool and often quirky memorabilia checked all the boxes for me.
Features are too vast to mention, but here are a few — a new Beatles exhibit well suited for casual or devoted fans of the Fab Four or the younger generation who only vaguely knows of their legend; interactive displays where you can watch and listen to the induction speeches of individual bands and artists; video terminals where you can read about and listen to iconic songs; an Elvis exhibit in an intimate theater-style setting; exhibits honoring nearly every genre and niche of popular music, including Seattle’s grunge scene, punk rock, rap and hip-hop and Ohio’s rock history.
Advanced online ticket purchases are required. Registering for a specific time to visit is also required in order to limit capacity. Adult tickets are $35 or $30 for Northeast Ohio residents (verified with identification); children ages 6 to 12 are $25.
The rock hall is at 1100 Rock and Roll Blvd. For more details, go to www.rockhall.com/ or call 216-781-7625. Current hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday; Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Another Cleveland area rite of passage is the indoor West Side Market in historic Ohio City. Although some vendor spots were vacant, it’s still a bustling haven of fresh produce, enticing baked goods, meats, seafood, pasta, pepperoni rolls, calzones, tamales, pierogi, and ethnic specialties, including Middle Eastern foods.
Visiting with guests from France, they were impressed with the variety of food offerings and found it difficult to select from the assorted desserts, including Russian tea biscuits, macarons, maple bacon apple fritters, key-lime bombs, chocolate truffle cake, lemon tarts, cream puffs, coconut cake, scones, cannoli, chocolate-covered croissants and cheesecake.
Besides the food, it’s also worth visiting for the bygone and unique architecture. Visitors walk beneath expansive, arched brick ceilings.
Opened in 1912, it’s the city’s oldest, continuously operating, municipally-owned market.
Open year around, normal market hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday; 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday; and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.
For more information, visit https://westsidemarket.org/ or call 216-664-3387. West Side Market is at 1979 W 25th St.
Another fun outing in Cleveland is photographing vivid and striking mural art decorating numerous buildings, retaining walls and bridges.
Works include the “Greetings from Cleveland” postcard-style mural on the side of a brick building at 2104 West 25th Street at Chatham. The piece was created by New York City graffiti artist Victor Ving.
Another beauty is the Shoreway Mural on Washington Avenue between West 25th and West 28th streets. Spanning 620 feet, it’s the largest mural in Ohio, and was completed with the help of Cleveland artists.
Created by Brazilian artist Ananda Nahu, the mural is among several in Hingetown and part of the Creative Fusion mural project, which was funded by the Cleveland Foundation.
One of my personal favorites is the Prince mural on the West Shoreway retaining wall at West 25th Street and Main.
The singer and musician is depicted wearing his signature sunglasses and purple coat.
Cuyahoga Valley National Park
National parks conjure thoughts of the grandiose and famous – think Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Yellowstone, Joshua Tree, Zion, Glacier and Grand Teton.
But within an hour drive of the Canton area is Cuyahoga Valley National Park.
Majestic in its own right, the sprawling park stretches between Akron and Cleveland, offering an eclectic patchwork of sites in urban and rural areas.
Biking opportunities are many, including on the Towpath Trail and the Summit Metro Parks Bike & Hike Trail.
Recommended hikes include Ledges Trail, Brandywine Gorge, and a hike on the Buckeye Trail from Boston Mill Visitor Center to Blue Hen Falls.
Other highlights include the Tinker’s Creek Gorge Scenic Overlook at Bedford Reservation; the 65-foot Brandywine Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, Ledges Overlook in the Virginia Kendall area, Everett Covered Bridge, and the solitude and simple beauty of Indigo Lake at 4300 Riverview Road in Peninsula.
Everett Covered Bridge, which crosses Furnace Run, is the only remaining covered bridge in Summit County, located at 2370 Everett Road in Peninsula, a half-mile west of Riverview Road.
Recommendations include a stop at Boston Store, 1550 Boston Mills Road West in Peninsula, where you can purchase both snacks and park-themed clothing and gifts, as well as the Cleveland-based Mitchell’s Homemade ice cream, available by the half-pint.
Also suggested is a visit to the Countryside Farmers’ Market on Saturdays starting at 9 a.m.
Another tasty destination is Szalay’s Farm & Market, 4563 Riverview Road in Peninsula.
Fruit sundaes are the star attraction here — soft serve vanilla ice cream engulfed by pineapple, strawberries, blueberries and bananas or another combination of your choosing. The sundaes are a family favorite and a regular stop following hikes and bike rides.
Grilled sandwiches are also served from outdoor huts, including sausage and pork loin, as well as salmon and turkey burgers. Deli dogs and roasted corn on the cob are also on the menu.
Hours are 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday through Labor Day.
Szalay’s also has a small indoor market featuring fresh produce and other items. One warning for food and market purchases: Szalay’s only accepts cash and checks, although an ATM is available.
Fore more information, visit https://szalaysfarm.com/ or call 330-657-2727.
More:Waterfalls await in Cuyahoga Valley National Park — Brandywine, Bridal Veil, Great Falls
More:Boston Store at Cuyahoga Valley National Park features Mitchell’s ice cream, other goodies
To learn more about the national park, a good place to start is the Boston Mill Visitor Center, 6947 Riverview Road in Peninsula. For more information, go to www.nps.gov/cuva/boston-mill-visitor-center.htm.
Enjoying the serene beauty of Amish Country can be done any season.
