Before kindergarten started, the hubs, cubs and I roughed it for a weekend in the wilds of Maumee Bay State Park, twenty minutes outside of Toledo, Ohio. Okay, so my definition of “roughing it” may be closer to Phyllis Nefler’s than yours (think Troop Beverly Hills), but, nevertheless, our dated 3/4-bathroom, two-bedroom cabin was a fun way to experience nature with comforts of home, including a full kitchen, gas fireplace and screened porch overlooking the woods and, in our case, golf course, just a short drive or bike-ride from the Lodge.
Maumee Bay State Park offers 1,336 acres of recreational activities, woodlands, meadows, marshes and coastal environment. The Maumee Bay Lodge & Conference Center, which sits on Lake Erie, features lodge rooms (lake view available), two- and four-bedroom cabins that sleep up to 6 or 11 guests, respectively (accessible cabins are available), a restaurant and lounge, outdoor/indoor pools and splash pad, arcade, racquetball and wallyball courts, a playground and more. Activities include family crafts and movie nights with popcorn. Firepits at the lodge can be rented for a fee.
When our fishing plans were foiled (or rather soiled due to storms), we explored the onsite Trautman Nature Center and its live reptiles and fish, interactive educational exhibits and assorted taxidermy (including tiny fawns). Once the rain subsided, we walked the two-mile boardwalk through a lush wetland bordering Lake Erie. We spotted at least 30 frogs and less deer than our yard boasts on any given evening. (This trek required snacks and a stroller.) I wouldn’t hesitate to return to the Lodge & Conference Center; however, I might wait until the new management completes some of the renovations and upgrades planned.
Another day, we drove to the Toledo Zoo. Rated #1 in the nation by USA Today Travel, Cleveland Zoo members get half-off admission but must pay to park in the lot. We loved the layout and variety of activities. On a crowded weekend, pack a lunch and eat outside on one of the many benches or picnic tables. We cooled off at the seasonal splash pad (with drying station) near the impressive aquarium (admission included), rode the train (must purchase tickets) past the Aerial Adventure Course and spent a large chunk of time in the Nature’s Neighborhood children’s zoo, where the kiddos waded in the man-made stream and beach, petted farm animals, played in the treehouse, climbed a giant bee hive and held Disney princess-named Guinea pigs in the home activity center.
The Museum of Science and historic tunnel were undergoing renovations during our visit, but the tunnel entrance is set to open in November 2018. Fall is a fabulous time to enjoy the zoo. Special events include: Luminous Nights, Pumpkin Path, Little Boo at the Zoo, Adult Overnight and Pumpkin Stomp & Chomp. For Pumpkin Path and Little Boo, the zoo will take part in Teal Pumpkin Project and offer non-candy treats at select stations.
The last time we made a pit stop in Toledo, we chowed down on Tony Packo’s famous hot dogs and Hungarian dinners. This time, we grabbed lunch at the Maumee Bay Brew Pub. Known for brewing Toledo’s own Buckeye Beer, Maumee Bay Brewing Co. is located in the warehouse district historic Oliver House.
Other popular Toledo attractions include Imagination Station, the hands-on science museum located on the riverfront downtown, Toledo Museum of Art in the Old West End neighborhood, Mud Hens minor league baseball (season ends early September), the botanical garden and Wildwood Preserve Metropark and Manor House estate.
Less than a two-hour drive from Cleveland, Maumee Bay/Toledo is a worthy one-tank day trip or weekend getaway. For more info on the area and a calendar of events, check out Destination Toledo at www.visittoledo.org.
What do you think is best in the Northwest? Share your favorite Maumee Bay/Toledo attractions or activities!