Each month, my husband and I randomly pick a destination in Ohio to explore, adding points of interest along our route from Central Ohio. Our most recent destination was to the city of Akron, located in Summit County.
Akron, established in 1825, began as a canal town along the Ohio-Erie canal. As rail & automobile travel became more common, four major rubber and tire manufacturers called the city home. It wasn’t long before Akron became known as the “Rubber Capital of the World”.
Although we easily could have spent a weekend exploring Akron and the surrounding areas, our schedule only permitted a quick daytrip.
Our Ohio Travel writer, Deb, randomly picks a new destination in Ohio to visit each month with her husband. Some of their trips are full weekend trips with overnight stays, while others are day trips. Their trips are always full of fun and unique stops that you’re going to want to check out.
8 Sisters Bakery & Cafe
Having discovered 8 Sisters Bakery & Café during a previous trip, we knew this was a “must” stop for us. Located just off I-71 (Exit 151), this small bakery offers hot breakfast sandwiches, cakes, pies, pastries, and some of the best doughnuts around.
We, of course, went straight for the doughnuts. We especially like the apple fritters, cream sticks, and buckeye doughnut. One of the fortunes of a cool October day in Ohio is the ability to purchase extra goodies to take home for later.
Traveler Tip: Bring a cooler and ice packs along for this trip. Chances are slim that you will go home empty handed.
Cheese and candy lovers UNITE! This place is heaven on earth…or at least on I-71 (Exit 186). Grandpa’s Cheesebarn is not to be missed.
We were delightfully overwhelmed by the selection of homemade candies, fudge, jams, syrups, smoked meats, and 120+ cheeses. The best part? They provide samples for 90% of the items sold here. And if you’re still hungry, they offer lunch with ample outdoor seating.
To be honest, this stop could have been a half day adventure on its own. But we had somewhere to get to, so quickly (if you consider 1 hr “quick”) tasted our way through the cheese barn and chocolate shop, successfully filling our cooler with several cheeses, fudge, and a few sauces and jellies.
Travel Tip: Grandpa’s Cheesebarn has two additional locations in the Akron area (Norton and Fairlawn).
Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens
F.A. Seiberling co-founded the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company in 1898. Stan Hywet (pronounced HEE-wit), built in 1912, is the former home of the Seiberling family. The estate consists of the manor home, several service buildings, and acres of gardens.
It is so expansive in fact, that visiting can require most of the day. Our visit lasted appx six hours, starting with a quick stop in the Carriage House, followed by the Manor House, Corbin Conservatory & grounds, and finally the Gate Lodge.
Traveler Tip: Many areas of Stan Hywet are ADA accessible. Click here to learn more details.
Several tours are available, each one highlighting a different aspect of the home and grounds. Self-guided tours can be purchased upon arrival. Guided tours are limited each day, so should be purchased in advance.
We reserved the behind-the-scenes Nooks & Crannies, which includes a self-guided tour of the manor house. We began with the self-guided tour to become acquainted with the family, followed by the 1pm guided tour. Each tour highlights completely different areas of the home, so this turned out to be great plan!
Traveler Tip: Be sure to pick up a map of the estate and a “Walk the Hall” guide at either the visitor center or entrance of the home. Plan 90-minutes for a self-guided tour.
The carriage house is the largest of the four service buildings. Originally, it included a horse stable, car wash, and 10-car garage with a mechanics pit. It was also the living quarters for the groomsman and chauffeur.
Today, it serves as a visitor center, museum, and gift shop. The horse stable is now a café, with indoor seating available.
We checked in for our tour and received a wrist band before spending about 30 minutes in the museum. Before heading to the house, we decided to grab a lite lunch at the café. Menu selections are limited to premade deli sandwiches, salads, hotdogs, and a soup of the day.
The Manor House is a 64,500 sq.ft Tudor-revival style home. The Seiberling family lived here from 1915-1955. It is the 6th largest historic home in America that is open to the public.
