DETROIT — 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 (see event list below).
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.
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 metroparkstoledo.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. 1701 Front, Toledo. (419) 214-5000. nmgl.org. Open most days.
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; parking is $10. 2445 Monroe, Toledo. (419) 255-8000. toledomuseum.org. Closed Mon.-Tues.
A name that goes back more than 100 years in Toledo, Mancy's Restaurant Group owns and operates a variety of eateries in town, but the OG is Mancy's Steakhouse. As a Detroit-area diner, think of it as a place with Clawson Steakhouse's prices (which is to say not over-the-top, but still for a special occasion) and with London Chophouse's history and atmosphere. Between the low-lighting, stained glass touches and the fact that most of the tables are booths, Mancy's feels cozy and classic, and the servers really know their stuff. The dry-aged steaks are butchered in house and seared at 1,500 degrees, ready to be paired with one of 300 wines available. The menu is full of steakhouse classics like wedge salad, escargot, shrimp cocktail and French onion soup. In addition to Mancy's the steakhouse, the family owned brand also operates Bluewater Grill, Mancy's Italian Grill and Bottle Shop, Mancy's Ideal and Shorty's True American Roadhouse. Find Mancy's Steaks at 953 Phillips in Toledo. Call (419) 476-4154 or visit mancyssteakhouse.com. Closed Sundays.
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. 406 Washington, Toledo. milb.com/toledo.
Toledo Zoo & Aquarium
Why visit the Toledo Zoo when Metro Detroit has such a fantastic attraction in our own backyard? There's a few differences. 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. (419) 385-5721. toledozoo.org. Open daily 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Tony Packo's and Rudy's Hot Dogs
Detroit has its share of historic hot dog-centric businesses, and so does Toledo. Tony Packo's has "Packo's" locations around town, but the original is in the historic district of Birmingham. Adorned with autographed hot dog buns signed by what seems like every celebrity to ever visit Ohio, Tony Packo's bar and restaurant is casual with a lot of eclectic décor, stained glass lighting fixtures and a family friendly vibe. The menu features a "Hungarian dog" with mustard onions and "hot dog sauce," plus pierogi, stuffed cabbage, paprikas, fried pickles and more. There's also a full bar, and that means beer from Yuengling, America's oldest independently owned brewery (which does not distribute to Michigan). Tony Packo's is at 1902 Front, Toledo. Visit tonypacko.com for more locations. A bit older than Tony Packo's is Rudy's, a chain of hot dog restaurants that started as a modest stand and grew to six, family run locations. The menu features their version of chili dogs, plus corn dogs, hamburgers, gyros, chili mac and more. Visit rudyshotdog.com for locations.
Waffle House / Eureka Eatery
Here are two more options for a quick bite while rolling in or out of the area. Detroit has zero locations of the famous, 24-hour Waffle House restaurants, but Toledo has plenty. Get some hash browns all-the-way or a freshly pressed, pecan-topped waffle to start or end your day. Visit wafflehouse.com for locations. While still in Michigan, fuel up literally and figuratively at the Eureka Eatery (3080 N. Monroe St. in Monroe), a gas station restaurant that serves remarkable fried chicken sandwiches with a variety of heat levels, plus a taco-empanada hybrid, waffle fries and macaroni and cheese.
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.
Upcoming events in Toledo
50th annual Old West End Historic Festival, Old West End Neighborhood, June 2-4, toledooldwestend.com/festival
Barenaked Ladies, Toledo Zoo, June 4, toledozoo.org/concerts
Beer & Bacon Festival, Hungarian Club of Toledo, June 17, toledobeerandbacon.com
Chicago, Toledo Zoo, June 20, toledozoo.org/concerts
57th Crosby Festival of the Arts, Toledo Botanical Garden, June 23-25, Crosbyfest.com
A sculpture at the Toledo Botanical Gardens, which is free to visit.
Northwest Ohio Rib Off, Lucas County Festival Grounds, July 28-30, nworiboff.com
Art on the Mall, University of Toledo Main Campus, July 30, toledoalumni.org/events/art-on-the-mall
Kidz Bop, Toledo Zoo, Aug. 2, toledozoo.org/concerts
Matchbox Twenty, Toledo Zoo, Aug. 4, toledozoo.org/concerts
Maumee Summer Art Fair, Downtown Maumee, Aug. 11-12, maumeesummerfair.com
- Chicken Dishes.
- Savory Dumplings.
- Macaroni and Cheese.
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Marzipan, a sweet almond-based treat popular with Toledanos for centuries, is also popular in the city. Marzipan is made from simple ingredients – almonds and sugar – by combining the two and kneading it until a fine, compact dough is formed.