After our four-hour journey from Salt Fork Lodge, we first took time to dine at the Real Seafood Company, a restaurant that sits on the far side of Maumee River with the panorama of Toledo’s skyline before it. Apparently the most popular dish here is Parmigiana Sole, and my fellow journalists seemed significantly impressed. However, I opted for the “dish less taken” and ordered Swordfish Blackened Cajan Style, with spices seared into one side. Excellent!
Then we were off. It was like speed dating a city! First stop was the highly interactive and super informative National Museum of the Great Lakes. While the museum is compact in size, its highly interactive and hands-on exhibits offered a fascinating insight into the “powerful force” of the lakes in this area that give, nurture and alas also take life.
En route we took in the Imagination Station, which offers an experiential tour of scientific ideas and principles and is adored by visitors of all ages, and also Fourth Fifth Field, a beautiful stadium that has been sandwiched between several company buildings in the city. It’s home to the Toledo Mud Hens, one of the top minor league teams in the USA and made famous by Jamie Farr’s cross-dressing character, Corporal Klinger in the TV show MASH.
Voted best Zoo in the USA this year, Toledo Zoo was next on our agenda, and we had a terrific walk around the grounds getting up close to many of the animals. Because the zoo is compact, you’re never far from an air-conditioned room – which means you soon cool down in summer (which was excellent because it went above 90F the day we were there) or warm up in winter. Favourite exhibits were the Polar Bear enclosure, the Hippoqurium and the Flamingo Pond.
Some of the group called it quits and headed home at this stage, but we, the determined, held out to see small but world-class Toledo Art Museum. Although bijou compared to other galleries in the country, this venue holds some of the world’s finest art and prides itself on curating A-list works from A-list artists including works from Rosetti, Miro, Mone, Rothko and Degas.
Finally we headed off on a 15 minute drive East to Maumee Bay Lodge in the Maumee Bay State Park where we had dinner overlooking Lake Erie at sunset. On the menu was Mane Lobster with a bounty of locally sourced vegetables including something I’d never seen before – a “cucamelon” – which looked like a tiny watermelon, but about the size of a tiny, green cherry tomato, and whose taste resembled both, as well as cucumber. Holy Toledo, Batman! What a great day.