Best Things to Do in Toledo (Ohio)

Best Things to Do in Toledo, It’s probably not surprising that visitors to the Midwest generally go past Toledo, a post-industrial, Rust Belt town that has only the fourth highest population in Ohio and is spread out over historic docklands and riversides on the very border of the Great Lakes.

The canal-boom areas of the so-called Glass City have a lot to offer, but only the patient choose to stick around long enough to find it.

There is the attractive neighborhood of Old East End to explore; it is the largest Victorian and Georgian region east of the Mississippi.

Also, the wild urban parks are frequented by geese and deer, and there are world-class institutions like the Toledo Zoo and the Toledo Museum of Art.

When you factor in the city’s thriving jazz scene and the allure of its American-style restaurants, microbreweries, and cafes, you’ve got yourself a destination worth exploring. Let’s check out the top attractions in Toledo!

Best Things to Do in Toledo

Best Things to Do in Toledo
Best Things to Do in Toledo

Glimpse the Ohio backcountry at the Wildwood Preserve Metropark

Of the several municipal parks in and around Toledo, Wildwood Preserve Metropark is among the largest and most popular.

The expansive region is crowned with a magnificent Victorian/Georgian manor home erected by local entrepreneur Robert Stranahan in the 1930s, and it is crisscrossed with winding walking routes and boardwalks, as well as being ornamented with rolling grasslands and meadows, oak woodlands, and prairies.

Today, tourists may enjoy free tours of the nearby mansion and spend time looking for the American woodcock and other interesting wildlife.

Seek deer and swans at Swan Creek

Swan Creek, a charming triangle-shaped enclave, is the second of Toledo’s urban Metroparks to make the cut. This untamed swath of beech trees and oaks can be found smack dab in the middle of the city’s suburbs on the southeast fringe.

The riparian woodlands provide excellent opportunities to spot wild deer and foxes, and the area is widely known for its importance as a stopover for migrating birds.

In addition, families can take use of the area’s abundance of playgrounds and picnic areas (suitable for use year-round thanks to their covered structures).

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Trace Toledo’s history at the National Museum of the Great Lakes

This intriguing display center is one of Toledo’s younger museums, and it houses everything from models of freighters and replica ships to technology left behind from the Midwest’s industrial boom periods to dinnerware from Lake Erie’s magnificent pleasure steamboats.

The Col. James M. Schoonmaker, once known as the Queen of the Lakes (a title given to the largest shipping vessel in operation on the American Great Lakes), has been on display at the museum since 1911. She provides visitors with a fascinating look into the early 20th-century industrial culture of the Maumee River and beyond.

Lunch like a local at The Café by Maumee Bay Brewing Co.

The Café is one of the most well-known locations where Maumee Bay Brewing Co.’s microbrews are sold. The place is a cross between an American diner and a fashionable hipster coffee house in that it is minimally decorated and has an industrial chic edge.

Breakfast sandwiches as big as your face sit next to tomato basil soup as good as it sounds, fresh breads from the in-house bakery next door, and a mountain of cupcakes and sweets round out the menu.

It’s run by a brewery, so naturally the in-house beers are fantastic, and the staff is universally praised for being warm and accommodating.

Seafood galore at the Real Seafood Company

This popular restaurant in the center of Toledo and the Great Lakes region offers a wide selection of fresh seafood, including a six-foot raw bar laden with oysters, clams, lobsters, shrimp, and more.

Dinner options include anything from stuffed flounders to Atlantic salmon and fried crab cakes.

Group diners can choose from a wide variety of combos, and the restaurant offers a variety of specialty lobster platters and wine tasting menus featuring some of California’s best reds and whites.

Wonder at the gorgeous Queen of the Most Holy Rosary Cathedral

Located in the center of the Old West End, where charming Georgian homes line the tree-lined lanes, the Queen of the Most Holy Rosary Cathedral boasts some of Toledo’s most stunning architecture, including a soaring frontal spire and flying buttresses.

The architecture is largely unique in North America, having been designed and erected in the early 20th century. The city was designed to seem like its namesake in Spain, which is known for its beautiful Mudéjar, arabesque, and Castilla-La Mancha architecture.


Seek out European masterworks at the Toledo Museum of Art

The Toledo Museum of Art, nestled among the stately Edwardian and Georgian homes that line the streets of Toledo’s historic Old West End, is a must-see for every art lover in town.

Don’t miss the main collection displays, where you can see masterpieces by Rembrandt and Rubens, and the stunning glassworks that have helped make the museum famous.

