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Exploring Toledo Ohio with Kids

Toledo, Ohio is on the edge of Ohio and the shore of Lake Erie! There’s lots of fun for families in Toledo!

We’re always up for exploring new cities in Ohio and we have taken many Lake Erie vacations! One of our recent summer vacations involved spending a week in and around Toledo! We found a lot of fun places to explore, both beautiful AND educational!

Toledo, Ohio was shaped by it’s proximity to Lake Erie and is home to the National Museum of the Great Lakes, which is definitely worth a visit! There are several sites along Lake Erie that are beautiful to see and nearby Magee Marsh is a hot spot for birdwatching during the spring migration!

There are a lot of fun things to do with kids in Toledo and we’ve just scratched the surface! Read on to find out how to plan a family-friendly trip to Toledo, Ohio!

Anthony Wayne Bridge in Toledo, Ohio.

Family Friendly Things to do in Toledo, Ohio

National Museum of the Great Lakes

  • Address: 1701 Front St., Toledo, OH 43605
  • Website

The National Museum of the Great Lakes is a really unique museum that our whole family enjoyed! There are two parts to the museum: the indoor museum and the actual ships you can walk aboard and tour.

Two boys steering the ship at the National Museum of the Great Lakes in Toledo, Ohio.

The museum is divided into areas with different themes including Maritime Technology, Exploration and Settlement, Expansion and Industry, Safegaurd and Support, and Shipwrecks and Safety. Each area has informational displays, hands on exhibits and historical artifacts.

The National Museum of the Great Lakes is colorful and engaging for kids while also being informative and educational for adults. You really get a great sense of the role and importance the Great Lakes have played in the United States throughout history.

Educational display at the National Museum of the Great Lakes in Toledo, Ohio.

My kids really engaged with some of the hands on displays like shoveling pretend coal to stoke the boiler of a ship and then loading the coal into a wheel barrow and dumping it into a canal boat. They also enjoyed the simulator that allowed them to “explore” the shipwreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald!

Kid friendly things to do in Toledo include the National Museum of the Great Lakes.

A real highlight of our visit was touring the Col. James M. Schoonmaker which was the largest ship operating on the Great Lakes in the early 1900s. You can tour the Schoonmaker and Tug Ohio during May through October. I would definitely recommend visiting when you can add this to your trip.

Walking on the Col. James M. Schoonmaker at the National Museum of the Great Lakes in Toledo, Ohio.

It is an additional cost to tour the ship and the tug boat, but I think it is worth it! We actually ended up purchasing a family membership when we visited because it was a little bit cheaper than admission! And now we can visit again if make it to Toledo again this year!

The Tug Ohio at the National Museum of the Great Lakes in Toledo, Ohio.

Toledo Botanical Garden

  • Address: 5403 Elmer Dr., Toledo, Ohio
  • Website

Toledo Botanical Garden is another Toledo attraction that has a little bit of something for everyone! Kids will especially love The Secret Forest, a children’s natural play area. There are plenty of picnic tables in the area and this makes a great place for a lunch break!

The Secret Garden children's play area at the Toledo Botanical Garden.

The great thing about the Toledo Botanical Garden is that because it is part of Metroparks Toledo, it is free to visit! You can stop in to give the kids a chance to run around and play, or take more time to visit and appreciate the individual gardens.

One of my favorite areas was the Sycamore Allee. It’s a beautiful setting!

Sycamore Allee at the Toledo Botanical Garden in Toledo, Ohio.

There are a lot of great gardens to explore at the Botanical Garden and the Secret Forest makes it a great spot for kids!

Toledo Museum of Art

  • Address: 2445 Monroe St., Toledo, OH 43620
  • Website

The Toledo Museum of Art is free to visit, though there is a charge for parking. One of our favorite things at the museum was actually the outdoor sculpture garden! There is an outdoor play area for kids, as well with some musical instruments.

Outdoor sculpture garden at the Toledo Art Museum.

I always appreciate when art museums are free to visit because it means I can introduce my kids to art in a relaxed manner. We can stay as long as their attention spans allow without feeling like we haven’t got our money’s worth.

Kids looking at artwork in the Toledo Art Museum.

Magee Marsh

  • Address: 13229 St. Rt. 2, Oak Harbor, OH 43449
  • Website

I had one major goal on our trip to Magee Marsh and that was to see a bald eagle! We saw at least 5 of them! At Magee Marsh there is a boardwalk trail through the woods where you can watch for birds and other wildlife!

Boys walking into the Bird Trail at the Magee Marsh just outside of Toledo, Ohio.

This is a super popular location for bird watching during the migration in May. We visited in June so we didn’t get to witness the migration, but I was so happy to see bald eagles. Make sure to look up in the trees for nests!

A boy walking on the beach at Magee Marsh in Toledo, Ohio.

You can also walk along the beach on Lake Erie here. Entrance to the beach at Magee Marsh is on the opposite side of the parking lot from the entrance to the boardwalk. There are just a few naturally made paths through to the beach from the parking lot.

Toledo Zoo

  • Address: 2 Hippo Way, Toledo, OH 43609
  • Website

I’m including the Toledo Zoo because it’s a definite highlight in the city of Toledo! But it’s been many, many years since I have personally visited, so I have no recent photos!

But if you’re visiting Toledo with kids, definitely consider a visit to the Toledo Zoo. In addition to seeing animals, the zoo has a carousel, a Safari Railway, an aquarium, an aerial adventure course and a play area for kids!

Hopefully we will be back soon and can update this section with a more personal experience! (Or at least a picture from when I visited the traveling panda exhibit when I was in grade school!)

Parks and Playgrounds to Visit in Toledo, Ohio

Fossil Park

  • Address: 5705 Centennial Rd., Sylvania, OH
  • Website

Fossil Park is a really great stop for kids who are into fossils, dinosaurs and excavation! The fossils come from working quarries just a mile away.

