50 Things to Do With Kids in Toledo, Ohio

04 May 2011

Are you looking for something to do with kids in the Toledo, Ohio area?  I was shocked to find that there wasn’t a comprehensive list anywhere to be had of all the fun things to do with kiddos in our hometown.   

In an effort to beat the “there is NOTHING to do!” syndrome, take a look at all the fun places there are to explore, enough for an entire stay-cation and more. You will find activities for all seasons, some inside and some outdoors, and for kids of all ages.  Everything on the list is within an hour’s drive of the city.  If you’re a native Toledoan or just passing through for a day, I hope you can find something fun and interesting to do.  Some of these items are even FREE. 

I have also included a {More} link at the end of the suggestions that I have featured before at So Wonderful, So Marvelous.  {It also made me realize how much I don’t write about, we’ve been to some of these places dozens of times!}  You can click the link to see photos and a personal account of some of our favorites.

  1. Take a class at the 577 Foundation in Perrysburg, Ohio.   They have all sorts of creative class ideas for all ages from pottery to animals to camping!  You can also wander the grounds, they are absolutely beautiful, Virginia’s Garden is made especially for little ones.
  2. Fossil Park in Sylvania is completely FREE from the parking, to the park, to the fossils you find.  Young paleontologists can spend all day digging for treasures in a safe environment.  There are no tools permitted, however you can bring a brush or toothbrush to brush off your fossils, water to wash them off, and something to carry them home in.
  3. Visit Sauder Village in Archbold, Ohio. Open late April through October, this ‘village’ takes you back in time to explore northwest Ohio as it was in the 1800’s.  Be sure to visit the old school house, the general store, & the little pioneer’s homestead, where the littlest guests can pretend to milk a cow.  {More} 
  4. The Toledo Zoo. Nature’s Neighborhood, animal feedings, and classes; there are tons of things to do in every season. The Lights Before Christmas are a favorite activity to start the Christmas season in our family. If you haven’t been to the zoo in the last two years, I urge you to visit. Here is another hint, buy a membership, after just two visits it pays for itself and offers perks such as free parking & discounts on classes!  {More} 
  5. Get down to the Jefferson Street Dock at Promenade Park to catch a Maumee River cruise on the Sandpiper!  From May to October you can also enjoy educational field trips and private parties in addition to the cruises open to the public.  Reservations are required.
  6. Imagination Station is a hands on science museum.  They are constantly bringing in new exhibits, but the old favorites like the high wire cycle and the giant piano are staples kids want to enjoy time and again.  They haven’t left out younger guests either, Little Kidspace has a grocery, hospital, water tables, and tons of other hands-on play experiences.
  7. Hit the playground!  Fort Imagination at Woodlands Park in Perrysburg, Ohio has a huge assortment of playground equipment.  It also boasts a great fenced in area for children under 5 to play away from the big kids.  Check out Monclova Park {located on Monclova Road across from St Luke’s Hospital} for sky high twisty slides and lots of fun equipment to climb all over.  Carr Park in Bedford, MI is another with great playground equipment to explore.  Please add your playground recommendations in the comments! 
  8. Make a visit to the Toledo Firefighters Museum.  Open on Saturdays from 12 – 4 pm {during the week by appointment only} in the old Number 18 fire house.  It boasts a fire education center where kids can learn how to escape a fire, as well as a collection of old pumps, a ladder truck, and vintage uniforms.
  9. TToledo Mud Hens Baseball Games are a Toledo tradition.  Kids run the bases Sundays after the game and all weekend games also offer fireworks.  You can join the Muddy’s Buddies Kids Club {FREE but quantities are limited} for special perks like ticket discounts.  The Hens love their young fans and their community, they also host coloring contests, baseball clinics, movie nights and scout sleepover nights at Fifth Third Field.  
