Canton, Ohio boasts a unique blend of city life and a small town vibe, where the city’s mere ~70,000 residents can truly feel connected to the heart of the community. You can best feel the heartbeat of this artsy city in its downtown area, filled with bustling restaurants and cafes, historic buildings and monuments, art galleries and shops, music venues and theaters, and much more.
Whether you’re simply passing through this charming city or you’ve lived in the area for decades, a visit to downtown Canton is certainly worth it! In fact, you can make a whole day of it. Use our step-by-step itinerary or simply glean a few ideas for your next visit to the downtown area.
Start With Coffee
Photo Courtesy of Cultured Coffee & Waffles
Any good day begins with a cup of coffee or tea. Some of the best coffee shops in the heart of downtown Canton include Carpe Diem Coffee Shop, Cultured Coffee & Waffles, and Muggswigz Coffee & Tea Co. They are located within walking distance of one another near much of the activity in downtown.
If you’re looking for a hearty meal to accompany your caffeinated drink of choice, consider Cultured Coffee & Waffles, which serves a wide variety of both savory and sweet waffles, from chicken and waffles to the ultra-sweet Scout Waffle (AKA the S’more Waffle) covered in graham cracker bits, marshmallow syrup, chocolate icing, marshmallows and chocolate sprinkles.
Explore Monument Park
Take a short Uber ride (or a lengthy stroll) to Monument Park, a popular scenic park located along West Branch Nimishillen Creek. The park is adjacent to the renowned McKinley Presidential Library & Museum, which is the next stop on our itinerary! With a couple of ponds, the creek running by, the lush foliage, and well-maintained walkways and benches, the park is a pleasant place to spend the morning. Plus, you can then visit the nearby domed mausoleum tomb of William McKinley, which includes a monument honoring the 25th president.
Visit the McKinley Presidential Library & Museum
Photo Courtesy of the McKinley Presidential Library & Museum
Next, step into the McKinley Presidential Library & Museum. Former president William McKinley spent much of his life in Canton, where he practiced law and married his wife, Ida Saxton. The hands-on interactive science center, presidential museum, planetarium and historical library takes visitors on a scientific journey through the past, present and future. The McKinley Presidential Library & Museum honors the life of McKinley and tells the story of Stark County, serving as an educational center of history and science for both the local community and a global audience. The museum is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday.
Photo Courtesy of Joe Albert via Street Side
Head back to the heart of downtown, where you’ll be spending the remainder of the day. Downtown Canton has a number of excellent eateries to choose from, whether you’re craving seafood, tacos or something in between.
Basil Asian Bistro offers delicious dishes inspired by southeastern Asian cuisine in a cozy brick-walled setting.
Street Side is an industrial eatery with a delicious assortment of Mexican street food, including tacos, burritos and bowls, plus delicious margaritas.
Bender’s Tavern is Canton’s oldest and most historic restaurant, serving a wide selection of seafood and steak dishes in a vintage, wood-paneled interior.
Visit the Canton Brewing Company
Photo Courtesy of the Canton Brewing Company
There’s something special about visiting a local brewery, where the beer you’re drinking is brewed just steps from your table. Dating back to 1883, the Canton Brewing Company has a rich history, so be sure to read up on the full story before your visit! The brewery is still committed to the historic beers that made them famous over a century ago, while embracing the new craft traditions of the modern industry. You’ll find some core beers, including the Tuscora Pilsner, the Cascade Pale Ale and the Carpe Noctem, in addition to a variety of seasonal and rotational beers, plus barrel-aged and limited release brews.
Peruse the Canton Arts District
Photo Courtesy of the Canton Arts District
There is plenty to do, see and experience in the Canton Arts District, home to 30 art galleries, studios, music venues and specialty shops. If you happen to be downtown on the first Friday of the month, you’re in luck! The district transforms into a lively creative party, featuring live music, performance and visual arts events, and lots of surprises for all ages. First Friday is from 6–10 p.m. on the first Friday of every month, rain or shine.
Sit Down for Dinner
Photo Courtesy of Fronimo’s Downtown
After all this activity, it’s time to settle down for a nice meal and perhaps a glass of wine. Some of our favorite dinner destinations in downtown Canton include:
H2 Huth & Harris Wine Merchants serves contemporary American cuisine accompanied by an exceptional wine program.
Lucca Downtown is an upscale restaurant with a Tuscan-inspired menu filled with locally sourced ingredients.
Fronimo’s Downtown is a relatively new industrial restaurant serving small plates, sandwiches, steaks, and salads, plus craft beer, cocktails and wine.
Solve the Mystery at an Escape Room
Photo Courtesy of Escape Room Downtown
Solving the mystery in an escape room is a fun and interactive way to spend the evening, especially on a colder or rainy night. Escape Room Downtown offers three themed escape rooms, including The Missing Detective’s Office, The Moonlight Gallery, and The Bootlegger’s Lair. Work together to solve the clues and escape the room before time runs out! Make your reservation at Escape Room Downtown to book your spot — if you dare…
Top Off the Night With a Drink
Top off this eventful day with a drink at one of the many cocktail bars or lounges in Canton.
The Martini Lounge at Market Square has an exceptional variety of martinis, plus wine, beer and some small plates.
George’s Lounge is an old-school tavern offering a great selection of craft beers, wine and liquors, enhanced with live bands on a regular basis.
Grapes in a Glass is a quaint wine bar boasting a robust list of wines from all over the world, served by the bottle or glass.
Enjoy your day exploring downtown Canton!