We’re continually on the hunt for experiences that add richness to our lives. In the spirit of the revival of road trips, we are proud to feature a monthly section featuring destinations within driving distance of Charleston. We feel that our smart and savvy readers will find these trips interesting and entertaining.
Driving five hours northwest of Charleston brings you to Toledo, Ohio. In 44 years of living in Charleston, I never considered Toledo a road trip destination, but wow, what a treat. You’ll want to explore Toledo’s internationally-known museums, beautiful parks, and noteworthy food scene. Here is what I recommend for your Toledo, Ohio weekend getaway.
WHAT TO SEE & DO IN TOLEDO
The best attraction (and it is free!) in Toledo, Ohio, is the Toledo Museum of Art, offering 45 galleries cram-packed with priceless works of art (30,000 items) in a massive space (great for social distancing). This beautiful venue showcases Degas, van Gogh, Rubens, and Picasso, to name a few. In a separate building, the state-of-the-art Glass Pavilion has glass-blowing demonstrations and a jaw-dropping renowned glass collection, one of the best in the world.
Another free Toledo attraction is the mural scene. The Frida Kahlo, Love Wall, and Still Dreaming (MLK) are really great, so be sure to watch for them.
Toledo has the best and most sophisticated Metropark system I’ve seen anywhere in the country, with 14 parks in the Greater Toledo area that you have to see to believe. They include numerous botanical gardens, ornamental grasses, sculptures, and artisan villages. You can even dive into learning the arts at some of them, or camp and kayak.
Learn what it is like to live on the Great Lakes at the National Museum of the Great Lakes, where displays, exhibits, and hands-on activities help better your understanding of this unique part of the country. You can also hop aboard the Col. James M. Schoonmaker and Tug Ohio docked outside of the museum, included in the admission price.
Sports enthusiasts will enjoy watching the Toledo Mud Hens, a minor-league baseball team, playing in a top-rated stadium. Or, see Toledo’s professional hockey team, the Walleyes, at Huntington Center.
At the Hollywood Casino Toledo, enjoy gambling via slots, table games, and poker rooms in this eye-catching venue. Live entertainment is suspended due to COVID, but typically the live entertainment at Hollywood Casino Toledo is primo.
The Toledo Zoo is another big attraction to roam around and admire exotic animals (over 10,000) such as gorillas, giraffe, penguins, and polar bears.
WHERE TO EAT AND DRINK IN TOLEDO
Toledo is a treasure trove for great eats that aren’t pretentious and overpriced. Coffee and pastries are superb at Black Kite Coffee, in Toledo’s Old West neighborhood. Try the Ohio Honey Lavender Latte, for something original, and a vegan cookie or coffee cake. Be sure to explore the 25 blocks of beautiful Victorian homes around the area.
Schmucker’s is a Toledo institution with 20 gourmet pies and a menu full of comfort food favorites. Try the Hot Roast Beef Sandwich, with flavorful roast beef and mashed potatoes piled on white bread, then topped with a rich brown gravy. Yum! Chocolate-peanut butter pie is the best seller.
Tony Packo’s is another Toledo heavy hitter. Mentioned on the TV show MASH, this local eatery with six locations serves up Eastern European cuisine with dishes such as stuffed cabbage, Chicken Paprikas (the signature dish), and Hungarian hot dogs.
I appreciated finding premium seafood and impeccable service at Real Seafood Co., where the Parmesan Encrusted Flounder with a lemon caper beurre blanc sauce was absolute perfection.
At Maumee Bay Brewing Company, enjoy a wide variety of craft brews (12 on tap) and upscale pub grub from the Brew Pub on the second floor of the historic Oliver House. Grab handcrafted coffee and donuts for the ride home at Holey Toledough, a gourmet donut shop.
WHERE TO STAY IN TOLEDO
My top pick for Toledo accommodations is Maumee Bay State Park, a 1300-acre property. Located on the Lake Erie shores, this state park is a special place, with affordable and comfortable lodge rooms and cabins, a long list of amenities, a golf course, nature gardens, and an onsite restaurant. Bicycle and nature trails are nearby.
A few minutes outside of Toledo, in nearby Swanton, sits Cannaley Treehouse Village in one of the Metro Parks. Enjoy a unique stay in a custom-built treehouse at this new venue, with four units that can sleep two to six persons. With perches in trees to pitch your tent above ground, tent platforms offer three other spaces for camping experiences. Guests share a common fire pit.
TOLEDO FOR THE WIN!
Toledo, Ohio, is a fantastic place for a road trip and weekend getaway. This huge Ohio city has world-class attractions and has recently experienced a renaissance. You will be so glad to have discovered it.