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Take a Trip on I-76: Holiday Edition

Article collaboration between AAA Ohio and My Ohio Fun.
AAA Members, thanks for stopping by.

In this special holiday edition of “Take a Trip on Ohio’s I-76”, which was also featured in the November 2023 AAA Magazine, My Ohio Fun would like to share with you four holiday road trips that you can enjoy along this special eighty-two miles of highway.

A wonderful way to count down to the holidays.

(Stay tuned for additional I-76 Road Trips.)

Holiday Road Trip #1 – Youngstown

Beautifully decorated themed trees, twinkling lights and a delicious Italian meal is what waits for you on this one-day road trip.

Mill Creek Winter Celebration
Photo credit: Youngstown Live

Stop 1: Mill Creek Winter Celebration
Location: Fellows Riverside Gardens/Davis Education & Visitor Center
123 McKinley Ave., Youngstown, OH 44509
Website: millcreekmetroparks.org
Dates/times: Dec 2-31, 2023|Tuesday-Sunday 10am-5pm.

Celebrate the season by viewing over 50 lovingly decorated trees by local non-profit groups. On Dec 3, 10 and 17 from 5-7pm, visit the gardens during Winter Lights. There is no admission fee. Allow time to visit the Shops in the Gardens and/or grab a quick sandwich at the Garden Café.’

Arms Family Museum
Arms Family Museum – Photo of prior holiday.

Stop 2: Arms Family Museum
Location: 648 Wick Avenue, Youngstown, OH
Website: mahoninghistory.org
Dates/times: November 18 through New Year’s Eve, December 31, 2023.
Holiday open hours are Tuesday through Sunday, noon to 4pm.

For the past 15 years, the Mahoning County Historical Society has been inviting visitors to come and experience “Memories of Christmas Past” at Greystone, a 1905 Arts & Crafts style mansion. Each room of the home decorated just as beautiful as the next. Just the “iconic crystal tree” that includes over 2,000 prisms is worth the road trip.

Mahoning Valley Restaurant MVR Youngstown

Stop 3: Cassese’s MVR 
Location: 410 N. Walnut St., Youngstown, OH 44505
Website: youngstownmvr.com
Open M-F 4pm-9pm | Sat 11am-9pm | Closed Sunday

We cannot let you leave the Youngstown area without making a dinner stop at Cassese’s MVR. Since 1927, they have been serving locals and guests their famous Italian dishes. Dishes that have created a following through the Great Depression, prohibition and two world wars. Fun fact: MVR holds the 2nd oldest liquor license in Ohio.

Mangia! You will have plenty of Italian and American dishes to select from. Calamari, pizza, pasta, salads, soup, sandwiches, and fan favorites like Papa Joe’s Pasta, Tressel’s Tortellini, the Spicy Bowties, or the Rajun Cajun Ravioli & Blackened Chicken. Don’t forget your bocce court skills!

Joy of Christmas Light Show - photo DRock

If your travel time allows, head a short distance south to Firestone Park in Columbiana to enjoy the magical lights in the  Joy of Christmas Lights Display. Travel a mile long path of twinkling lights and over 80 light displays.

Joy of Christmas Light Show
298 E Park Ave, Columbiana, OH 44408
Joy of Christmas Light Show (JOC) takes place on select nights, 6-9 p.m., from Friday, November 17 to Sunday, December 24, 2023,
with special activities to be announced soon:
Friday – Sunday | Nov. 17, 18, 19
Thursday – Sunday | Nov. 23, 24, 25, 26
Thursday, Nov. 30 – Sunday, Dec. 24
For additional information tourcolumbianaohio.org


The Butler Institute of American Art

Memories of Christmas Past - Youngstown Ohio
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For local accommodations and other area attractions visit YoungstownLive.com. 

Youngstown Live


Holiday Road Trip #2 – Portage County

Calling all elves! We hear Santa needs help creating all that holiday magic. From the holiday tree to the dinner table, this road trip will help Santa cross items off his list.

Duma Meats

Stop 1: Duma Meats   
857 Randolph Road, Mogadore, OH 44260
Monday-Friday: 9am-6pm | Saturday 9am-5pm | Closed Sundays

Family owned and operated 4th generation business. What was once a small meat market has now become a go to stop for dinner tables. Duma’s is known for no preservatives, grass-feed beef. They also make their own jerky and casing sausage. Their bacon jerky makes for a great addition to any charcuterie board.

Brimfield Bread Oven

Stop 2: Brimfield Bread Oven
3956 OH-43 #2, Kent, OH 44240
Website: brimfieldbreadoven.com
Open: W, TH, FRI: 8am-5pm and SAT 9am-8pm (*pizza is 4pm-8pm only)
Closed SUN, MON, TU.

