Free fun for the family:
If the outdoors is your family’s idea of fun, there’s no better place than in Stark’s Parks. Over the last decade, Stark County has made it a priority to develop and improve its park system, pouring millions into making its parks more family- and user-friendly.
Stark Parks are now a year-round venture, with plenty of educational and recreational programs and activities for every age group. With more than 20 parks throughout the county, you don’t have to go far to find one.
Most activities, such as fishing and using the system’s interconnected walking and biking paths, are free.
In Stark Parks, you can see nature up close in such locations as the Walborn Reservoir, home to 200 bald eagle nests.
Stark Parks also maintains waterways for recreational boating, including at Wcalborn Reservoir, which has kayaks, pontoons and canoes, and the Exploration Gateway at Sippo Lake Park in Perry Township, which boasts a science lab, wetlands and a marina where you can rent watercraft. Sippo also is home to a Wildlife Conservation Center, the area’s only licensed wildlife rehab site.
The 25-mile, Ralph Regula Towpath Trail includes Canal Fulton, Massillon and Navarre. It is part of the 110-mile Ohio & Erie Canalway National Heritage Area, which extends from Cleveland to New Philadelphia.
In the summer, Stark Parks and the Canton Symphony Orchestra, in partnership with ArtsinStark and the Ohio Arts council, team up for a series a free outdoor concerts.
Stark Parks also offers BikeSmart rentals, paddle boarding, cross-country skiing, hiking, tours, yoga, plant study, the Healthy Adventures fitness curriculum and more. —Charita Goshay
Canton Arts District
Dozens of art galleries. A host of specialty shops. Public art in abundance. A wide variety of restaurants and taverns. An outdoor festival area. Music venues. Coffee shops. A historic theater. Nearby museums.
The Canton Arts District offers visitors to the city all those things, and an increasing number of entertainment-seeking and art-appreciative people are taking advantage of what downtown Canton has to offer.
Monthly First Friday events fostered the burgeoning influx of people coming to or living in the central section of the city. Special weekday and weekend music and food events have helped make downtown Canton a viable location for additional art galleries, shops and eateries.
“We’ve got it all!” boasts a Downtown Arts District page at the Discover Downtown Canton website, before listing the plethora of unique and trendy people-pleasing locations that have been gathered in the center of the city—mostly within a few blocks of each other.
“The Canton Arts District is the new hot destination,” the page says, “… for all ages.”
Park your car and walk your way to fun. —Gary Brown
Days in the Park
It wouldn’t be a summer in Ohio without quirky, local festivals, and Stark County has plenty of them.
Every year, Alliance gathers to celebrate the scarlet carnation—the Ohio state flower, President William McKinley’s good luck charm and creation of the city’s own Dr. Levi Lamborn. The highlight of the festival is Days in the Park, a four-day gathering in Silver Park.
The festival features a craft show, kids games, live music from area bands, a pet show, hot air balloons and fireworks. But the big draw is probably the food.
Booths from Alliance-area nonprofits and organizations line a field in Silver Park, each one serving its signature items. There’s traditional fair fare—french fries, elephant ears, fried cheese on a stick—as well as more local offerings such as creamed chicken sandwiches, apple dumplings and bags of sugar waffles.
For natives of the Carnation City, the festival is often a homecoming and a chance to catch-up with old friends. But if you’re new to Alliance, don’t let that scare you away. Grab a friend, arrive hungry and be ready to embrace some local flavor. —Jessica Holbrook
Dates vary. Silver Park, 2930 S Union Ave., Alliance. carnationfestival.com
Learn to swing:
Skyland Pines Golf Course
Space and teaching expertise combine to make the practice facility at Skyland Pines Golf Course a popular spot for local golfers to try to improve their skills and satisfy their passion for the game.
A 60-tee driving range at Skyland Pines—30 of those tees on mats and an equal number of grass tees—provides ample opportunity for weekend or weekday golfers to either warm up for a round or spend a little more time focusing on improving their swing. Skyland Pines even has a heated and lighted indoor range for year-round golf enthusiasts.
A 90-yard practice hole—in addition to the traditional chipping and putting green—allows golfers learning to step up their game to a new level to take their lessons to the course without leaving the practice area.
And who teaches those lessons? PGA professional Cheryl Watt is Skyland’s teaching pro. She has been analyzing swings and passing on advice about proper techniques for enough years that any golfer, no matter what skill level, can feel safe in putting their trust in her teaching. —Gary Brown
3550 Columbus Rd. NE, Canton, 330-454-5131, skylandpinesgolfcourse.com
Carnation City Players
If you drive a half-hour east out of Canton on U.S. Route 62, you’ll find a live-theater venue operating in a former firehouse.
The stage is filled with performers you might recognize—people who aren’t trying to get famous but are doing this on top of the day jobs they have working at your bank or school or hospital.
Carnation City Players is a volunteer community theater group that performs at the Firehouse Theater in Alliance.
The firehouse was built in 1905 and housed the city’s fire department until 1975. It made its debut as the home for Carnation City Players in 1979, with the former apparatus room for chemical tanks and pumpers serving as the stage for the more than 200-seat venue.
The theater puts on several musicals and at least one play each season, plus an all-kids’ musical. Shows for the upcoming season, which opens in October, include “Tuck Everlasting,” “Aladdin Jr.” and “Mamma Mia!” —Alison Matas
450 E Market St., Alliance, 330-821-8712, carnationcityplayers.org