A Zips Guide to Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day in the 330: Akron is for Lovers

A small yet sweet guide for Akron's adventurous, unique, eclectic and... well, traditionally incredible gifts.

By Shananne Lewis

I am a sucker for traditional romance.

I love traditions and I love the history behind traditions, so you can bet I love Valentine’s Day. 

In 1861, British chocolate maker Richard Cadbury had the brilliant idea of packaging his treats in a heart-shaped box. He called it the “fancy box” and the purpose after consuming his chocolates was to store loves notes and fun keepsakes. 

Ladies did use them to hang on to all their love letters, which gave the box a great selling point beyond the original use. Since then, giving chocolates to your sweetheart in a heart shaped box has become the standby.

Even though I’m a fan of tradition, I’m going to recommend that you stray a bit and make some new traditions in this ZipsGuide to Valentine’s Day.

As it turns out, Akron IS for lovers – and I’m going to share some unique ideas for celebrating the holiday and gifting your sweetie in the Rubber City.

Shananne Lewis and her sweetheart (husband) Todd at Spaghetti Warehouse's Love Overboard Valentine's Day event on their 25th anniversary last year (on V-Day!). Photo courtesy of Shananne Lewis. 

Sweets & Treats

Chill Ice-Cream and Indulge Chocolates
Ok, I know I said that I was going to switch it up, but let’s start with Akron’s most decadent chocolates and throw in a new tradition – Valentine’s Day ice cream! 

Chill Ice-Cream and Indulge Chocolates ⋆ Small-Batch Artisan Chocolate in Akron & Medina, OH (indulge-chocolate.com), is a downtown Akron brick and mortar shop with two additional locations in Medina. Check out the A Zips Guide to Shopping Akron - Chill and Indulge by my classmate, Erin Farmer.

As their website states, “Chill Ice-Cream, which specializes in unique and different flavors, chose to open a Spirted Younger Sister Company that specializes in Fine Chocolates." 

"We have set the bar high to offer only the finest chocolates to satisfy the palates of adults as well as children alike. We use local fresh ingredients from many fantastic businesses across Ohio to achieve the best quality fruits, nuts, and cream for our chocolates. All Chocolates are made in our Medina Plaza 71 location on Route 18 near 71.” 

Think about placing an order as they offer special items for the Valentine holiday. Call 234-802-4115 to  place your orders. Our Chocolates ⋆ Family-owned, locally-made, Indulge Artisan Chocolates (indulge-chocolate.com)

Essential Dipped Delights
Ok, here I go again bringing up chocolates. I promise we’ll depart from the tradition soon. That said, there is nothing traditional about the desserts at Essential Dipped Delights, which are created by dessert artist Takila Nuss. 

What is great about their shop in Northside Marketplace is that a person can pick up something to eat after a meal at Nomz Restaurant or anytime the marketplace is open, or orders can be placed for catering and special days like Valentine’s Day and Christmas. 

They have a cooler case full of grab-and-go goodies “while supplies last” with their latest creations which include unique parfaits, cheesecake stuffed apples and a variety of new and innovative treats. 

Check out the ZipsGuide story by classmate Carmen Addison at: A Zips Guide to Shopping Akron - Essential Dipped Delights.

Essential Dipped Delights is currently taking orders for Valentine’s Day and the menu is full of creativity and love!

Plant Some Love

Will there be anything on this list that’s not flowers and chocolate? Well, yes, but Akron has such epic options for flowers, plants, and arrangements that I must bring it into the mix.

Flowers, Flowers, Flowers! Legend has it that the popularity of the red rose stems from Greek Mythology. The story goes that Aphrodite was scratched by a thorn of a white rose. The white rose instantly turned red and therefore red roses became the flower of choice. 

Others in Greek Mythology love to argue that the lover of Aphrodite, Adonis, fell to the ground and died and therefore the first red rose grew on that ground. The goddess’s tears fell and watered it till it grew to a beautiful abundance. Whatever story you prefer, we know that receiving roses brings happiness and joy to the recipient. 

