Detroit is a amazing city with endless entertainment within the city limits. However, sometimes a change of scenery is refreshing, especially if you’re looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of urban life.
So pack the car, load up the kids (or dogs) and hit the road to discover some of the region’s delightful offerings.
Point Pelee National Park, Ontario
Just 40 miles Southeast of Detroit lies the southernmost tip of mainland Canada. Point Pelee National Park in Ontario offers visitors a great escape from urban life. You can canoe through a wetland, picnic on the beach, watch birds of prey, and hike wooded trails. The park was established in 1918 and was the first national park in Canada established for conservation. What’s even cooler is that park fees are pretty reasonable.
Only an hour and a half drive north of Detroit, Frankenmuth is a little slice of Bavaria, Germany in Michigan. The picturesque town offers visitors plenty of activities. Stroll around downtown and pop into one of the many stores, including Your Name Here and the Bavarian Inn Castle Shops. If you’ve been bitten the Christmas bug, check out Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland. Walking tours and horse-drawn carriages can show you a new side of this quaint city. If you want to plan your trip around one of the city’s major festivals, check out the festival calendar.
Pinckney State Recreation Area
Pack the tents, marshmallows, and sunscreen and head to Pinckney State Recreation Area. The 11,000-acre park is only an hour’s drive west of Detroit, and it promises plenty of activities to keep boredom at bay. You can hike, swim, picnic, camp, and fish. If you want to try your luck finding hidden treasure, bring your metal detector and stick to the places where they’re allowed. Just be sure that you have a recreation passport. It’s required for entrance to the park.
Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge
Located in Saginaw County, the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge is only a two-hour drive north of Detroit. The refuge is a great place to relax and spend the day among some of the natural wonders of Michigan. Photography opportunities abound, as do fishing and hunting expeditions. You can hike along one of the many trails in the park, or just sit on the shore of the Shiawassee River.
Toledo, the fourth most populous city in Ohio, is just an hour south of Detroit. While you’re in the city, stop in at Tony Packo’s Cafe, a Toledo staple. The original restaurant at 1902 Front Street, in the Hungarian neighborhood of Birmingham, was mentioned several times by the character Corporal Maxwell Klinger in the T.V. show “M*A*S*H*”. Toledo is also home to Jamie Farr, who played Klinger for the show. After grabbing a bite at Tony Packo’s and oogling the cafe’s collection of autographed buns, head over to Jamie Farr Park and enjoy the rest of your afternoon. Oh, and don’t forget about the zoo!
Don’t overlook Ann Arbor. The city is just a 40-minute drive away and offers enough fun to fill an entire day. You can walk downtown Ann Arbor and browse the rare and antique book collection at The Dawn Treader. After that, pop over to the University of Michigan campus and enjoy a shady place to sit for a while. If you’re hungry, grab a bit to eat at Zingerman’s Deli. Just be prepared for lines out the door. To burn off your delectable lunch, head over to Gallup Park, where you can canoe, swim, play golf, or peruse a nature center.
Just off I-275 about 30 minutes from Detroit is the Willow Metropark and Golf Course. It’s a great place to plan a simple, day-long getaway. You can fish, bike, boat, hike, and picnic while enjoying the park’s serene setting. There’s also a disc golf course and skate park for extreme sports lovers. Just be sure you buy your 2015 vehicle entry permits. The Huron-Clinton Metroparks are a separate park system from the Michigan State Parks, so they require their own entry permit.
Kelleys Island, OH
If you feel up for a two and a half hour drive, check out Kelleys Island in Ohio. You can kayak around the island or take a cruise and enjoy the view. If you want to take a dip in Lake Erie’s cool water, head to Kelleys Island State Park. If you really want to dive deeper and explore shipwrecks, Kelleys Island also offers scuba diving. Landlubbers can stick to the island and enjoy hiking and birdwatching.
Lansing is more than just the capitol of Michigan. There are plenty of fun activities for you and your family to enjoy outside of gawking at the gorgeous Michigan State Capital Building. Stroll down the Lansing River Trail, where you’ll find plenty of parks, nature centers, and unique shopping opportunities. If you’re traveling sans kids, you may want to check out the breweries that call Lansing home.
Niagara Falls, Ontario
Experienced daytrippers, and perhaps those of you traveling without kids, may be interested in undertaking the four hour road trip to Niagara Falls, Ontario. Don’t worry. There’s more to do there than just stare at the falls for hours. You can take a lunch, dinner, or Sunday brunch cruise across the Niagara River on the Niagara Belle. If you’ve seen enough of the Niagara River for a while, head back into town. There, you’ll find the Niagara Falls Museum.