Super summer fun guide
Ahh … finally summertime in Michigan. There are always so many activities and adventures to fill these long but glorious days. Parks, beaches, pools, museums and zoos are tried-and-true options for summer fun.
As a lifelong Michigan resident, I’m always looking for different things to do when the kids are out of school. With so much going on from Memorial Day to Labor Day, the hardest part isn’t finding what to do but deciding what to do. Read on for a taste of some of the many Metro Detroit kid-friendly activities to fill your summer.
Jennifer Lovy Contributing Writer
NEW TO DO
Last year was an exciting one in terms of new things to do in and around town. For example, the Lego Discovery Center (michigan.legolanddiscoverycenter.com) opened at Great Lakes Crossing in Auburn Hills. The Detroit Zoo (detroitzoo.org) opened the much-anticipated Polk Penguin Conservation Center, and the Outdoor Adventure Center
(michigan.gov/oac) brought a taste of the great outdoors to an indoor facility Downtown.
So what’s new to do this summer? How about free movies at Emagine Theatres (emagine-entertainment.com/free-kids-summer-movie-series)? On select Wednesdays and Saturdays at 10 a.m., participating theaters will screen popular kids’ films, such as Kung Fu Panda 3, The Secret Life of Pets, Trolls and Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life, just to name a few. Admission is free for kids 11 and under and $2 for moviegoers 12 and up.
Book lovers are eagerly anticipating the first annual Detroit Festival of Books (detroitbookfest.com), scheduled for Sunday, July 16, at Eastern Market. The festival is the first used and rare book festival in Detroit. Admission is free.
After more than a decade of planning, the much-anticipated streetcar system along Woodward Avenue is finally open. Kids under 44 inches can ride the QLine free with an adult. A single-ride pass, good for three hours, costs $1.50 and an all-day pass is $3. Riders have easy access to venues such as the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Michigan Science Center, Comerica Park and Campus Martius Park.
A DAY IN THE D
In addition to a ride on the QLine, there is so much to do in Detroit. If you haven’t already, head Downtown and see why the rest of the nation is calling Detroit the comeback city.
The Detroit RiverWalk
(detroitriverfront.org) stretches several miles along the Detroit River. In addition to great views, there are plenty of places to explore. Highlights for the little ones include a splash pad, play park and river-themed carousel at Rivard Plaza. There, visitors will find a granite map of the Detroit River, a glass sculptured map of the St. Lawrence Seaway, the RiverWalk cafe and Wheelhouse Detroit (wheelhousedetroit.com), a bike shop offering tours and bike rentals, including large tricycles and kids’ bikes. Also located at the Plaza is Diamond Jack’s River Tours (diamondjack.com), a company offering public tours and private charters along the Detroit River.
Mt. Elliott Park
(detroitriverfront.org/riverfront/east-riverfront/mt-elliott-park), located on the East Riverfront, features a Great Lakes-themed play area with water cascades, cannons, wind chimes and other kid-friendly, interactive features. The newly renovated park was designed to be accessible for all ages and abilities.
When’s the last time you visited Belle Isle (michigandnr.com/parksandtrails/Details.aspx?id=736&type=SPRK)? There is so much to do on this 987-acre island. Here are seven things your family can enjoy during your visit.
- See the James Scott Memorial Fountain.
- Explore the Dossin Great Lakes Museum.
- Visit the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory.
- Check out the oldest aquarium in the United States.
- Swim at the Belle Isle Beach.
- Ride the giant slide.
- Enjoy the small, but free, zoo.
TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALL GAME
Nothing says summer like a night at the baseball park. Creating memories at Comerica Park has to include an obligatory photo with the giant tiger statues in front of the stadium and a ride on the carousel and Ferris wheel. But the Detroit Tigers (detroit.tigers.mlb.com/ticketing) aren’t the only game in town.
Last year marked the inaugural season for the United Shore Professional Baseball League (uspbl.com), whose four teams play their games at Jimmy John’s Field in Utica. Each team is comprised of top-level college athletes from around the country — last year, nine players were picked up by Major League Baseball organizations. Ticket prices start at $6 for lawn seats and go as high as $35 for front-row club seats.
Located a stone’s-throw (or fastball pitch) from the Michigan Capitol Building in Lansing sits Cooley Law School Stadium, home to the Lansing Lugnuts (milb.com/index.jsp?sid=t499). The stadium seats more than 10,000 fans and is considered one of the most handicapped-accessible stadiums in the country. The Lugnuts, a Class-A minor-league team affiliated with the Toronto Blue Jays, have their own team song — “Go Nuts” — and a team mascot, Big Lug. Ticket prices start at $8 for lawn seats and go as high as $35.
Of course, we can’t forget about the Toledo Mud Hens (milb.com/index.jsp?sid=t512), a minor-league team affiliated with the Tigers. Tickets prices start at $15.
BEAT THE HEAT
Tired of visiting the same splash pads each summer? While destinations like Heritage Park and Kensington are great, variety is the spice of life. So, if you’re willing to drive a little, there is no shortage of places to get wet:
Canton Heritage Park Splash Playground
1150 S. Canton Center Road
Canton Flodin Park Splash Playground
43399 Saltz Road
H2O Zone Spray Ground
36300 Warren Road, Westland
Non-resident day pass is $10
2795 Seymour Lake Road
Non-resident fee is $4
This is an inclusive park for kids of all abilities. Aqua wheelchairs are available. oxparkrec.org/index.php/parks/klr-splash-pad
Plymouth Township Sprayscape
46640 Ann Arbor Trail
Spraypark at Clintonwood
6000 Clarkston Road, Clarkston
Adults are free but non-resident kids are $4
Troy Family Aquatics Center
3425 Civic Center Drive
Non-resident day pass is $15
Festivals and summer are synonymous. Michigan weekends are packed with events centered around art, food, music and outdoor activities. For a comprehensive listing, visit michigan.org/events. Want something unique? These two festivals may be worth a road trip:
Later this month, visit the West Michigan Chalk Art Festival (wmcaf.com) June 16-17 at the Tanger Outlets in Byron Center, a mall just outside Grand Rapids. The two-day festival includes a kid’s chalk-art event, public viewing and face painting.
Did you know that Freemont, Mich., a town with a population of just over 4,000, is the baby food capital of the world? It makes sense once you know that the Gerber Products Company is located here. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that Freemont hosts the National Baby Food Festival (babyfoodfestival.com).
This four-day festival, starting July 19, has far too many events, contests and activities to mention. A few highlights include parades, frog-jumping and turtle-racing contests, bubble gum-blowing and hula-hoop contests, obstacle course, bike race, fun run, water-balloon toss, penny scramble and scavenger hunt.
Adults can participate in a baby-food eating contest. Participants work in pairs, while a blindfolded team member tries to feed his or her partner the jar the fastest.
1700 General Motors Road, Milford
Camp Dearborn is a family-oriented recreational facility, conveniently located in picturesque Milford. Camp Dearborn offers a swimming beach, shaded picnic sites, fishing, paddle boat rentals, golf and opportunities for a choice of camping styles.