Why Main Street Kent Makes for an Ideal Day Trip from Cleveland, OH

| © Doug Kerr / Flickr
Laura Dorwart

Kent, Ohio—a small city 50 minutes from downtown Cleveland—is a college town, home to Kent State University. Its west side downtown historic district is also a picturesque hub of food, fun, and retail. Main Street Kent, now in its tenth year, makes for an ideal day trip from the Cleveland area.

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Kent, OH, is known for its many parks, stunning historic homes, and leafy green landscapes (it’s called the “Tree City” for a reason). Recently, however, it’s become just as well-known for its revitalized downtown area, where local businesses are booming. If you’re looking for a day trip or weekend getaway from Cleveland or Akron, Main Street Kent is a perfect pick for a couples’ vacation, solo afternoon, or family outing.

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Start your day in Kent by sipping coffee from Scribbles Coffee Shop and browsing the shelves at Last Exit Books, a vibrant independent bookstore and vinyl record shop in Main Street Kent’s Acorn Alley. A neighborhood favorite for rare CDs, vintage records, and used books, Last Exit has a coffeehouse of its own and a cozy, retro vibe.

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Stop for lunch and day drinking at Ray’s Place, a two-story beer and burger hotspot with over 60 brews on tap, or Twisted Meltz, an artisanal sandwich restaurant with dozens of variations on the traditional grilled cheese. Build your own grilled cheese, choosing from conventional toppings alongside quirkier options such as maple syrup and blueberry-infused sausage, or try a Twisted Meltz special like the Michael Keaton: ribeye topped with melted mozzarrella and horseradish chive cheese and ale mustard.

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If you’re up for some afternoon shopping, Main Street Kent is home to a variety of specialty boutiques and gift shops. Find notebooks, fine pens, and art supplies at Red Letter Days, toys for both kids and grownups at offbeat novelty store Off the Wagon, and cute clothing and accessories at Gracylane, Carnaby Street Style, and Figleaf Boutique.

Top off your browsing session with vintage and international sweets and sodas from the Main Street retro-contemporary candy shop Sugar Rush or teeny-tiny donuts in flavors like raspberry lemonade, Samoa, salted pretzel, and strawberry French toast from Peace Love and Little Donuts.

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Other attractions in Kent include a variety of art galleries selling local, national, and international art from knick-knacks to high-end pieces, as well as the Kent Historical Society Museum and the Kent State Museum. Nearby parks are also available for biking, hiking, and picnicking, including the Dan Smith Community Park, a “pocket park” in the heart of downtown with swings, tables and chairs, a climbable wooden train for kids, and games for all ages. Adventurous types can also book a session at Cracked, a “live action puzzle room” similar to an escape room.

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The nightlife along Kent’s Main Street ranges from casual pubs with live music, including Brewhouse Pub, to craft beer offerings at 101 Bottles of Beer and MadTree Brewing Company. Upscale dining is available at the Franklin Hotel Bar, a swanky, intimate craft cocktail spot with small plates and a lengthy wine list, and Italian eatery Treno Ristorante.

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You might want to visit Main Street Kent on a day when it’s hosting one of its many annual special events. Each year, Kent’s downtown is abuzz with activity for dozens of community celebrations, festivals, and concerts.

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From the Ugly Christmas Sweater Tavern Trek to the Chocolate Walk, a wizardry-themed Potterfest, an Arbor Day Celebration hosted by MadTree Brewing Company, the Art and Wine festival, and numerous musical events, there are plenty of options whether you want to trick or treat with little ones, browse local art on a date, or enjoy a boozier night out with friends.


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