Recent renovations have included the addition of a sleek, glass-walled theater and workshop area, renowned for its stunning curving glass walls and designed, no less, by the esteemed Frank Gehry…

Get hands on with science at the Imagination Station

The Imagination Station, located on the Toledo waterfront since its establishment in the late 1990s, is an interactive museum that aims to introduce kids of all ages to the wonders of science.

The center has evolved into one of the city’s most popular attractions; it now features numerous “Learning Zones” where guests can learn more about a wide variety of topics, including but not limited to: healthy eating, fossil fuels, solar energy, kinematics, gravity, sound waves, agriculture, optical illusions, weather systems, and more.

Also available is food from the aptly called Atomic Café, which serves up burgers, pepperoni pizza, and other crowd pleasers.

Critters and conservation at the Toledo Zoo

The Toledo Zoo, which has been called “the best zoo in America,” features creatures of various shapes and sizes from all over the world in its 13 separate exhibits.

Since its founding more than a century ago, the institution has been at the forefront of revolutionary approaches to conservation and zoology.

This has resulted in the creation of tourist destinations such as the African Savannah, where elephants and hippos are hidden among the grassy mounds, and Cheetah Valley, where cheetahs and other large cats roam among dusty rocks and ridges reminiscent of Namibia.

There are polar bears, gorillas, and penguins, too!

Get in the local sporting spirit at the Fifth Third Field

Many Toledoans hold the stadium where their beloved Mud Hens play in the highest regard. There are a lot of people who want to see the local minor league masters play there because it has a 9,000-person capacity and is located in the middle of downtown, high above the intersecting streets.

The stadium has been hailed as one of the best in the American minor leagues, with excellent views of the field from the Roost terrace and a wide variety of family-friendly restaurants, including the Birdcage Bar & Grill, which serves hearty burgers and buns, and NINE, which serves succulent steaks and salads.

Wander the pretty streets of the Old West End

The much-talked-about Old West End of Toledo may be found north-west of the Center City neighborhood. The neighborhood, which was established in the late 19th century and is characterized by a grid of perfectly planned streets and boulevards punctuated by swaying plane trees, is home to the city’s wealthiest residents.

Visitors can expect to see beautiful rows of Victorian and Georgian architecture, charming Edwardian houses, and colonnaded churches whether they want to simply explore the streets or take one of the frequent guided tours of the neighborhood. This is a stunningly lovely location.


Feel the rhythm with the Art Tatum Jazz Society

The Art Tatum Jazz Society, named after the legendary virtuoso jazz pianist Art Tatum who was born and raised in Toledo, is well-known throughout the city as the premier venue for authentic American jazz, blues, bebop, and other forms of jazz.

Those locals love their jazz, so they host regular jam sessions, including the wildly popular Jazz under Glass series, at the Toledo Museum of Art’s glass addition in the city’s historic West End.

The jazz group has organized numerous trombone and piano performances across town, highlighting the best of the region’s musical tradition.

Sample ales and hops and local foods at Black Cloister Brewing

Black Cloister Brewing Company in Ohio takes its name from a German Trappist brewery in Wittenberg, where the great reformer Martin Luther (rumored to be a beer enthusiast) studied and wrote.

Brews include the zesty Pale Rider APA and the toasty Viennese-style Casilda of Toledo lager. There is also food, albeit it is not the typical fare you’d find in a bar. As an alternative, the locals have compiled a list of restaurants and cafés that deliver right to the tasting room, saving you time to enjoy more brews.


Get a taste of Ohio’s best sausages at Tony Packo’s

When it comes to Toledo’s selection of casual restaurants, Tony Packo’s is in a league of its own. Magyar-influenced, ragù-smothered original hot dogs are a popular item, and the restaurant is often described as a fusion of Hungarian and American cuisines.

Since the Great Depression and Prohibition eras, this location has been selling its famed buns on the streets of West Toledo.

The modern menu features the dogs with beer and a variety of Hungarian dishes such baked strudels, Hungarian-style filled cabbage leaves, Hungarian dumplings, and chilli bowls. We guarantee that you won’t starve to death.

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Find your green fingers at the Toledo Botanical Garden

The Toledo Botanical Garden is a 60-acre oasis on the city’s eastern outskirts, filled with manicured flower beds, herb gardens, shrubberies, and walkways.

The gardens welcome their more than 120,000 annual visitors to teach them about sustainable gardening practices, provide them with opportunities to enjoy the many works of art that dot the grounds, and introduce them to novel approaches to horticulture.

The Crosby Festival of the Arts is held in the summer, and during the months of June and July, you may enjoy nightly jazz performances on the grass and a genuine sense of community.