Because we’re on the verge of enjoying summer in Northeast Ohio, part one is dedicated to activities – many of which are outside!
We want to thank Youngstown Nation for allowing us to share the content below. Over the course of the next several weeks, we’ll share a selection of items from the original, “50 Things to do in Youngstown.” Because we’re in the midst of enjoying summer in Northeast Ohio, part one is dedicated to activities – many of which are outside! Enjoy!
The Mahoning Valley’s Mill Creek MetroParks is the crown jewel of all-things outdoorsy in the Youngstown area. The park is enormous. In fact, at 2,600 acres, it’s one of the largest metropolitan parks in the nation. Founded it 1891, it was also the first park district established in Ohio. Mill Creek features three lakes; a wetland; experimental farm; two 18-hole championship golf courses (see below); a recreation area with an outdoor performing arts pavilion; Fellows Riverside Gardens & Davis Center; Lanternman’s Mill; a hike-bike trail; 20 miles of drives; 15 miles of foot trails; and a variety of bridges, ponds, streams, well-tended gardens and waterfalls. With so much to do, it’s hard to recommend just one thing. So, start with a trolley ride on the Cohasset Express. It’s a fun and easy way to experience the ‘Green Cathedral.’
Oak Hill Cemetery is Youngstown’s oldest and most historically significant cemetery. Built in 1852, some of the city’s most prominent families are buried here. Beautifully designed and featuring a unique view of downtown, the best time to take a stroll is in the fall when the leaves are beginning to change. Also, each year around Halloween, the Mahoning Valley Historical Society gives guided tours of the cemetery as part of the Youngstown Zombie Crawl.
The Western Reserve Transit Authority is the region’s public transportation provider. In addition to providing much needed transportation to those who rely on it for work, school, shopping or to just get around town (ridership of over 1 million annually), it’s also a very affordable and interesting way to see a good bit of the city and the surrounding townships unfiltered and on your terms. Purchase an all-day pass for $3.00 at the main terminal in downtown Youngstown, jump on any bus and go for a ride. Additional suggestion: On a Saturday, take the bus from downtown Youngstown to downtown Warren and have lunch at Sunrise Inn (typically voted best pizza in the Valley) and grab a coffee a block away at the original Mocha House.
How many cities offer a 34-acre, forest-like city park built in the 1880s located in a historic district only one mile from their downtown and two blocks from their university? Youngstown, Ohio does. Wick Park is the crown jewel of the Wick Park neighborhood (which is experiencing a bit of a renaissance). It gets its name from James Wick who was an early industrialist. He and his family’s original hunting cabin still stands a block away as does a number of other notable historic structures including the homes of former Ohio Governor David Tod, John ‘Bone Setter’ Reese and Stambaugh Auditorium. On the eastern porting of the park are four churches. To the north of the park on the corner of 5th Ave & Broadway is the Northside Farmers Market. Each Saturday morning from spring through fall, the market offers up a great selection of produce, art, music and more. They also have freshly prepared lunch options. Head to the market, grab some lunch and enjoy a walk around beautiful Wick Park. Suggestion: make a trip in early fall when the leaves begin to change color. Incredible. Bonus recommendation: check out the Idora Farmer’s Market (Tuesdays) and the B&O Night Market (Thursdays).
This is one of the few recommendations that isn’t in the city but it would be inexcusable not to include it on this list. Way out in the pastures on the periphery of the Mahoning Valley sits one of the largest and finest farmers markets in the state of Ohio. The 10,000 square-foot White House Fruit Farm offers a wide variety of fresh, quality produce and excellent baked goods. While just about everything at White House is outstanding, there’s one item in particular that stands out: homemade blueberry doughnuts. These things are so good that the New York Giants football team had a special order sent to them before their 2012 Super Bowl win. Seriously. White House might be off the beaten path in relation to the other 49 recommendations but it’s well worth the drive. Pick a warm summer day and head out to the country via State Route 62. Bonus recommendation: check out Haus Apple Orchard & Cider Mill for some great fresh cider, donuts than give White House a run for their money and the region’s only sauerkraut festival (Krautfest).
The Mahoning River spans 113 miles and runs through five counties in Northeast Ohio and Western Pennsylvania. Once upon a time, it was so polluted that it never froze during the winter. That’s because the steel mills that lined it used it as a cooling and dumping mechanism for its raw product. Fast forward several decades later and while there’s still parts of the river that have issues, most of it is suitable for recreation like kayaking. In fact, the Trumbull Canoe Trails Kayak Club holds an annual event in August at downtown Youngstown’s B&O Banquet Hall in which a good portion of the river is covered. This is a good opportunity to take your trek. Bonus recommendation: join the Friends Of The Mahoning River at their annual Riverfest event in June for some Mighty Mahoning education, advocacy and fun.
