You can call us biased, but downtown Akron is our very favorite live-work-play destination. For a moment, let’s emphasize play. Because we’re willing to bet that you’ve spent most of the past half-decade living in survival mode, and you deserve to let loose, have some fun, enjoy being alive, and explore the core of your city. Thankfully, there’s much to do downtown that’s genuinely fun. Trust us; we’ve tried it all ourselves and will happily vouch for these fun levels. Read on!
Visit the Green Dragon Inn Board Game Bar & Cafe
You don’t have to be into Dungeons & Dragons to dig this medieval castle–themed board game bar on the second floor of its building on East Market Street. Nosh on some appetizers and sip on a creative cocktail, mocktail, or rich espresso beverage, and choose from their selection of 750+ games available to play while you hang out. With so many offerings, there’s a pretty good chance they’ve got your favorite. If you can, be sure to check out their secret library and dungeon—both of which can be rented for private events and parties—and don’t skip the photo ops. Allow us to recommend a mirror selfie in the bathroom (IYKYK), and of course, a photo on one of the thrones under the sign inside their drawbridge door.
Now, if you are into Dungeons & Dragons, they host D&D night every Wednesday at 7 pm. You’re welcome to play, or simply observe if you’re not too sure of it yet. They also host casual Magic: The Gathering Commander game nights on Tuesday evenings.
Feeling extra hungry? Add another fun twist to your time at the Green Dragon Inn by ordering delicious, authentic Indian food from Heera Indian Cuisine downstairs. It’s the only outside food allowed in the establishment, and we’re not mad about it.
Sleuth to Win at theGreat Escape Room
Whether you’re new to the escape room craze or have puzzled your way out of hypothetical situations more times than you can count, you should definitely visit the Great Escape Room in the heart of downtown. It’s ideal for groups of at least four and up to 10 people. They’ve got three immersive experiences to choose from, including Poker Night at the President’s Bunker, Rob The Mob: Break-In At Bubba’s, and Moriarty’s Gameroom: The Hunt is Afoot. Each room is full of opportunities to use deductive reasoning and your scavenger hunting expertise to solve the puzzle, and maybe even save the world from nuclear Armageddon.
Play during their regular business hours, or book a private session at whatever time is most convenient for you and your group.
Indulge Your Artistic Side at Street Craftery
Want to dabble in something creative but not sure where to begin? Street Craftery has curated a variety of workshops and other guided artistic activities that are guaranteed to make your inner child sing. Whether you schedule an appointment ahead of time or choose to walk in during open hours, some of the crafts you can choose from are luxury candle making, cement artistry (featuring houseplants, if that’s your style), and guided painting, with options for free-form painting and acrylic paint pouring. They also offer special seasonal crafts throughout the year.
Another experience you ought to try at Street Craftery: Splatter Alley. It’s downright therapeutic to be able to stand in the brick-lined nook made neon with a black light and make a total colorful, splattery, feelings-filled mess. Get creative with your choice of canvas, colors, and even the option to add custom text to your masterpiece. No matter what you choose, a visit to Street Craftery is perfect for a date night, get-together with friends, or even a fun solo outing.
Show Off Your Mental Acuity at Trivia Night
Talk about a fun, low-key weeknight downtown: In this neighborhood, trivia is plentiful. Any day Monday through Thursday, you can find it, and often at multiple locations, in multiple formats, and mostly facilitated by Sporcle, the national leader in live pub trivia. 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.
Wednesdays, you’ve got the choice of pub trivia at Akronym Brewing or OpinioNation at R. Shea Brewing. With rounds beginning at 7 and 8 pm at both places, who’s to say you couldn’t play a game at each? (We’re not actually positive this would be possible without teleportation capabilities, but hey, it’s a cool thought.) Thursdays, just throw a dart at downtown’s pubs and breweries, and see where it lands. Barley House, Missing Falls, and R. Shea all have multiple rounds of trivia-oriented activities going on—not to mention great beer and tasty food menus. It’s casual, inexpensive, and fun. Plus, there are prizes for winners.
Bonus: The last Wednesday of every month, Northside Marketplace hosts an independent trivia night. Teams of up to six people are welcome to participate, and the prize is a $20 NOMZ gift card. The game begins at 6 pm.
Attend a Live Comedy Show
You know what’s funny? Downtown’s comedy nights. (Ba-dum-tss.)
The Daily Pressed hosts an open-mic comedy night every Tuesday from 7:30 to 9:30 pm, hosted by local comedian K.C. Curry. Show up and perform for yourself, or simply sit back; relax with one or more of the cafe’s signature coffee beverages, cocktails, sandwiches, flatbreads, or pastries; and enjoy the show.
