French traders operated in the area from the 1680s, and Americans first arrived in 1794 with the founding of Fort Industry. Many settlers fled during the War of 1812, but others arrived around 1817 when a Cincinnati group bought land at the mouth of Swan Creek. Port Lawrence, as it was called, merged with the town of Vistula to the north in 1833 to create Toledo. First as a canal and river-side trading town, then as a railroad hub, the city prospered to become, by the 1880's, one of Ohio's largest. Large groups of immigrants arrived, attracted by the many factory jobs here and Toledo became known as the Glass City, with a long history of innovation in all aspects of the glass industry. Auto manufacturing also played an important role in the local economy.
Recovering from a slump, typical for many northern industrial cities, Toledo has worked hard to bring people back to downtown neighborhoods: upgrading the Maumee Riverfront area adjacent to International Park with walking trails and new landscaping. Several restaurants opened nearby. Fifth Third Field (home to the Toledo Mud Hens baseball team) opened, followed by the Huntington Center (Toledo Walleye hockey games).
Toledo Opera, Toledo Ballet, the Toledo Jazz Society and the Toledo Symphony Orchestra give performances for people from all around the region. The Botanical Gardens, with green space and plant collections, also presents summer Jazz sessions and an annual arts festival.
Some downtown historic buildings have been turned into artists' lofts, and in the Old West End neighborhood of Victorian mansions, there's the world-class Toledo Museum of Art with it's new Glass Pavilion. Dining options range from (Tony Packo's famous) Hungarian hot dogs, to Polish, Middle Eastern, and Indian cuisines. The Libby Glass Factory has a large outlet store here.
The GLBT community is not large, but there are a few clubs around town, and lively Pride celebrations take place each year in late August.
For map locations and websites of area gay bars, and some hotels, restaurants and other points of interest, see our gay Toleda listings pages. The building of a new community center is on the local agenda.
Toledo Express Airport in Swanton serves the Toledo area with non-stop service to Chicago O'Hare, Orlando/Sanford, Ft. Myers/Punta Gorda, and St.Pete/Clearwater airports. Detroit Metro Airport is the closest major US and international airport, but limo and cab fares to Toledo are expensive, so consider a rental car from DMA.
Megabus has service from Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit and Pittsburgh to the Southwyck Shopping Center, Toledo.
The Amtrak Capitol Limited (Washington DC to Chicago) and Lake Shore Limited (New York, Albany, Cleveland, Chicago) routes both stop at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Plaza train depot, 415 Emerald Avenue, Toledo.
Bus service is provided daily by TARTA, fares are just $1, maps, schedules, and places to buy tickets and passes can be found on their website. Renting a car may be less hassle.
Media & Resources
The Toledo Blade has local news, arts & entertainment, and events listings.
Toledo.com is another gay-friendly online resource for what's on in Toledo.
Bretz Bar (2012 Adams St, Warren Sherman), gay party/ dance bar, drag cabaret, young college-age men/women mixed crowd.
Diplomat Health Club (1313 N Summit Ave), the all-facility men's bathhouse CLOSED - but they "...are working on reopening." Meanwhile their Grand Rapids, MI location remains open.
Legends (117 N Erie St, Downtown), gay drag show club, patio bar, theme parties; monthly Racy, Raunchy Drag Queen Bingo. Was Blush until March 2014.
Mojo (115 N Erie St, Downtown), party bar, large patio, strippers, karaoke, pool, drag, Saturday dancing. Extensive renovations planned for late August 2014 will close the bar briefly. Was Ripcord.
Outskirts (Whitmer-Trilby) - CLOSED - May 2014 - Toledo's only lesbian bar, Wednesday-Saturday nights.
R House (5534 Secor Rd, Whitmer-Trilby), nightly gay party bar, mostly men, male stripper nights, DJs, dancing, karaoke, drinks specials.
In nearby Bowling Green, home to the State University, the Uptown Downtown (160 N Main St) nightclub/ sports bar and grill has free pool games and WiFi, wings, hot dogs, burgers, quesadillas and paninis for a gay-friendly mix; plus Dance, Drink and Drag!!! the Tuesday gay night with shows.