There's So Much to Do in Toledo, Ohio
"To be is to DO - There's so much to DO in ToleDO!" is city sales pitch and it is true.
There must be a reason to drive 107 miles (1 hour 55 minutes) from Cleveland to Toledo. The Zoo is magnificent - where else you can see a swimming polar bear? (in Detroit Zoo may be). Toledo downtown with the river front is so different from Cleveland, and so serene that it reminds you of New Orleans. It is no coincidence that there is a Louisiana style restaurant offering gumbo and po-boys at the riverfront. The Maumee river flows by as slowly as the muddy Mississippi.
A Little Bit of History
The Glass city or the Frog town, both names have been used throughout the years since Toledo was established in 1837. Toledo is he most prominent city in Northwest Ohio (much like Cleveland in NE Ohio), located on the Maumee River, and at the intersection of 1-75 and I-80.
The city is at the southern end of Maumee Bay and north of what was formerly the Great Black Swamp (hence the old nickname Frog town). The Swamp was a glacial swamp in Ohio and Indiana which was gradually drained in the 1800s and is now fertile farm land. The more modern name Glass city is because of its glass industry: windows, bottles, windshields, etc. Windshields, actually, come handy because the Jeeps have been made in Toledo since 1941.
Toledo War (1835) which had only one casualty was once fought between Ohio and Michigan over the strip of land containing the city. Militias from both states were sent but never engaged.
Attractions or Why To Go There?
The main attractions are the Toledo Museum of Art, the Toledo Zoo with the first hippoquarium in the world and the Old West End - a historic neighborhood of Victorian houses.
The Zoo has two parts divided by the very busy route 25 - the old and the new zoo. Start at the new section where the big parking lot on route 25 is located. Parking is $ 5 but if you are a member of the Cleveland Zoo, the admission is free.
The Toledo Zoo logo consists of two hippos. Check out the map - there are actually two zoos connected by a walking bridge over the busy route 25. The new zoo is on the west (bottom of the picture) and the old (or the historic) part is on the east of route 25 (top of the picture).
When you enter the Zoo, turn right, and the first thing you will see is the Arctic Encounter and then the Africa Exhibit.
The new section is made of two impressive part - the Arctic Encounter and the Africa Exhibit. See a polar bear teaching her cubs how to catch seals in the picture above.
Polar bear in full height - it is dangerous, don't get too close! This is the huge pool of the Arctic Encounter where seals and polar bears swim - not in the same area, mind you. Don't forget that seals are bears' favorite menu item...
This is the best swimmer - a polar bear in his prime. Polar bears are not the biggest - grizzlies beat them in size, just look at the paws.
The Africa Exhibit with the real size lion family - a favorite place for the kids to have a photo with the Lion King.
You can get a train ride around the huge savanna. Poaching alert - these are the skulls of a zebra, hippo, hyena, and a giraffe. Guess which animal was here by...hmm...that's so gross...
Wolves and bald eagles
Historic Section of Toledo Zoo
To see the old (or historic) section of the zoo, you have to take the walking bridge over route 25. The fact that the zoo was first build east of route 25 causes some confusion because you have African and Arctic animals in both sections but that is OK. Here, at the historic part, you can see the first Hippoquarim in the world allowing underwater viewing of the hippos (during the warm months only). Also, the aquarium, aviarium, reptiles, primates and the tigers are nearby.
This is the walking bridge connecting the two sections of the zoo. Check out the map above for the historic section of the zoo.
In the Aviary even the benches look...bird-like - see why.
Hey, this is the rhino bird!
Here they are some colorful desert birds. Beware of these praying eyes from above (click to see)
This is the African savanna where the Hippoquarium is located. You can also see the baby elephant and rhinos. Due to the fact that Toledo zoo is actually two zoos in one, there is some strange duplication of Arctic and African (A&A) on both side of the bridge. In March, it was too cold for hippos to be outside but we are looking forward to the summer when the first hippoquarium in the world will be in full gear.
Lions and tigers - as life-size sculptures to play and as live animals to admire.
The Reptiles House is full of these creators that you never would like to meet outside the zoo like snakes, crocodiles an so on. Even the architecture in the two parts of the zoo is different. The buildings in the historic section are red-brick mansion-type constructions like the Aquarium above.
Riverfront and Downtown
Toledo river front map
The first all-glass building was erected in Toledo and hence the name Glass city is well-deserved. See the bascule bridge at the distance. This is the slow pace Maumee river which is so reminiscent of the muddy Mississippi river. There is some strange two-chimney building just next to the all-glass one. The river walk is very serene and relaxing - total contrast with the Cleveland's frenetic 8-lane riverfront (I-90). The decorative riverfront lights were sponsored by the Toledo communities coming from all parts of the world and there are country name plates honoring this contribution.
It is not only the river, you also have the cuisine to match New Orleans riverfront. Check out this Gumbo restaurant offering jambalya, muffaletta and po-boys. And all this with zydeco Cajun music...
Toledo Museum of Art
Click here to see more than 120 photos from Toledo Museum of Art in Toledo, Ohio.
How to get to Toledo?
Get I-80 west towards Toledo (very logic isn't it...) and drive for about 100 miles. Then take I-75 North for 5 miles and take exit 201. This is the route 25 (Anthony Wayne Trail), from here it easy - drive south for 2-3 minutes and stop at the Zoo. After that, the next stop is riverfront at the Maumee bay. From the Zoo, take the same route 25 but this time north and you will pass through downtown until you reach I-280. Here, turn right, and after you go over the bascule bridge, you will see the riverfront park with a scenic downtown view on your right (Front St., park there). See the map.
Toledo in Plain Dealer
Some of the text is based on Toledo in Wikipedia and Toledo in Wikitravel
Hippos at the Zoo - AOL members
Toledo attractions, more attractions
Top 10 Things To Do in T-Town Under $10
The Ohio 5: Glass City Gourmet. BloggingOhio.com.
Order the printed free visitors guide from the officials visitors website Do Toledo.com. Watch the Toledo video, 360 degrees video tour.
Toledo Zoo - Cleveland Zoo members visit for free. Zoo map
Interactive map - click for info about the different sections of the Zoo
The Butterfly House in Whitehouse, OH contains over 500 Butterflies with many different species. Open May-Sep.
The Botanical Garden - free admission, click for a map (5403 Elmer Dr. Toledo, OH 43615, phone (419)936-2986)
Fort Meigs State Memorial in Perrysburg, Ohio - a Google map