If you like open mic comedy, you should also check out St. Baxter’s Comedy Confessional every first Thursday of the month at Baxter’s Speakeasy. The speakeasy is affectionately known as the kitschiest place in town and an all-around safe space for all who visit. It’s artsy, eclectic, and fun, and the drinks are fantastic.
Another great monthly downtown comedy event: Point of No Return Improv’s shows at Jilly’s Music Room the second Wednesday of every month. Point of No Return Improv is a PG-13 medium-form improv comedy group. Their shows are part theater, part comedy, and wholly fun. Plus, Jilly’s has a completely gluten-free menu of tasty evening tapas to snack on while you watch, and a full bar if you’d like to choose a craft cocktail, a craft beer from their list of over 100, or a soft drink.
Whizzing around on wheels or blades attached to your feet will never not be fun. There’s some kind of magic in tying those laces and snapping those buckles that’ll whisk you right back to a time you were seven, or 12, or 16—cruising the sidewalk by your house with bandaids on your knees, getting dropped off at the rink with your friends on a Friday night, holding hands and drinking hot chocolate in the snow. The magic spans generations and seasons.
Downtown, you can experience the magic once again. During the warmer months, DAP holds roller skating events on Cascade Plaza, often themed after past decades, complete with DJs, refreshments, and skates available to rent for $2 per pair (you can also bring your own and skate for free). During wintertime, Lock 3 is home to Ohio’s largest outdoor ice skating rink, where you can skate for $5 ($3 if you bring your own skates) and take in the city’s holiday lighting, historic window displays, and of course, everybody’s favorite wintry friend, Archie the Snowman, while you’re at it.
Spend Some Free Time at Northside Marketplace
Northside Marketplace is an extremely cool space in the Northside District of downtown. Yes, there are 140+ vendors to shop for unique, local, handmade wares and treats. It’s also home to NOMZ, a full-service restaurant with a fantastic menu featuring lots of vegan options, and a bar. Not to mention, they’ve got a selection of board games available to borrow while you hang out and enjoy your food and beverages.
In addition to their monthly trivia night (mentioned above), Northside Marketplace hosts an open mic night at 6:15 on the second Wednesday of each month, with signups beginning at 5:30 pm. Poetry, music, comedy, and anything else you’d like to perform for an audience are welcome.
No matter what’s going on, Northside Marketplace is a great place to hang out, grab a bite to eat, do a little shopping, and play some games.
Play Ball! 8-Ball, That Is
What’s more classic than the one and only bar and pool combo? It’s simple and fun, gritty in the best way possible, and a great way to while away the hours in good company. This neighborhood is brimming with pool tables, so visit a downtown bar or pub like 69 Taps, Tear-EZ, High St. Hop House, or Barley House to grab a drink (and maybe even a bite to eat) and shoot your shot.
If you’re looking to raise the stakes a bit, check out 69 Taps’ weekly Open Pool Tournament. Tuesday nights at 11 pm, you can enter the tournament for $10 and join your fellow nightwalkers for some healthy competition. First prize is 70 percent of the total cash pool, second prize is 30 percent of the total cash pool, and whoever comes in third or fourth gets a free domestic draft.
Borrow a Bike and Explore the Towpath
Summit Bike Share is Summit County’s free bicycle share program with nine rental stations across the county, including at the Richard Howe House, Lock 3, and the Courtyard by Marriott Hotel in the Northside District. Stop at any of these three downtown 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. If you head south, you’re only about two miles away from lovely Summit Lake, which is home to one of Summit Metro Parks’ nature centers, Let’s Grow Akron’s farmers market (on Tuesdays during the summer and early fall), and more. If you head north, you’re only about seven miles away from the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, which has made the top-ten list of most visited US national parks multiple years in a row.
No matter which way you head on the Towpath, you’re sure to have a good time exploring. 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.
Love to sing? We’ve got just the thing for you: two reliable downtown karaoke nights. On Wednesdays at 7 pm—the perfect day and time for such an activity, if you ask us—Barley House opens their floor to anyone who’d like to sing karaoke with them. They’ve got all your favorite songs and genres, and admission is free. While you’re there, have something from their draft list, and maybe one of their mouthwatering handhelds, stacked macs, or teezers.
On Sundays, pay a visit to 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.
Join a Tournament at Full Grip Games
We couldn’t make a guide about fun and games without mentioning Full Grip Games. It’s literally in the name. Full Grip 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 non-paying 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. Bring your friends, and check it out sometime. You might even consider heading upstairs to the Green Dragon Inn. You don’t have to be into Dungeons & Dragons to dig the medieval castle–themed board game bar on the second floor of the building.
See that? This guide has now come full circle, representing the infinite fun to be had downtown.
We’d love to see your favorite ways to have fun in downtown Akron! Feel free to share your photos with us on Facebook and Instagram.