Youngstown has several notable races which feature great routes and draw big crowds. The Youngstown Peace Race is the longest running race in the city (1975) and was inspired by the notion of bringing together runners from around the world as a symbol of unity. The 10k course includes Mill Creek Metroparks and finishes in downtown Youngstown. The Panerathon began in 2010 has quickly become the most well attended race in the region. The race begins at the Covelli Centre in downtown, winds around Lake Glacier in Mill Creek MetroParks and finishes back at the starting line. The Green Cathedral Half Marathon & 5K was organized in 2013 and features a great route held entirely within the park itself. Any one of these races is a good way to see the some of the best parts of the city in a fun and healthy manner.
Most of the recommendations to this point have been food and fun. However, a big part of the Youngstown experience is hands-on, grassroots community involvement. While there’s plenty of projects and activities that take place throughout the city each year, there’s a few that serve as good initial opportunities to get your hands dirty. One would be Youngstown Streetscape, an annual event held in late May or early June where hundreds of volunteers from all over the region gather in downtown Youngstown to help beautify the area. A second opportunity is the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation’s monthly community workday events. At least one Saturday each month, YNDC gathers volunteers, residents and community organizations to conduct a hands-on project in different neighborhoods throughout the city. Both events are well organized and are always looking for a helping hand. Roll up your sleeves and help the good folks trying to make a physical difference in the city.
Lots of communities have flea markets and Youngstown is no exception. Located on the East Side at the city border on US-422, the Four Season’s Flea & Farm Market is a year-round bonanza of all-things flea featuring 200 indoor vendors, 13 outdoor isles and 3 open-air pavilions. The 100-acre property originally served as an airport. In fact, the market’s website still proudly proclaims that it was the ‘largest airport between Cleveland and Pittsburgh until 1951!’. In the warmer months, there’s a pretty good farmers market presence and plenty of popular food vendors from the region. Bonus recommendation: stop at nearby City Limits restaurant for, arguably, the best breakfast in the city (not to mention the largest portions.) Any omelette on the menu will leave you satisfied.
If you haven’t figured it out by now, probably the greatest asset the Mahoning Valley possesses is not physical. It’s a sense of community. This is likely no better reflected than in its many annual community festivals. In the city, a few notable ones include: Simply Slavic Heritage Festival, Our Lady Of Mt. Carmel Italian Festival, Greater Youngstown Italian Festival, Brier Hill Italian Festival, Greek Summerfest, YSU Summer Festival Of The Arts,Spanish Heritage Festival, Arab American Festival of Youngstown, Youngstown Jazz Festival, and the Holiday Parade & Festival. Most of these festivals are held in and around the downtown area. Some are smaller while others are quite large but all will give you a good sense of the local community flavor. However, the mother of all annual festivals in the Valley is the Canfield Fair. Established in 1846, the six-day extravaganza features 350 acres of vendors, activities and national musical acts. It is the largest county fair in Ohio with an average annual attendance of 380,000 people. The fair is a major regional community event and is something you should probably attend at least once.
If golf is your thing, Youngstown is a place to be. The area has more nationally ranked public courses in the region than any other part of country and is ranked #4 in the entire U.S. in quality. These courses were developed back in the day when steel was king, money flowed like hot metal and industrial elites sought playgrounds throughout the region. While the steel economy may have evaporated, the courses remain. The advantage of this today is that with so many courses, most are super affordable despite their superior quality. Perhaps the best course in the area is the Donald Ross-designed South Course at Mill Creek MetroParks which has been ranked by Golfweek Magazine as one of ‘America’s 30 Best Municipal Courses.’ But there’s plenty of other great courses to check out as well. Bonus recommendation: for some golf in the city itself, check out Henry Stambaugh Golf Course on the North Side.
In Youngstown, there is a man who is simply known as ‘Dunner.’ Paul ‘Dunner’ Dunleavy is a God-fearing, log-carrying, ageless, physical anomaly and is the co-owner of the Ironman Warehouse in downtown Youngstown. Dunner and Ironman are known for their primitive workouts which include flipping monster tires of various sizes at a non-descript warehouse basement on E. Federal Street. While many gyms and sports programs now offer these types of workouts, Dunner and his band of loyal ironmen (and women) have been doing them for years throughout the nether regions of city. Many local sports teams and even professional athletes call Ironman their home gym. And while it sounds like a pretty macho place, don’t be intimated. You’ll find plenty of devotees from a wide range of ability levels. Head downtown and give a good tire flip with one of Youngstown’s iconic fitness gurus in an icon Youngstown workout environment.
For more awesome ideas about how to have a blast in “Ytown,” keep checking back for more from Youngstown Nation!