Fun things to Do in Canton

Living in a house of boys, I knew of Canton, Ohio as the home of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but I honestly didn’t know much about what else the city had to offer.

To my surprise, Canton can be a great destination even if you are not into football.

Downtown Canton Ohio

Something to Do for Everyone

My older son was originally supposed to join me on this trip but unfortunately, he had school testing that he couldn’t get out of.

So my mother/son trip turned into a girlfriend getaway with my friend and fellow travel writer, Terri Weeks.

The beautiful part of our itinerary was that it really could work for either scenario. Except for the wine drinking, but I’ll get to that later.

Canton Food Tours in Ohio

Taste the Best in the City with Canton Food Tours

Our first adventure in Canton was the “Hall of Fame City food tour.”

Food tours are one of my favorite ways to discover a city because you learn so much about the history and local cuisine.

Normally food tours are typically only offered in larger cities which makes Canton Food Tours even more impressive. Their food tours focus on local businesses that provide local, seasonal food.

Our walking food tour lasted around 3 hours and visited 4-5 restaurants and points of interest along the way.

At each of our restaurant stops, we received a “Chef’s Choice” small plate entree.

Come hungry because you will be full by the end of the tour. You even get to satisfy your sweet tooth with dessert.

Lincoln Highway sign in Canton Ohio

Founded in 1805, Canton was also part of the 1st Coast to Coast Highway.

If you turn right on the Lincoln Highway you will end up in at Times Square in New York. And if you continue left, you would end up in San Francisco, California.

Bender's Tavern in Canton Ohio

Our first restaurant stop was Bender’s Tavern, a 4th generation family-owned and operated business. Bender’s Tavern is known for its seafood that comes from Foley’s in Boston.

They served us Saffron leek risotto with scallops and turtle soup to try.

With a history that dates back to the early 1900s, the signs on the building outside indicate a different day when men and women had separate entrances. Check out the neon Good Food sign above the entrance.

Women could be shielded from the men’s drinking by entering through the door to the dining room.

Football sculpture in Canton Ohio

Canton is the Birthplace of the NFL

During the tour, we stopped to pass the ball on the steps of the building where Jim Thorpe had a meeting to organize the game. where on Sept 17, 1920, the National Football League was born.

What started as the American Professional Football Association (APFA), later became the NFL in 1922.

learn about football history on the Canton Food Tour

During the tour, we learned more about Canton’s history and other significant events including the city’s ties to the birth of the vacuum cleaner.

You will have to take the tour to find out more, I’m not giving away all of the secrets.

Canton Brewing Company

More Food & Drink Stops in Canton, Ohio

A few other stops along the way were George’s Lounge, serving locally sourced fresh meals, for a wonderful burger and hand cut fries.

After that we tried Thai crispy eggplant and Pad Kee Mao (Rice noodles stir-fried with vegetables and basil in a spicy soy sauce) at Basil Asian Bistro and we had a wonderful dessert.

Escape Room downtown Canton

Try An Escape Room Downtown Canton

Canton Escape Room is conveniently located downtown and offers some really fun themed escaped rooms.

Our group chose “The Moonlight Gallery” that takes place in a private art gallery where we were given the role of the criminals armed with only flashlights on the quest to find hidden jewels.

In the dark, we had to find all the clues for the location of the jewels before we were discovered by the night watchman. I loved the creativity used in the design of this escape room and the challenging clues.

It was fun to mix it up by solving the puzzles in the dark for the first time.

street art in Canton Ohio

Art Installations in Canton

My favorite surprise in Canton was the amount of art located throughout the downtown Canton Arts District.

The art came in the form of sculptures and street art with pieces that create fun photo ops.

art in Canton

The Canton Arts District also offers community events to look forward to all year long.

The NFL draft sculpture in Canton

The mural “The Reintegration of Pro Football” (pictured below) showcases a significant time in the history of the game.

From 1938-46 Pro football had no African American players.

The Reintegration of Pro Football l mural in downtown Canton

The mural highlights how everything changed in 1946.

That’s when Woody Strode and Kenny Washington were signed to the Los Angeles Rams and Marion Motley and Bill Willis were signed to the Cleveland Browns.

These four players permanently integrated the game a full year before Jackie Robinson did it for baseball.

You can learn even more about the story in the documentary “The Forgotten Four.”

architecture in Canton Ohio

Discover Beautiful Architecture in Canton

Walk slow, pause, and look up, because Canton has some beautiful buildings downtown.

