Moms everywhere are planning their family vacations for the year. Destination Toledo and Ohio State Parks are here to help mom out by providing a slew of great ideas for a family getaway to Northwest Ohio!
Start your journey at the Toledo Zoo (KIDS LOVE OHIO pg 217), one of the nation’s top-ranked zoos and the number one attraction in Toledo! Immerse yourself in the heart of Africa on the Safari Railway through a 5-acre African habitat teeming with giraffes, zebra and all the wilds of Africa. Grab lunch at the Carnivore Café before enjoying your whirlwind trip through the Arctic Encounter, Hippoquarium, Nature’s Neighborhood, Museum of Science and Aquarium…your journey is endless! The new aquarium was funded by locals, so it’s their pride and joy. I particularly loved that the zoo keeps many old structures and recycles them. For instance, the old lion and tiger cages are now the Carnivore Café – indoor seating in actual barred cages!
Take a break and relax with a view of the beautiful downtown Toledo skyline at one of several restaurants located at the Docks (22 Main Street, www.realseafoodcorestaurant.com). Enjoy the picturesque riverfront on the outdoor patio of Real Seafood for an afternoon nibble and a cold drink. They bring in fresh seafood from the Atlantic, Pacific and Great Lakes. Many rave about their crab cakes. I liked their selection of locally caught Perch or Walleye. Lunch runs $10-$13. Dinner runs about double. Entrees include two sides. I recommend you try their blue cheese vinaigrette coleslaw with any fish entrée. All kids meals include a beverage and the entrees (shrimp, burger, tenders, spaghetti, etc) run $5.95. On a nice day, try to get a patio seat. Really good view.
Get ready for some fun in the sun! Head out to the 1,850-acre Maumee Bay State Park (KIDS LOVE OHIO pg 220) and play on the beach on the shores of Lake Erie. Rent a jet ski, kayak or a banana boat and venture out on the water. Take a nature walk on the marshland boardwalk teeming with wildlife, or bike along one of the winding trails with stunning views. Options include the Nature Center, geocaching, court sports, horseshoes, children’s activities, swimming (inside or out), hot tubs, children’s soft play area, fitness room, game room, corn-hole, shuffleboard, fishing, canoeing and paddle boating. And dad will love the 18-hole Scottish Links golf course!
After an afternoon of sun and fun, it’s time to check in at the Maumee Bay Lodge & Conference Center. Whether you opt for one of the fully-furnished cozy cottages, or select a loft-style room at the lodge, your stay is sure to be a delight. Simple furnishings for old-fashioned fun.
No need to leave the park for dinner! Water’s Edge Restaurant encompasses a breathtaking glass wrap-around view of Lake Erie with a variety of choices to suit every appetite. This is not your typical state park dining. The chef uses mostly local ingredients and prepares gourmet entrees that have appealing subtle look and flavor. If you’re there for brunch, it’s so diverse. Come hungry. After dinner, hang out at either the outdoor or indoor pool, or soak in the warmth of the relaxing whirlpool or sauna. Then, watch a feature movie inside or a bonfire and roast s’mores outside.