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24 Free & Low-Cost Things to Do in Downtown Akron

Category Budget-Friendly

There’s always fun to be had in downtown Akron. But did you know there are a ton of things to do for $10 or less? Check out our guide to discover 24 free and low-cost things to do downtown.

Free Things to Do in Downtown Akron

Museums & Art

1. Visit the Akron Art Museum

Comprising over 7,000 works from 1850 to the present, the Akron Art Museum is home to important works by a broad range of artists in a wide variety of media from across the globe, including sculpture, glass, paintings, photography, digital art, and more. Admission to the galleries is free every Thursday. University of Akron students, faculty, and staff get free admission any day of the week with a valid Zip Card. Children 17 and under are also always free.

2. See the Akron Soul Train Exhibitions

Akron Soul Train is an artist residency program that grants fellowships and provides resources to artists in all creative disciplines. One artist exhibits at a time, and exhibits are continuously rotating. Admission to the art gallery is free Wednesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. - 4 p.m.

3. Take a Self-Guided Tour of Curated Storefront’s Downtown Art Installations 

Curated Storefront fills empty storefront spaces with vibrant, multimedia works of art. They are dedicated to physically transforming the city’s underutilized urban spaces to create a more dynamic, engaging environment for downtown visitors. A list of current exhibitions, as well as a map supplemented for self-guided tours, can be found on their website.

4. Visit the Emily Davis Gallery at Myers School of Art

The Emily Davis Gallery is located on The University of Akron’s campus and is a nationally recognized gallery that showcases the most current expressions in contemporary visual arts. The gallery is open Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.

5. Discover Summit Artspace

Summit Artspace is a nonprofit community arts center dedicated to showcasing local art. The gallery features both traditional and contemporary works. Admission is free Friday 12 p.m. - 7 p.m., and Saturday 11 a.m. - 5 p.m. They also host ArtWalk, a quarterly celebration of the arts in downtown Akron. See upcoming ArtWalk dates here.

Music & Shows

6. Sing Piano Karaoke

On Sunday evenings from 6 to 10 pm, visit Ingy’s Piano Bar. For more than 20 years, friends old and new have been coming together from near and far to sing during their live piano karaoke night. The concept originated with Deborah “Ingy” Ingersoll, who could be found behind the piano every Sunday, creating a welcoming and safe space for those who needed it until she passed away in 2017. Now, her legacy lives on as the community continues to come together every weekend to sing fun tunes in good company. Whether you’d like to sing yourself or simply want to sit back and enjoy the music, Ingy’s is a lovely place to spend a Sunday night.

7. Catch a Film at Movies@Main

The Akron-Summit County Public Library hosts family-friendly movie showings at their Main Branch auditorium on Thursdays at 6:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. Free registration is available online, by phone, or in person.

8. Attend a Concert or Festival at Lock 3

Lock 3 is a large public gathering and event space in the heart of downtown. During the summer, Lock 3 hosts WONE’s Rock the Lock concert series featuring the country’s best tribute acts, as well as a number of other free festivals and events. During the winter, Lock 3 is home to Ohio’s largest outdoor ice skating rink, Polar Putt-Putt, and more (more on that in the low-cost section below). Keep an eye on their calendar for upcoming programs.

Outdoor Fun

An image of Lock 4 in downtown Akron at night with colorful lights illuminating the water and white string lights in tree branches.

9. Pack Some Snacks and Lounge at Lock 4

Lock 4 is an exciting space in downtown Akron. The rushing water of the Ohio & Erie Canal creates multiple waterfalls through Lock 4 that, along with the historic brick facades of some of the oldest buildings in the city, give the space a distinctly urban feel. Take advantage of the colorful tables and chairs at this vibrant public space for a chic picnic overlooking the canal. Bonus: If you go to Lock 4 in the evening, you’ll get to see the space all lit up with string lights in trees and color-changing lights illuminating the canal.

