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Day Trip: Toledo, Ohio

This is the second post in our series, “Day Trip.”  (Check out the first, Flint, Michigan).  Our goal with this series is to feature culturally interesting jaunts within an hour or two of Royal Oak which may be interesting to our readers.  It’s also our hope to help our readers save their cash by giving them ideas for trips near home while promoting travel in our region.

Okay, I know what you might be thinking, “Toledo?!  I go there for a cheaper flight sometimes . . .   Or, I’ve driven through it on the way to Cedar Point or Cincinnati…”  But before you write it off, take another look.  This city features some great restaurants at great prices, a top-notch museum featuring both classical art and new architecture, the renowned Toledo Zoo, and The Old West End, a historic neighborhood of Victorian Arts & Crafts, and Edwardian style houses.  For some ideas of where to start and what to do, check out the rest of this post, after the jump . . .

Okay, now we’ll give you a couple of ideas to get you started.  One suggestion is to leave in the late morning (after a stop at Cafe Muse in Royal Oak, perhaps, for breakfast).  The trip is normally about an hour, but you’ll need to tack on another 20 minutes or so to get around the closure of I-75.

1.  Lunch @ Georgio’s Cafe International

A little taste of Europe in downtown Toledo.  Features great seafood and steaks as well as Greek dishes.  The atmosphere is a little — shall we say, unchanged (they opened in 1986 and the mirrored wall must have been chic back then) — but the food is really good.  I’m sure they’re great for dinner, but another added benefit of going at lunch time is that the prices are quite reasonable!  I agree with Zagat, below, the lamb shank was phenomenal!

A delight in every way, this Downtown Continental with a superb and varied international menue serves ample amounts of excellent fish and the best lamb shanks ever; Quiet elegance and pleasant service makes this a romantic, special place.  –Zagat Survey

2. Toledo Museum of Art

The Toledo Museum of Art collection of more than 30,000 works of art ranks among the finest in the United States. In our more than 35 galleries, Sculpture Garden, and new Glass Pavilion, discover important, popular, and outstanding works of art, including paintings and sculptures by Bearden, Cézanne, Calder, Close, Cole, Degas, van Gogh, El Greco, Holbein, Kiefer, Matisse, Miró, Monet, Picasso, Rembrandt, Rubens, and Turner; masterworks from antiquity and Asia; decorative arts; and highlights from our renowned glass collection. —Toledo Museum of Art

First things first — the Toledo Museum of Art is FREE!  It’s massive collection is well-displayed and easily accessible.  Taking a cue from the Detroit Institute of Arts, the works have are labeled descriptively, to help the viewer get a bit of education during their visit.  There are also a couple of very interesting buildings — the elegant Glass Pavillion, opened in 2006 and the University of Toledo Center for Visual Arts, built by Frank Gehry.  (We’ll be recruiting Chai to do a guest post on the Glass Pavillion soon!)

Have you visited Toledo?  What are the “must sees”?  Let us know what we missed in the comments below.

12 responses to "Day Trip: Toledo, Ohio"

  1. Frank P Jan 17, 2009 at 15:13

    Toledo may be one of the most underrated cities in the region -I love walking around this place–feels like a small Chicago. Also, do check the flights from here – occasionally much cheaper than flying from DTW.

    Like the idea behind this series– we need to support our own region! Or no one else will.

  2. Brandon Jan 17, 2009 at 19:38

    Thanks for your comment, Frank. I’ll be doing one of these posts at least once per month. And Frankenmuth is on my list!

  3. Mike Whaling Jan 19, 2009 at 12:00

    I have to chime in since I spent almost ten years in Toledo.

    Georgio’s is a great place, but you can’t have a conversation about Toledo without mentioning Tony Packo’s — the place made famous by Klinger from M.A.S.H. You can spend hours looking through the autographed hot dog buns, and the food is just amazing.

    I think you’ll definitely need to revisit T-town in the summer for a second post. Go for a Mud Hens game, grab a bite at the Packo’s next to the stadium and check out the nightlife in the nearby Warehouse District.

    Great post … I’m looking forward to the rest of the series.

  4. Dominique Jan 19, 2009 at 13:29

    I love the Toledo Museum of Art. I was going to mention Packos and the Mud Hens, but I see someone else already beat me to that :)

    Toledo is a great day trip, but if you want to make a quick summer weekend of it, staying in the Park Hotel in downtown Toledo and taking in a Mud Hens game is a great option. We booked a room at the top of the Park, overlooking the ball park. We watched the afternoon practice from our room, then just walked down the street to watch the game at the stadium. Even with the cost of the hotel room, I don’t think it cost us any more than to drive down to Comerica Park and pay for parking for a Tigers game. We had great seats the first row behind the dugout, too!
    Next morning, we stopped by the Toledo Farmers Market and the Libbey Glass outlet on the way home.

  5. Brandon Jan 19, 2009 at 23:50

    Thanks, Mike and Dominique, for the comments and well-informed tips. I just visited once — for the first time — and in the winter. It does look like you’ve both left plenty of fodder for a future visit. Great to know that in this very tough economy there are affordable, interesting places to visit.

    Personally, I’m not a big sports fan, but Tony Packo’s will definitely be on my list next time. And the glass outlet!

  6. Brandon Jan 20, 2009 at 00:10

    Also, check out this post from Midwest Guest, on a Spanish restaurant in Cleveland, OH:

  7. Damian Rintelmann Jan 22, 2009 at 11:51

    Brandon, thanks for highlighting Toledo. I recently took a job down in Toledo but still live in Ann Arbor. I’ve started to become fond of Toledo. I recommend that people make their way down to the warehouse district.

    It’s near 53rd field where the Mud Hens play, and just a fun little area!

  8. Brandon Jan 30, 2009 at 13:29

    Thanks for the comment, Damian. Glad to hear that we’re keeping you in the Midwest! Come back and let us know if you find any must-visit spots.

  9. Day Trip: Frankenmuth, Michigan | the urbane life Jan 31, 2009 at 14:22

    […] them ideas for trips near home while promoting travel in our region.”

  10. Dominique Feb 02, 2009 at 00:33

    Thanks for the pointer to my article about Marbella Spanish restaurant in Cleveland.

    As for Packo’s, my favorites there are the fried pickles and peppers appetizer and the Hungarian-style dinners like Paprikash and stuffed cabbages. Stop in the little store there and get some pickles and Hungarian salsa to take home. I use the salsa when I make chicken paprikash at home.

  11. Brandon Feb 03, 2009 at 21:54

    Thanks for the suggestions, Dominique. I’ll definitely be headed to Packo’s once the weather takes a turn for the better!

  12. Good Eats: In a pickle at Packo’s | the urbane life Jul 19, 2009 at 18:00

    […] to Toledo? Check out Brandon’s suggestions for a Toledo Day Trip and Chai’s story about the Toledo Museum of Art here at the Urbane blog, or stop by my blog at […]