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Holy Toledo! A fabulous date night just an hour from Detroit

Clocking in at about an hours drive from Detroit, Toledo offers some hidden surprises as well as affordable fun. If you haven’t explored our neighbor to the south—which we lost in the Michigan-Ohio war—it’s worth a look. And its proximity makes it an easy day trip, weekend adventure or date night.

A perfect date night not too far from Detroit: Hit up Tony Packo’s for some Hungarian fare, catch a foul ball at a Mud Hens game and stop by Oliver House for some local brews.

Tony Packo’s

If you're ever in Toledo, Ohio, on the Hungarian side of town, Tony Packo's got the greatest Hungarian hot dogs. Thirty-five cents...

Those words were uttered by Jamie Farr’s character Corporal Max Klinger on the uber-poplar series M*A*S*H and put the local joint in the national spotlight.

My husband had the Moad—that's one big hot dog!

Serving Hungarian food and local flavor since 1932, Packo’s is a Toledo tradition and is mostly known for its chili hot dog. Sound familiar? Think of it as Toledo’s version of our beloved Detroit Coney Dog. My heart and taste buds will always be partial to Detroit’s hometown dog but this interpretation packs a punch. Try the fried pickles and beware of the peppers mixed in.

The restaurant itself is a comfortable concoction of family diner meets quirky kitch. Celebrities, politicians, sportsmen and the like have been signing the hot dog buns for decades—Burt Reynolds started the tradition—and they decorate the walls. For lunch the place is set up cafeteria style but it offers full service dining for dinner.

The Toledo Mud Hens

The Triple-A minor league baseball team is an affiliate of our beloved Detroit Tigers and is a fun night at the ballpark to watch up-and-comers or those nearing the end of their career. We happened to see the first game for Brandon Inge after the Tigers released him—and wouldn’t ya know it—he had a stellar game.

Brandon Inge up to bat and sliding into second base.

The Mud Hens offer an affordable ballpark experience—with ticket prices in the $9-$12 range—and an intimate setting. There doesn’t seem to be a bad seat at Fifth Third Park. We were practically sitting on first base!

The cute mascots entertain the fans while dancing around in the seats and there is entertainment between innings, including the grounds crew who put on a dance reminiscent of a boy band.

Muddy and the grounds crew dancing up a storm.

Oliver House

This is the place all the locals were buzzing about! A perfect spot to check out before or after a Mud Hens game is Oliver House. Opened in 1859, this historic building was once the premier hotel in Toledo. Now it’s home to a steakhouse, patisserie, brewpub, café, a dive bar and a brewing hall of fame and museum.

We arrived late so we only had a chance to taste a few home brews from Maumee Bay Brew Pub and peruse the Toledo Brewing Hall of Fame and Museum before heading downstairs to Mutz, the resident dive bar.

They served a few of the beers from Maumee Bay and had live music, pool tables and dartboards and a lovely courtyard. College kids from the University of Toledo were just as at home as our crowd.

Rumor has it this place is haunted! The Oliver House was a medical center during the Spanish-American War and guests have reported seeing apparitions. One of supposedly haunted areas of the building is in Mutz’ pool room. On our visit we didn’t encounter any other-worldy types. Just a diverse crowd having a good time.

We stayed at the Park Inn Radisson and the location can’t be beat. It’s steps away from Fifth Third Park and I’m pretty sure the visiting team—the Norfolk Tides—were the strapping young men that were checking into the hotel right after we did.

Packo’s, the Mud Hen’s and Oliver House round out a fabulous Toledo date night!

Be sure to check out our most excellent adventure at Cedar Point. Next time I’ll be exploring more of the family-friendly and cultural institutions including the Toledo Zoo, Imagination Station—where I rode a bike across a high wire, and the Glass Pavilion. 

Disclosure: Destination Toledo and Cedar Point sponsored the media tour of Northwest Ohio. All of my expenses for the trip were provided except for transportation and incidentals. The opinions and words expressed here are my own. 

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