Let’s be honest: It’s been a tough few years. If you’re feeling like you need a break, you’re not alone. Here’s a list of opportunities to pause, reflect, play, and engage in nourishing self-care in downtown Akron.
1. Exist in Public Space
Our vision for downtown Akron is a place where everyone feels welcome to relax, unwind, and simply exist without judgment or condition. A place where healing can happen, and you’re safe to feel whatever you’re feeling, be it euphoria, despair, or anything and everything in between. We invite you to spend time enjoying one or more of downtown’s public spaces. Cascade Plaza, Lock 2, Lock 4, the Northside Green, the STEM Plaza, and the North High Parklet are all lovely options. Bring a book, art supplies, a frisbee, a yoga mat, your lunch, some friends, or simply yourself.
2. Walk Along the Canal, or Enjoy the Cherry Blossoms
The Towpath Trail is such an asset to downtown Akron, and strolling (or running or biking) along the canal is a great way to nourish yourself by getting fresh air and moving your body. You may even see some wildlife while you’re out. Geese are a given, but if you keep your eyes peeled, you could also find a coyote, muskrat, heron, or falcon. If you’re reading this in springtime, when the cherry blossom trees are blooming along the Towpath Trail, you’re in for a lovely, cathartic experience. Trust us.
3. Soothe Yourself with Free Art
With the abundance of art available to enjoy downtown, there’s truly something for everyone. Step away from the world for a moment and find what resonates with you. A visit to the Akron Art Museum is practically guaranteed to be a quiet, relaxed experience, and it’s free to the public every Thursday. Summit Artspace, Akron Soul Train, and Myers School of Art also offer serene opportunities to soothe your soul with creativity. If you’d prefer to be in fresh air while enjoying art, you might consider exploring Curated Storefront’s installations in Main Street windows, or one or more of the many public art pieces throughout the neighborhood.
4. Treat Yourself to Your Favorite Hot (or Iced) Beverage
It’s no secret: When you’re stressed, overwhelmed, or down, a warm or iced beverage can feel like a big hug. It’s a great way to show yourself a little love and take your mind off things with a pleasant sensory experience. For a morning or afternoon pick-me-up, you’ve got several establishments to choose from: Muggswigz, Evelyn’s Coffee & Banh Mi, The Daily Pressed, Sweet Mary’s Bakery, Chameleon Cafe, Akron Coffee Roasters, NOMZ, and even Heera Indian Cuisine are great choices.
5. Laugh Your Heart Out at a Comedy Show
They do say it’s the best medicine. And you can see live comedy downtown at Jilly’s Music Room. The first Thursday of each month, they partner with Krackpots Comedy Club of Massillon to bring laughter to the Northside District. The shows are free, and the seating is first come, first serve. Jilly’s also hosts Point of No Return Improv the second Wednesday of each month, also free. Spend a little time with people you love, and laugh with them downtown for some respite from your troubles.
6. Tend to a New Plant
Sometimes it’s healing just to take care of something and watch it grow, and to feel like you’re connected to nature even while indoors. If you’re looking to welcome a new plant into the family, spend some time perusing the selection at Lepley & Co., located inside the Northside Marketplace. Not only do they offer plants, crystals, fine art, and more, but they’re also an all-around safe space and simply a pleasant place to visit.
7. See a Cathartic Film, and Eat Lots of Popcorn
When real-life feelings are too much, turn to film and allow yourself to be transported for a few hours to imagined worlds with interesting characters and plotlines that are ordered, sensical, and carefully structured. Let yourself empathize with the fictional characters onscreen, and be moved by their stories, told by filmmakers from around the world. The Nightlight is the perfect downtown establishment for this purpose, and it’s open seven days a week. Order some popcorn, season it to your heart’s content, and enjoy your movie.
8. Express Yourself in Splatter Alley
Need permission to make a mess and allow your creativity to flow freely? Stop by Street Craftery, don some protective gear (provided), and step into the magical land of Splatter Alley. It’s a judgment-free zone where you can fling paint onto a canvas to create your very own colorful, splatter-painted masterpiece without having to worry about cleanup. If splatter painting isn’t your thing, Street Craftery also offers DIY candle making projects, cement artistry, guided painting, wreath making, and more. Book an appointment on their website, or visit during walk-in hours to decompress and release.
9. Get Playful
How about escaping your problems at a literal escape room? Or getting out your angst by throwing axes at zombies? Downtown Akron is full of opportunities to divert your attention, play, and enjoy yourself. Time spent at the Great Escape Room, Akron Axe House, playing board games at the Green Dragon Inn, snapping unique photos at OH SNAP Photo Lab, and MEGA Sunday FUNday at R. Shea Brewing are all sure to put you in a light(er)hearted mood.
10. Unwind with a Massage or Hair Appointment
Relax, unwind, and let somebody wash, cut, or massage your stress away. You’ve got several options downtown for this sort of physical pampering. Hair Geek Studio, Mint Hair Collective, Tammy O’s Hair Salon, and The Experience Barber & Beauty Shop are your destinations for hair shampoos, cuts, and stylings. For a great relaxation, deep tissue, or hot stone massage, we highly recommend booking an appointment at Let’s Heal Massage Therapy, or even Tammy O’s.
11. Speak with a Counselor, or Connect with One of Downtown's Many Social Services
At the end of the day, one of the best things you can do to take care of your mental health is connect with a professional. For a list of mental health and community resources downtown and in the surrounding areas, start here.
See our updated traffic advisories and parking information to navigate and park downtown with ease.