Lepley & Co.
In Akron, if you’re looking to replicate the beauty of Adonis, or just enjoy plants, planting, plant knowledge and beautiful planters, you must visit Lepley & Co.

On the home page of their website, you will easily be directed to shop for Valentine flower gifts with a convenient delivery option. With a wide variety of bouquets to choose from, you cannot go wrong. Lepley and Co. is located inside the Northside Marketplace and Uniontown’s Art Lan Florist. When Lepley began, it was in the backyard of a Goodyear Height’s home. You have come a long way, Lepley, and we love your plants! Read all about it here from Mona Abdeldaim: A Zips Guide to Shopping Akron – Gift Northside Marketplace

Or, if you’d like to dive into the world of Lepley the weekend before Valentine’s, On Saturday, Feb. 10 at 1:30 p.m., Lepley & Co. is holding a “Valentine’s Edition” Plant Magic Class, where, according to the description, “you’ll receive a self-love boost with plant magic.” 

The description continues, “You’ll learn how to use various plants such as roses, rosemary, and spider plants in your home and daily practices to embody and attract more love and become receptive to all the ways the universe is gifting you love.”

(Right) a collage of images from Lepley & Co. including the Northside Marketplace shop, one of their bouquet designs and their upcoming event. Photos courtesy of ZipsGuide and Lepley & Co.

A collage of desserts, featuring a heart-shaped chocolate box of chocolates from Chill & Indulge, and the Essential Dipped Delights shop with their parfait and a dipped strawberry. Photos courtesy of featured businesses.

The Essential Dipped Delights Valentine's Day 2024 menu. Call and order ASAP. Photo Courtesy of Essential Dipped Delights.

(above) A collage of images by Julie Cajigas. (below) The Northside Marketplace building at 21 Furnace Street in Akron.

Retail Romance

Now for some things that deviate (further) from the traditional:

Shopping For Anyone and Everyone this Valentine’s Day (and you only need to park once in the ample free parking spaces)

Do you find yourself looking for unique gifts for someone you love? What about an item that cannot be found in retail stores? A very easy, convenient, and well, awesome place to shop is The Northside Marketplace at 21 Furnace Street, Suite 404, www.northsidemarketplace.com. This location is in downtown Akron’s Northside District, which not only houses the marketplace, but it is home to dozens of other restaurants, galleries, and shops. The Northside Marketplace has unique products from over 120 vendors, many of which are handmade. When you step inside, you’re in a mini mall of homemade pleasures that span from traditional to eclectic. 

From handcrafted, cruelty free lip balms and lotions at The Soap Rack (www.soaprack.com) to creative wine caddies at Cuyahoga Valley Woodwork (www.cuyahogavalleywoodwork.com), the mix is always changing at each vendor’s space - you never know what you may stumble upon. As you shop, there are restaurant and food vendors to easily take a break with a meal or a snack. They are open six days a week (T-Su) and open later, until 9 p.m. on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. You will love Akron a tad bit more after making your rounds at The Northside Marketplace.

With these wonderful options, Akron excels with Valentine gifts for all ages. Its unique food and flower options are a wonderful way to show that special someone your devotion to this year, and for one-of-a-kind gifts, Akron offers brick and mortar availability that is rare to find in 2024. Check out our Mini-Gift Guide to Northside Marketplace below (in the sidebar).

If an experience is more up your alley, we have a few recommendations to help you and your Valentine get out and have fun after the sidebar.

Sidebar: A Mini-Gift Guide to Northside Marketplace

Contributed by Julie A Cajigas, guide editor

We at ZipsGuide would have to write a small book to give you a 100% listing of the great gifts inside the marketplace, so we picked a few of our favorites below:

The Queen or King of Snark: Need a card that says, “Roses are Red, Violets are Blue, Take Your Pants Off…” or “I would smash a boat for you,” with in illustration of an Orka? These and MANY other hilarious cards for your partner with a sense of humor are available at the Snarky Pants shop.