Using only organic grains and local ingredients, this European style bakery bakes all their breads in their wood fired oven. Check their website for their daily bread list. The sea salt focaccia and their cranberry walnut sour dough are two of my favorites, along with their pastry options. Saturday evenings they keep the ovens glowing to make their wood-fired pizzas.

Elves know shopping can make you hungry.

Mike's Place - Kent Ohio

Stop 3: Mike’s Place 
1700 S Water St #4447, Kent, OH 44240
Website: mikesplacerestaurant.com

Considered on the quirkiest restaurants in Ohio, Mike’s Place is a fun place to stop to enjoy lunch or a late breakfast. You cannot miss it. Just look for the X-Wing Star Fighter sitting out front. The inside décor is just as crazy as the outside. Allow plenty of time to read the menu and descriptions. Take home a slice of Mama Houk’s Original Peanut Butter Pie for dessert.

Downtown Kent Ohio shopping

Stop 4: Explore Acorn Alley and Main Street

Love coffee? Enjoy a crafted cup or pick-up a bag of coffee from any one of the locally owned coffee shops found in this college town.

Popped! is the local go to place for all things popcorn. Not only do they make delicious varieties of popcorn, but they also have specialty popcorn topped with chocolate and mixed with other sweet treats. May we suggest the Black Squirrel Crunch? They also sell a variety of chocolates. Perfect stop to pick-up a few holiday gifts.

Being an “elf” means you know where to find those unique gift ideas. Those hidden treasures.

McKay Bricker Framing always has a nice selection of crafted gifts. Off the Wagon is filled with toys and novelties for the young at heart. At Hippie Fox Rocks you will find rocks, crystals, and hippie gear. Beautiful wrapping sheets, cards and unusual gifts are what you will find at Red Letter Days. And for the plant lover on your list, head to the Flourish Plant Mkt.

McKay Bricker Framing
McKay Bricker Framing Christmas ornament display

Stop 5: Pick a tree.

The only thing left is to select your holiday tree at the Flower Tree Farm or River Run Tree Farm. 

Flower Tree Farm
1236 Hudson Rd., Kent, OH 44240
Website: flowertreefarm.com

River Run Tree Farm
5620 Streeter Road, Mantua, OH 44255
Website: riverruntreefarm.com


Bell Tower Brewing Co. – Kent
Haymakers Farmer’s Market – Saturday Mornings – Kent

Central Portage County Ohio
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For local accommodations and other area attractions visit Central Portage County Visitors & Convention Bureau. 

Holiday Road Trip #3 – Akron 

Delight in holiday home tour traditions, light displays and warm from the oven gingerbread cookies.

Hower House Holiday in Bloom
Hower House Museum – photo credit: D. Rock

Stop 1:  Hower House Museum
Location: 60 Fir Hill, Akron, OH
Self-Guided Tours are offered November 10th – December 30th.
Friday & Saturdays 12:00 pm – 3:00 pm | Sunday 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Tours start on the hour. Last tour starts one hour before closing.

This 28-room Victorian Mansion located on the grounds of the University of Akron, is one of the city’s often overlooked treasures. The home was completed in 1871, by John Henry Hower, a leading Akron industrialist who was active in the milling, reaping, and cereal industries. Well-known Akron architect Jacob Snyder designed the house in the Second Empire Italianate style.

Every holiday season, the volunteers and staff lovingly decorate the home for the holiday season.

Admission: Adults $10 | Seniors $8 | Students $2 with ID

Allow time to visit the Cellar Door Boutique. Tea items, holiday ornaments and unique gifts can be found among the shelves. There is even a cross stitch pattern of the home for sale.

The Hower House Museum is one of the must-visit Ohio historical homes for the holidays.

Hower House Museum
Hower House Museum | Photo credit: D. Rock

Don Drumm Studios - Akron Ohio

Stop 2: Don Drumm Studios & Gallery
Location: 437 Crouse St., Akron, OH 44311
M-F 10am-6pm | SAT 10am-5pm

If you are looking for that perfect gift, you just may find it here. The gallery features artists from around the continent. Glass, sculpture pieces, ceramic, metal and more. Do not walk away without selecting your very own sun piece, designed by the renowned American sculptor himself, Don Drumm. This hidden gem can is found just blocks from Downtown Akron.

Time for lunch! Located just minutes between destinations are two iconic Akron restaurants. No matter which one you choose, you can not go wrong.

Luigi's Akron Ohio

Lunch option 1: Luigi’s
Location:  N. Main St., Akron, OH 44308
M-TH 11am-Midnight | FRI 11am-2am | SAT 3pm-2am | SUN 3pm-Midnight

Reservations are not accepted at this award-winning Italian restaurant. Since 1949, Luigi’s has been dishing up their famous pizza, pasta dishes and salads with a big helping of mozzarella cheese on top. Come hungry and do not forget your cash, as Luigi’s does not accept credit cards.

