5 Ways to Spend Memorial Day Weekend Outdoors

Modified: August 05, 2019 | Story by Danielle Alexander | Photos by Bill Bowen

Although the summer season does not officially begin until June 21, Memorial Day Weekend seems to be the “real” summer kick-off for those in Michigan, and, naturally, many want to spend it outdoors – weather permitting, of course!

Here are five outdoor activities in metro Detroit you can do this Memorial Day:

1. Biking

When’s the last time you hopped on that ol’ bike of yours? For some, it could’ve been yesterday, but for the majority of us, it’s been more than a while. Whatever skill level you’re at, metro Detroit has a variety of places where you can get your “ride” on:

Bike Trails:

Belle Isle Park (Detroit)
This 982-acre island park is situated on the Detroit River between Michigan and Canada. Its 6-mile, multi-use paved trail is open year-round from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Clinton River Trail (Oakland County)
This “rail-trail” extends across 16 miles through the suburban, urban and rural portions of Oakland County. The trail has a variety of surfaces, most of it being unpaved, ranging from crushed limestone to pavement; with that said, this may not be the ideal trail for those with narrow bike tires.

The Dequindre Cut Greenway (Detroit)
A part of the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy, the Dequindre Cut is a two-mile greenway known for its examples of urban artwork and graffiti alongside a 20-foot-wide paved pathway that includes separate lanes for bikers and pedestrians.

Macomb Orchard Trail (Macomb County)
This all-paved, 24-mile park starts at 24 Mile Road and Dequindre in Shelby Township and travels northeast to the city of Richmond.

2. Swimming/Kayaking

Nothing marks a better Memorial Day Weekend than it being warm enough to spend it in (or on!) the water, and luckily, metro Detroit has a lot of options:

Huron-Clinton Metroparks (Metro Detroit)
Huron-Clinton Metroparks include 13 parks: Delhi, Dexter-Huron, Hudson Mills, Huron Meadows, Indian Springs, Kensington, Lake Erie, Lake St. Clair, Lower Huron, Oakwoods, Stony Creek and Willow. Some of these have beaches and waterparks but all have one thing in common: outdoor fun.

Island Lake Recreation Area (Brighton)
Island Lake in Brighton is a local “up north” experience for canoeing, volleyball, picnics and swimming.

Proud Lake Recreation Area (Commerce Township)
Located on the scenic Huron River in Commerce Township, Proud Lake offers “diverse and plentiful recreational opportunities,” including boat rentals, paddle sports and swimming.

Kayaks at Belle Isle overhead

3. Relaxing at a Park

Another form of outdoor entertainment can also be found just kicking your feet up at one of these Detroit parks:

Campus Martius Park (Detroit)
Campus Martius Park is known for its fountains, monuments, surrounding historic downtown skyline and, of course, its green, beautiful oasis that’s “maintained at the highest quality of standards.” The park has a good amount of comfortable French bistro tables and chairs for you to use and enjoy, too.

Detroit International RiverWalk (Detroit)
In addition to biking, the Detroit International RiverWalk serves as an excellent place to just relax, too. Attractions along the riverfront include parks, plazas, pavilions, benches, lush green space and even the RiverWalk Café.

4. Seeing Animals at a Zoo

No matter how old you are, the zoo just never seems to get old:

Belle Isle Nature Center (Detroit)
Located on Belle Isle State Park, the Belle Isle Nature Center attracts visitors for its insider’s view of a beehive, bird observation window, Deer Encounter and more. Before heading home, you’ll have to check out the Belle Isle Aquarium, too!

Detroit Zoo (Royal Oak)
The Detroit Zoo is a great way to spend Memorial Day Weekend outdoors. Whether you’re interested in seeing penguins, giraffes or one of the other 2,000 animals, the 125-acre land is truly a metro Detroit staple.

5. Shopping

If you want to shop Memorial Day Weekend but feel guilty staying indoors, try out one of these local outdoor shopping venues:

Eastern Market (Detroit)
“Nourishing Detroit since 1891,” Eastern Market is the largest outdoor farmers market in the nation. But those who have had the pleasure of visiting would say there is much more to it than just fresh and nutritious food. Shed hours are currently Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., but starting in June through September, it will also be open again on Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Click here for a list of Eastern Market’s district shops and restaurants, which are open after shed hours.

The Mall at Partridge Creek (Clinton Township)
An open-air shopping center, The Mall at Partridge Creek not only features store favorites such as Carson’s and Nordstrom, but there are also many other amenities like a dog-friendly atmosphere and plenty of places to sit, have an iced coffee or ice cream and admire your good finds.

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Mentioned Attractions And Venues





  1. 1
    Belle Isle State Park
    99 Pleasure Drive, Detroit, MI 48207
    313-821-9844
  2. 2
    Huron-Clinton Metroparks
    13000 High Ridge Drive, Brighton, MI 48114
    810-227-2757
  3. 3
    Detroit International RiverWalk
    1340 Atwater St., Detroit, MI 48207
    313-566-8200
  4. 4
    Detroit Zoo
    8450 W. 10 Mile Road, Royal Oak, MI 48067
    248-541-5717
  5. 5
    Eastern Market
    Russell Street between Mack Avenue and Gratiot Avenue, 2934 Russell St., Detroit, MI 48207
    313-833-9300