Updated Wed, Jun 5, 2013 11:28 am
One of the first things visitors to the northwest corner of the state notice: It’s awfully flat up here.
There are no rugged Appalachian glacier cuts as seen in the southeast and no forested regions such as those that blanket the northeast part of the state.
What can be found is water, lots of it. With Lake Erie to the north and the Maumee River plowing through a big chunk of the area, the region is blessed with two mainstays of outdoor adventure.
Add the sprawling Oak Openings Preserve Metropark and its vast array of unique species and plant life, and you’ve got a wonderful weekend of boating, hiking and biking adventures.
Serenity for paddlers
Forgive Chris Martin if he goes all Zen on you when describing his business.
The owner of River Lures can’t help himself when it comes to describing the peaceful adventure that awaits on the big, broad Maumee River that courses through Indiana before dumping into Lake Erie.
“What I preach all summer long is that I’m selling peace and serenity, and what I’ve gathered over the years is that people really need it,” he said.
Martin has owned River Lures in picturesque Grand Rapids (Wood County) for nine years. The village is a destination in itself, with antique shops, arts stores and good restaurants. He has grown the business to 80 watercraft, including kayaks, canoes and pontoon boats.
The Maumee starts in Fort Wayne, Ind., and then works its way north through towns and villages such as Defiance, Waterville, Antwerp, Perrysburg and Maumee before plowing through downtown Toledo, which is about 25 miles northeast of Grand Rapids.
Martin said wildlife abounds along the river, and he’s seen various kinds of turtles; waterfowl such as ducks, egrets and herons; raccoons; deer; and coyotes. Perhaps coolest of all are the bald eagles that have aeries along the Maumee and that feed in the water.
“Its unbelievable what a great resource we have here, and a lot of sections are remote,” he said.
River Lures offers 6-, 9-, 11- and 13-mile excursions that range from two to five hours. You start in Grand Rapids and then disembark and are driven back.
New this year on the 6-mile trip: Folks can exchange their canoe or kayak for a bike that can be ridden back to Grand Rapids on a bike path.
Costs range from $20 to $35 a person ($10 kayaking and stand-up board lessons are available).
River Lures also rents fishing equipment. Walleye fishing is popular on the Maumee because the water is often low enough that you can stand in the river and fish. (Information: 419-832-0989, www.riverlures.com)
Charter for anglers
Don McGee is drawn to the lake the way some people gravitate toward a job or hobby. In his late 50s, he has been charter fishing on Lake Erie since 1981.
“I bought a boat before I bought a car. I’m just that kind of a person,” he said.
McGee is one of about 500 licensed captains who take everyone from hard-core anglers to inexperienced weekend casters out on the water throughout the boating season, which starts in the spring and goes to the fall.
“I get people who come in with the fanciest equipment and understand the principles of fishing, and I get people who walk in with high heels and dress shoes,” he said. “Our job is to just teach them to understand what we need to get done and what to get accomplished.”
McGee’s King and Eye Charters is about 10 miles east of Toledo in Curtice (Ottawa County) at Meinke Marina. His charter will accommodate up to six people, with the cost about $100 a person for a six- to seven-hour excursion. The fishing is primarily for walleye and perch — which can be kept up to the legal limit — but other fish such as catfish and steelheads are caught for sport and tossed back in the water.
It’s an experience, McGee says, that everyone can enjoy.
“I’m not a tyrant who’s going to stand over you with a club telling you what to do,” he said. “ It’s your day, and I get people who don’t fish. They just sit down and enjoy the breeze.” (Information: 419-277-4787)
Paradise for hikers
While in northwest Ohio, leave time for a hike at Oak Openings Preserve Metropark, which is in the southwestern corner of Lucas County near the airport and not too far from Grand Rapids.
The Nature Conservancy has named it one of the world’s “Last Great Places.” Nearly one-third of Ohio’s endangered plant species can be found here, along with a host of rare animals, many of them birds and butterflies, according to the park’s website.
It’s a great place for bird-watchers, who might see geese, red-tailed hawks, owls, kingfishers, woodpeckers, bluebirds and sand-pipers.
Much of the terrain is sandy, but some of the trails are lined with ferns and are almost primeval in appearance. Within the park the terrain ranges from oak savanna to woodland and prairie.
