Not just a city that you drive through on your way somewhere else, Toledo is a town worth stopping in.
Known as the Glass City because of its historic connection to that industry, the fourth-largest city in Ohio is home to award-winning parks, museums, restaurants and a small, but dense, zoo.
It’s a particularly good destination for art lovers. Along with a free and vast art museum, Toledo is home to many stained glass and blown glass artists, art galleries and several art festivals throughout the spring and summer.
Whether you’re looking for art, attending a concert or a Mud Hens game, or just passing through, here’s a look at a few things you may enjoy while visiting Toledo.
The Secret Forest at the Toledo Botanical Gardens has a tree house, rope bridge and other things for kids to climb on.
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The many parks and trails in Lucas County’s Metroparks system offer countless outdoor activities including archery, boating, fishing, hiking and horse trails. Toledo’s parks offer more than tent camping, too, giving adventurous souls a chance to experience backpack camping, or sleep in a rented treehouse feet above the forest floor at the Cannaley Treehouse Village, said to be the only public treehouse village in the country. Another popular destination is the Toledo Botanical Garden, a wonderland of plants and nature with touches of art. The Secret Forest there is not hard to find, just follow the sound of children squealing in delight. Start your outdoor Toledo adventure at metropark stoledo.com.
National Museum of the Great Lakes
The 617-foot iron ore freighter Col. James M. Schoonmaker is part of the National Museum of the Great Lakes in Toledo.
This maritime attraction tells the story of the Great Lakes from the 1600s fur traders through modern day using more than 300 artifacts, 40 interactive exhibits and audiovisual displays. There’s even two boats you can get a close-up look at: the 617-foot iron ore freighter Col. James M. Schoonmaker and the historic Museum Tug Ohio, both open May-October. Get a preview of what’s at the museum on the website with a virtual tour. Admission is $11 for adults with discounts for kids, seniors and military. nmgl.org.
Toledo Museum of Art
This historic art museum has many rooms full of paintings, glass objects, sculptures and other works of art. The Toledo Museum of Art is home to the Avery Coonley Playhouse Window by Frank Lloyd Wright and several works from Tiffany, including a stunning Lotus Lamp. Current exhibits include “Seeing Stars, Divining Futures,” featuring constellations, tarot cards and more (runs through June 18) and “Expanding Horizons: The Evolving Character of a Nation,” a collection of more than 80 items that explore national identity and character through mythmaking and religion. Next up, “Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg — Machine Auguries: Toledo” debuts Saturday, marking the London artist’s first solo installation in the United States. During your visit, don’t miss the 74,000-square-foot postmodern Glass Pavilion across the street, a piece of art in itself, and home to glass-blowing classes, demonstrations and glass artwork displays from across the centuries. Admission is free; toledomuseum.org.
Toledo Mud Hens
Take in America’s pastime on a more intimate level at the 10,000-seat Fifth Third Field where minor league team the Toledo Mud Hens call home. Named one of the best minor league ballparks in America by Newsweek, the stadium is just two blocks from the Maumee River in downtown Toledo, with much to eat and drink nearby. There are also bars and restaurants inside the park, which hosts about 70 games a year. Tickets start at $13. milb.com/toledo.
Toledo Zoo & Aquarium
While it’s less than half the size of the Detroit Zoo, the Toledo Zoo and Aquarium is home to more animals and different species. Explore the Tiger Terrace, Reptile House, Primate Forest or Kodiak Ridge, plus a barn yard, aviary and aquarium. Check out the Aerial Adventure Course three-stories high, cool off in the splash pad, take in a concert or feed the giraffes or barn yard animals for an extra fee. Nonresident admission is $29 for adults with discounts for seniors and kids. 2 Hippo Way, Toledo. toledozoo.org.
About 10 miles south of Toledo is a cute little riverside city of Maumee, which has a quaint downtown area for shopping, eating and seeing live music. Notable points are the Village Idiot — an eclectic pub with excellent pizza and nightly live music that is open 11 a.m.-2 a.m. seven days a week — and the Maumee Indoor Theatre, a movie house and rental space with a beautiful neon marquee. Find a treasure or two at the Maumee Antique Mall, or the more modern Shops at the Fallen Timbers.