Fort Meigs, located near Toledo along the southern bank of the Maumee River west of Perrysburg, was the largest walled fortification in North America. Built in 1813 under the direction of General William Henry Harrison (who later became president of the United States), Fort Meigs is an impressive structure of earthworks and timber. Toledo's Old West End, covering 25 blocks, is one of the largest collections of late-Victorian architecture in the country; Frank Lloyd Wright studied the Old West End in preparing his plans for Oak Park, Illinois.
The freighter SS Willis was first launched in 1911 and served for many years on the Great Lakes as the largest ship of its type. Now restored, it is docked at International Park and open for tours. The Sauder Farm and Craft Village, a living-history museum in nearby Archbold, recaptures life in northwest Ohio in the 1830s. Wolcott House Museum in Maumee depicts life in the Maumee Valley from 1840 to 1860.
The Toledo Zoo, one of the nation's highest rated zoological parks, offers state-of-the-art exhibits, together with historical architecture, fully integrated to provide more than 4,000 animals with the best possible environment and offer visitors an exciting experience. An innovative exhibition called Africa! opened in May of 2004.
Toledo Center of Science & Industry (COSI) is located at the corner of Summit and Adams streets on the riverfront. With eight Exhibition Learning Worlds, a restaurant, and a retail store, COSI also offers exciting firsthand science learning and fun for visitors of all ages. There are opportunities to ride the high wire cycle, play virtual volleyball, or experience the full-motion simulator theater.
Located in a firehouse that dates from around 1920, the Toledo Firefighters Museum preserves 150 years of fire fighting in the city. Thousands of items are on exhibit, including many of large pieces of vintage fire fighting equipment. The Toledo Botanical Garden cultivates herbs, roses, azalea, rhododendron, and wildflowers; artists' studios and galleries are maintained on the grounds.
Toledo boasts 144 parks covering 2,367 acres. The Metroparks of the Toledo Area preserves 8,000 acres of parks in Lucas County. The nine metroparks of the Toledo area preserve sand dunes, tall grass prairies, upland woody swamp forests, and oak savannahs. The parks offer elevated views of the Maumee River Valley. From May through October, the Miami and Erie Canal Restoration at Providence Metropark features a mule-drawn canal boat that carries passengers along a one and one-fourth mile stretch of the original canal, through a working canal lock, and past the Isaac Ludwig Mill, which features heritage crafts and water-powered milling demonstrations. Oak Openings Preserve protects threatened and endangered plant species, while Pearson Preserve protects one of the few remnants of the Great Black Swamp. The metroparks present many free nature and history programs and capture a sense of the natural beauty of the area at the time it was first settled.
The Toledo Museum of Art was founded in 1912 when Edward Libbey made a contribution of money and land to help initiate the museum's first stage of construction. Today the museum's permanent collection represents holdings from diverse cultures and periods, including ancient Egyptian tombs, a medieval cloister, a French chateau, glass, furniture, silver, tapestries, and paintings by world masters.
Without a doubt, the cultural highlight of Toledo's downtown revitalization efforts is the Valentine Theatre. When it originally opened in 1895, the Valentine was the finest theatrical venue between New York and Chicago. The Valentine Theatre is also home of the Toledo Symphony and the Toledo Ballet. The intimate and acoustically superior 901-seat, $28 million theater allows for excellent viewing of the stage and projected English titles when necessary.
The Toledo Symphony Orchestra presents a full season of concerts in Peristyle Hall at the Toledo Museum of Art. Stranahan Theater hosts performances by the Toledo Opera Association and touring Broadway shows. Two community theater groups, Toledo Repertoire Theatre and the Village Players, stage several productions annually, while Junior Theatre Guild stages four annual professional family-oriented shows. The Toledo Ballet Association presents local and guest performers, sometimes in collaboration with the opera and symphony. Both the University of Toledo and Bowling Green State University schedule plays and other cultural events, many featuring well-known performing artists and speakers.
Many festivals celebrate Toledo's history and its ethnic diversity. The festival season starts Memorial Day weekend with the Rock, Rhythm 'n Blues Festival in downtown Toledo. Through the summer, Rallies by the River offer music and refreshments at Promenade Park on Friday evenings. In June, the Old West End Festival opens restored Victorian homes to the public. The Crosby Festival of the Arts is held in late June at the Toledo Botanical Garden. The annual fireworks display takes place downtown on the river. Also in July, the Lucas County Fair is held at the fairgrounds. The Northwest Ohio Rib-Off takes place in August at Promenade Park.
The Toledo Mud Hens, the Triple A farm team for professional baseball's Detroit Tigers, compete in the International League with home games at Fifth Third Field. The Toledo Storm, East Coast Hockey League affiliates for the National Hockey League's Detroit Red Wings, entertain fans at Toledo Sports Arena. Raceway Park presents harness racing on a spiral-banked five-eighths mile track from March to December. Stock car racing is on view at Toledo Speedway. The University of Toledo Rockets and the Bowling Green State University Falcons field teams in Mid-American Conference sports.
Toledo, the largest port on Lake Erie, offers some of the best fishing in the world. Walleye season runs from May to August, followed by perch in the fall; white and smallmouth bass are other popular catches. Ice fishing is available in January and February. Toledo maintains one of Ohio's best park systems, with more than 140 areas for sports and relaxation. The Lucas County Recreation Department provides facilities for swimming, tennis, track, handball, and softball. Toledo Area Metroparks offer boating, cycling, hiking, jogging, water and field sports, and fitness trails on over 6,600 acres. Toledo boasts some of the finest golf courses in the country. The Toledo Roadrunners Club has been holding the Glass City Marathon for more than 29 years; runners race along country roads and through neighboring communities and downtown Toledo. The race pays tribute to the memory of Sy Mah, a Toledo runner who once held the Guinness World Book record for running 524 marathons in his lifetime.
Unique shopping opportunities in Toledo and environs include glass factory outlet stores, featuring all types and styles of glassware; flea markets; the Erie Street Market; and art galleries. Four major shopping centers are located in the area.
Among Toledo's hundreds of restaurants is Tony Packo's Cafe, celebrated by Corporal Klinger, a character on the television program "M*A*S*H." Featuring an extensive Tiffany lamp collection, the restaurant serves a distinctive hot dog, Hungarian hamburgers, and a vegetable soup with Hungarian dumplings. The Docks on the Maumee River offer a variety of interesting restaurants; these include Gumbo's, Real Seafood Co., Zia's Italian, Tango's Mexican Cantina, and Cousino's Navy Bistro.
Visitor Information: The Greater Toledo Convention and Visitors Bureau, 401 Jefferson Avenue, Toledo, OH 43604; telephone (419)321-6404; toll-free (800)243-4667