The Seiberlings were civic-minded. A motto carved in stone above the front door “nom nobis solum”, Latin for “not for us alone”, embodies the family’s commitment to sharing their home with others.
They hosted up to 300 events each year, with the help of 20-35 domestic and estate employees who also called Stan Hywet home.
One of the most significant aspects of the estate are its vast collections, with over ninety percent of items on display being original to the home and the family. Having never left family hands, Stan Hywet is still an authentic representation of itself and its residents.
The self-guided tour focuses on the family’s living quarters located on the first and second floors. We were greeted by a staff member who directed us to the beginning of the one-way tour loop.
As we toured the home, docents were available in various rooms to share interesting information about the room and answer questions. Informational displays are available along the route to describe life at the estate, those who lived there, and the staff who made it all possible.
The first floor features the family’s public living areas. The most impressive of these rooms are the Music Room, Great Hall, and the Plunge. The second floor offers a glimpse into the private lives of the family, primarily used as the sleeping quarters, including eight bedrooms and four bathrooms.
“Sound of Music” fans will enjoy the Music Room, a 2,700 sq.ft. masterpiece where many gatherings took place, including a concert by The Vonn Trapp Family. The Great Hall is a three-story gathering room with even greater architectural flair.
For a house built in 1912, the Plunge, is an unusual sight indeed. Imagine having a full-size swimming pool (w/diving board) inside your house!
Nooks & Crannies Tour
Touring a home like this usually leaves us wondering about all the cool things we missed. The Nooks & Crannies tour answers this question with a 90-minute behind-the-scenes tour that focuses on the domestic staff who worked and lived at Stan Hywet, along with what it took to manage such a large estate.
The tour starts by the service court and covers areas that are not available on the self-guided tour. We climbed from the basement all the way to the 4th floor tower. Even though there are 4 elevators at Stan Hywet, none are rated for passengers by today’s standards. This tour is navigated using stairs, lots of stairs.
We started with the working areas such as, the laundry, flower room, catering kitchen, and wine cellar. Next we toured areas enjoyed by the family such as, the gymnasium, HAM radio room, dark room, and nursery.
Finally, we reached the dormitory where visiting musicians stayed, the infirmary, and the top of the tower.
If mechanical details are more your style, never fear. How did they heat such a large home? Where did the ash from 23 fireplaces go? How did the family communicate with the staff? Why did they have TWO telephone systems? Each of these questions are answered during the tour, plus many more!
Surrounding the house are several formal and informal gardens. Visitors may wander freely or sit for a while to take in the views.
English Garden & West Terrace and Overlook
These formal outdoor spaces are located behind the home and were used as entertaining spaces for parties and family gatherings. During our visit there was a wedding in progress, so we did not spend any time here.
The Japanese garden gently descends a wooded slope into a tranquil space with wandering paths and water features lined with ornamental trees and plants. Although it’s not obvious, this is a rooftop garden (of sorts) that sits above a water recycling system once used in the manor house. A trail of natural stone steps leads into and out of the garden.
Rose Garden & Great Garden
Although we visited in October, these gardens were still beautiful. The Rose Garden was designed as a separate outdoor room and would be fantastic to see during the summer.
The Great Garden is large with numerous varieties of flowers, grapes, fruit trees, etc. It includes a cutting garden for fresh flower arrangements used in the family home. This is the perfect place to find a bench and sit for awhile.
Birch Tree Allee
A stunning 550 ft tree lined path connects the manor house to two tea houses. Birch Tree Allee drew us in right from the start. It’s a straight shot to the teahouses, perched on either side of a large overlook.
We didn’t get a chance to catch the view due to an ongoing photo session but imagine it’s stunning.
Behind the teahouses, there are steps leading down to entrance of the Lagoon. This is where the family enjoyed activities like swimming, canoeing, fishing, and ice skating. We decided to save this area for a return trip in the summertime.
