12 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions & Things to Do in Toledo, Ohio
Author Anietra Hamper is an Ohio native and has covered stories throughout the state, from outdoor adventures to best attractions.
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 becoming one of the best places to visit in Ohio with world-class museums, gardens, sporting events, recreation, and waterfront entertainment and dining.
Toledo sits on the banks of the Maumee River, which is central to the city's attractions and social scene. With 19 Metroparks in Toledo, there is also plenty of green space for enjoying outdoor recreation and the natural beauty of northwest Ohio that surrounds this vibrant city.
For more sightseeing ideas, check out our list of the top attractions and things to do in Toledo, Ohio.
- 1. Animal Encounters at the Toledo Zoo
- 2. Take a Hike in the Metroparks of Toledo
- 3. Walk the Galleries at the Toledo Museum of Art
- 4. Cheer on the Toledo Mud Hens
- 5. Get Experimental at Imagination Station
- 6. Go back in Time with a Canal Experience
- 7. Breathe deep at the Toledo Botanical Garden
- 8. Eat Lunch at Tony Packo's
- 9. Toledo Lighthouse Tours
- 10. Learn about Maritime History at the National Museum of the Great Lakes
- 11. Get Revved at the Toledo Speedway
- 12. Toledo Firefighters Museum
- Where to Stay in Toledo, Ohio for Sightseeing
- More Places to Visit & Things to Do in Ohio
1. Animal Encounters at the Toledo Zoo
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 10,000 animals, from elephants and otters to camels and gorillas. There are many daily events at the zoo, like live animal demonstrations and seasonal activities.
There are regular educational opportunities, like animal enrichment programs, keeper talks, and garden tours. Add-on activities at the zoo include a merry-go-round, train rides, and an aquarium adventure trail. For an extra special experience, you can take one of several behind-the-scenes tours that are offered (for an extra fee) and get up close to animals like penguins and rhinos.
Address: 2 Hippo Way, Toledo, Ohio
2. Take a Hike in the Metroparks of Toledo
Some of the best free things to do in Toledo are in the city's Metroparks, from hiking and birding to camping, fishing, and mountain biking. Metroparks Toledo has 19 parks, Wildwood Preserve being the most popular with more than one million visitors a year.
Another fun Metropark is Oak Openings Preserve. It is the largest of the Metroparks, with sand dunes, unique wildlife and plant habitats, and a 12-mile mountain bike trail.
If you are outdoorsy and want to experience one of the most unique Metroparks, you can plan a night in a treehouse at the Cannaley Treehouse Village in Oak Openings Preserve. These village treehouses accommodate from two to six people and include a day-use treehouse for special events.
Read More: Top-Rated Outdoor Adventures in Ohio
3. Walk the Galleries at the Toledo Museum of Art
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. Plus, it is one of the best free things to do in Toledo.
This museum encompasses several buildings and more than 45 galleries. Stroll the outstanding gardens and sculptures outside or plan on attending one of the museum's public classes, likes like glass blowing.
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
Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Ohio
4. Cheer on the Toledo Mud Hens
A top tourist attraction in Toledo is taking in a Mud Hens night baseball game, which makes for an unforgettable visit. 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 entertainment complex in the Warehouse District next to the stadium.
Address: 406 Washington Street, Toledo, Ohio
5. Get Experimental at Imagination Station
Imagination Station in downtown Toledo is a family-friendly science center that caters to the curiosity of visitors of any age. There are hundreds of 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
6. Go back in Time with a Canal Experience
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. Be sure to find the other displays in the park that showcase canal life in the mid-1800s, like a replica of the canal boat called The Volunteer and the Isaac Ludwig Mill.
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
7. Breathe deep at the Toledo Botanical Garden
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 60 acres of gardens that represent many types of flower collections. All of 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. If you like to plan walks for exercise, the Toledo Botanical Garden is a great place to do it, with trails that meander through some of the best floral scenery in the city.
Address: 5403 Elmer Drive, Toledo, Ohio
8. Eat Lunch at Tony Packo's
It takes an extraordinary eatery to land on a things-to-do list, but Tony Packo's Café fits the bill. This 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 these 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 of local culture as it is a hearty place to eat.
Address: 1902 Front Street, Toledo, Ohio
9. Toledo Lighthouse Tours
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 to 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.
Read More: Best National & State Parks in Ohio
10. Learn about Maritime History at the National Museum of the Great Lakes
Learn about the history of the Great Lakes and get a first-hand view of 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 in 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.
If you are interested in maritime events and history, you will want to plan your visit around one of the museum's many lecture series. These events bring in speakers and authors throughout the year.
Address: 1701 Front Street, Toledo, Ohio
11. Get Revved at the Toledo Speedway
For a fun evening out in Toledo, you can catch a stock car race at the Toledo Speedway. The track is open seasonally with a regular race schedule you can plan around your visit. At certain times of the year, you can even book a special Rusty Wallace Racing Experience and get behind the wheel like a NASCAR driver and take a few laps yourself.
Address: 5639 Benore Road, Toledo, Ohio
12. Toledo Firefighters Museum
Visiting the Toledo Firefighters Museum is a fun thing to do in the city because it showcases some vintage firefighting equipment and history. The museum is located inside historic Firehouse Number 18. There are rooms showcasing the stories of brave firefighters who lost their lives in the line of duty and some of the lifesaving equipment and artifacts from local fire stations.
Address: 918 W. Sylvania Ave., Toledo, Ohio
Where to Stay in Toledo, Ohio for Sightseeing
- Renaissance Toledo Downtown Hotel is the city's most luxe and romantic choice. The classy hotel sits right on the Maumee River in the heart of downtown. It offers a mix of contemporary rooms and suites. Book one of the corner suites for the best views from two sides of windows. The interior design also focuses on a lot of glass art. The hotel is also family-friendly, with interconnected rooms and a kids-stay-free policy. Amenities include the Brim House restaurant serving modern American fare.
- Another popular mid-range hotel is the Courtyard by Marriott Toledo North. Rooms, including options for families, have fun murals, and crisp white linens on the beds. Amenities include a swimming pool and hot tub, free parking, and a workout room. There is no on-site restaurant, but the front desk can recommend nearby places to eat.
- The Holiday Inn Express & Suites Toledo West features contemporary rooms and suites with faux-wood-paneled floors and light wood furnishings. There are also family rooms if you are traveling with the kids. Amenities here include an indoor swimming pool, a free breakfast, and a workout room. The hotel is pet friendly.
- The Woodlands Plaza Toledo Hotel is a good-value choice, especially if you are in town for procedures at the University of Toledo Medical Center/Health Science Campus. The hotel has a range of different room configurations, including junior and full-sized suites. Guests have access to the Morse Wellness Center, with an indoor swimming pool and hot tub. There is also a restaurant on-site that does special diet menus and a buffet breakfast. Parking is free, and the desk stays open 24 hours.
- If you just need a budget sleeping option then check out the Quality Inn. This 2-star property features basic but comfortable rooms with microwaves and refrigerators. Amenities here include a complimentary breakfast, free parking and Wi-Fi, and a fitness center.
- The Red Roof Inn Toledo is another affordable choice. Kids stay free at this family-friendly hotel, which has colorful rooms. Some of these also have microwaves and refrigerators. If you are traveling with a dog, the hotel allows one pet per room. It also offers 24-hour check-in and free parking. There is a vending machine on-site, and guests have complimentary access to a nearby gym.
More Places to Visit & 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.