It’s all kids’ play in zoo’s new Nature’s Neighborhood
A trip to the Toledo Zoo is always fun, but come June 19, little ones will have an opportunity to interact with nature in a fun new way at Nature’s Neighborhood, the new year-round children’s zoo.
The 100 percent “explorable” exhibit, which will give kids an idea what it’s like to be an animal, features a passing stream to wade in, places to climb, crawl and discover and plenty of hands-on opportunities. And of course, there are lots of animals – reptiles, exotic birds, turtles, guinea pigs, goats, birds, dogs, cats and more.
In addition, a wide variety of frogs, salamanders, Aquatic caecilian, spring creepers and more are on display in the “Amazing Amphibians” exhibit in the zoo’s Museum of Science. Because so many amphibians are nocturnal and operate at night, the exhibit is set in a “night-time” ambience.
A baby gibbon named Quan on exhibit in the Primate Forest, is one of the new arrivals at the zoo for public viewing.
The zoo’s amphitheater provides a cozy space to hear great music. The zoo’s free “Music Under the Stars” series will be offered at 7:30 p.m. each Sunday July 12 through the end of August. The free Sunday concerts feature the Toledo Symphony performing various themed shows, from Broadway musicals to jazz to patriotic tunes. Before the concert, the zoo’s Beastro Café is open for dinner beginning at 5:30 p.m.
Zoo hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Labor Day. For more info, call 419-385-5721 or visit www.toledozoo.org.
As winter glitters with frost and ice, through Aug. 9, the Toledo Museum of Art’s Glass Pavilion will sparkle with radiant historical jewelry from the collection of Nancy and Gilbert Levine.
The promised gift to TMA is one of the most important collections of European jewelry made between 1785 to 1885. This free exhibition in the Glass Pavilion celebrates not only the works in the collection, but also the Levines’ connoisseurship and the collecting philosophy that created this dazzling array of brooches, rings, and bracelets. More than 150 ensembles and individual ornaments, some in their original boxes, represent the period’s eclectic styles, notable for ingenious techniques and imaginative designs.
And on Saturday, June 13 from noon to 5 p.m., the Toledo Museum of Art and its Committee for Cultural Diversity will present the fifth annual Juneteenth Celebration. This free festival features music, dance, film, art demonstrations, food, and hands-on art activities. Most activities, parking, and admission to the Museum are free.
The Toledo Museum of Art is located at 2445 Monroe St. at Scottwood Avenue, just off I-75 in Toledo. Hours are Tuesday through Thursday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Friday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The museum is closed Mondays. Admission to the museum and most exhibits is free, though special exhibitions or events may require purchase of a ticket. Call 1-800-644-6862, or visit www.toledomuseum.org.
Starlight, star bright … the fun starts at twilight.
Cedar Point has spent $1 million to design and install the “Starlight Experience,” more than 1 million LED lights with music that will light buildings, structures and trees along Frontier Trail from the bridge at Snake River Falls to the Millennium coaster. The display will be offered at twilight daily through Labor Day weekend. Colorful lights will also adorn special floats along the Trail as well as larger-than-life displays of the Peanuts gang.
And speaking of the Peanuts gang, the 1.25-acre Planet Snoopy the park’s youngest visitors, features seven rides – a mini-teacup-style ride, miniature train, 4 x 4 trucks, a bouncing tower, spinning balloons, rocket ships and a crazy sub ride. Kids can also enjoy games and special live appearances by the Peanuts characters. A family center with changing stations and private areas to feed children in a quiet atmosphere are also offered.
Nearby, near the Kiddy Kingdom, take a break and rest near the new interactive Midway Foundation located on the Main Midway. As you walk by, the water will react, jumping and dancing to your passing.
Also new this year are two musical programs “Got Country?” at the Red Garter Saloon and a new piano show at the Palace Theatre in Frontiertown.
Cedar Point is open daily through Labor Day. The adjacent Soak City water park is open now through June 26 and Aug. 2 to Sept. 7 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; June 27 to Aug. 16 from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Aug. 17-23 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
In addition, Cedar Point’s Challenge Park complex features sprint car and grand prix racing, rip cord and skyscraper activities that begin at 11 a.m. and a golf course that opens at 9 a.m. The complex is open through Nov. 1. For hours and for ticket prices to the amusement park, Soak City and Challenge Park, call 419-627-2350 or visit www.cedarpoint.com.
Take a drive on the wild side
Free food! A bucket’s load of it!