The 64-mile Wabash Cannonball bike trail cuts through the park for 5 miles. There also are 20 miles of trails in Oak Openings, including one designated for people riding horses. Plus, this is an excellent place to give your dog a good, long, satisfying walk. (Information: www.metroparkstoledo.com)
Ohio Bike Week: May 31-June 9, ear plugs are optional at this rip roaring motorcycle-centered party in Sandusky along the Lake Erie shore; the event itself is free, but there are charges for concerts and other activities; 419-502-0022; www.ohiobikeweek.com
Old West End Festival: June 1-2, a popular mix of an art fair, home tour, and parade that draws tens of thousands of people to the lovely neighborhood just west of downtown Toledo; free, except for the home tour; www.toledooldwestend.com. While you’re there, check out the nearby Toledo Museum of Art’s free “Crossing Culture” Australian aboriginal art exhibit
47th Annual Crosby Festival of the Arts: June 29-30, the endless beauty of Toledo Botanical Garden is featured in this celebration of art and nature; Toledo Botanical Garden, 5403 Elmer Drive; admission $8 for adults, children 12 and younger are free; 419-536-5566, www.toledogarden.org
Lagrange Street Polish Festival: July 12-14, a celebration of Toledo’s Polish tradition with ethnic food, beer, and a pierogi-eating contest; in the Lagrange neighborhood in North Toledo; general admission $4 on July 12 and 13, and $2 July 14, with children 8 and younger free; www.polishfestival.org
The Great Mohican Pow-Wow: July 12-14 and Sept. 20-22, celebrate the lifestyle of native Americans during these two events; Mohican Reservation, 23270 Wally Road, Loudonville; admission $8 for adults for one day, $14 for a two-day pass, and $21 for a three-day pass, $4 for a one-day pass for children ages 6-12, $6 for a two-pass and $9 for a three-day pass, pre-schoolers, free; 740-599-5720; www.mohicanpowwow.com
Balloonfest: Aug. 9-11, hot air balloon flights, a classic car show, parades, and other activities mark this festival in Findlay, also known as the Flag City; free; www.flagcityballoonfest.com
German American Festival: Aug. 23-25, one of the state’s oldest ethnic festivals includes traditional German music and foods, a Hummel lookalike, and lots of beer from all over the world; Oak Shade Grove, 3624 Seaman Rd., Oregon; admission $7 per person; www.gafsociety.org
Milan Melon Festival: Aug. 31-Sept. 2, the only summer foods that outrank corn on the cob and strawberries are melons, which are celebrated for the 55th year in downtown Milan; free; 419-499-2498. www.milanmelonfestival.org
Black Swamp Festival: Sept. 6-8, kind of a miniature version of the massive Ann Arbor Arts Festival only with much better music and food (and it’s not in Michigan); downtown Bowling Green; free; www.blackswamparts.org.
Cedar Point, Soak City, Challenge Park
Description: With more than 70 rides, including 16 roller coasters, Cedar Point has more rides and coasters than any park in the world; the 18-acre Soak City water park has slides, inner-tube rivers and a wave pool. Cedar Point and Soak City border Challenge Park, which features rides, go-carts and miniature golf. Castaway Bay, only minutes from Cedar Point, offers 237 rooms and suites and a large water park that boasts a water coaster, body slides, a wave pool and more
Location: 1 Cedar Point Dr., Sandusky (Erie County)
Open: Daily, operating hours vary through Sept. 2; weekends only Sept. 6 through Oct. 27
Admission, Cedar Point: $54.99 for those age 3 and older, 48 inches or taller; or $29.99 for senior citizens 62 and older and those age 3 and older, less than 48 inches tall in shoes; free for children 2 and younger; online, military, evening, combo and group rates available
Challenge Park: open daily, operating hours vary through Sept. 2, weekends only Sept. 6 through Oct. 27 (call for details); Admission: prices vary, call for details
Soak City: open daily May 25 through Sept. 2, operating hours vary; Admission: $32.99 for those age 3 to 61, 48 inches or taller in bare feet; or $18.99 for senior citizens 62 and older and those age 3 and older, less than 48 inches tall in bare feet; free for children 2 and younger
Castaway Bay: indoor water park resort open year-round; Admission: $25 day passes, or free for children 2 and younger; availability based on occupancy; call 419-627-2500 or visit www.castawaybay.com
