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9 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions & Things to Do in Toledo, Ohio

For many years, the northwestern Ohio city of Toledo was a pass-through for people heading to or from Michigan. Today, Toledo is a destination in its own right offering visitors world-class museums, recreation, and waterfront entertainment and dining.

Toledo sits on the banks of the Maumee River. It has a rich history in the Miami and Erie canal system that is still evident in the architecture and culture of the city. With 200 acres of riverfront in Toledo, you will find that it is an important centerpiece to your visit, whether you are dining along the waterfront at one of the many downtown restaurants or taking a Sandpiper Boat trip along the Maumee River.

Toledo has 14 Metroparks, plenty of green space for recreation, and many gardens that surround museums, like the Toledo Museum of Art, giving visitors a chance to enjoy the natural beauty of northwest Ohio that surrounds vibrant city life.

1 Toledo Zoo

Toledo Zoo
Toledo Zoo
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The Toledo Zoo is more than a century old with frequently evolving exhibits that have made it one of the top things to do when people visit Toledo. The zoo has more than 9,000 animals, from elephants and otters to camels and gorillas. Some of the top exhibits are the Aquarium, Primate Forest, Tembo Trail, Arctic Encounter, and Africa exhibit. There are regular educational opportunities, like animal enrichment programs and keeper talks with the always fun to see animal feedings. Add-on activities at the zoo include an aerial adventure course as well as merry-go-round and train rides.

Address: 2 Hippo Way, Toledo, Ohio

2 Toledo Museum of Art

Toledo Museum of Art
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Toledo might not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of artistic masterpieces, but the Toledo Museum of Art is recognized globally for its collections. The museum encompasses six buildings and more than 50 galleries. Stroll the outstanding gardens and sculptures outside on the 36-acre space. Collections include Greek, Asian, Egyptian, and African artwork as well as medieval, modern, and contemporary pieces. The Glass Pavilion is one of the most stunning places to visit in the museum, and the exhibitions change regularly, so it is always a different experience. Be sure to plan several hours to visit with a stop at the museum café for a cup of coffee.

Address: 2445 Monroe Street, Toledo, Ohio

3 Toledo Mud Hens

Toledo Mud Hens
Toledo Mud Hens Counselman Collection / photo modified
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Taking in a Mud Hens night baseball game makes for an unforgettable visit to Toledo. Games take place at Fifth Third Field downtown. The Mud Hens are a Triple-A minor league baseball team, and you will find yourself engaged with the between-inning competitions and crowd chants of "Let's go Hens." The stadium is equipped with dining options, from game hot dogs to upscale steak. Most home games end with fireworks that light up the downtown riverfront. After the game, you can explore Hensville, Toledo's newest entertainment district, next to the stadium.

Address: 406 Washington Street, Toledo, Ohio

4 Imagination Station

Imagination Station
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Imagination Station in downtown Toledo is a family-friendly science center that caters to the curiosity of visitors of any age. There are more than 250 interactive exhibits that explore the science behind energy, water, agriculture, engineering, health, and more. Live experiments take place throughout the day at the Extreme Science Theater, giving visitors a chance to be a scientist and learn about things like combustibles, sound, and motion. You can easily spend several hours exploring this popular tourist attraction, and after the tour, you can stop for lunch at the Atomic Café, which serves up quick bites.

Address: 1 Discovery Way, Toledo, Ohio

5 Canal Experience

Canal Experience
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Located within the Providence Metropark of Toledo is a unique experience to travel on the canal. The Canal Experience lets you hop aboard The Volunteer canal boat as you learn about how these kinds of boats carried people and products between Toledo and Cincinnati. You will see part of the Miami and Erie Canal towpath, a gristmill, and one of the last working canal locks. Staff in period costumes help explain what canal life was like in the 19th century. If you want to make a day of the excursion, you can enjoy some of the trails and picnic areas within Providence Metropark.

Address: U.S. 24 at S.R. 578

6 Toledo Botanical Garden

Toledo Botanical Garden
Toledo Botanical Garden
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The Toledo Botanical Garden is one of the best free things to do in the city and the only garden of its kind in the region. Stroll through more than 60 acres of gardens, which feature various plant and flower collections. The gardens are accented with stunning sculptures and spots to sit and reflect on nature's beauty. You can also stroll through the Garden Discovery Trail and experience nature through interactive stations. Children especially enjoy the trail that is designed to engage kids in the outdoors through play. A fun way to visit the botanical garden is during one of the scheduled events like yoga or an evening of jazz.

Address: 5403 Elmer Drive, Toledo, Ohio

7 Lunch at Tony Packo's

It takes an extraordinary eatery to land in a things-to-do list, but Tony Packo's Café fits the bill. The café is a destination made famous by the hit TV show M*A*S*H in the 1970s. Actor Jamie Farr, who played Corporal Maxwell Klinger, mentioned Tony Packo's in several episodes. Farr, who is also a Toledo native, promoted the now-famous Tony Packo's Hungarian hot dogs. As you enjoy a bite of one of those famous dogs, be sure to take in the scenery on the walls. The signed hot dog buns are thanks to actor Burt Reynolds who signed a bun when someone asked for his autograph during a visit in 1972. The restaurant is as much of a museum on local culture as it is a hearty place to eat.

Address: 1902 Front Street, Toledo, Ohio

Official site: http://www.tonypacko.com/

8 Toledo Lighthouse Tours

Toledo Lighthouse Tours
Toledo Lighthouse Tours | Photo Copyright: Anietra Hamper
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A tour to the Toledo Lighthouse is a treat and worth the effort to set up a visit since it is not accessible by land. You can take a small group tour by boat from the Toledo Harbor Lighthouse Preservation Society on the marina at Maumee Bay State Park. In order to actually see the inside, you must be able climb a rung ladder and 76 steps to the top of the tower. You can also choose to just observe the lighthouse from the outside. Since the lighthouse is located on Lake Erie waters, tours are weather dependent. The lighthouse has a rich history dating back to the 1800s when it played a significant role in the Toledo shipping channel.

9 National Museum of the Great Lakes

National Museum of the Great Lakes
National Museum of the Great Lakes Joanna Poe / photo modified
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Learn about the history of the Great Lakes and get a first-hand view at hundreds of artifacts at the National Museum of the Great Lakes. There are interactive exhibits throughout the building that tell the stories and significance of the Great Lakes on the United States. One of the most impressive exhibits is the century-old Col. James Schoonmaker ship, which is part of the museum and open for self-guided tours. Step outside to enjoy the maritime park located on the Maumee River.

Address: 1701 Front Street, Toledo, Ohio

More Places to Explore & Things to Do in Ohio

Whether you enjoy getting outdoors to explore Ohio's national and state parks, ziplining, or fishing, the varied regions of the state cater to outdoor adventures. If city visits are more your style, you will enjoy the energy in Cincinnati and Cleveland and the capital city of Columbus, or for a change of pace, you can take a drive along the quiet back roads in northern Ohio's Amish country.

More on Ohio