  10. The Walleye Drop is a New Year tradition like no other.  Instead of the Times’ Square ball drop, the town of Port Clinton drops a 600 pound Walleye to ring in the year.  There are children’s activities, games, and a special early Walleye drop for little ones who can’t make it to midnight.
  11. Visit the Toledo Museum of Art; not only does our world class museum offer tons of art classes, they have special Family Time guided tours on Sundays.  Don’t forget a stop at the Family Center.  Each Tuesday and Thursday from 10 – 3 and Sunday from noon – 5:30, there are themed art activities & a spacious playroom with tons of interesting items to spark imagination.  Admission to the museum and Family Center activities are free, parking is $5. 
  12. Visit MacQueen’s Orchard in Maumee, OH or Erie Orchard in Erie, MI in the fall for apple picking and demonstrations on cider making.  Please note that both orchards also offer fall festivals with lots of children’s activities.  For a quiet afternoon picking apples, it’s best to go before the festivals because the trees tend to get picked over.  {More}
  13. Grab a blanket and head to Promenade Park for the Fourth of July Fireworks downtown! {More}
  14. University of Toledo Rockets Football Game.
  15. Children’s program at the Valentine Theater.  Each season they offer several programs that are meant for little ones and provides the perfect excuse to explore the renovated historic theater. 
  16. Explore WGTE, our local PBS station, for children’s events.  A few times a year {their big festival is in June} they host Family Fun Days that are free to the public.  They also share public appearances by kid favorites like Super Why!  You can also sign up for their WGTE Kids Text Alerts to receive the information directly to your phone.
  17. Bundle up, strap on your ice skates {or rent them there} and hit Ottawa Park for outdoor ice skating!  You can buy a pass for the season or just an afternoon of open skating.  There are also drop in hockey games and rink rental available.
  18. Would you rather keep your skating off the ice?  Ohio Skate and Swanton Coliseum offer roller skating year round for all ages.
  19. Toledo Symphony Family Concert Series.  This is a great idea for little musicians or for anyone that enjoys listening to music, each year the symphony offers several concerts made for little {and grown up} ears.  The Halloween Spooktacular is a must!
  20. Grab a hot dog at the world famous Tony Packo’s.  This is a Toledo institution, both the original location on the east side, and Packo’s at the Park in downtown.  See if you can spot your favorite star’s autograph on a hot dog bun!
  21. Is your little one a big reader?  The Toledo Public Library offers tons of options for fun.  There are FREE classes & special programs from preschool to teen at each branch.  The downtown branch offers a children’s library where you can find an aquarium, a life sized Sheep in a Jeep, Cat in the Hat, and all sorts of fun rooms to explore, there is even a special toddler room with toys and picture books.  Pack a lunch, bring a blanket and listen to musicians entertain you during the summer Brown Bag Concert Series at the downtown branch.  While all lunches in the series are family friendly, they usually offer one or two special children’s entertainers. 
  22. Explore the Toledo Metroparks.  There are classes  for every age group from Wee Workshops on different topics, to classes about birds or frogs, to monthly Full Moon Walks. Even little nature lovers can find a class to suit them, Toddler Trails is a nature walk for 18 month olds – 3 year olds and a parent.  Pack a picnic lunch with your friends, play on the playgrounds, enjoy the many nature trails, and winter activities such as cross country skiing.  Admission & parking is FREE, classes are a nominal fee.  A tip from my friend Karen, head to Side Cut park in Maumee in the evening {around 6 – 8 pm} to do some deer watching, they love the river side of the park!  {More}
  23. Toledo Walleye Hockey games are another fun family activity.  There are tons of theme nights for kids and don’t forget to have your picture taken with Spike and Cattrick!
  24. The German American Fest is arguably the biggest and best festival in the Toledo area.  Each year nearly 35,000 visitors flock to Oak Shade Grove to have a taste of potato pancakes, schnitzel, and other German delicacies.  Sunday afternoons are the best for children and usually are less expensive. 
