My friends didn’t understand why I wanted to visit Toledo. “There’s nothing to do,” they exclaimed. But three days and dozens of photos later, they admitted the city looked inviting and downright fun to visit. And they started asking me about things to do in Toledo.
I couldn’t find everything I wanted in Toledo. Restaurants serving breakfast. A good bookstore. Anything to do after sunset. The city doesn’t have everything – yet.
But just a few months after my visit, the Glass City Metropark opened. Restaurants started serving brunch, albeit only on the weekends. Street renovations were completed and more began. This city is in the midst of a major revitalization that will lead to great things.
Toledo is already a destination worthy of visiting. The Toledo Museum of Art is one of the greatest art museums I have ever visited. There were more fantastic local restaurants than I could visit in three days. I really want to spend a few nights in a tree house nearby!
When word gets out of people having awesome weekend getaways to Toledo, it will hit the top of everyone’s Midwest travel bucket list. If you visit now, you get to say you were one of the first.
Day One | Discover Toledo
The Toledo Zoo and Toledo Museum of Art are two of the greatest attractions in northwest Ohio. Spend the morning visiting the critters and the afternoon admiring artwork from around the world. In between, enjoy fantastic local food and shopping.
8 a.m. | Coffee at Rustbelt Coffee
Start the day with a fantastic caffeinated drink at Rustbelt Coffee. Espresso drinks are a classic, but you’ll also find drip coffee, pourover, and tea. If they have any fried apple pies from Me, Myself, & Pie, you’ll be in for a real treat – literally.
10 a.m. | Toledo Zoo
The primary mission of Toledo Zoo is animal rehabilitation and conservation – they send employees around the world to conduct this work. In Toledo, visitors can explore a whopping 10,000 animals from almost 700 species that showcases the diversity of regions around the globe.
General admission includes the Promedica Museum of Natural History, aquarium, gardens, and all animal habitats.
1 p.m. | Lunch at Ye Olde Durty Bird
Toledo doesn’t exactly have a central downtown area – but the Fifth Third Field ballpark is close enough. Across the street from the minor league baseball stadium is Ye Olde Durty Bird – one of the most iconic local restaurants in the city.
Bring your reading glasses because their gargantuan menu will require some reading. The menu includes sandwiches, burgers, and entrees. Take your time with your meal and enjoy the décor inside the 1860s-era building that originally served as a downtown hotel.
2 p.m. | Libbey Glass Factory Outlet
You don’t have to look hard to see a reference to Libbey Glass in Toledo. In 1818, the New England Glass Company was founded in Cambridge, Massachusetts. When the company relocated to Toledo in 1888, it was renamed the Libbey Glass Co.
The company is still located in Toledo, where glassware, automotive glass, and lightbulbs are still produced. The Libbey Glass Factory Outlet is a retail store chocked full of tableware and drinkware made in Toledo. It’s the largest collection of Libbey Glass for sale anywhere in the world!
3 p.m. | Toledo Museum of Art
The Toledo Museum of Art is an art piece itself – and almost certain to wow you with architectural delight. Built in 1912, the main building is flanked by Ionic columns with a Greek facade. Inside, hardwood floors and high ceilings feel more like a grand mansion than a museum.
Admission is free – so really, you have no reason not to visit. The museum is self-guided through connected rooms and corridors that will almost certainly get you lost at least once. Take advantage of the Museum Café for a quick bite to eat, explore the Museum Store near the entrance, and be sure to visit the Glass Pavilion across the street for a tour of glass artwork and studios.
5 p.m. | Handmade Toledo
While everything at Handmade Toledo is not exactly handmade, it is locally made. The shop on the edge of downtown is the best place in the city to find locally made arts and crafts, clothing, jewelry, and all sorts of souvenirs and gift ideas. Give yourself about half an hour to make a loop through the small space – but allow time to chat with the local artisans who usually man the cash register.
6 p.m. | Dinner at Real Seafood Company
Real Seafood Company is a rare treat in the American Midwest: a restaurant that serves fresh catch seafood. Some of the food comes from the Great Lakes, but some come from as far away as New England. You’ll pay the price for the fresh catch – Atlantic Salmon will run you about $30 a plate – but that’s no more expensive than fresh catch at the beach.
In addition to the Toledo location, you’ll find Real Seafood Company restaurants in Bay City and Ann Arbor, Michigan, and Naples, Florida. In Toledo, the restaurant is located across the Maumee River from downtown and offers a stunning view of the cityscape. If you feel the need to work off that big dinner, go for a walk on the Maumee River Rail to Trail adjacent to the restaurant.
