At the heart of Canal Fulton, you’ll find everything your little heart desires.
Tucked inside the northwest corner of Stark County is one of the area’s most interesting and historic little towns. The Canal Fulton area first was known as Milan in 1814, and 12 years later, Fulton was platted. In 1832, the two areas combined to become Canal Fulton, the only downtown in Stark County with a significant waterway running through its heart.
Canal Fulton business owners and officials try to capitalize on the fact that the canal runs through town.
“You have everything here that your little heart desires,” said Barb Forrester, executive director of the Canal Fulton Area Chamber of Commerce. “From candy to coffee to good food, to a good place to raise your kids.
“There are goodies for cats and dogs downtown; the old-time toys that you forgot about in your mom’s attic are here; and of course, there’s ice cream.”
This month, voters will decide whether to add a community recreation center. The city has formed a partnership with the YMCA of Central Stark County, the University of Akron and Summa Health Systems to occupy space on a community campus that would be complete with a recreational facility, pool and indoor walking track.
The 25-year bond issue would raise $5 million for the public-private partnership.
Toys Time Forgot
Like many collectible-type shops, Toys Time Forgot started as a hobby In 1991, opening as a 500-sq.-ft. shop offering sports trading cards and vintage toys. Today it’s a booming 4,300 sq. ft., one of the largest vintage toy retailers in Northeast Ohio. The collection of old tin lunch boxes is impressive. Owner Dan Hare has a Six Million Dollar Man lunch box (who didn’t?). Except Dan kept his, and it’s worth $160 retail now. One of the rarest items Hare has taken in over the years is a Topsy the Elephant lunch box. Kids had to send the wrapper from a loaf of bread away for the lunch box, which makes it a rare find and can fetch up to $4,000. Toys Time Forgot has a variety of wind-up toys and action figures. [137 Cherry St. E]
V-Li’s Thai Cuisine
Hands-down the best Thai food in Stark County is right here along the Ohio and Erie Canal. Entrees are made to order and fresh. The wanton soup here is unlike any other in the county. The Pad Thai—chicken, shrimp or tofu—is deliciously prepared and perfectly balanced. V-Li’s stocks beer from the Brooklyn Brewing Co. [129 N. Canal St.]
How many downtowns in Stark County have a waterway to build attractions around? Any visit here without stopping by the Canalway Center is like ordering a chicken sandwich from a steakhouse. The St. Helena III canalboat operates on weekends in May, September and October and Tuesday through Sunday in the summer months. The St. Helena III is pulled by two Percheron horses—Dan and Willie—and departs from the Port of Canal Fulton for one-hour rides. A historian onboard provides information and points of interest along the way.
While there are plenty of places to eat and treat yourself in Canal Fulton, it is a city that seems to take pride in a healthy lifestyle, as well. Brimstone Bicycles can repair, sell or rent you a bike. The folks who run the place are triathletes. They specialize in bikes for people who have disabilities and want to ride. The location is right along the canal trail, so that makes it easy to rent a bike and ride off on the trail and take in the sights and sounds of the canal.
[109 Canal Street S]
Canal Fulton Canoe Livery & Campgrounds
This is the kind of place where you can spend the afternoon, or night if you would like. The canoe livery will put you in a kayak or paddle boat and send you on your way down the Tuscarawas River, and then drop off bikes for you to ride back along the trails.
[219 W. Cherry St.]
Dragonfly Tea Room
Step back in time and enjoy lunch inside the historic Blank House (circa 1901). The eatery has an English garden feel. While tea is the main attraction here, don’t be fooled. Locals swear by the paninis (Cuban ham or turkey Reuben). The place isn’t just for adults, either. Ask the staff about children’s tea parties. Whatever you do, do not leave without trying the homemade Southern bread pudding—it practically has a cult following among residents. “Whenever I go to a restaurant and they have bread pudding, I order it to try it. I have yet to find a place that had bread putting as good as it is here,” Forrester said.
[116 S. Canal St.]
EDITOR’S PICK: Handblown goodies from the GLASSWORKS