When the weekend comes around, it can be tough to decide what to do in Toledo — there are so many entertaining attractions in our wonderful city. But when the wallet is feeling a little drained, you may be tempted to stay indoors and watch Netflix instead of exploring. While a bit of relaxation is always nice, you shouldn’t stay home just because you want to save money.
Toledo has a wide range of activities that are completely free of charge, so whether you’re in the mood to visit a museum, picnic in the park or lounge lakeside, here are a few options to get out and experience the city without spending a cent.
Stop and Smell the Roses at the Toledo Botanical Garden
The Toledo Botanical Garden is open all year round during daylight hours, and always offers free admission. There is truly something for everyone here, whether you’re looking to meander and enjoy the beautiful plant life, learn about sustainable growing techniques, or bring your kids to enjoy educational and interactive activities. On summer nights, lay out a blanket and enjoy the Jazz in the Garden series.
Admire the Wildwood Manor House
This exquisite house has grown to be a Toledo icon. Located in the center of the Wildwood Metropark, the classic Georgian Colonial house stands tall and beautiful, and covers 30,000 square feet. Marvel at the house from afar with a picnic in the park, or enjoy a free tour. Fun events including concerts and teas are offered monthly if you’re looking for a more interactive experience.
The Toledo area is filled with natural beauty, and what better way to enjoy it than visiting a metropark? There are a variety of parks to choose from in Northwest Ohio, and each offers a different experience. In the 12,000 acres of preserves and 120 miles of trails, we are sure you’ll find something you love. Interested in a hike? Check out some of our favorite hikes in the area.
Explore the Toledo Firefighters’ Museum
Founded in 1976, the Toledo Firefighters’ Museum is unique in that it focuses on fire safety education and the history of firefighting in our country. Admission is completely free, so you can come see exhibits on early firefighting equipment (including Toledo’s first fire pumper from 1837) and enjoy interactive activities without worrying about breaking the bank. If you’ve brought the kids along, make sure to check out the second floor — Jed’s Bedroom and Fireman Freddy’s Fire Station are interactive areas that allow children to role play situations that they might encounter in real life, and educate them on planning an escape route and avoiding dangerous situations.
Wander the Toledo Farmers’ Market
Toledo residents are lucky to have access to an incredible farmers’ market open year-round. Even if you’re not looking to buy anything, drop by on a Saturday to peek at the seasonal produce, smell the flowers (and fresh pastries), and dance along to some live music. With multiple locations and hundreds of incredible local vendors, there’s always something new to experience.
Tour the Old West End Neighborhood
Fans of Victorian architecture will find solace in Toledo’s historic Old West End Neighborhood. Comprised of 25 city blocks nearly untouched by modernism, the area is said to be the largest collection of Colonial, Queen Ann, Italian Renaissance and Arts & Crafts homes east of the Mississippi. Meander on the sidewalks to soak in some sunshine and some inspiration from times gone by — Frank Lloyd Wright even found ideas here during his planning of the Oak Park Project in Illinois. They say that it’s not the houses that make the neighborhood, but the people, so keep an eye out for some Old West End events and join in the festivities.
Monkey Around the Zoo on a Monday
If you’ve been hankering to see the elephants, gorillas and flamingos at the Toledo Zoo, maybe find your way there on a Monday. Lucas County residents (with a valid ID) get free admission from 10am-noon, and can enjoy the exhibits the rest of the day. This saves you $19 on standard admission, so take advantage of the offer! Find ticket prices and admission information here.
Visit the Stranahan Arboretum
This 47-acre site is home to some of the most gorgeous trees you’ll find in Ohio. Located just a 10-minute drive from the University of Toledo’s main campus, the arboretum is perfect for a casual stroll with your friends or a date on a warm-weather day. In the fall, the park explodes with spectacular colors and foliage, and in spring the blossoms are something out of a fairy tale. Regardless of when you choose to visit, you can count on learning a little something about maples, dogwoods and evergreens.
Marvel at the Toledo Museum of Art
Photo Courtesy of Richard Goodbody via the Toledo Museum of Art
The Toledo Museum of Art was founded in 1901 with just two humble rooms and a few classic pieces. In 2017, the museum covers 36 acres with six buildings, and has gained international recognition for its gorgeous architectural campus, innovative education programs and impressive collections. There’s usually a fun exhibition or installation to see, but the buildings themselves (including everything from Greek to modern architecture) are a marvel in themselves.
Window Shop at the Libbey Glass Factory Outlet
Toledo is the Glass Capital of the World, which might seem like a strange claim to fame if you haven’t yet visited the Libbey Glass Factory. Once you step inside, you’ll be amazed at the incredible array of glittering glassware that greets you. Libbey is one of the greatest glass manufacturers in the world, so the store includes everything from shot glasses and dinnerware to beer steins and mason jars. While you’re always welcome to buy something to take home, window shopping is just as fun and is a great experience for any out-of-town visitor.
Did We Miss Something?
What are your favorite things to do in the area for free? Let us know in the comments below!