The Sailor: While related to the King or Queen of Snark, the sailor valentine may not be a fan of biting sarcasm. They do, however love a good curse word. If you have someone who says things like “no F’s left to give” (fill in the real word yourselves), then 224 Creations has the perfect gift. From an ‘ethically sourced’ jar of Fs to give to sweary affirmations to give them a laugh when they need one, 224 has created lovely jars and tubes with all the bad words fit to print. We also love the “last nerve” tube, which holds a single carved “nerve” inside. 

The Bibliophile: Have a book lover in your life? Cozy Corner Books has a shop in the marketplace filled with “Blind Dates with a Book.” Huh? How does that work? They put a short description of the book that gives you a very high-level overview and wrap it entirely in brown paper so the cover, title, author is a mystery. This is a gift that shows them not only do you know what they like to do, but you’ve even got the genre down. Books also come in cute packages with tea, bookmarks, and other reading/snacking gifts.

The Retro Fan: Are you a child of the 80s or the 90s? If your sweetheart is, or just loved either decade, check out Rainbow Cloud Workshop shop in Northside Marketplace (the link takes you to their eBay shop). Everything they make is steeped in millennial nostalgia and perfect for your retro valentine.

The Temperature Dysregulated: Do you have a sweetie that is always cold? We all know someone who can’t quite keep warm in the winter. For them, we recommend the gift of a hat, scarf, sweater, gloves, or a pair of legwarmers (yes, legwarmers) from the LiRo Apparel alpaca clothing shop in Northside. Read the adorable story of how the owners made a love connection in this article by LeAnna Faulknier and Julie Cajigas, then go help your honey stay cozy with their beautiful textiles. Our editor, Professor Cajigas (me) vouches for these and tells us that even as she’s out hunting beach glass in negative windchills, her hands stay nice and comfortable.

The Anxious: We all have an anxious friend or relative who needs (or loves) to relax in a little bit of luxury. For them, we recommend the candles from Thirsty Lotus. Whether they are prone to existential crises or just tend to catastrophize, there’s a candle to help them calm the flip down.  Check these out on Prof C’s finds here, or purchase from the Thirsty Lotus shop in Northside Marketplace, where you can also find plant-based, natural skin care products – locally made!

The Nerd/Geek Culture Lover: If you didn’t know, Rubber City Comics now has a “City Comics” shop inside of Northside Marketplace with comic books, funko pop figures and more. City Comics provides one of the largest local collections of comics and offers a wide variety of titles for every fan and collector.

The Akronite: We all know someone who is obsessed with Akron. Heck, many of us working on ZipsGuide are obsessed with the rubber city. Akron merch isn’t always easy to find outside of clothing, but Northside has a fantastic offering from Art X Love called Akron on Deck, which is a casino-quality deck of cards featuring 54 local businesses and landmarks. To be honest, we want one too!

The Kids: yes, those of us with kids sometimes get them Valentine’s Day goodies. There are a lot of fantastic products for kids at Northside, so we’ll give you three shops to check out. Check out the color-erase-color again packets at 224 Creations, the Pocket Arcade or Thumby (think mini GameBoy) from Tiny Circuits or a warm fuzzy from Smile Inside. You can find all three (and a whole lot more) featured at ZipsGuide on Instagram.

(Top Photo): Snarky Pants greeting card, Akron on Deck by Art X Love, and Ethically & Locally Sourced F*s by 224 Creations. (Middle Photo): LiRo Apparel sweaters, Thirsty Lotus candles and a Blind Date with a Book from Cozy Corner Books. (Bottom Photo): A Warm Fuzzy from Smiles Inside, the Pocket Arcade and Thumby from Tiny Circuts, Color Erase and Color Again from 224 Creations and a Mario World Cartridge Keychain from Rainbow Cloud Workshop.