10. Rent a Bike from Summit Bike Share and Explore the Towpath Trail

Summit Bike Share is Summit County’s free bicycle share program with nine rental stations across the county, including at Lock 3 and the Courtyard by Marriott Hotel in the Northside District. Stop at either of these locations to request a bike (valid driver’s license required), then hop on the Towpath and explore for up to three hours before returning the bike. Bonus: For a brief window in springtime, the Towpath between downtown and Summit Lake is bursting with the blooms of over 400 cherry blossom trees. They were planted in 2011 by the Japanese Association of Northeast Ohio (JANO) and the City of Akron and are a must-see!

11. Play Board Games at Lock 2

Located along the historic Ohio & Erie Canal, Lock 2 is one of the 19 locks once used to move canal boats. It’s located on the Towpath Trail between Akron Children’s Hospital and Canal Park Stadium and is now an open, inviting public space that features a seating area made to look like a canal boat, warm and welcoming string lighting, colorful stairs, and a waterfall. Take a deck of cards or your favorite board game with you--or borrow one from the community cabinet in the space--for some good, old-fashioned, free family fun. The seating and board games are available May through October and are stowed during the winter months.

12. Get Moving at Cascade Plaza

During the summer, Downtown Akron Partnership hosts free outdoor fitness and recreation events such as Zumba, Pilates, yoga, Bootcamp, hip-hop step, line dancing, and roller skate nights at Cascade Plaza–an open, grassy space in Downtown Akron. Cascade Plaza is also the location of small- to mid-sized festivals like the Downtown Akron Juneteenth Celebration, the Akron Latin Festival, Fall Fest, and the Gilmore Girls-inspired Smells Like Snow Coffee Festival in the fall. Stay tuned to our events calendar, where these free events are listed as they’re scheduled. 

Indoor Fun

13. Visit the Akron-Summit County Public Library

In addition to having a vast selection of books for readers of all ages, the Akron-Summit County Public Library has a Library of Things. Patrons can borrow seeds, art pieces, cake pans, educational kits, kitchen tools, musical instruments, Akron Zoo passes, STEM kits, and more. The first floor of the library is home to the TechZone–the library’s help desk and makerspace. It offers over 40 computers free to the public, computer classes, notaries, and passport help, as well as recording studios, a laser engraver, a vinyl printer, a sewing machine, a 3D printer, a green screen room, design computers, a button/magnet maker, a media transfer station, and so much more. All you need is a library card, which–you guessed it–is free! And if all that weren’t enough, the library hosts an abundance of free events, all of which can be found online.

14. Show Your Mental Acuity at Trivia Night

There is so much trivia downtown! The fun begins on Mondays with OpinionNation at 69 Taps. OpinioNation is a survey-based trivia game where teams try to guess the five most common responses that have been given to fun survey questions. On Mondays, rounds begin at 9 and 10 pm. Tuesdays, the fun is at Missing Falls Brewery, where classic pub trivia rounds begin at 7 and 8 pm. Trivia takes a break on Wednesdays in downtown Akron, but on Thursdays, Barley House and Missing Falls both have multiple rounds of trivia-oriented activities going on—not to mention great drinks and tasty food menus. It’s casual, inexpensive, and fun. Plus, there are prizes for winners.

$10 or Under Things to Do in Downtown Akron

Museums & Art

15. Explore the Hower House

The Hower House is a 28-room Victorian mansion located on the University of Akron’s campus that once belonged to Akron Industrialist John Henry Hower and his wife, Susan Youngker Hower. It’s filled with unique artifacts from around the globe and is a stellar example of its particular architectural style. Hower House is open for tours and events 11 months per year. Ticket prices are $10 for adults, $8 for seniors, $2 for students with a Zip Card, and free for children 12 and under.

16. Tour the National Museum of Psychology

The National Museum of Psychology is part of the Cummings Center for the History of Psychology, which is a member of the Smithsonian Institution Affiliations Program. The museum features interactive exhibits on intelligence, memory, and personality, artifacts from the Stanford Prison Experiment, Sigmund Freud’s home videos, and more. It’s home to both permanent and rotating exhibits and is appropriate for visitors of all ages. A description of current exhibits can be found online. Ticket prices are $10 for adults, $5 for kids, $3 through the Museums for All program, and free with a UA student, military, or veteran ID card. Group rates are also available.

