Chardon and its surrounding townships are known for their maple syrup industry, which kicks off with “Tapping Sunday” in March and is celebrated with a four-day Geauga County Maple Festival on the town square in April. But it’s also an area rich in history and culture, with a New England-style public square surrounded by government offices, quaint shops and diverse restaurants, and playing host to events throughout the year.
Located in the northwest corner of Geauga County, Chardon is on U.S. 6 and 10 miles south of Lake Erie. It was formed from and is surrounded by the townships of Chardon, Hambden, Claridon and Munson.
Chardon’s forefathers considered several names for their new settlement, including Brookfield, Brookville, Marshall and Chardonia. In the end, they decided to name it after Peter Chardon Brooks, who donated land to build the historic Chardon Square using a New England pattern.
Like the fate of many 19th century cities, Chardon lost its entire business district to fire in 1868. Many of the buildings that rose from the ashes still exist today, including the county courthouse.
A handful of movies have filmed in the area. “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles” from 1987 has a scene in Claridon Township, with Steve Martin and John Candy riding in the back of a pickup truck down Taylor Wells Road. The 2021 thriller “The Marksman” with Liam Neeson also filmed in the area, including a scene at the Little Eagle Drive-Through Beverage on Auburn Road in Chardon Township.
Notable residents include Hector “Chef Boyardee” Boioardi, who is buried in All Souls Cemetery; John Popper, frontman for the rock band Blues Traveler; Cleveland Indians pitcher Mel Harder; American entomologist and bug book author JoAnn Tenorio; and Nick Schuyler, survivor and author of “Not Without Hope.”
Please note: As COVID-19 pandemic continues, many businesses are altering their hours of operation. Be aware that the information reported in this list may change.
• The Chardon Living Memorial Park was created to honor the three students killed and others wounded in a 2012 shooting at Chardon High School. It features an outdoor fitness center, playground, a walking nature trail and a reflection center with a heart-shaped sculpture titled “Echoes of the Heart.” The 17-acre park is at 220 Basquin Drive, a short walk east of the high school.
• Antiques on the Square has three floors and more than 6,000 square feet of antique furniture, glassware, clothing, military memorabilia and more. Located at 101 Main St., it’s open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. http://chardonantiquesonthesquare.com
• Pioneer Waterland & Dry Fun Park, 10661 Kile Road, is a waterpark, kids fun zone and sports arena. Food is available but you can also bring your own picnic and use their grills. Single day or season passes available. The park is open Memorial Day weekend through September, so bookmark https://pioneerwaterland.com to get ready for spring.
• Sage’s Apples is a sixth-generation apple orchard and farm market, growing more than 50 varieties. The farm market is open year-round and also stocks local favorites, including maple products, jams, honey, cheeses and popcorn of all kinds. It’s located at 11355 Chardon Road East, just east of the city. Open Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Sundays 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. https://www.sagesapples.com
• Bass Lake Tavern and Inn, 426 South St., is a longtime establishment, offering fresh and local seasonal menus for lunch, dinner and weekend brunch. Behind the tavern is Bass Lake Inn, with 12 rooms offering fireplaces, Jacuzzis and kitchenettes. Find the tavern’s hours and menu and a list of the inn’s amenities at https://basslaketaverne.com.
• Square Bistro, 205 Main St., is an upscale dinnertime eatery featuring fresh locally sourced cuisine in a quaint and casual setting. Reservations are recommended. Hours are from 4-9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and 4-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Find a menu at http://www.square-bistro.com.
• Beans Coffee Shop & Bistro, 121 Main St., is a local gathering spot for breakfast and lunch, with a changing specials menu. There’s also a bakery on site, with pastries, cakes and muffins. It closes most days by 2 or 3 p.m.; check the schedule at https://www.beans-coffee.com.
• If you can find a day nice enough for a stroll, you’ll find much more all around the historic Chardon Square. Other spots worth checking out on Main, South and Water streets include the vintage collection at Circa, the Mane Street Shoppe for equine-related items, Mountain Road Cycles, The Nest gift store, the salt cave lounge Salty and additional restaurant choices like Element 41 Kitchen & Bar and Noce Gourmet Pizzeria.
• Joey’s Italian Grill, 209 Center St., is known for its huge portions of traditional Italian fare, pizza, burgers and specialty salads. The dining room is only open for dinner Tuesday through Saturday from 4 to 9 p.m, but for lunch as well on Sundays, from noon to 8 p.m. http://joeysitaliangrille.com
• Maple Highlands Trail has three sections stretching a total 21 miles across the entire county and features a pair of covered bridges. One place to start is 9280 Ravenna Road in Chardon Township. Learn more at https://www.geaugaparkdistrict.org/park/the-maple-highlands-trail.
• Big Creek Park, 9160 Robinson Road in Chardon Township, is 644 acres and features nine trails with a view of diverse landscapes, including gorges and ponds. There are also shelters, a lodge, an amphitheater and a nature center open weekdays only. Learn more at https://www.geaugaparkdistrict.org/park/big-creek-park
• Another Geauga Park District choice is Whitlam Woods, a peaceful 187-acre park at 12500 Pearl Road in Hambden Township. Looking for a simple hike? The three trails here add up to just 1.1 miles. https://www.geaugaparkdistrict.org/park/whitlam-woods
• Park opportunities continue with Walter C. Best Wildlife Preserve, a 101-acre park with a 30-acre lake and rich in plant and animal life diversity. Three trails total 1.6 miles. Located at 11620 Ravenna Road in Munson Township. https://www.geaugaparkdistrict.org/park/walter-c-best-wildlife-preserve
• Chardon Lakes Golf Course is just two minutes from the square at 470 South St. The course opened in 1931 with nine original holes designed by Bert Way, the guy who designed Firestone North. Visit https://www.chardonlakes.com for course information or to book a tee time.
• Chip’s Clubhouse is an 18-hole miniature golf course one mile from Chardon Square, at 214 5th Ave. It serves Smith’s Dairy ice cream, soft drinks and snacks, and has a room dedicated for birthday parties as well as a shaded picnic area. Open April through October, find more information at https://www.chipsclubhouse.com.
About Chardon and surrounding communities
Founded: 1812. When Chardon’s population passed 5,000 in 2000, it became Geauga County’s first city.
Population: City of Chardon, 5,100. Chardon Township, 4,600. Hambden Township, 4,600. Claridon Township, 3,200. Munson Township, 6,600.
School and mascot: Chardon Local Schools, the Hilltoppers