Two nights in Streetsboro, OH–Big Trip #4

We were in Streetsboro in August 2022, as part of Big Trip #4.

Bugsy in front of Blue Hen Falls
Bugsy at Blue Hen Falls in the national park

After our stopover in Fayetteville, we spent a couple days in Streetsboro to explore Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Our campground is on the very eastern edge of Streetsboro, and downtown Streetsboro doesn’t seem like anything special, no offense. The town of Hudson, just to the east, is much cuter, so we took to calling our location Hudson West. Kent, a college town that seemed like it could be interesting, is fifteen minutes away, and Cuyahoga Falls, bigger and with more of a food and drink scene, is twenty minutes away.

This area was part of the Connecticut Western Reserve, a tract of land granted to the Colony of Connecticut by King Charles II, and after being settled, was called the “the New England of the West.” I had always sort of idly wondered where the name of Case Western Reserve University came from–that’s where. Case Western is in Cleveland, but it was founded as Western Reserve College in Hudson, our adopted hometown on this stop.

Campground

Bugsy chilling at the campsite at the KOA

CVNP doesn’t have any RV campgrounds, so we stayed at the closest commercial campground, Streetsboro/Cleveland SE KOA. It’s a stretch to put Cleveland in the name as that’s a 45-minute drive away, but the amenities of Streetsboro and Hudson are very close by. The national park is a 20-minute drive, either to the Boston Mills or Peninsula areas.

Bugsy vs fake coyote at Streetsboro KOA
Bugsy didn’t like the fake coyotes keeping geese from the lake. Look at those hackles!

We had a nice spot near the campground lake, but the water views were on the wrong side of the Airstream… something I forgot to consider when choosing a campsite!

Hiking

Bugsy hiking the Ledges trail
hiking the Ledges trail in the national park

I’m going to split all the hiking off into a separate Cuyahoga Valley National Park post. We felt like we did a good job of cramming a lot of national parking into a short time! Cuyahoga Valley National Park is a different type of national park–it’s an urban park, with the goal of protecting land and providing a nature experience that’s more accessible for a lot of people than going out West. The scenery’s not as dramatic, and you can hear highway traffic at all times while hiking, but dogs are allowed on the trails, and there’s no entrance fee, so there’s that.

Eating and drinking

I’ll talk about the food and let J talk about the beer. J is killing it on the brewery research for Big Trip #4.

Food

chickpea sliders at HiHo Brewing
The only chickpea slider photo I took because I wasn’t about to stop eating to take more

From J’s brewery research, I knew my #1 food priority was a chickpea slider at HiHo Brewing Co. We had one as a snack while trying some beers there and it was DELICIOUS. Chickpea salad, lettuce, tomato, fluffy bun… it really hit the spot.

power bowl from Bell Tower Brewing
Power Bowl from Bell Tower Brewing

The second place we got food was Bell Tower Brewing in Kent. Sitting on the dog-friendly patio, we had the fried pickles special (because who can resist fried pickles), and later picked up power bowls to eat at home: grains and veggies with a protein and a tasty red curry sauce.

Beer

Smartie beer words from J:

From our camping location between Streetsboro and Hudson, there were three pairs of breweries within a 20 minute drive: (1) HiHo and Missing Mountain in Cuyahoga Falls; (2) Bell Tower and North Water in Kent; and, (3) Hop Tree and Headtrip in Hudson and Stowe, respectively. Based on our pre-trip research, we felt comfortable skipping the third bucket and dividing the other two between our two nights there.

Bugsy and beers at HiHo Brewing in Cuyahoga Falls
HiHo Brewing

HiHo Brewing Co in Cuyahoga Falls was our clear favorite of the bunch. Perched over the Cuyahoga River (with very limited views) in a large warehouse-type space with large bay doors open to the outside, it’s an inviting space. We sat with Bugsy on the patio and snacked on their yummy chickpea salad sliders (their pizza also smelled fantastic) and delicious beers. They had mostly IPAs – including four hazies – but also had a fruited sour that L enjoyed; J liked it enough to purchase a growler of their session hazy IPA to drink at the Airstream. 

Beers on the deck over the Cuyahoga River at Missing Mountain
Missing Mountain Brewing; Bugsy is under the table just out of the frame

Down the road a bit from HiHo is Missing Mountain Brewing Company, which is just up a gentle hill from the Cuyahoga River. It comes across a bit as a big restaurant and we would recommend it more for the views than for the beers, which were a bit better than adequate. It was pretty crowded when we were there, understandable given its proximity to the water.

Beers and fried pickles at Bell Tower Brewing
Bugs, beers, and fried pickles at Bell Tower Brewing

On our second night we found our way to Kent and its two breweries. As the name might suggest, Bell Tower Brewing is built into an old church. While it does boast a wide variety of beers, it comes across as more of a sit down restaurant, with table service, a full menu and cocktails that seemed interesting enough. We sat outside on their spacious and plant-laden patio, which stretches along two sides of the old church. The beer list is quite interesting, with 14 beers in all, including a wide variety of old world and pre-prohibition styles. They were interesting to taste, but not super enjoyable for us. On the other hand, we enjoyed the fried pickles and were intrigued enough by their power bowls to get takeout food from them later in the evening. If we were to do it again, we would treat Bell Tower as a restaurant, have a pleasant dinner and a cocktail and perhaps sip on one of their interesting beers on the side. 

Bugsy and a sour beer at North Water Brewing
another dog-friendly patio, at North Water Brewing

North Water Brewing Co, also in Kent, was a bit more our style. On tap, in addition to two sours for L, they had a “west coast hazy IPA” and a 2nd version of the style with pineapple, a regular hazy IPA and then the “Bam Bam”, a hazy IPA with fruity pebbles; the last one was interesting, but too sweet. The taproom is nice and open with a patio sandwiched between the road and the railroad tracks, more pleasant than it sounds. They had a food truck and a big run club the Thursday we visited. We liked the beers enough to make it our second favorite brewery in the area, albeit a good bit behind Cuyahoga Fall’s HiHo.

Things on our list that we did not do but might be worth your time:

  • Our friend Darius, who is a national parks expert, recommended having a post-hike beer at Winking Lizard in Peninsula, but we prioritized breweries for our beer drinking.
  • The internet said to visit the pretty little village of Chagrin Falls, but it was thirty minutes from home in the wrong (not towards hiking or breweries) direction, so we skipped it.

Next stop on Big Trip #4: Michigan City, IN, and Indiana Dunes National Park.

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