Bridge at Glass City Metropark in Toledo (photo by Doug Hinebaugh)

5 Ways to Experience Toledo’s Waterfront

Located where the Maumee River meets Lake Erie, this Northwest Ohio city makes for a great place to explore outdoor recreation and maritime history.

Whether you want to head out on a boat or stay along the shore, Toledo’s waterfront has lots to experience. Maritime history mingles with on-the-water dining, while public parks hug the banks of the Maumee River, which flows through the city and into Lake Erie. These waters were vital to the lives of the Indigenous people who once called this area home and later boosted the region’s agriculture and industry, making a visit to Toledo’s waterfront an exploration of both history and recreation. 

Glass City Metropark: Part of a $225 million riverwalk project, Glass City Metropark spans 93 acres on the Maumee River. Summer 2023 brought Kayak Cove and Adventure Boardwalk, which provide a starting point for paddling excursions. Kids will love the park’s Mini-Maumee Discovery Play Area and the Grosbeak Discovery Play Area with its 41-foot-tall tower. When it’s time for a bite to eat, the park’s Market Hall houses the fast-casual Mediterranean restaurant, The Garden by Poco Piatti. 1505 Front St., Toledo 43605,

Exterior of The Real Seafood Co. on the water in Toledo (photo by Mainstreet Ventures)
Real Seafood Co.: Feasting on fresh seafood along the water offers a culinary vacation of its own. The Real Seafood Co. has been here since 1999 as part of The Docks, a collection of waterfront restaurants. Order fresh-caught seafood from the coasts of New England, the Gulf of Mexico and the Great Lakes. Fish, lobster, oysters, shrimp and more are offered in a variety of preparations. Take a seat in the expansive, nautical-themed dining room, complete with raw bar, or dine al fresco on the patio. 22 Main St., Toledo 43605, 

National Museum of the Great Lakes: Dive into maritime history at the National Museum of the Great Lakes, which includes a main building with six exhibit galleries, plus the 617-foot-long Col. James M. Schoonmaker MuseumShip and the Museum Tug Ohio (ships open May through October). Dedicated to highlighting the influence of the Great Lakes on the region and the nation, self-guided tours illuminate nautical adventures with shipwreck tales and historic artifacts. A museum expansion is bringing more exhibit space and an education center. 1701 Front St., Toledo 43605,

Group of people at the Renaissance Toledo Downtown Hotel (photo courtesy of Renaissance Toledo Downtown Hotel)
Renaissance Toledo Downtown Hotel: This Marriott-brand hotel is the only one in Toledo that sits directly on the riverfront. Just a short walk away from the Seagate Convention Center, it also connects to Imagination Station, a hands-on science museum. Head to the 12th floor to reach The Heights, a rooftop bar and restaurant with great views, while The Brim House Restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Hotel decor pays homage to the Glass City with a made-in-Toledo military Jeep and glass art in the lobby. 444 N. Summit St., Toledo 43604,

J&M Cruise Lines: The Sandpiper — an open-air vessel that departs from Promenade Park — offers laid-back, breezy jaunts that include one- and two-hour discovery excursions. Daytime cruises pass by grand homes along the Maumee River, while sunset cruises dazzle with sights of city lights. Themed cruises like the Glass City River Wall Tour get close to the largest mural in the nation, which stretches across multiple grain silos. The elegant Glass City Pearl offers trips on the Maumee River and out onto Lake Erie. 1 Jefferson Ave., Toledo 43604,