Make sure to bring a bucket with you and some kind of brush. Actual shovels or digging utensils are not allowed. It is fairly easy to break apart the soft shale to find fossils.

Two boys looking for fossils at Fossil Park in Sylvania, Ohio.

We did not come totally prepared for our visit so I didn’t feel like we got the most out of it that we could of. Definitely bring some kind of brush because kids will want to get their hands dirty – literally! Bring clothes that they can get dirty/ dusty and washable shoes.

Pearson Metro Park

  • Address: 761 S Lallendorf Rd., Oregon, OH 43616
  • Website

One night during our trip to Toledo, we just needed a place for the kids to run off some steam so we took a little trip to Pearson Metro Park which has a really cute nature-themed playground! The kids could have played here for a long time!

The playground for kids at Pearson Metro Park in Toledo, Ohio.

Maumee Bay State Park and Nature Center

  • Address: 1400 State Park Rd, Oregon, OH 43616
  • Website

Maumee Bay State Park is around 10 miles east of Toledo. If you’re looking for a great beach near Toledo, make plans to visit Maumee Bay State Park! This Ohio State Park is right on Lake Erie and it includes a beach on Lake Erie as well as a man made lake with a beach and areas for fishing.

Two boys and a dad looking at a display at the National Museum of the Great Lakes.

Don’t miss a visit to the Nature Center at the park! There are a lot of educational displays about Lake Erie and the surrounding area and the boardwalk trail behind the Nature Center is perfect for bird watching and spying other critters! My son and I spotted a muskrat when we were on the trail!

Two boys swinging on the new playground at Maumee Bay State Park in Ohio.

A brand new playground was built at Maumee Bay State Park in 2022 and it’s also worth a visit when you’re in the park! This new playground sits between the man made lake and the Lake Erie beach!

Where to Eat in Toledo Ohio:

The Original Tony Packo’s

  • Address: 1902 Front St., Toledo, OH 43605
  • Website

Tony Packo’s is one of the best known restaurants in Toledo! It grew in fame when it was mentioned multiple times on the show M*A*S*H in the 1970’s! When you visit you can’t miss the autographed hot dog buns hanging all over the restaurant – a tradition that began when Burt Reynolds autographed a hot dog bun in 1972!

Coney and fried pickles at the Original Tony Packo's in downtown Toledo, Ohio.

Eating at Tony Packo’s is definitely an experience! We ate at “The Original” Tony Packo’s in downtown Toledo. Order at the counter and your meal will be brought to you! Try one of the original Hungarian Hot Dogs and the fried pickles!

Odd Fodder

  • Address: 26520 N. Dixie Hwy. A, Perrysburg, OH 43551
  • Website

If you’re up for making a little bit of a drive outside of Toledo, take a trip to Odd Fodder in Perrysburg, Ohio for an extreme milkshake! Wow! These are definitely a treat!

An extreme milkshake at Odd Fodder near Toledo, Ohio.

Odd Fodder is only 15 minutes from downtown Toledo and they have a unique menu “Odd Shakes”, snacks, chicken sandwiches, other desserts and a kids menu! Make this a stop for a full meal or just for dessert, like we did!

Dairy Depot

  • Address: 3708 Navarre Ave., Oregon, OH 43616
  • Website

You know we always seek out local ice cream shops when we travel and Dairy Depot did not disappoint! This is a popular spot with a drive through! You can order at the window and eat at one of the picnic tables outside.

Ice cream from the Dairy Depot near Toledo, Ohio.

Dairy Depot has a lot of specialty sundaes and they also serve hot food! The ice cream was enjoyed by all!

Maumee Bay Brewing Company

  • Address: 27 Broadway St, Toledo, OH 43604
  • Website

We enjoyed lunch in the brew pub at Maumee Bay Brewing Company in downtown Toledo. This local, craft brewery is right on the Maumee River.

Boy eating at Maumee Bay Brewing Company, a restaurant in downtown Toledo, Ohio.

If you happen to go for lunch like we did, check out the Pick 2 Combo on their lunch menu!

Oregon Inn

  • Address: 6067 Bay Shore Rd, Oregon, OH 43616
  • Website

Just outside of Toledo in Oregon, Ohio, The Oregon Inn has a great outdoor patio and is famous for their prime rib! A meal here might be a bit of a splurge for a family, but if you’re looking for a unique, local favorite, check it out!

Boy eating spaghetti on the patio at The Oregon Inn, a family friendly restaurant near Toledo, Ohio.

All of us really enjoyed the food here and we were lucky enough to have great weather to sit out on the patio. There is plenty of seating inside, too, if you’re visiting in the fall or winter!

Where to Stay Near Toledo, Ohio

Maumee Bay Lodge

  • Address: 1750 State Park Road #2, Oregon, OH 43616
  • Website

We’ve stayed at Maumee Bay Lodge twice and it’s where we stayed when we did most of our exploring of Toledo! My family loves it there!

The Lodge at Maumee Bay State Park on Lake Erie in Ohio.

We love that Maumee Bay Lodge is right on Lake Erie! Everyone comes out at night to watch the sunset over the lake! Plus the Lodge has an indoor pool and an outdoor pool, an arcade and a soft-play area for kids! It’s very family friendly!

The indoor pool at Maumee Bay Lodge near Toledo, Ohio.

The Lodge also offers two restaurants and a snack shop! (I recommend the pizza in the Icebreaker Lounge!) With all of the activities inside the Lodge, the restaurants on site and the beach nearby, you can really spend a lot of time at Maumee Bay State Park!


I hope you enjoy your trip to Toledo and have lots of fun new adventures with your family!

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Things to do in Toledo, Ohio with kids.