Other Outdoor Spaces
Anyone traveling with kids should be sure to visit the Corbin Conservatory, Play Garden, and Homes of Nature. Even though we we travel as a couple, we still couldn’t resist taking a quick walk through these areas ourselves.
The conservatory is an indoor greenhouse used to grow many tropical plants, fruits, and citrus. During a summer visit, a walk through the butterfly habitat would be fun too.
The play garden is a great place for kids, or kids at heart, to burn some energy. We walked through just for fun and might have played a little too. There is a music garden with fun instruments, a large playhouse, and even lawn bowling.
Homes of Nature
This is an adorable educational play area that highlights various inhabitants found on the estate. Kids can slide in a purple martin house, play in a beehive, crawl through a critter’s borough, and much more.
The Gate Lodge
Located at the entrance of the estate, this was the home of Seiberling’s oldest son, Fred. He lived here with his wife, Henrietta, and their three children.
In May of 1935, the Gate Lodge became much more than just their home. On Mother’s Day, Henrietta introduced Bill Wilson to Dr. Bob Smith. The discussion that took place is considered to be the first meeting and cornerstone for what would become Alcoholics Anonymous.
A self-guided tour of the home allows visitors to learn more about Henreitta and relive the events of this historical day.
Traveler Tip: To learn more about the history of Alcoholics Anonymous, take a tour of Dr. Bob’s home at 855 Ardmore Ave, Akron.
A Trip for All Seasons
Stan Hywet continues to hold many special events throughout the calendar year. During the holiday season, Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens Deck the Halls runs on select evenings during the holiday season
2023 dates are Nov. 24-26, Nov. 30 and Dec. 1-3, 7-23, 26-30. Tickets are pre-sale only.
From yummy holiday treats at Grandpa’s Cheesebarn to millions of Christmas lights at Stan Hywet, there is something for everyone to enjoy.
Daily tours for the 2023 season end on Wednesday, November 22. Deck the Hall tours (only) are select nights November 24th – December 30th, 2023. Daily tours resume Spring 2024.
Discounts available for Stan Hywet
Students: Youth pricing with a valid college ID.
Seniors (60+): 50% off self-guided daily tours on Tuesdays only. This discount is not available online. This senior discount does not apply to any special events: Easter Egg Hunt & Breakfast, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day Car Show, Off the Vine, Molto Bello Car Show, Ohio Mart, Murder in the Mansion, and Deck the Hall.
Military and First Responders (Firefighters, Police, EMTs): 50% off any regular daytime tour with military ID. Purchase your ticket in person upon arrival to receive this discount. The military/first responder discount does not apply to any special events: Easter Egg Hunt & Breakfast, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day Car Show, Off the Vine, Molto Bello Car Show, Ohio Mart, Murder in the Mansion, and Deck the Hall.
AAA: $1.00 off of any adult ticket price with AAA card. Purchase your ticket in person upon arrival to receive this discount. The AAA discount does not apply to any special events: Easter Egg Hunt & Breakfast, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day Car Show, Off the Vine, Molto Bella Car Show, Ohio Mart, Murder in the Mansion, and Deck the Hall.
Museums For All Program: Stan Hywet participates in the Museums for All program. Admission is $3 for any guest (for up to four guests, 18 & over) who presents the U.S. government-issued electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card upon arrival. Youth and children accompanying the EBT card-holder are free.
CLOSED on Easter, Memorial Day, July 4th, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, & New Year’s Day.
Looking for more of Deb’s amazing travel posts? Check them out below and plan some Ohio exploration!
- History, hikes, and fun stops in Wellston, Chillicothe & Hocking Hills
- Tuscawaras County: Exploring Ohio’s Firsts in Dover and New Philadelphia
- Mansfield – Where History Meets Hollywood
- Exploring Kelleys Island
Check back for more upcoming trips!