Exploring Toledo’s Reimagined Waterfront

If you haven’t been to Toledo, Ohio recently, the once industrial seeming riverfront has been undergoing a dramatic transformation. Converting abandoned and underutilized land into miles of accessible public greenway, the expanding Glass City Riverwalk connects multiple parks and neighborhoods. The destination offers outdoor fun in all seasons, making the short drive a great return on investment for families looking to relieve summer boredom or escape the winter blues.

The newly opened Glass City Metropark is the crown jewel of the riverwalk. Centered around The Ribbon, a 1,000-foot-long skating trail, the park welcomes roller skaters in the summer and transforms into a unique ice-skating experience in the winter. Cabanas are available to rent for small groups and the park’s restaurant, The Garden by Poco Piatti, dishes Mediterranean bowls and wraps, stone oven pizzas, s’mores kits and hot chocolate, as well as espresso, buckets of beer and margarita pitchers for the grown-ups. Skate rentals, restrooms, changing rooms and coin-operated lockers are all available in nearby Market Hall, which also houses the restaurant and beer garden.

In the warmer months, kids can spend hours splashing in the Mini Maumee Discovery Play Area, a unique water experience designed as a scaled “map” of the Maumee River and its tributaries, complete with interactive frog spray fountains and its own version of Glass City Falls. Rain Towers, a public art installation and Misting Boulders round out water play features throughout the park.

Little climbers will love exploring the Grosbeak Discovery Play Area, an adventure play node featuring a double zip line, swings, hillside slides and stump climbs. The central structure is a giant 41-foot-tall adventure tower with climbing nets and a circular slide, the eye-catching design inspired by native birds. For a slightly more chill playscape, checkout the Prairie + Pollinator Discovery Play Area that encourages nature-based exploration where kids can test their balance, navigate tunnels, climb through nets and race over bunny hills in a prairie maze experience.

If your crew prefers to spend time on the river rather than next to it, tandem and single kayaks are available at the Cove + Adventure Boardwalk. This former commercial marina has been redesigned as a naturalized cove enclosed by a boardwalk and overlooks for a one-of-a-kind paddling experience.

The intentionally designed features are meant to encourage imaginary play while inspiring a healthy dose of respect for the environment. The entire riverwalk project is fueled by a conservation-first approach, with a commitment to preserve natural areas and enhance habitats for plants, wildlife and visitors. Work continues on the riverwalk, which will eventually connect six neighborhoods on both sides of the Maumee through a five-mile-long accessible trail. The next section is expected to be unveiled in 2025, with the full project slated for completion in 2030. 

Whenever you decide to visit, you’re assured a full day’s worth of entertainment, whether that be a romp on the playground, a stroll through the trails or a picnic in the sun. One major drawback is that your kids might not want to leave – but all the extra activity just might make for an early bedtime (one can dream).

Know Before You Go:

Glass City Riverwalk and all Toledo Metroparks are free to visit year-round.

Fees apply for The Ribbon during ice skating season ($10 for a 90-minute session includes skates) and equipment rentals. There is no fee to roller skate. Classic and in-line skates are available to rent.

For more information, visit metroparkstoledo.com or glasscityriverwalk.com.

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