Day Two | The Great Lakes and Toledo
Toledo began when two towns merged into a new city and became the northern end of the Miami and Erie Canal, connecting Cincinnati with the Great Lakes. Toledo’s early history involved the shipping industry on Lake Erie. Discover that history, enjoy the lakes’ scenic beauty, and dive into fantastic local restaurants with this day of activity.
8 a.m. | Breakfast at Fowl and Fodder
When Chef Aaron Lawson came to Fowl and Fodder, he brought a desire to use fresh ingredients directly from local farms. He calls the menu “hyper-seasonal,” foreshadowing that the menu can change on an almost daily basis. But his creations are phenomenal because of his philosophy.
Alicia Wagner – owner of Fowl and Fodder – says, “We’ve actually prided ourselves as being one of the only places downtown that has provided breakfast in Toledo.” During the week, the restaurant opens at 9 a.m. but on the weekends the doors open an hour earlier at 8 a.m. – the perfect time for breakfast while exploring the city.
10 a.m. | National Museum of the Great Lakes
In the 1600s, French fur traders established some of the earliest European settlements in the area. It began hundreds of years of history throughout the Great Lakes – and an important beginning for Toledo’s history. The National Museum of the Great Lakes is dedicated to telling the story of all the Great Lakes from Native Americans through the rise and fall of the shipping industry across the lakes.
The enormous museum features state-of-the-art exhibits, artifacts from vessels that have traveled the Great Lakes, and countless stories from the people who have served on the vessels. Admission also includes a self-guided tour aboard the Schoonmaker and Ohio, two boats docked on the Maumee River beside the museum. Give yourself some time to explore the museum and boats – and wear comfortable shoes.
1 p.m. | Lunch at Tony Packo’s
Today, Tony Packo’s has five locations throughout the Toledo area – but it started with the original. In 1932, Tony and Rose Packo took a loan from friends to open a sandwich shop. His signature sandwich – Kobasz on a rye bun with chili sauce – was so successful that in just three years, he was able to purchase the building now home to The Original Tony Packo’s.
Packo’s Original Hot Dog is the local favorite, but don’t ignore the fact this a fast-casual restaurant serves delicious pierogies as well.
3 p.m. | Maumee Bay State Park
The drive from Toledo to Maumee Bay State Park is interesting because the only direct route takes you through the city’s oil refinery plants – one of the largest employers in the region today. It’s not a scenic drive, but it’s interesting.
Maumee Bay State Park is a wonderful escape from the city. A large, sandy beach on Lake Erie’s shore offers a chance to swim in the warmer months or just admire the endless view of freshwater of the Great Lakes. In the distance, you might notice the Toledo Harbor Lighthouse – built in 1904, the 64-foot-tall lighthouse is five miles from the beach.
Go for a walk along the paved trail at the lake’s edge or, even better, go for a ride on a bicycle. If you enjoy archery, the 7-lane archery range is free to use, but you have to bring your own equipment.
1400 State Park Road, Oregon, OH | 419-836-7758 | https://ohiodnr.gov/wps/portal/gov/odnr/go-and-do/plan-a-visit/find-a-property/maumee-bay-state-park
5 p.m. | Glass City Metropark
Located beside the National Museum of the Great Lakes along the Maumee River, the Glass City Metropark is one of the newest additions to the Metroparks Toledo system. It’s the culmination of years of planning and has resulted in a beautiful urban park with a view of the city skyline.
Phase 1 of the park includes a 3,500-square-foot pavilion with public restrooms, paved walking paths, and a boardwalk at the river’s edge. It’s the perfect place for a walk before heading back into the city for dinner.
1001 Front Street, Toledo, OH | 419-360-9178 | https://metroparkstoledo.com/explore-your-parks/glass-city-metropark/
6 p.m. | Dinner and Drinks at Maumee Bay Brewing Co.
End the day of outdoor exploration with dinner and drinks at Toledo’s original craft brewery. Located inside a 19th-century hotel, the hardwood floors and bare brick walls create a homey atmosphere for dinner.
The food menu includes various burgers, pizza, and soups – but save room for dessert because you’re going to want a slice of freshly baked cake. Ask for the current beer list when you arrive to see what’s on tap – many of their beers are seasonal, and some are entirely at the whim of the brewers!
Day Three | Final Adventures Around Toledo
Take a day to explore some of the exciting attractions and restaurants in the greater Toledo area. Visit the Toledo Botanical Garden and Wildwood Preserve Metropark for opportunities to get outside, learn about local history at Fort Meigs, and sample some of the best meals in Toledo.
9 a.m. | Toledo Botanical Garden
Toledo Botanical Garden is one part of Metroparks Toledo – a collection of parks scattered throughout the greater Toledo area. The botanical garden is described as “a museum for plants,” a description that accurately prepares visitors.
Paved trails wind around a small lake through carefully manicured gardens. It’s a place for learning gardening techniques while also providing something beautiful for the locals to enjoy.
