Summer vacations may be in full swing, but there’s still plenty to explore in and around Metro Detroit with day trips that take you to an entertaining destination with the added benefit of staying closer to home. To me, these outings often feel like a special getaway without the travel hassles and expenses.

Since there’s no need to plan much in advance, you’re free to go anywhere on a whim. More often than not, I’ve found these spur-of-the-moment excursions can lead to a surprisingly good time.

One of my recent spontaneous adventures was a last minute trip to Howell that combines the lure of discount shopping with a quaint downtown area where my friends and I enjoyed a leisurely meal. We’re already planning to return there later this summer.

Sometimes it’s a change of plans that leads to a particular destination. This was the case when a trip to Eastern Market had to be put on hold due to conflicting schedules with friends and we ended up at Greenfield Village instead. For me, the cooler weather that day made the incredible outdoor setting even more pleasant.

No matter how many times I’ve been there, the historical site always seems to have something I haven’t seen before. This time it was the mesmerizing Davidson-Gerson Modern Glass Gallery where I got some display ideas for my own home. The unique pieces also reminded me of the cobalt glass collection in my kitchen that I often fail to notice after having it for so many years.

Another favorite spot that I try to visit at least a few times a year is Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum in Farmington Hills. Besides the obvious fun factor, the dizzying visuals never cease to amaze me. Though I still enjoy a good game of pinball, I also like to admire the astonishing array of vintage posters and other crazy memorabilia that offers a welcome escape from the everyday world.

A few weeks ago, my daughter and I went to Somerset Collection with friends. In addition to getting in some exercise with all that walking, I can finally say I tried (and liked) Chick-fil-A. One of the other highlights was a stop at Anthropologie, a visual world of wonder filled with design inspiration. Their innovative displays often take me to another place and time.

Lastly, at the annual picnic held by my writers group in the historic Spicer House in Heritage Park, I was inspired by a member who brought her homemade potato salad in a clear ice bucket with a butterfly motif. I couldn’t get this clever concept out of my head that takes an entertaining piece often reserved for special occasions and turns it into an elegant container for everyday meals.

Although traffic and construction can cause unexpected delays, especially during the summer months in Michigan, once you reach your destination it’s easy to leave all that behind. So, while the weather is warm and the days are long, all it takes is a few hours away from home to get a fresh perspective and a few design ideas along the way.

Jeanine Matlow is a Metro Detroit interior decorator turned freelance writer specializing in stories about interior design. You can reach her at

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