Keep your eyes out for the “Trumpeters of Justice” on top of the Stark County Courthouse and make sure that you also check out the lobby at The Onesto.

architecture in Canton Ohio

This newly remodeled building was once a popular destination for overnight guests ranging from big entertainers and politicians.

make crafts at Cantonology

Get Crafty at Cantonology

With contagious enthusiasm, the owners of Cantonology share a love for the city combined with their passion for creativity. You can purchase gifts or make your own in the studio.

We were invited to participate in an “Art Make and Take” by creating a simple craft using the word Home with the “O” shaped like Ohio.

We each added our own flair to the sign and took home a nice memento from our visit.

glasses of wine at Gervasi Vineyard

Relax at a Winery with a View at Gervasi Vineyard

Gervasi Vineyard is located 15 minutes from downtown Canton and offers a few different restaurants onsite for guests to choose from.

Gervasi’s Italian Bistro is the perfect destination for a wine tasting and romantic dinner with a loved one. 

…But since this was a girlfriend getaway, we opted for a casual dinner on the balcony of the second floor at The Crush House with beautiful views of the vineyard.

The Crush House at Gervasi Vineyard

For dinner, I selected the “Housemade Goat Cheese Ravioli” made with goat cheese filling, eggplant “meatball”, spinach, cherry tomatoes, marinara.

Terri ordered the “Vegetariano Piada” made with eggplant “meatballs”, arugula, fresh mozzarella, spicy marinara, and a side salad.

Of course, we had to try the wine too and I’m hungry again just thinking about the food.

Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton Ohio

Visit the Pro Football Hall of Fame

Of course, no visit to Canton is complete without a visit to the Football Hall of Fame. It’s what put Canton on the map and a MUST for football fans of all ages!

exhibits at the Pro Football Hall of Fame

You don’t have to be a die-hard football fan to appreciate what’s on display at the Pro Football Hall of Fame. It felt a bit like a time capsule into my childhood.

I’m not a huge fan of football, but I do have base level knowledge of the game and the players from growing up around people who loved watching the game.

I really enjoyed learning more about the heroes of the game and taking a trip down memory lane.

Pro Football Fall of Fame

One of my favorite areas of the museum was the room with the bronze busts on display featuring players who were inducted into the Football Hall of Fame.

Each bust is incredibly lifelike with every facial detail.

I have to also mention that Anthony Munoz (pictured on the bottom left corner) played for the Cincinnati Bengals and was also at my 5th grade DARE graduation.

Pro Football Hall of Fame Village
(Image courtesy of Visit Canton)

Exciting Things to Come to Canton, Ohio

The recently opened $600+ Million Johnson Controls Pro Football Hall of Fame Village makes a visit to Canton even more incredible, giving even more excuses to want to come back!

The Pro Football Hall of Fame Village includes an array of programming that brings to life the Hall of Fame’s Mission and the core values learned from the game – Commitment, Integrity, Courage, Respect and EXCELLENCE!

Hall of Fame Village includes venues such as a virtual reality, state-of-art Johnson Controls Hall of Fame Experience.

The main components to the Pro Football Hall of Fame Village include:

  • Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium & Entertainment Complex
    Check out the live construction cam at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium.
  • National Football & Youth Sports Complex
  • Center for Excellence
    This Safety, Health & Performance Center also includes programming for Coaches University, Academy of Corporate Excellence, and Officiating Clinics.
  • Main Street Hall of Fame
    Enjoy thematic restaurants and retail venues in the Hall of Fame Village.
  • Four-Star Hotel & Conference Center
  • Legends Landing Residential & Assisted Living Facility
  • HOF/NFL Family Experience
    High-tech virtual reality experiences and rides.
Room at the Holiday Inn Canton

Where we stayed in Canton

During our visit, we stayed at the Holiday Inn Canton located less than 10 minutes from the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Our suite had a microwave, mini-fridge, sofa sleeper, two flat-panel televisions, 2 queen-sized beds, and a nice sized bathroom.

Canton Ohio

Canton, Ohio definitely exceeded my expectations and I can’t wait to return with my sports-loving family!

Thanks again to Visit Canton for hosting our visit. 

Save this article for later. Pin the image below>>

Fun things to do in Canton Ohio

Leave a Comment