One of the great things about the west bank of Lake Erie is that we have tremendous outdoor space. The Maumee River is lush and scenic, rich forested areas abound both in Ohio and Michigan, and of course, Lake Erie itself offers so many opportunities. The only thing we don’t have is mountains, which give the status of the dominance of Lake Erie we don’t really need to be…well…”great”.
Right Next Door
Even with the vivid and frankly numerous options for camping and visiting our lake, just down from Downtown and the East Bank is a collection of 5 amazing urban green spaces that many of us drive by every day. They often get overshadowed by the bigger State and area Metroparks but they shouldn’ get overlooked.
Even The Toledo Zoo, which is a well-known landmark, can easily be missed as an interesting and vibrant park. Of course, nothing can steal the show from the primates and polar bears but looking around at the gardens is well worth at least a bit of your time.
So, as part of our Cruise the Maumee series we offer a side trip: South Toledo. Below are listed 5 areas to get out and enjoy nature without leaving the city limits. Welcome to the green side of our city.
See you around town!
5 Outdoor Adventures in South Toledo
The Toledo Zoo and Aquarium: Any stop in Toledo, let alone South Toledo, requires a stop at The Toledo Zoo and Aquarium. Constantly rated as one of the top zoos in the country, it can be said that we really love our zoo. If you don’t happen to have a passel full of kids around, don’t let that stop you. The Aquarium on site is a fantastic underwater wonderland and, if you don’t have kids, you get to actually read the displays. Why green space? Well, one of the most overlooked parts of The Zoo complex is its rich and highly sculpted landscaping. Plus the animals have pretty good green space as well.
Walbridge Park: This underrated yet extensive park located across from The Zoo’s Broadway entrance is a city park with Metropark attitude. It is, of course, beautiful as it overlooks a particularly lush portion of the Maumee. There are the usual playground and picnic areas plus plenty of space to walk and exercise. You can also visit one of the weirder statues in the area, supposedly picturing clouds raining but you can make your own judgment as to what to call it.
Ottawa Park and Golf Course: Now moving away from Maumee river proper, Ottawa Park and its historical and charming golf course is another city park well worth a visit. If you are a golfer the course (particularly the front nine) is so throwback that it should be on any golfer’s bucket list. The park itself is fairly vast with all of the usual park amenities. Adjunct to the park is Jermain Park, extending the green space, and just down the road is Historic Woodlawn Cemetery.
Toledo Botanical Gardens: Now affiliated with Metroparks Toledo, TBG hosts an amazing collection of plants, trees, and other botanical specimens. It is lush, it is vibrant, it is, in a word, a gorgeous space. You can also visit the artisan village on site. Of all the green spaces in on our South Toledo list, this is the crown jewel.
Swan Creek Metro Preserve: Our publisher, Chris, has a particular fondness for this tight and compact Metropark. Sandwiched between Glendale and Airport, Swan Creek looks small on a map but is easy to get lost in. No matter which side you enter from, Swan Creek quickly loses it’s in town feel and gets you lost a dense forest that surrounds the meandering creek. There is a perfect 3.1-mile loop for runners or walkers that can easily be extended by up to two miles (or if you are beyond that double the loop). Unlike some of the bigger Metroparks, Swan Creek is nicely accessible, manageable and a rich green gem located in the heart of the Southend.