17. Have a Family Day at the Akron Children’s Museum

The Akron Children’s Museum opened in 2016 and is a gathering space for children and families where play inspires exploration, discovery, and problem-solving. The museum houses nearly 20 interactive exhibits for kids to learn and play, such as a farm-to-table exhibit that helps children understand how food moves from farms to stores to the kitchen table. Information about this and other exhibits can be found online. The museum also has a virtual tour of the space on its website. Admission is $5.

Music & Shows

An image of a crowed movie theatre with a movie playing on screen.

18. Spend an Evening at the Nightlight Cinema

The Nightlight is an independent, nonprofit movie theater dedicated to advancing cinema and community in tandem, providing a place to enjoy movies with a thoughtful community by showcasing independent films from around the world every day of the week. The Nightlight also serves delicious popcorn made with coconut oil and has a bar inside the theater. Tickets cost $10.

19. See Live Music at Jilly’s Music Room

Jilly’s Music Room is a live music and entertainment venue in the Northside District of downtown Akron. They host local, regional, and national musical artists in a variety of genres every week. Jilly’s menu is eclectic and 100% gluten-free, and they serve over 100 beers and craft cocktails. On Friday and Saturday nights, the cover charge to enter is $5 unless otherwise noted. 

Outdoor Fun

20. Celebrate the Most Wonderful Time of the Year at Lock 3

Main Street comes alive in the winter, when twinkly lights are strung in the trees, nostalgic displays fill storefront windows, and of course, the largest outdoor ice rink in Ohio opens in the heart of downtown. Rent skates for $5 per pair (or bring your own for $3), and go crazy! You can even add on a game of Polar Putt-Putt for $1 more. For other ways to enjoy the ice rink, try ice bumper cars ($10 for 10 minutes) or ice bikes ($10 for 20 minutes). Winter activities run through Presidents Day weekend.

21. See a RubberDucks Game

During the spring and summer months, go watch Akron’s very own minor league baseball team in action at Canal Park Stadium! Games are packed with family fun promotions, and you can even catch occasional appearances by major-leaguers from the Cleveland Guardians on their way back to the majors from the injured list. Their season opens in April and runs through September, and tickets can be purchased for as low as $5. 

22. Take the Downtown Scooters for a Spin

In 2020, the city of Akron and the University of Akron partnered with Spin to bring electric scooters and e-bikes to the city. These bright orange scooters can be found in several neighborhoods, including downtown. Anyone can ride them–just download the Spin app to unlock scooters and bikes at the cost of $1 plus $0.29 per mile traveled. For special instructions on how to use them without a smartphone or a credit card, head to Spin’s website.

Indoor Fun

An image of a bright blue shelf with various nick-nacks inside Chameleon Cafe in downtown Akron.

23. Relax at a Coffee Shop

Is there anything more “aesthetic” than cozying up in a coffee shop on a rainy (or snowy) day with a good book? Downtown Akron is bursting with coffee shops, perfect for grabbing a cappuccino, catching up with a friend, getting lost in a book, and people watching. For freshly roasted coffee beans and a clean, minimalistic atmosphere, try Akron Coffee Roasters on North High Street. For colorful sit-down vibes and lunch fare on Main Street, check out Chameleon Cafe. For a European experience, stop by The Daily Pressed. For a Vietnamese flare, head to Evelyn’s Coffee & Banh Mi on Exchange Street. To revel in a calming, earthy space with high-quality loose-leaf tea, go to Muggswigz. To grab your coffee to go and accompany it with a delectable pastry or baked good, Sweet Mary’s Bakery is for you. Find a full list of places serving coffee downtown on our website.

24. Join a Tournament at Full Grip Games

Full Grip Games is located on East Market Street and specializes in buying, selling, and trading Magic: the Gathering cards. They also carry an extensive variety of board games and have open gaming space that can be used by both paying and nonpaying customers for free anytime the store is open (as long as it doesn't conflict with scheduled events). Full Grip Games hosts Modern Constructed and Magic: the Gathering tournaments several days a week. Tournament entry costs $10. 

See our updated traffic advisories and parking information to navigate and park downtown with ease.

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