Heather's Hangout

Sharing the people, places & little moments that make a difference.

8 local outdoor activities for everyone to enjoy April 10, 2016

Michigan experienced a taste of spring recently with sunshine and temps in the 50s. Then winter decided to pop back in (I’m watching the snow fall outside my window). I already mentally switched my seasonal preference to spring so I hope the snow melts quickly.

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I’ve been thinking of some fun warm-weather outdoor activities to plan with my nieces and nephew. I love that they also enjoy the outdoors, love my time with them and love that we have so much fun together. I’m so excited to get moving on these ideas. Rather than get annoyed with the white weather, I thought I’d daydream of picnics, floppy hats and sunscreen while I share some family-friendly (and couple-friendly, group-friendly, etc.) suggestions for outdoor fun (these are of course fun with and without children!). If you’re not local to metro Detroit, I’m sure there are some great local trails, parks and cultural hot spots near you. Feel free to share your ideas in the comment section!

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kidstrail1. Hike the local trails: One of my 2016 goals is to hike all 13 of the parks in the Huron-Clinton metroparks system. Stony Creek tends to be my go-to park because of its location to my home, but each of these parks offers something new, pretty and fun. There are also many community parks, nature centers and more that provide great opportunities to wander in the woods.

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2. Bike the trails: All of the kids are old enough for bike rides and a few of us own bike racks for the vehicles so I think it will be fun to take the group to the Macomb Orchard Trail, Clinton River Trail and/or Paint Creek trail. These rails-to-trails paths are the perfect place to bike without too much traffic to interrupt your journey. My regular readers know my love of these local bike trails, whether alone or with company.

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3. Matthaei Botanical Gardens: Located in Ann Arbor, these expansive gardens include beautiful examples of nature and multiple display gardens (children’s gardens, bonsai samples and more). There are also hiking trails. The gardens connect to the Nichols Arboretum, which is worth a visit too.

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4. Greenfield Village: This unique village spans more than 80 acres, highlights 83 historic structures separated into seven districts, and offers plenty of cool opportunities to see history come to life. There are numerous events and activities occurring throughout the year at Greenfield Village, which makes the village get pretty crowded, so sometimes I just enjoy wandering on a ‘regular’ day where there is always something to see and learn. Summer is not complete to me without a visit to Greenfield Village. The Henry Ford Museum is connected to Greenfield Village and worth the exploration.

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5. Camping: The youngest three kids first experienced camping last fall and the 9-year-old is still talking about how fun it was to share a tent with just me! We’re discussing a getaway to Sleepy Hollow State Park, where I really enjoyed the clean, quiet, good-size campsites. There are also many more local campgrounds, including Proud Lake Recreation Area and Metamora-Hadley Recreation Area.

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Girlsgeocaching

Logging their first geocache!

6. Geocaching: This scavenger hunt type activity uses GPS-enabled devices to locate hidden caches (or treasures!) throughout the world. There are many hidden caches in metro Detroit, ranging from easy to very difficult, covering all sorts of terrain (from parks to street lights!). I’ve taken the older two girls geocaching and they had a blast. The younger ones are antsy to see what it’s like so we’ll for sure go hunting this summer!

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7. Thelma G. Spencer Park: My family has been visiting this 113-acre Rochester Hills recreation area since I was a child. A 38-acre lake surrounded by beaches, picnic areas, activity areas, concession stand and more, Spencer Lake is a popular, family-friendly spot. Walking trails also surround the lake.

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8. Crossroads Village and Huckleberry Railroad: This historic village set in Flint brings back memories of my youth when we made numerous visits to this cultural attraction. Crossroads Village is an authentic Great Lakes town from the turn of the last century that contains more than 34 historic structures, amusement rides, a carousel, and more! You won’t want to visit the village without taking a ride on the Huckleberry Railroad, which is made up of 11 original and replica passenger cars, a red wooden caboose and a restored coal-fired locomotive. The 40-minute ride goes through woods and meadows, and along a lakeshore. There are lots of activities throughout the summer season so this is definitely a must-visit location.

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There are SO many more fun activities to do during the warm, sunny weather season! What favorite summer activities are you looking forward to doing?

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