Now that we have your attention, we should explain that the free food that visitors to the African Safari Wildlife Park get is to feed the animals who will walk up to – and sometimes surround – your vehicle as you drive through the more than 100-acre preserve at 267 Lightner Rd. off SR 2 just outside Port Clinton.
Wild, exotic and some rare and endangered animals from A(lpacas) to Z(ebras) roam the preserve, some of them small and some of them very tall.
Visitors can drive-through as many times as they like and additional buckets of food may be purchased. Afterwards, park the vehicle and walk through Safari Junction where you can see educational programs, watch pig races and ride a camel or a pony at no additional charge (weight and height restrictions apply; pony ride is between Memorial Day and Labor Day).
Hours through Labor Day weekend are 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., rain or shine, with the last vehicle admitted at 6 p.m.
Admission prices during the summer season are $17.95 per person for ages 7 and up and $11.95 for children ages 3-6. Seniors age 62 years and older and military personnel get $3 off the regular admission price (with ID).
Food concessions are available or you can pack a picnic lunch. For more info, call 1-800-521-2660 or visit www.africansafariwildlifepark.com.
Movies with nostalgia and perks
Enjoy a taste of nostalgia at the Sundance Kid Drive-In, located at 4500 Navarre Ave. in Oregon, across from Pearson Park.
The Sundance Kid features two first-run films on two screens April through October. This 50s-style drive-in has all the nostalgia and the best in FM stereo sound. Hungry? The concession stand offers fresh popped popcorn, grilled hamburgers, cheeseburgers and hot dogs, 12-inch made-to-order pizzas, nachos supreme, ice cream novelties, frozen pop and much more.
In addition, The Butch Cassidy Canteena, the outside concession wagon, features carnival favorites like cotton candy, hand-dipped corn dogs, mini donuts, caramel apple chips, soft serve ice cream, funnel cakes and more.
For more info on current showings or other info, call 419-691-9668.
There’s always something new blooming at the Schedel Arboretum and Gardens, located at 19255 W. Portage River South Rd. in Elmore, where nearly 20,000 annuals are planted along with Japanese, water, rose, iris, perennial and other gardens.
The gardens are located on the grounds of the former estate of German immigrant Joseph Schedel and his wife, Marie. The couple moved into the Victorian home in 1934 (it was built in 1888), and lovingly began developing the lush grounds into an arboretum and gardens. The Victorian home houses treasures from the Schedels’ extensive travels, including a Hereke silk prayer rug, antique Persian rugs, teak furniture and Japanese silk embroideries.
Currently, the gardens are featuring the works of bronze sculptor Barry Woods Johnston of Baltimore.
The Athena Art Society, founded in 1903 at the Toledo Museum of Art and one of the two oldest women’s professional art organizations in the country, will present a special exhibit at Schedel through July 12. The society’s members work in all media, including painting, drawing, prints, mixed media, photography, ceramics, sculpture, and fiber art.
Schedel Arboretum and Gardens are open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and noon to 4 p.m. Sundays through October for self-guided tours of the grounds. The facility is closed on Mondays and the three major summer holidays (Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day). Parking is free. Golf carts are available with advance notice for those that are handicapped or elderly; a driver will be assigned for your visit. Admission for self-guided tours of the grounds is $10 for adults, $9 for seniors or AAA members, and $6 for children. Call 419-862-3182 or visit www.schedel-gardens.org.
The Toledo Botanical Garden, located 5403 Elmer Dr. off Holland-Sylvania Road, is host to several major events during the year, but is probably best known for the Crosby Festival of the Arts.
The 44th annual festival in 2009 will be held June 27 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and June 28 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and will feature more than 230 artists in various mediums from across the country as well as live entertainment, a variety of food and special kids’ activities in the Children’s Artistic Playhouse.
Festival admission is $7. Children 12 and under and Garden members get in free. Free parking and roundtrip shuttle service is available at the WalMart parking lot at Central Avenue and Holland-Sylvania Road.
The garden also hosts annual Jazz in the Garden concerts on Thursdays, this year from July 9 through Aug. 20 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
For more info about these and other TBG programs, call 419-536-5566 or visit www.toledogarden.org. The TBG is open daily year-round during daylight hours. Admission is free outside of the Crosby Festival and certain other special events.
Bird and wildlife watching
Ohio offers some of the best birding sites in the country, particularly along the Lake Erie shoreline. State parks, federal nature preserves, forests and wildlife areas are spectacular locations to view many species of birds including bald eagles, owls, waterfowl and shorebirds.
