When my fearless colleagues David McCabe and Nina Zimmerman accompanied me to Canton last week to cover the NCAC Championship Swim Meet, we made sure to have a little fun along the way. In fact, Canton can be a great place for a day trip: after the jump, check out some of our favorite places to visit in Ohio’s eighth-largest city.*
Must-see: the McKinley National Memorial — Canton’s most famous son is commemorated with one of the nation’s largest presidential memorials. Seriously, it makes Grant’s Tomb look like one of the weathered old tombstones behind Storer. During the warmer months, you can go inside to pay your respects to America’s 25th (and third-to-be-assassinated) president and his wife, Ida. During the winter, you can at least run up the steps and pretend you’re the Ohioan Rocky. McKinley’s presidential library is also here, right at the bottom of the hill.
Don’t Forget the Ladies: The First Ladies National Historic Site — This site is composed of two separate, but related, parts: the Education and Research Center, which contains the National First Ladies Library within it, and the Ida Saxton McKinley Historic Home. A guide dressed as first lady Julia Tyler (because I guess not everyone gets to be Ida McKinley) led us through the nicely-restored home, and we learned a lot of fun facts: did you know that Ida, once the Belle of Canton, was very highly educated and studied finance in her father’s bank? Or that she suffered from seizures, and that her husband’s preferred method of treatment was to drape a handkerchief over her face until it was over, at which point Ida would remove the cloth and pretend nothing had happened? My favorite fun fact was about Mrs. Tyler: she believed that she should be allowed to ride through Washington in a chariot pulled by a team of white horses (Michelle should try that today just to see how Fox News would react).
For the Sports Fan: the Pro Football Hall of Fame — The building is currently undergoing a major renovation that will make it much larger and hopefully less hideous, but it’s still a requisite pilgrimage for any football fan. The admission fee is rather steep, but the staff will let you in for free if you just want to browse the well-stocked gift shop.
Where to Eat: Thatsa Wrap — As you might expect, this eatery specializes in a variety of wraps. Tasty and fairly inexpensive, it’s a good place to grab a bite prior to your adventures (but not after — we were there on a Saturday, and they closed at 3:00 p.m.).
Along the Way: the flagship Smucker’s store in Orrville — Smucker’s is headquartered in Orrville, which is partway between Gambier and Canton. Just a couple of miles out of the way, you’ll find a big red barn that sells all sorts of Smucker’s swag, from pineapple preserves to Uncrustables ® sandwiches to socks embroidered with strawberries. They’ve got an impressive wall of colorful jam jars, as well as a small exhibit on the history of the company.
*Yes, Forbes once called Canton America’s ninth most miserable city, but it really ain’t half bad. And since Cleveland and Cincinnati are ahead of it on the list, it’s pretty good relative to the rest of Ohio.