It would seem that the city of Canton, just two hours northeast of Columbus, has always been a gateway of sorts between present day and progress.

It would seem that the city of Canton, just two hours northeast of Columbus, has always been a gateway of sorts between present day and progress. In the 1800s, Canton was a large manufacturing center because it sat on the crossroads of many railroad lines.

The Ohio and Erie Canal that runs through Canton provided a trade route allowing commerce to flourish for the state. Canton is also the gateway to Ohio's Amish Country in Holmes and Wayne counties and it is the end of the line for the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railway.

So often throughout history, Canton has served as a pass-through to someplace else. But this small city in Stark County gives visitors plenty of reasons to stop and stay awhile.

With most attractions requiring only one to two hours, planning a day trip for the family is easy with plenty of time to make it home before dark.

PRO FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME (2121 George Halas Drive N.W., Canton; 330-456-8207). Hours: Open 7 days a week (9 a.m.–5 p.m., summer hours extended); Cost: $23 adults, $19 seniors (62+), $16 children (6-12), free ages 6 and under; Suggested tour length: two hours. The Pro Football Hall of Fame is the crowning attraction in Canton. With more than 115,000 square feet of exhibits, interactive displays and historical insights, you might not look at football the same way again. Inside the galleries, you will walk through more than 50 years of pro football history and enjoy the Hall of Fame Gallery where the great athletes of the sport are honored. Kids will especially enjoy interactive displays such as the throwing cage where they can complete a pass, test their football knowledge with trivia and play EA Sports' Madden NFL.

MCKINLEY NATIONAL MEMORIAL/WILLIAM MCKINLEY PRESIDENTIAL LIBRARY & MUSEUM (800 McKinley Monument Drive N.W., Canton; 330-455-7043). Hours: Monday-Saturday (9 a.m.–4 p.m.), Sunday (12 noon–4 p.m.); Cost: $9 adults, $8 seniors (60+), $7 children, free ages 2 and under; Suggested tour length: 90 minutes to two hours. President William McKinley placed Canton in the political spotlight in 1896 where he conducted his famous "front porch campaign" that landed him the presidency. The McKinley Presidential Library & Museum includes various galleries related to the McKinley presidency and popular Americana such as an exhibit on Peanuts comic creator Charles M. Schultz. Kids will enjoy the planetarium programs that explore space and the solar system. The McKinley National Memorial, located on the museum grounds, is where the president and his family are buried.

ST. HELENA III CANAL BOAT RIDES (125 Tuscarawas St., Canal Fulton; 330-854-6835). Public rides: weekends only in May-June and September-October (1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.), summer hours (daily except Mondays, June-August) are 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.; Cost: $8 adults (14-59), $7 seniors (60+) and veterans, $5 children (6-13), free ages 5 and under; Suggested tour length: two hours. Just 16 miles from Canton is a great canal excursion on board the St. Helena III replica boat. Explore Ohio's history along the Ohio and Erie Canal on a trip down the canal system. The historian on board provides information along your trip about the canal, the boat and the area. This one-hour trip leaves from the Port of Canal in St. Helena Heritage Park and you must arrive 30 minutes prior to departure.

For more information about other things to see and do in Canton, go to visitcantonstark.com.