Swensons Burgers Akron Ohio

Lunch option 2: Swensons Drive-in
Location: 40 S. Hawkins Ave., Akron, OH 44313

No need to leave your car. Pull up, park your car in a spot, and turn on your lights. The staff will be by to take your order. Make sure you treat yourself to one of their famous Galley Boys; a double cheeseburger with two special sauces, garnished with a green olive. Don’t forget to add an order of their homemade onion rings and a “California” grape drink.

Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens - Holiday Media

Stop 3: Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens 
Location: 714 N. Portage Path, Akron, OH 44303
Website: stanhywet.org
Dates/Times: Nov 24-Dec 30, 2023

The magic of the holidays can be found F.A. Seiberling, co-founder of The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company. Every year staff and volunteers “Deck the Halls” of the historic 65-room Tudor Revival Manor and light the country estate’s grounds with over a million lights. You are going to want to allow time to enjoy the Courtyard area where hot chocolate, beverages and those delightful warm gingerbread cookies are available to purchase from the Gingerbread Hut. Make sure you stop and pick a special gift for yourself at Molly’s gift shop. May I suggest a Christmas ornament to remember your road trip?

Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens
Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens | Photo credit: D. Rock


Holiday Road Trip #4 – Medina

It just would not be the holidays without a visit to northeast Ohio’s version of a magical holiday movie town.

Castle Noel - Photo credit D. Rock

Stop #1 Castle Noel
Location: 260 S. Court St., Medina, OH 44256

What do you get when you take an old church and stuff it with the world’s largest collection of famous Hollywood Christmas movie props and costumes, New York City Christmas window displays, a big red Christmas Story slide, and Cousin Eddie’s trailer from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation? A magical holiday experience like no other.

Castle Noel - Medina, Ohio

Through the creative and artistic mind of Mark Klaus and with the support of his wife Dana, this powerful duo has created a year-round holiday attraction beloved by countless visitors. A place where childhood memories come flooding back. Where magical holiday moments come to life. A road trip must-stop.

Castle Noel Photo credits: D. Rcok

Downtown Medina Ohio

Stop #2 The Square of Medina
Website: mainstreetmedina.com

No holiday movie magic needed. The charming square of Medina, with its fairy tale gazebo and historic store fronts just beckons you to take time to stroll the sidewalks, enjoy a cup a coffee at the local coffee shop and watch shopper’s stroll by, select a few holiday gifts and treats, and find your next great novel. All around the square you will find unique boutique shops, local restaurants, and fun foodie stops. The Medina Candlelight Walk (Nov 18-20) around the Square is always a magical time.

Stop #3 Root Candles
Location: 623 W Liberty St, Medina, OH 44256

Brighten up the season with beautiful candles selected from the Root Candle Company. A must stop on this road trip. Founded in 1869, this 5th generation American family-owned company still takes pride in their handcrafted candles made of an all-natural beeswax blend. The factory has come a long way since its days of selling beekeeping equipment.

Sérénité Restaurant & Culinary Institute

Stop #4: Sérénité Restaurant & Culinary Institute
538 W Liberty St, Medina, OH 44256
Closed Mondays & Sundays

A meal with a mission. Is there any better way to celebrate the holidays? Launched in 2018, the Sérénité Restaurant & Culinary Institute in conjunction with the Recovery Center of Medina County have teamed-up to create a place for those in recovery to learn about the food service industry. Standards are kept high as the Institute trains students in classic French cuisine and restaurant operations. No matter what you order off their menu your taste buds will thank you. Don’t forget to try a bowl of their delicious French Onion soup.


Main Street Medina
Medina County NE OH
Date: November 17-19, 2023
Location: Downtown Medina, Medina, OH


Black Cat Books & Oddities
The Book Shelf – A Project LEARN Used Book Store

Medina County Ohio Holiday Edition
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For local accommodations and other area attractions visit Medina County Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Article and photos, unless noted by: D. Rock, MyOhioFun.com

Diane Rock is the owner and editor of MyOhioFun.com and the Tea Cup Rescue Society. She is an avid baker, gardener, Little Free Library owner, who loves to read and travel.  She spends most of her days sharing her love of things to do in Ohio, as well as creating destinations and itineraries for group tours and individual travelers.

Follow us on Instagram #MyOhioFun.

Editor’s note:  Any use of the above article or images without prior permission, will be in violation of copyright laws.  “Take a Trip on I-76” is a My Ohio Fun road trip promotion and use without written permission, of any part of our unique I-76 campaign and road trips ideas will be a violation of copyright laws. (10/01/2023) To  view a .pdf version of the AAA article – click here. 

Disclosure: I was given advertising compensation from  Central Portage VCB, Mahoning County CVB and Medina County CVB. All opinions are my own.

***Disclosure:  My Ohio Fun receives compensation from advertising banners.  As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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