But summertime is ideal for walking through tourist areas such as Berlin, Millersburg, Walnut Creek, Sugarcreek and Kidron, as well as taking an Amish house tour and buggy ride.
A recommended tour is Yoder’s Amish Home in the Millersburg area in Holmes County. Touring the home and farm provide background and insight into Amish life and culture. The barn was constructed in 1885.
Yoder’s Amish Home is located on the scenic Amish byway State Route 515, north of Walnut Creek and south of of Winesburg. For tour hours and more details, go to https://yodersamishhome.com/ or call 330-893-2541.
Homestyle cooking and baked goods are also part of the Amish experience. Recommendations include Der Dutchman Amish Kitchen Cooking, 4967 Walnut St. in Walnut Creek, where classic dishes are served, including slow-roasted roast beef; broasted or baked chicken; roast pork; baked ham; noodles ladled over scratch-made mashed potatoes; and chicken pot pie, as well as slices of homemade pie, including Dutch apple, butterscotch cream, red raspberry cream, custard and chocolate cream.
For more details about Amish country, go to www.visitamishcountry.com or call the Holmes County Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau at 330-674-3975.
Amish tours are also given in Tuscarawas County, including Amish Heritage Tours in Berlin and Troyer’s Amish Tours in Sugarcreek. For more information, visit www.visitamishcountry.com/adventures/tours-amish-experiences.
Akron Rubber Ducks game
Summertime and baseball are synonymous.
Attending a Cleveland Guardians game offers the full Major League Baseball experience. But for those looking for a scaled-down version closer to home, check out the Rubber Ducks at Canal Park, 300 S. Main St. in downtown Akron.
Ball park charm is fully present — a team mascot, scoreboard and lots of food, including Cracker Jack, hot dogs, peanuts, cheesesteak sandwiches and ice cream.
Extreme food offerings include a foot-long hot dog topped with pulled pork, fried onions and Stouffer’s macaroni and cheese; crispy fried popcorn chicken tossed in a homemade honey-hot sauce, placed in a waffle cone; and a jumbo hot dog topped with coleslaw, green onions and barbecue sauce served in a baked potato.
The Rubber Ducks are a double A affiliate of the Cleveland Guardians.
Promotions include Thirsty Thursday with $2 beer and soda. Games continue until Sept. 18, which is Fan Appreciation Night, at 6:05 p.m. against the Bowie Baysox.
Tickets can be purchased at www.milb.com/akron/tickets/single-game-tickets or by calling the box office at 330-253-5153.
Even for those who are not roller coaster enthusiasts, Cedar Point is a summertime ritual with the atmosphere of carnival-style food, games, live music, dance shows and other entertainment.
Rides range from the classic Blue Streak wooden coaster, a nostalgic but bone-rattling trip back in time to the wickedly fierce and fast Steel Vengeance, considered among the best coasters in the world by amusement park aficionados.
While I love the history and character of the Blue Streak, the Steel Vengeance is the most mind-blowing coaster I have ever ridden. Riders get turned upside down four times and experience high accelerations and a maximum speed of 74 mph, as well as weightlessness, and changes in longitudinal, lateral and vertical directions.
Constructed of wood supports and steel tracks, the mighty coaster reaches a height of 205 feet.
No wonder it’s broken world records — there’s nothing else like it in the amusement park realm.
Food favorites include fresh-cut fries at the Happy Friar or Hot Potato. and BackBeatQue, where brisket and pulled pork are made with backyard barbecue authenticity. Other options include Chick-Fil-A, Chickie’s & Pete’s, Coaster’s Drive-In, Johnny Rockets, Lemmy’s Walking Tacos, The Mac Shack, The Wild Turnip, French Quarter Confections, and Toft’s Ice Cream Parlor.
August hours are 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday until Aug. 22, when hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
Visiting in August or September improve the chances of warm weather, although Cedar Point stays opens on weekends for Halloween-themed fun on select dates and nights Sept. 15 through Oct. 30
For park hours, ticket prices and other information, visit www.cedarpoint.com or call 419-627-2350.
Sitting outside on a warm night listening to live music beats the indoor experience, as long as it’s not raining.
And you can safeguard against the elements at Blossom Music Center by purchasing pavilion seats. The popular amphitheater still has lots of great shows scheduled through late summer, including The Black Keys on Sept. 9.
Other concerts include Rob Zombie and Mudvayne on Wednesday; Kid Rock with Foreigner on Friday; Korn and Evanescence on Aug. 23; Pitbull on Aug. 24; Nas and Wu-Tang Clan on Sept. 7.; and Nine Inch Nails on Sept. 24.
More:Summer 2022 guide to Blossom Music Center: Parking, restaurants, directions and more
More:2022 Blossom Music Center schedule: Here’s who’s playing concerts besides One Republic
For more information, visit www.clevelandamphitheater.com/ or call 330-920-8040. Blossom Music Center is at 145 W. Steels Corners Road in Cuyahoga Falls.
Venues in the Canton area include Jackson Amphitheater.
Jackson Amphitheater will have an Elton John tribute act (Elton Rohn) at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 13; Chris Higbee and the Jackson Township Frontline Workers Appreciation Concert at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 20; and Journey tribute band E5C4P3 at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 4.
The amphitheater sells alcohol, pizza and has food trucks on site.
Tickets are $10 general admission and $20 for VIP front stage or patio seating. To purchase tickets, visit www.jacksonamphitheater.com/events.
Reach Ed at 330-580-8315 and [email protected] On Twitter: @ebalintREP.