College Town Kent is Perfect for Families, Too

College Town Kent is Perfect for Families, Too

- in Community Focus, Magazine, Things to do
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Thanks to its college town atmosphere and quaint, local feel, Kent is an eclectic city that offers great entertainment and a place to call home to both students and families. Kent State University — with roughly 29,000 students, about 6,500 of whom live on campus — helps put the city on the map, offering added perks for residents and attracting businesses.

Whether your family is considering a move to Kent, staying for just a day or taking part in a campus visit, there is plenty to see and do in the city.

Culture and Education
Located in the heart of downtown, the Kent Free Library (kentfreelibrary.org) caters to both children and adults through its materials, programming and special events. From adult book recommendations and discussion groups to separate programs dedicated to a range of children’s age groups, the library makes a point to meet the needs of all residents.rising101

When it comes to live theater performances, downtown’s Kent Stage Theater (thekentstage.com) hosts roughly 150 concerts and events each year, including the Kent Folk Festival, the Kent Blues Fest, Kent Reggae Fest, the Kent State Around Town Music Festival, film festivals and numerous plays.

If art piques the interests of your family members, Kent does not disappoint. Several art galleries are located on Water and Main streets downtown, including Downtown Gallery, FJKluth Gallery and Group Ten Gallery. Standing Rock Cultural Arts (standingrock.net) brings art to the community through exhibitions, poetry readings, workshops, performances, festivals, public art projects and special events.

Open to the public, the KSU Museum (kent.edu/museum) is dedicated to the study and presentation of historic and contemporary fashion, textiles and related art forms. The special collections and exhibits housed in its eight galleries are unique resources for KSU students and the general public when it comes to historic and contemporary fashions, as well as costumes representing many of the world’s cultures.

Kent Free Library
Kent Free Library

A Shopper’s Paradise
Its unique mix of college students and families means there’s no shortage of great local retailers and restaurants in Kent.

For clothing and accessories, try upscale thrift store blue/A Goodwill Boutique; The Fashion School Store, which features items crafted by KSU Fashion School students; Carnaby Street Style, offering trendy, London-inspired clothing; and The Figleaf Boutique, which carries affordable, trendy items for young women.

If you’re searching for unique gifts or household items, check out Black Squirrel Gifts, The Works and City Bank Antiques. The Dragonfly lets you personalize your gifts with on-site embroidery. Also, don’t miss Off the Wagon, a toy store for the young at heart that offers fun toys, novelties, gags, games and gifts.

Stock up on supplies for your family’s hobbies at All Media Art Supply, Woodsy’s Music or Last Exit Books, which offers used books, records, CDs and DVDs.

Get Moving
The city’s parks and recreation department (kentparksandrec.com) maintains 17 parks, from smaller neighborhood parks to large citywide options. Don’t miss Plum Creek Park, home to the all abilities Tree City Play Park playground, and Franklin Mills Riveredge Park, which follows the Cuyahoga River bank and offers pathways and decks to make viewing the falls at the Main Street Dam and reaching the river edge easier.

While Kent offers unique options for outdoor adventure during the warmer months — the city includes the Bike and Hike Trail and the Portage Bike & Hike Trail, as well as canoe and kayak trips along the Cuyahoga River courtesy of Crooked River Adventures — there is plenty to do during the winter to keep your heart pumping.

The KSU Student Recreation and Wellness Center, which offers free memberships to students, faculty and staff, also is available to the community. The Rec Center boasts 153,000 square feet of state-of-the-art fitness amenities, including basketball and volleyball courts, a dance and yoga studio, fitness equipment, pools and more. The KSU Ice Arena also serves the university and community and offers two separate rinks, a full-service snack bar and private rentals.

christmas-train-by-pufferbellyTime to Refuel
When hunger demands a break from shopping and sightseeing, rest your feet at one of Kent’s many eateries and restaurants.

Tasty quick bites include Grazers, Franklin Square Deli, Mr. Zub’s Deli and Wild Goats Café. For finer dining, try Laziza, Nineteen10, Bistro on Main or The Pufferbelly, among other options.

Though harvest season is over, Haymaker Farmers’ Market operates year-round. In winter, visit the indoor market at United Methodist Church every Saturday from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. for a huge selection of locally grown and produced items.

Satisfy a sweet tooth day or night at Peace Love & Little Donuts or Insomnia Cookies — the latter of which is open until 3 a.m. and offers delivery.

December Events
12/3 — Festival of Lights. Santa arrives by train at 6 p.m. to downtown Kent’s Hometown Bank Plaza. Kids will have the opportunity to visit with Santa, write a letter, and enjoy music, hot cocoa and cookies. Horse drawn wagon rides also are available.12/10 — Brunch and Shop with Santa. Pre-registration is required for this event, which takes place from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Kent Rec Center. Register by Dec. 7; cost is $5 per child (parents and guardians get in free with a gift donation for the homeless shelter).

About the author

Denise Koeth is managing/digital editor of Northeast Ohio Parent. She writes for and assists with production of the print magazine, as well as manages digital content on the NortheastOhioParent.com website and oversees the brand’s social media activity. Denise grew up in Northeast Ohio and she and her husband are currently raising their two boys here.

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