Parking: $15; $20 for oversized vehicles requiring more than one space; preferred parking $25 for spaces close to the gate
New attractions: GateKeeper roller coaster, featuring a track that flies above the main entrance of the park and passing through front-gate portals for near-miss excitement
Least-busy days: Tuesday through Thursday
Wheelchair access: A guide for disabled guests is available at the park operations office
Information: 419-627-2350, www.cedarpoint.com
Great Wolf Lodge
Description: An indoor water park including slides, pools, a dumping bucket, a lazy river and an outdoor pool area
Location: 4600 Milan Rd., Sandusky (Erie County)
Admission: must be an overnight guest; various rooms and suites available
Least-busy days: midweek May and September
Information/reservations: 419-609-6000, 1-800-641-9653, www.greatwolf.com
Description: The indoor/outdoor water park includes a large wave pool, two indoor surfing attractions, a lazy river, tube rides, body slides and family raft rides as well as the Safari Outdoor Adventure Park — including rope courses, zip-line tours, climbing walls and an animal park
Location: 7000 Kalahari Dr., Sandusky (Erie County)
Open: year-round, operating hours vary; water park availability to nonguests based on resort occupancy; call first
Admission: varies, check website for availability; Safari Outdoor Adventure Park admission is $24.95
Parking: free; valet parking $12 a day
Least-busy days: weekdays
Where to buy tickets: for nonguests, online (highly recommended) and at the water park entrance when available
Information: 419-433-7200, 1-888-451-5248, www.kalahariresorts.com
Description: A three-story slide, go-carts, a miniature golf course and a bumper-boat pond are among the park’s attractions
Location: 1530 S. Danbury Rd. N., Port Clinton (Ottawa County)
Open: daily, operating hours vary May 25-27, June 1-2, June 8 through Aug. 25 and Aug. 31-Sept. 2; call for details
Admission: water park, $16, or $10 for senior citizens 62 and older, free for children 2 and younger; Do It All Pass, including all activities, $17.50 Monday through Thursday, $22 Friday through Sunday (height restrictions)
Where to buy tickets: at the gate
Information: 419-732-6671, 1-866-732-6671, www.monsoonlagoonwaterpark.com
Description: An intimate outdoor venue with a seating capacity of about 1,000
Location: 5773 Centennial Rd., Sylvania, near Toledo (Lucas County)
Performances: June 14 (8 p.m.): “Weird Al” Yankovic; July 9 (8 p.m.): Alice Cooper, Marilyn Manson; July 10 (8 p.m.): Doobie Brothers; July 18 (8 p.m.); Aug. 2 (8 p.m.) Trace Adkins; Willie Nelson; Aug. 4 (6 p.m.): Tesla; Aug. 8 (7:30 p.m.): Happy Together Tour 2013 featuring the Turtles, Flo & Eddie, Chuck Negron
Parking: free to $5, depending on show
Tickets: $25 to $71.50 at www.etix.com or Toledo’s Stranahan Theater box office: 419-381-8851
Information: 419-882-1500, www.centennialterrace.org
Armstrong Air & Space Museum
Description: A museum chronicling Ohio’s contributions to the history of space flight, including the accomplishments of Neil Armstrong, the first man to set foot on the moon
Location: 500 Apollo Dr., Wapakoneta (Auglaize County)
Open: 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, noon to 5 p.m. Sunday
Admission: $8, or $7 for senior citizens 60 and older, $4 for children 6 to 12, free for children 5 and younger
Parking: free, on-site
Information: 419-738-8811, www.armstrongmuseum.org
Description: The hands-on science-and-learning center also features a simulation theater
Location: 1 Discovery Way (corner of Summit and Adams streets), Toledo (Lucas County)
Open: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, noon to 5 p.m. Sunday
Admission: $9.50, or $8.50 for senior citizens 65 and older, $7.50 for children 3 to 12, free for children 2 and younger
Parking: nearby surface lots
Special exhibits: “Grossology: The (Impolite) Science of the Human Body,” breaks down the processes of bodily functions through animatronics and hands-on exhibits (through Sept. 2)
Information: 419-244-2674, www.imaginationstationtoledo.org
Toledo Museum of Art
Description: The museum covers 41/2 acres on two levels, with 45 galleries; the Glass Pavilion features five galleries
Location: 2445 Monroe St. at Scottwood Avenue, Toledo (Lucas County)