  25. Toledo Speedway offers ARCA racing to enjoy.  There are special kids nights where young fans are given free admission and other perks.
  26. Ritter Planetarium-Brooks Observatory at the University of Toledo.  Public children’s programs {for all ages} run each Saturday at 1:00 pm from September through May.  They also have Scout programs and School programs from preschool through high school. 
  27. Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio is a world class amusement park.  They are most known for the crazy roller coasters, but did you know they also offer tons of options {and greatly reduced ticket prices!} for their smallest guests?  They have Camp Snoopy, family shows, the junior Gemini area, kiddy kingdom and their newest kid’s area Planet Snoopy.  If you want to make it a weekend trip, there are plenty of hotels in the area and Soak City is a fun outdoor water park for cooling off on hot summer days. {More} {More}
  28. Providence Park in Grand Rapids, Ohio offers the Isaac Ludwig Grist Mill & Canal Boat rides.  In addition to the canal experience, you will find a working limestone lock, characters in period attire, a general store, and Providence Dam to explore.
  29. Toledo Botanical Garden boasts amongst many others, a shade garden, aquatic garden, a rose garden, as well as a unique pioneer garden with a log cabin.  They offer a summer education series for children ages 6 – 12  where they can explore classes on life as a pioneer, pottery, and other fun topics.  Don’t forget to check out the Crosby Festival of the Arts in June!
  30. At Maumee Bay State Park in Oregon, Ohio there are trails to walk, picnics to be had, golfing, swimming, and tons of other activities for kids of all ages.  Don’t forget to check out the Nature Center!  In the winter, you can cross country ski, ice skate, and sled then warm up with a hot chocolate in the lodge.  Make it more than a day trip,  you can rent cabins, stay in the lodge, or try your hand at camping in one of the 252 campsites.  
  31. The Willis B Boyer museum ship is free to tour for those 10 and under.  A lake freighter retired in 1980, the ship was turned into the largest museum ship on the inland seas.
  32. One of our family’s favorites is the Toledo Farmer’s Market, we’re there nearly every Saturday of the summer.  It is a great way to introduce your children to healthy food choices fresh from local farms.  There are even special events all summer long including several kids days where they can try yoga, pet farm animals, play games, and have a story time.  Don’t forget a Flying Rhino Coffee for mom & dad while you wander through the market!  {More{More}
  33. For presidential and history buffs, the Rutheford B Hayes Presidential Center in Fremont, is for you!  Discover everything there is to know about our 19th president.  The center boasts the Hayes Home a 31 room mansion, the Hayes Museum, as well as the well kept grounds of Spiegel Grove, all are open year round for tours. 
  34. Toledo and Lake Erie Western Railway & Museum in Waterville is a must for train enthusiasts.  You can board the Blue Bird for a 60 minute, 15 mile ride around northwest Ohio. All aboard!
  35. Head back to the War of 1812 at Ft Meigs Battlefield in Perrysburg, Ohio.  The current site hosts a Museum & Education center, four blockhouses, a stockade, and a museum store.  The grounds are extensive and offer interpretive signs to explain the early events of the War of 1812.
  36. The second Sunday in October the town of Grand Rapids plays host to the annual Apple Butter Fest.  There are crafts, apple butter making demonstrations, every apple food you can think of, pioneer demonstrations, and a great children’s area with shows and entertainment for the little ones.
  37. Are you faced with a rainy or snowy day?  Sylvania Playland offers an indoor playground and tons of inflatables to bounce the energy out.
  38. Plan a visit to the amazing Butterfly House in Whitehouse, Ohio.  From May until September learn about the lifecycle of the butterfly and surround yourself with over 100 different species of butterflies.  