Love on the Rails

Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad:
An adventurous alternative for a Valentine’s Day gift is a railroad ride through the Cuyahoga Valley with Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad, www.cvsr.org.  Their website says that their mission “is to provide educational, recreational and heritage railroad experiences and to provide alternative transportation to and within Cuyahoga Valley National Park and the Ohio & Erie Canalway.”

What does a railroad have for Valentine’s Day gifts you say? They offer year-round rides which include rides featuring breakfast, cocktails, wine, bingo, trivia, murder mystery, dinners, canvas painting and more. With so many themed options, you’re sure to find a romantic gift tailor-made for your valentine. Another potential V-day gift you can find in the station is a CVSR membership. The memberships come at a variety of levels, so if you have children who might enjoy their many children’s events and rides, membership for the whole family is a great value.  Memberships also support the railroad, which is a nonprofit organization.

Read more about CVSR in The Zip’s Guide article from Julie Cajigas and Carmen Addison. 

I personally attended a scenic ride one summer. We enjoyed it even though it was a basic ride with no theme and no bells and whistles. The many themes and experiences I have seen in creating this guide make me want to go back and ride again. Tickets for themed events are popular, so plan for the perfect date by purchasing a later ride for valentine’s day.

We are so fortunate to have this all year round in our community, and hopefully “Love on the Rails” is something you can experience this month. 

(Right) Photos courtesy of Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad

Get Out and Celebrate

Spaghetti Warehouse
Spaghetti Warehouse offers an interactive Valentine’s Day memory for those who want an experience and great food. On February 14 attend the show and dinner from 6 to 9:00 p.m. You may play the role of the victim, or the murderer (and anyone in between). The show offers laughter and memories to make your heart swell, which I know firsthand. 

My husband and I attended this last year on our 25th anniversary: February 14, 2023. I could not believe the high energy of the actors and how they kept everyone fully engaged and laughing. The food was delicious, so I chose the 15-Layer Lasagna. We enjoyed great company at our table, and it was a fun memory. Enjoy the show and a 3-course dinner, soft drinks, and cash bar before the show. Tickets are $56.50 Love Overboard Tickets, Multiple Dates | Eventbrite

Wine has been associated with love for quite some time. Wine was always served at every wedding feast in ancient Greece. It was not optional. It was believed to bring both happiness and fertility. For the Romans, the drink called mead was particularly important. It mixed honey and wine and was considered the best aphrodisiac. It was always the chosen drink at celebrations of love. Therefore, we would be remiss to not include a wine event on Valentine’s Day. 

Akron Civic Theatre
Akron Civic Theatre aims to please with an elegant evening out for the mature crowd. Wine, Cheese and Chocolate, Darling! Presented by Wayside |Akron Civic Theatre is the perfect choice for your wine connoisseur. For ages twenty-one and over, this tasting event has over 50 wines matched with gourmet chocolates and cheeses from all your favorite local businesses, which includes Indulge Chocolates, featured above. This event is on Saturday February 10 at 7 p.m. Admission is $70. Buy tickets here: Wine, Cheese and Chocolate, Darling! Presented by Wayside |Akron Civic Theatre.

(Above) Photo of the Akron Civic courtesy of Akron Civic and Photos from Spaghetti Warehouse Love Overboard 2023 courtesy of Shananne Lewis.

Traditional or not, you can find it in Akron.

If you made it this far, thank you for reading. I hope you found a perfect idea for your loved ones this Valentine’s Day. You can rely on the ZipsGuide to give you a clear direction to love, romance… well, ok we aren’t Dear Abby, but when it comes to shopping local, we’ve got you covered. 

I hope that not only is your purchasing easy, but that you receive a little something special this year yourself.

Some additional places to explore in Downtown Akron...

To reach content author Shananne Lewis, email her here.