5403 Elmer Drive, Toledo, OH | 419-270-7500 | https://metroparkstoledo.com/explore-your-parks/toledo-botanical-garden-metropark/
11 a.m. | Wildwood Preserve Metropark
The Wildwood Preserve Metropark is the most popular Metropark Toledo component, with nearly one million visitors a year. In 1938, Robert Stranahan – a wealthy businessman – purchased land northwest of downtown Toledo and built a gargantuan 30,000 square foot Georgian Colonial home. In 1975, the city purchased the house and 493-acre estate for use as a public park.
Today, visitors can take free guided tours of the Manor House and learn about the Stranahan family’s history. Although the historic home is the park’s most popular feature, the main attraction is outdoor recreation on a system of trails. The 2.35-mile Upland Woods Trail is the longest in the park, and the 1.65-mile Walk Path is the most popular.
5100 W Central Avenue, Toledo, OH | 419-270-7500 | https://metroparkstoledo.com/explore-your-parks/wildwood-preserve-metropark/
1 p.m. | Lunch at Schmucker’s Restaurant
If you never judge a book by its cover, you’ll enjoy a fantastic lunch at Schmucker’s Restaurant. In 1948, Harvey and Nola Schmucker built a dairy bar and bakery where Nola would sell her famous pies. Three generations later, current co-owner Doug Schmucker has changed very little of the restaurant – the chrome stools at the bar and neon sign outside are still the same.
The menu includes a long list of sandwiches – the Meatloaf Sandwich is the most interesting – and a small selection of burgers – the Wimpy Burger Platter is not for the wimpy. Homestyle dinners include meatloaf and fried chicken. But, of course, any meal is finished off with a slice of homemade pie!
3 p.m. | Fort Meigs: Ohio’s War of 1812 Battlefield
During the War of 1812, British attacks throughout the American Northwest Territory prompted Fort Meigs’ construction. Built on a bluff overlooking the Maumee River, the fort was completed in April 1813 – and promptly attacked by the British. The fort survived two sieges during the war and was eventually torn down and the site abandoned.
In the early 2000s, the original fort was rebuilt and opened to the public. Visitors can explore artifacts and interpretive displays at the museum, go for a walk on the paved trail that loops through the reconstructed fort, and return for special reenactment events throughout the year.
5 p.m. | Dinner at PerrysBurgers
All the burgers served at PerrysBurgers are cooked to order from fresh, never frozen angus beef. Topped with local ingredients directly from farms on artisan buns, these meals are savory to the last bite. But the best part just might be the bottomless hand-cut fries served with homemade ketchup!
The menu is relatively simple, with a selection of 12 specialty burgers for $12 apiece, but you can order a custom creation. Indoor seating is small but comfortable – get a table outside on warm nights to enjoy the splendor of downtown Perrysburg.
7 p.m. | Drinks at Inside the Five Brewing Co.
What happens when two college friends and former NFL players decide to settle down in a small Midwest town? They start a brewery! Brandon Fields and Chris Morris – along with Katie Fields – are the owners at Inside the Five Brewing Co. in Sylvania.
A second location opened shortly after the first in Perrysburg – adding the first craft brewery scene to the small town. One block from Louisiana Street – the main street through town – it’s walkable from wherever you park. Get a flight to sample their current selection or go straight to what you know you love.
Where to Stay in Toledo
Toledo isn’t exactly busting at the seams with places to stay. In fact, there is only one hotel in the downtown area. The largest grouping of hotels in the city is in the Westgate neighborhood – locally called University because it’s just north of the University of Toledo.
The Renaissance Hotel is the only downtown hotel. It’s located on the riverfront, so you can enjoy gorgeous views from some of the rooms. The rooms come with one bed, but for traveling families you can get the King Suite that includes a sleeper sofa.
I always recommend Hampton Inn because of their comfortable rooms and excellent free hot breakfast. In Toledo, the best Hampton Inn is located in Westgate neighborhood about fifteen minutes from downtown. Rooms feature either one bed or one bed and a sleeper sofa. Bring your swimsuit and take advantage of the indoor swimming pool.
Residence Inn in Westgate neighborhood is a great choice if you are planning to spend a little extra time in Toledo. All the rooms have a sleeper sofa along with a king or queen bed, making it a perfect choice for traveling families.
Quality Inn in Westgate neighborhood is a good budget choice. It’s a hotel with rooms accessed from a shared lobby for a little extra security. Most of the rooms only include a single bed, but there are a few with a sleeper sofa.
Red Roof Inn in Westgate neighborhood is one of the old school classic designs, but with recently renovated rooms it is actually quite comfortable. Most of the rooms feature a king bed but there are some with two full beds.