Find a coastal getaway in Northwest Ohio
We love to spend time at Ohio’s nine state park lodges. After all, they’re part of our great state’s rich travel inventory, and they’re there for the taking.
Our latest visit was to the lodge at Maumee Bay State Park, 1,300 wonderful acres set right on Lake Erie, about 10 miles east of Toledo. Like many of the other state park lodges, Maumee Bay Lodge lets you know unmistakably that you’re on the water.
When you step inside Maumee Bay, you get the feel of a coastal getaway, from the huge picture windows looking out on the lake, to the blue-and-green seafaring motif. At the surrounding state park, you’re likely to see bald eagles, great blue herons, sandhill cranes and swans.
Maumee Bay and the surrounding wetlands are part of Maumee Bay State Park, a protected area. Wetlands offer ideal bird watching opportunities.
In our opinion, one of the park’s best assets is a 2-mile boardwalk that winds through a marsh wildlife refuge near the lodge. During several exploratory walks we encountered beavers, muskrats, a family of ducks, frogs, songbirds and geese. Even though it’s just off the Trautman Nature Center, the thick woods and lush wetlands give you a real feeling of seclusion and peace. Birding is a popular attraction.
The park sits just off the Lake Erie shore, and there are bicycle trails that lead around an inland lake and along the lake and a small marina. Rent a bicycle at the lodge for a few dollars. Better yet, bring your own.
Another star of the park is the Maumee Bay Golf Course, which covers 1,850 acres of protected wetlands and follows Ohio’s beautiful north coast. Our experience has shown that most state park lodge golf courses are fairly average. That’s not the case at Maumee Bay, because of the involvement of Toledo native Arthur Hills.
Hills is one of the top golf course architects in the country. He laid out the Maumee Bay course in 1991 in the style of a Scottish links course. While it may not be a true links course, it’s designed in that style, and frankly, anything that Hills work on – think the Longaberger course near Newark – is top notch.
Not that the other state park lodge courses are haphazardly thrown together – legendary architect Jack Kidwell designed most of them in the late ’60s and early ’70s. But Maumee Bay’s course has received national acclaim and is recognized by some as a top-five Ohio public course.
The park has a 120-room lodge and two dozen cabins that can sleep up to 12. The rooms and some of the common spaces could use some updating, but we found the lodge to be really enjoyable. There’s an indoor pool, a game room, a children’s play area, racquetball and wallyball courts, and several board games to play.
A snack bar made some great fries and dogs, and the recently updated bar was really fun. But the better dining experience is a full-service restaurant called Water’s Edge, which has offered an improved, more-upscale menu since U.S. Hotel and Resort Management took over management of most of the state park lodges in 2018.
Outside, there’s a lot to do. First, there’s the beach, as the park does lie along Lake Erie. We would recommend checking with park personnel if you want to swim in the lake. The 57-acre in-shore lake has its own beach and is fine for swimming, canoeing, paddle-boating and other non-motorized boating. (The lodge also offers an outdoor swimming pool.)
Being a state park, there also are opportunities to fish, plenty of hiking trails and sports courts on premises, as well as an amphitheater. The nature center has a research laboratory and offers interactive displays, an auditorium and places to view wildlife outside.