10 things to do outside in Metro Detroit before summer ends
As residents of a state where the weather is unpredictable at best, we try to make the most of our Michigan summers.
Well, guess what? It's already Aug. 1.
While it seems like the scorching hot summer sun just showed up, in reality the season is half over, and there's only a month left if you consider Labor Day weekend summer's last hurrah.
Grab the sunscreen — and maybe the bug spray, too — and do your best to squeeze every last drop of sunny fun out of these dog days. Here are 10 suggestions.
Lunch in Campus Martius: Live music, food trucks, the beach... there's plenty to do in Detroit's city center before the ice rink returns. Weekdays 11 a.m.-2 p.m. you'll find food trucks of all types serving in nearby Capitol Park and the Spirit of Detroit Plaza. Campus Martius also has free Friday Night beach parties with live bands. Not too far away at Grand River and Cass, Beacon Park also has summer programming with food trucks, fitness classes, markets, live music and more. Visit downtowndetroitparks.com for the full schedule.
Cool off at Red Oaks Water Park: This family-friendly splash zone has a wave pool, waterslide, a toddler-approved area and a 990-foot lazy river, many which are heated. You don't have to be a resident of Oakland County to enjoy the park, which has lifeguards on duty and a concession stand and grill with soft drinks and sweet treats. Open 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Mon.-Fri. and 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Sat.-Sun. Hours shrink after Aug. 19. Admission is $14 and up. 1455 E. 13 Mile, Madison Heights. (248) 858-0918 or oakgov.com.
Paddle on Kent Lake: Located inside Kensington Metropark, this spacious body of water has many tranquil tributaries and is full of wildlife. The park rents out canoes, kayaks, paddle boards, rowboats and even pedal boats that look like swans and dragons. Besides fun on the lake, Kensington also has trails for biking and hiking, fishing, golf and disc golf, beaches for swimming and more. Boat rentals open 7 a.m.-8 p.m. daily through Labor Day and 7 a.m.-7 p.m. weekends in September, weather permitting. 4570 Huron River Parkway, Milford. (248) 227-8910 or metroparks.com/parks/kensington-metropark.
Hear live music outside: Besides big names touring the area's outdoor amphitheaters — DTE Energy Music Theatre, Meadow Brook Amphitheater, Michigan Lottery Amphitheatre at Freedom Hill, the Aretha Franklin Amphitheatre and others — there are also several free or low-cost live music events at outdoor spaces around town. Dearborn City Hall hosts live jazz concerts every Wednesday evening. The Whitney in Detroit has local musicians Thursday evenings in the restaurant's lush garden. Northville's Town Square has free acoustic concerts Wednesday evenings. There are also a few concerts left in the Rockin' the Riverfront series behind the GM Renaissance Center. Catch Loverboy Friday, Jon Anderson of Yes on Aug. 9 and the Little River Band on Aug. 16.
Enjoy local craft beer by bike, boat or foot: Motor City Brew Tours offers guides to area breweries year-round by bus, and bike and walking tours in the warmer months. They have several types of biking tours to choose from, including ones that delve into the city's prohibition history and one that loops around to Detroit's public art destinations. There are boat cruises, too, like the Summer Beer Tasting Cruise on the Detroit Princess Riverboat on Aug. 17. Visit motorcitybrewtours.com for a full schedule and pricing, which starts at around $30.
See a movie at the Ford Wyoming Drive In: Take in a summer flick under the stars at this local institution. See a wholesome double feature like "The Lion King" and "Aladdin" or go dark and watch thrillers "Crawl" and "Ma." The box office opens at 8 p.m. daily. $10.99 per double feature, $4.50 for ages 6-12. 10400 Ford Rd, Dearborn. (313) 846-6910. Visit forddrivein.com for movie schedule.
Feel the sand on your feet at Lake St. Clair Metropark: This 600-foot sandy beach on Lake St. Clair is open through Sept. 30, so long as weather conditions are appropriate. The unguarded beach has nearby lockers, dressing rooms and heated showers. If the sand isn't your thing, the park also has a 50-meter swimming pool with water slides. 31300 Metro Parkway, Harrison Township. (586) 463-4581 or metroparks.com.
Pick a bushel at a local farm: August means late summer crops and the beginning of the fall harvest. It's the beginning of apple, corn and tomato season, but almost last call for things like blueberries, peaches and raspberries. Westview Orchard in Washington has u-pick raspberries and apples right now, and for blueberries try Eddie's Blueberry Patch in Milan, Blueville Acres in Huron Township or Dexter Blueberry Farm.
Hang out at Tree Runner Adventure Park: Tap into your inner American Ninja Warrior as you soar above the trees at this outdoor zip line park. Beginner courses start at 10-15 feet off the ground and graduate to the intermediate, advanced and then expert trails, which can be as high as 40 feet and require upper body strength to succeed. 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Sun.-Thurs. and 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Fri.-Sat. Hours shrink starting Sept. 3. Prices vary depending on age, but general admission for 12 and older is $48. 6600 W. Maple, West Bloomfield. (248) 419-1550 or treerunnerwestbloomfield.com.
Eat ice cream when it's actually hot out: Just about every neighborhood has a soft-serve shack that will eventually be closing up shop for the season.The Dairy-Go-Round, 1226 S. Main in Plymouth, gets colorful with twisted cones and fun toppings like Lucky Charms cereal. Another neighborhood favorite is Wyandotte's Bob Jo's Frozen Custard, which is known for creamy custard in fun flavors like blueberry cheesecake, plus frozen yogurt and dairy-free Italian ice.