In April 2009, the mountain bluebird was seen for what is believed to have been the first time in a century in the Toledo area. The sighting truly became a “bluebird of happiness” for birdwatchers, who descended by the hundreds on the area from hundreds of miles away.
The Maumee Bay region’s location along major migratory bird routes between Canada and the South also makes it an important location. Prime bird watching locations in the region for year-round enjoyment include:
• Magee Marsh State Wildlife Area and its neighboring Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge in Lucas and Ottawa counties are recognized among the nation’s premier birding destinations. They offer thousands of acres along the western Lake Erie shoreline, and are ideal for viewing the spring migration activities of warblers, tanagers, orioles and grosbeaks. A handicap-accessible boardwalk, the Magee Marsh Bird Trail, winds through marshlands reminiscent of what was once the Great Black Swamp. Birders gather and compare sightings at the Sportsmen’s Migratory Bird Center. Visit www.dnrohio.gov/wildlife/resources/wbirds/birding0404.htm for info.
• The Lake Erie Wing Watch region, located between Oak Harbor and Lorain, is home to more than 300 bird species, including majestic bald eagles, colorful migratory warblers and great blue herons. For more information visit www.lakeeriewingwatch.com or call the Ottawa County Visitors Bureau at 800-441-1271.
• East Harbor State Park in Ottawa County (north of Sandusky) with its scenic wetlands is sure to offer nature enthusiasts an abundance of wildlife to view including ducks, geese, gulls, terns and other migratory waterfowl. For details visit www.dnr.ohio.gov/parks/parks/eastharbor.htm.
• Maumee Bay State Park offers a spectacular two-mile elevated boardwalk through prime birding habitat including swamplands and marsh, as well as an observation tower. The park’s scenic meadows, woods and marshes are teeming with wildlife. Visit www.coastalohio.com for photos and additional information on the park and its surrounding area.
• The nine Toledo Area Metroparks, including Pearson Metropark on Lallendorf Road, just north of Navarre Avenue (SR 2) in Oregon, offer a variety of bird and wildlife watching opportunities as well as numerous activities and programs for families
Pearson offers a Nature Discovery Center, educational programs at Macomber Lodge, walking trails, picnic grounds, pedal boats, ball diamonds, picnic areas, play areas and more. For info, call Toledo Area Metroparks, at 419-407-9700.
• The Wood County Park District oversees several park facilities in the county, including:
Cedar Creeks Preserve, a 42-acre tract located east of Walbridge where Woodville Road (SR 51) crosses Walbridge Road, which is an excellent example of the former Black Swamp that once covered a large portion of Northwest Ohio. In keeping with the idea of a nature preserve, development of the parcel has been limited to low impact features, preserving the natural setting of the acreage. Facilities include: hiking trails, foot bridge, picnic tables, restrooms and an information kiosk.
William Henry Harrison Park, a 22-acre park located at 644 Bierley Ave. (Pemberville Road), just south of Pemberville, which features a large multi-purpose playfield, children’s playground, paved circular drive for rollerblading, hiking trails, Portage River fishing and more. Visit www.woodcountyparkdistrict.org or call 800-321-1897 for info.
• The Sandusky County Park District also oversees several facilities in the county, including:
White Star Park, located south of Gibsonburg on SR 300. White Star has a quarry up to 40 feet deep that is used by scuba divers throughout the region as well as for non-power boating and fishing; a beach with changing rooms and a concession stand, and a campground located across from the park’s main entrance that has electric and water hookups and primitive campsites on a reservation basis. In addition, the park offers picnic tables, grills, well water, restrooms, volleyball courts, horseshoe pits, playfield, nature trails, mountain bike trails, shelters, day camp area, and more.
For more information about White Star Park or other parks in the Sandusky County Park District, call 419-334-4495 or 1-888-200-5577. White Star Park scuba concession information is available through Quarry Divers, Inc. at 419-637-7911.
• Kelleys Island, located just north of Sandusky (east of Toledo), attracts birds from as far north as the Arctic Circle and serves as one of the steppingstones for birds migrating north across Lake Erie to Point Pelee, Canada. Kelleys Island offers a diverse habitat and 8,000 acres for birders including rocky shorelines, pristine beaches, lush forests, fragrant vineyards and historical homes, plus a downtown that offers shopping and entertainment. For more info, visit www.kelleysislandnature.com or contact the Kelleys Island Chamber of Commerce at 419-746-2360.
