In one of the most historic and diverse neighborhoods in Akron, it’s easy to find yourself charmed and ready to return once you’ve experienced Highland Square.
As a former resident, I loved the walkability of the neighborhood, camaraderie of neighbors and affordable living just minutes from downtown Akron and Fairlawn. Young families, professionals, artists and long-established residents all have a place here, and when you stroll through, you see why.
Angel Falls Coffee Company is a cozy shop bustling throughout the day and evening with students from University of Akron, freelancers, and friends meeting for delicious house-roasted coffee and tea. The outdoor seating area is perfect for people watching and there’s even a “shared library” box outside where you can take, leave, or borrow a book.
Just a few steps away is Highland Square’s long-standing ice cream shop, Mary Coyle. Actually, it’s an old-school Italian restaurant with tasty pizza, but the hand-scooped Mary Coyle ice cream is what you go for. It’s great for an afternoon or after dinner treat.
Ohio Brewing is one of the newest establishments to the area serving up their own local, craft brew and food to accompany. There’s plenty of space to meet with groups of friends, and the large windows make it bright and airy.
Mustard Seed Market and Cafe is the place to go if you’re looking for a great patio, affordable bottle of wine, fresh smoothie or vegetarian/vegan/gluten free fare. While you’re here, you’ll also run into many of the movers and shakers of Akron whether it’s a Torchbearers’ committee meeting or high-level leadership from some of the area’s biggest companies. Oh, and there is a grocery store on the first floor that isn’t too shabby either.
Not into the “healthy” stuff? You have to try out Highland Square’s Mr. Zub’s Deli. At Mr. Zub’s the tater tots are to die for, and the enormous sandwiches are named after popular movie characters like Uncle Rico, The Jerk, The Dude, The Rocky Balboa… you get it. You won’t feel light as a feather afterwards, but it’s absolutely worth it.
Have a hankering for breakfast? Wally Waffle is the go-to waffle and breakfast shop in the square, and while the waffles are highly recommended (obviously) don’t discriminate against the pancakes or french toast.
Vintage and unique goods are aplenty around Highland Square. With many of the shops being locally owned and operated, the offerings match the neighborhood’s vibe. Two shops in particular that specialize in interesting home decor, personal goods, crystals, socks, tchotchkes, etc are Gypsy Grace & The Vintage Goat and Land of Plenty. Even if you’re not sure you need anything, nine times out of ten you’ll walk out with something interesting.
Highland Square doesn’t just specialize in the unusual and eclectic, there’s also a second-hand clothing store and accessory shop called Revival; a fair-trade store called The Market Path; a wandering rockEVERYwear Fashion Truck with oodles of Ohio-inspired gear; and lastly a record shop that has great finds from old to new called Square Records.
Held every August, PorchRokr is one of the most notable events in Highland Square, and Akron in general. The annual music and art festival draws thousands of folks from near and far to experience over a hundred bands who set up stage on various porches throughout the neighborhood. Local bars and restaurants take part as well, in addition to food trucks and a beer garden. The festival is perfect for all ages, and the variation of music ranges from funky surf-techno to folk with everything in between.
Another free music festival that pops up in September is Square Fest which celebrates music, art and family. As with PorchRokr, folks can enjoy local food trucks while strolling through tents of local boutiques and vendors.
Throughout the warmer months, the Countryside Conservancy Farmers’ Market makes fresh produce and locally made goods available to the residents of Highland Square and Akron. The once-a-week market is small enough for a quick stop after work but big enough to offer the goodies you need to make a delicious, healthy menu for the weekend.
The historic Highland Square Theater is an affordable way to see the newest movies, at only $5 per ticket and low-cost concessions, the auditorium-style theater is charming and fun to frequent. The set up allows you extra space to stretch out, and even sit at a table. You won’t find a 3D movie system here, but you’ll find a unique atmosphere… and a bar.
Whether you’re looking for a $2 PBR or a high-end craft beer, want to play trivia or dance until 2 a.m., you’re set in Highland Square. Between the sheer number of bars and the diversity of each, the bar scene is unlike any other in greater Akron. There are 10 bars to choose from so when looking for an assortment of craft beer head to Highland Tavern. Deliciously hand-crafted cocktails in a tiki setting can be found at Chop & Swizzle, just off the main drag. Looking to dance? Head to Square Bar, a fun and lively gay bar in the heart of Highland Square. Cheap beers and heavy music can be found at Annabell’s, and the rest are great for a night of exploration.
Just 45 minutes south of downtown Cleveland and 30 minutes north of downtown Canton, Highland Square is packed with great reasons to visit (or live). Don’t just wait for the next festival, make a trip to grab some food, enjoy the culture and hang out with the locals in this eclectic, historic neighborhood.