Open: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, noon to 6 p.m. Sunday (hours will change July 1; call ahead)
Admission: free; fees charged for some special exhibits
Special exhibits: “Crossing Cultures: The Owen and Wagner Collection of Contemporary Aboriginal Australian Art from the Hood Museum of Art” features 120 indigenous works of art from Australia spanning five decades (through July 14); “Prints by Australian Artists: The Bicentennial Folio,” spotlights the works of 25 Australian artists (through July 21); “Patterns on Paper,” explores the evolution and use of patterns to enhance visual pleasure (through July 21); “Witness to Hunger,” photographic exhibition (June 28 to Aug. 9)
Information: 419-255-8000, www.toledomuseum.org
SPORTING EVENTS: BASEBALL
Toledo Mud Hens
Description: The Detroit Tigers’ Class triple-A affiliate is an International League
Location: Fifth Third Field, 406 Washington St., Toledo (Lucas County)
Home games: May 31-June 3 vs. Louisville; June 6-7 vs. Columbus; June 17-20 vs. Lehigh Valley; June 21-24 vs. Pawtucket; July 3-4 vs. Columbus; July 5-7 vs.Indianapolis; July 8-10 vs. Louisville; July 26-29 vs. Buffalo; July 30-Aug. 2 vs. Durham;Aug. 3-5 vs. Columbus; Aug. 10-11 vs. Indianapolis; Aug. 13-16 vs. Norfolk; Aug. 17-20 vs.Gwinnett; Aug. 28-29 vs. Indianapolis; Aug. 30-31 vs. Columbus
Admission: $9, or $7 for senior citizens and children 3 to 12; free for children 2 and younger
Parking: nearby lots
Tickets/information: available at the Mud Hens office, 419-725-4367; at the park; or online, www.mudhens.com
SPORTING EVENTS: GOLF
Description: A showcase for some of the best female golfers on the LPGA tour
Location: Highland Meadows Golf Club, 7445 Erie St., Sylvania
Dates: July 15-21
Admission: weekly grounds admission, $50; daily tickets Monday through Friday, $15; Saturday and Sunday, $20; free for those 17 and younger with accompanying adult
Parking: $5 daily, or $10 weekly parking pass; Lot B located at Centennial and Brint
Tickets/information: 419-531-3277; www.marathonclassic.com
SPORTING EVENTS: MOTOR SPORTS
Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course
Description: A comprehensive motorsports facility, Mid-Ohio features a permanent road-racing circuit with a 2.4-mile, 15-turn, and a 2.25-mile, 13-turn circuit
Location: 7721 Steam Corners Rd., Lexington (Morrow County)
Events: June 14-16: Diamond Cellar Classic; June 28-30: Mechanics Bank Vintage Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio; July 12-14: Buckeye Superbike Weekend; July 19-21: AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days; Aug. 2-4: Honda Indy 200; Aug. 16-17: Nationwide Children’s Hospital 200
Admission: $20 to $45, depending on event; free for children 12 and younger when accompanied by an adult
Parking: free, non-infield
Wheelchair access: yes
Tickets/information: available by calling the track office, 1-800-643-6446, or online; 419-884-4000, www.midohio.com
SPORTING EVENTS: HARNESS RACING
Description: Originally built for auto racing, it now has a 5/8-mile track for harness racing
Location: 5700 Telegraph Rd., Toledo (Lucas County)
Season: Saturdays and Sundays (post time 6 p.m.) through Sept. 15; simulcasting daily
Wheelchair access: yes
Tickets/information: available at the gate; 419-476-7751; www.racewayparktoledo.com
Description: More than 8,000 animals representing more than 700 species live on the 74-acre grounds
Location: 2 Hippo Way, Toledo (Lucas County)
Big attractions: Wild Walkabout: Wonders from Down Under brings the fascinating natural world of Australia to zoo visitors. The adventure starts with a walk-through wallaby exhibit and continues with dingoes, cassowaries and more. In the Reptile House, check out the huge saltwater crocodile, along with some of Australia’s deadliest snakes. Or relax in the Museum of Science with a Great Barrier Reef exhibit showcasing the intrigue of Australia’s coastal waters
Wild Walkabout will be open from May 24 to Sept. 2
Open: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday, till 6 p.m. weekends Memorial Day through Labor Day
Admission: $14, or $11 for senior citizens 60 and older and children 2 to 11, free for children younger than 2
Parking: $7, or $15 for vehicles that take more than one space
Information: 419-385-4040, www.toledozoo.org