Arts, shopping, sports, dining – Toledo, Ohio, manages to pack all this and more within its 84 square miles. Located along the beautiful Maumee River at the southern end of Maumee Bay – the western-most inlet of Lake Erie – the city of Toledo itself is home to just over 285,000 residents, while the Great Lakes Megalopolis of which it is part has a population of 59 million people. A meeting point of Indian trails and pioneer excursions, Toledo was first settled by Americans in 1794, though it was not until the late 19th century that the city blossomed into an industrial hub. Furniture producers, glass companies and carriage makers were among the industries that carried Toledo to become one of the largest cities in Ohio by 1880.
Today, Toledo's storied past can be explored at every turn; in fact, many of its most popular visitor attractions have historic roots. The 10-acre Fort Meigs, the largest wooden-walled fortification in North America, immerses guests in the stories of the War of 1812 and frontier times in Ohio. Visitors can take a walk on the decks of what was once the largest vessel on the Great Lakes at the Willis B. Boyer Museum Ship, now permanently moored alongside International Park. Or, tour Sylvania Historic Village, site of the oldest train depot in the state, a replica 1840s timberframe barn, and an authentic Quarry Stone schoolhouse.
Perhaps one of the most notable locations to enjoy Toledo's history is at Historic Old West End. The 25 blocks of this large neighborhood encompass one of the largest collections of late Victorian houses still standing in the country, including pristine examples of Georgian, Italian Renaissance, Dutch Colonial, Arts and Crafts and Queen Ann styles of architecture. Among them, visitors will find the 10,000-square-foot, 18-room home of Edward Drummond Libbey, who’s Libbey Glass Company helped contribute to Toledo's immense glass empire.
History buffs aren't the only ones who will find something to love about Toledo. Take a walk on the wild side at Toledo Zoo, home to over 6,000 animals including the exotic birds, turtles and goats of the new Nature's Neighborhood children's zoo. Hit the links on the shores of Lake Erie at the Eagles Landing Golf Club, just nine miles outside of downtown. Catch the Toledo Mud Hens, the AAA affiliate of the Detroit Tigers, play at the new Fifth Third Field. Or, take in the enchanting collection of antique lithophanes – three-dimensional porcelain castings – at the Blair Museum of Lithophanes.
Thanks to an ever-expanding nightlife scene, the fun doesn't stop in Toledo once the sun goes down. Grab a seat at the Toledo Opera, which recently celebrated 50 years of top-notch performances of Carmen, Candide, Madama Butterfly and numerous other classics. Enjoy Cajun dishes and some of the best jazz in the Midwest at Murphy's Place, which showcases national touring artists, regional performers and local favorites six nights a week. The lively Club Eclipse merges modern sound technology with the historical elegance of the 1930s bank in which is located, now equipped with spacious seating, a top-shelf bar and original Henri Matisse paintings.
For a more low-key night on the town, guests can turn to Toledo's international dining scene. The cozy, casual Mancy's Italian Grill serves innovative Italian fusion dishes, while margaritas, fajitas, and enchiladas are always on the menu at Loma Linda's, which has been serving Mexican food in the area since 1955. Seafood is best enjoyed on the waterfront at riverside restaurants such as The Docks and Cousino's Navy Bistro.
Of course, no trip to Toledo would be complete without a taste of the world-famous Hungarian hot dogs and chili at Tony Packo's, a Toledo favorite for over 75 years. Offering not just great food, Packo's is an attraction in and of itself for those looking to see the hot dog buns signed by celebrities and presidential candidates that now adorn the restaurant's walls.