  39. Pack up your kids and the car and head to a drive in movie!  Both Sundance Kid Drive In in Oregon, Ohio and  Field of Dreams Drive In in Liberty Center, Ohio offer first run movies in a fun drive in atmosphere.  There is usually an early child-friendly show followed by one for the grown ups, check the schedule for movie times.  
  40. Put-In-Bay is a fabulous day trip from Toledo.  Hop on the Jet Express or on the Miller Ferry for the short ride over to the island.  Explore the island by bicycle {or a tandem!} or by golf cart, both are available for rent on the island.  Be sure to check out Oliver Hazard Perry Memorial.  For some games and fun head over to Perry’s Cave for a tour, gemstone mining, butterfly house, miniature golf and other fun activities.  There is also a great playground, picnic tables, and canons to climb on in DiRivera Park where you can enjoy the water view.
  41. Head out to the fields for an afternoon of strawberry picking at Johnston Fruit Farms in Swanton, Ohio or Polter’s Berry Farm in Fremont, Ohio.  Even little hands can help choose the juiciest berries.  Strawberry season is usually late May and early to mid-June here in the Toledo area.  {More} 
  42. Explore life as the early settlers did at the Wollcot House complex in Maumee, Ohio.  Visit the Wollcot House, original to the property, a train depot, country church, log cabin, and other buildings that now reside on the property.  They even offer a History Day Camp in the summer for 3rd – 6th graders.
  43. Why not hit the water park in the middle of winter?  You can choose from five indoor water parks in the area, Splash Bay in Maumee, Kalahari Resorts, Castaway Bay or Great Wolf Lodge in Sandusky or Splash Universe in Dundee.  Each offers day passes to the water park as well as overnight accommodations if you want to make it a mini vacation.
  44. The African Safari and Wildlife Park in Port Clinton, Ohio is a unique way to spend an afternoon.  In addition to the animal shows, pony rides, & jungle junction playland,  the main attraction is the drive through safari park where you can get up close and personal with the animals and even feed them a snack.
  45. The Merry-Go-Round Museum in Sandusky is sure to make your head spin.  You can see the creation of new carousel animals as they’re being carved, unusual carousel animals, and of course the 1939 Allan Herschell refurbished carousel.
  46. The Toledo Ballet’s annual production of The Nutcracker is the longest running annual production in the United States.  I remember seeing this as a child and went back as an adult, it’s a wonderful Christmastime outing for girls and boys alike.  The costumes, the music, and of course the dancing are mesmerizing.  
  47. The American Civil War Museum of Ohio in Tiffin, Ohio is a family friendly museum that offers over 10,000 square feet of space.  Talking, laughing, learning and enjoying yourself is encouraged here.  There are over 40 hands on exhibits, an extensive research library, and you can even dress up in reproduction Civil War uniforms.  {YES, photography is allowed!} 
  48. Snooks Dream Car Museum in Bowling Green, Ohio offers the chance to jump back in time and to explore tons of cool cars. 
  49. Pemberville Free Fair is a fun event with a small town feel.  They have everything from games and food, to a youth talent show, to a Big Wheel race, to a FREE kids’ zone for children 5th grade and under.  For 2011, it is August 18-21, with the kiddie parade at 6:30 on the 18th. 
  50. Toledo Train Day is a great way to spend a few hours.  Once a year, Toledo’s Amtrack Station in downtown plays host to a full day of every kind of train imaginable from exploring real engines to sleeper cars to model trains that you must see to believe.  Everything is free from admission to parking.  You can find more info on the TMACOG site and here is a link to the flyer from the 2011 event. 

I hope you enjoyed this list and have found one or two activities to share with your kids.  Feel free to share with your friends, just click on the little share icons below to easily post on Facebook, Twitter, or to e-mail.  If there is anything that you love to do in Toledo that I may have missed, please add new ideas to the comments, I’d love to hear from you!

2 comments:

Sara @ Russet Street Reno said...

Wow! What a fabulous list, you must've spent a ton of time on this. I wish I lived in Toledo just so I could do some of these things.

Sara Panza said...

Yay, Ohio!

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