Preserving history in the round
Located in the former U.S. Post Office on US 6 at 301 Jackson St. at Washington Streets near the city square in Sandusky, the Merry-Go-Round Museum celebrates the history of carousels, the carvers who made the intricate horses and other animals, and enthusiasts who enjoy them. There are only about 200 original wooden carousels remaining in the U.S. today.
The stone museum, which has a half-rotunda at the front, is listed with the National Register of Historic Places. Besides restoring one animal a year, the museum participates in several fundraiser events and special programs over the year. On July 11, the Car Coddlers of Ohio will gather outside the museum for a classic car show from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The museum will offer free admission and $1 carousel rides.
For the Toast of Ohio Wine Festival on Aug. 15 from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., the Merry-Go-Round Museum will provide free children’s activities. The museum is a co-benefactor of the fundraiser festival.
The museum is open Wednesday through Sunday. Admission is $5 per adult, $4 for seniors age 60 and $3 for children ages 4-14. Children ages 3 and under are admitted for free. For operation hours or more info, call 419-626-6111 or visit www.merrygoroundmuseum.org.
A land down under
Seneca Caverns, located off SR 269 about four miles south of Bellevue, is one of Ohio’s largest underground caverns and a registered state natural landmark. The caverns, which opened to the public on in 1933, look a lot like they did when they were first discovered by two young boys in June 1872 when their dog disappeared while chasing a rabbit near a brush pile. The boys followed and soon fell down to the same first level of the cave where their dog had landed. They managed to climb out and soon alerted others to the cave.
Today, visitors can take a one-hour guided tour 110 feet underground through seven levels or rooms – the largest 250 feet in length. They can also view “Ole Mist’ry River.” During the summer months tours depart every 20 minutes. Comfortable shoes (there are a lot of steps) and a light jacket are recommended for visitors as the temperature in the caverns remains a constant 54 degrees.
Seneca Caverns is open daily Memorial Day through Labor Day from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. For ticket prices or other info, call 419-483-6711 or email
• Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto in Genoa is constructed of “tufa,” fossilized vegetation found in the “blue hole” at Castilia, O. A ground-level statue of a praying Saint Bernadette Souberious looks up admiringly at Our Lady.
The idea for the grotto in Genoa resulted from Archbishop Karl Alter’s visit to the Lourdes Grotto in France in 1932. While at the shrine, the Archbishop promised the Blessed Mother to make Lourdes even better known by constructing a replica of the original Grotto in his own diocese. In 1934, the Bishop chose Our Lady of Lourdes parish in Genoa as the site for the shrine. It was completed and dedicated Sept. 8, 1934 -- the birthday anniversary of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The grounds include a small altar, an adjoining bell tower of tufa, arches and outdoor Stations of the Cross in hand-carved Italian bronze. Our Lady of Lourdes is located at 204 S. Main St. Tour groups are welcome. For info: 419-855-8501.
• Our Lady of Toledo Shrine, 655 S. Coy Rd., Oregon The garden and well are open during daylight hours. Chapel is open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. A daily rosary and prayer service are held at 2 p.m. in the chapel. For more info on this and other shrine activities, call 419-697-7742 or 1-888-791-0990 or visit www.protect-life.org.
• Sorrowful Mother Shrine, located at 4106 SR 269 in Bellevue, is the oldest place of pilgrimage dedicated to Mary in the Midwest. The grounds hold 40 points of interest including grottos, Sorrowful Mother Chapel, Pieta Outdoor Chapel plus the 14 Stations of the Cross. Public and private pilgrimages are made year round. Cafeteria, picnic area and gift shop available.
Open dawn to dusk. Masses are held at 11 a.m. weekdays, Saturdays at 4 p.m., and Sundays at 9 and 11 a.m. Confessions available half hour before all Masses. Call 419-483-3435 or visit www.sorrowfulmothershrine.com.
• The Queen of the Most Holy Rosary Cathedral, 2535 Collingwood Blvd. Toledo, is the only Plateresque (architectural style of 16th century Spain) cathedral in the world. It features layers of paintings and frescos of saints and angels reaching to the ceiling, a magnificent stained glass rose window and mosaic altars. The cathedral, which is the seat of the Catholic Church for the Diocese of Toledo, has ornate statues and carvings on both the inside and out. For more info, call 419-244-9575.