See it in Sylvania

Big-city fun and small-town charm await in Sylvania

By Linda Feagler

Savor a scoop of ice cream in downtown Sylvania. All photos by Kevin Kopanski unless otherwise noted

Celebrated for a vibrant arts scene, irresistible restaurants and shops, magnificent parks and charming attractions with big-city flair, Sylvania welcomes you to a weekend getaway you’ll treasure.

Stay & Play Downtown

Spend the day exploring Sylvania’s lively downtown district. Wander through art galleries for inspiration and stock up on supplies at the art supply depot. Get the latest fashions at locally owned boutiques and shop for unique home décor. Get a drink at a local establishment to sip as you stroll through the shops in Sylvania’s Downtown Outdoor Recreation Area (DORA). It’s open year-round every day from noon to midnight.

Make the Wingate by Wyndham Hotel on Main Street in downtown Sylvania your home base. The well-appointed hotel is easy walking distance to shops and restaurants. One of the best times to visit is during First Friday Art Walks when you’ll often find food trucks along Main Street and specials at area restaurants, art exhibits, special discounts at participating shops and live music inside the boutiques.

Start your day with breakfast at Chandler Cafe with quiche, pastries and egg sandwiches, or come at lunch for a hot Riverwalk Reuben or one of the many fresh salads. Everything on the menu is named after local attractions. Eat the Main Street turkey sandwich and then go stroll along Main Street.

Nearby, you’ll find the Sylvania Historical Village & Heritage Center Museum that tells the area’s rich history. Step inside Lathrop House, the only Underground Railroad station that’s open to the public in Northwest Ohio, and see what life was like in the early 20th century in the museum that’s housed in a former doctor’s residence. The village also includes an original 1800s log home, a train depot and more.

Find your perfect pie at J&G Pizza Palace, owned and operated by the Dallas family since 1979, and lauded for thin, square-cut pizzas topped with slices of blended cheese and sauce. Pair your pizza with a pint from Upside Brewing, an award-winning urban-vibe nano ale factory at J&G, known for brewing small batches of craft beverages onsite using a single-barrel system.

Just across Main Street, find more craft brews at Inside the Five Brewing Co., led by Michigan State University pals and former NFL players Chris Morris (Oakland Raiders’ center) and Brandon Fields (Miami Dolphins’ punter). Pair a pint with tacos, burgers, salads and desserts. Both breweries are featured stops along Northwest Ohio’s 419 Ale Trail.

Relive the taste of victories past and present at the Village Inn, where memorabilia from local sports teams adorns the walls and hearty entrées of pizza, pasta, burgers and specialty sandwiches make everyone a winner.

Take a stroll after your meal through the grounds of Lourdes University, less than a mile from the Wingate. The lovely Catholic and Franciscan university has striking Spanish-style architecture and flowering trees in the spring.

Stroll through downtown Sylvania and discover local shops with friends. 

Live Music Scene

Music lovers will enjoy a show at Centennial Terrace, Northwest Ohio’s premier outdoor concert venue, featuring a summer calendar filled with national and regional artists celebrated for a variety of music genres.

Let the revelry continue at Bar 145, a gastropub where you build your own burger, and enjoy nearly 30 varieties of bourbon and cocktails to the tune of live music that, depending on the evening, ranges from garage to country to greatest hits spanning generations.

Spice up the night by listening to area bands at Jed’s, a local favorite known for its Cajun Fireballs and deep-fried Southern-style wings.

Explore Nature

Sylvania is known for its breathtakingly beautiful naturescapes dotting the city. Meander the scenic path of the River Trail — which begins steps away from the Wingate hotel — and weaves through downtown Sylvania along the banks of the Ottawa River and the pristine ecosystems at Ten Mile Creek.

Delight in special sports you love at one of Sylvania’s community parks. Locals and out-of-towners alike head to Olander Park, a 60-acre gem featuring a spring-fed, 28-acre lake with a natural sand beach that’s become a prime destination for boating, swimming, sunning and fishing. Take a stroll along the 1.1-mile paved, ADA-accessible loop around the lake that’s also an ideal place to rollerblade and bike. Kids can play on three playgrounds. Go ice skating year-round at Tam-O-Shanter, where you can rent skates. Pickleball fans can take in a match on the new courts at Veterans Memorial Park.

Take the entire family on a bike ride down the River Trail. 

Join budding archaeologists from around the world who make the pilgrimage to ADA-accessible Fossil Park to search for evidence of more than 200 prehistoric species — including 375-million-year-old relics from the Devonian Era present in the quarry — and take home the treasures you unearth. Continue your journey along the River Trail with a visit to Harroun Community Park, where more than 20 types of stately trees, including dogwood, black willow, sycamore, red maple and Ohio buckeye, provide an eye-catching backdrop to seasonal birds and wildflowers.

Delight in exploring Wildwood Preserve Metropark, a 493-acre sanctuary that has the distinction of being the most visited of all the Toledo metroparks, and affords spectacular views of ground-nesting birds and summer wildflowers and grasses. Travel through time in the preserve’s Wildwood Manor House, a Georgian Era colonial home open for special events and free tours.

Pay heartfelt homage to first responders and those who lost their lives on September 11, 2001. The 911 First Responders Memorial at Toledo Memorial Park is constructed from a 13,000-pound surviving steel beam from the World Trade Center wreckage. The 380-plus-acre park, established in 1922, provides a peaceful oasis of meadows, lakes, magnificent trees, flowering plants and memorials from which to spot flocks of warblers, sparrows, ducks and geese.