Design a day’s worth of discovery in The D

Discover Summer in Detroit

Illustrations By Tom Froese
Metro Detroit isn’t a destination you can single out in any particular way. We’re a sports town, a boater’s paradise, a shopper’s dream, a foodie’s fantasy, an outdoor lover’s playground. You get the idea. Now have a little fun mapping out some of the area’s must-do hot stops for sunny days and mild nights in The D.
Destinations

Downtown Detroit, Dearborn/Wayne, Greater Novi, Macomb, Oakland

1

Downtown Detroit

Downtown Detroit map

We use words like industrious, walkable and spirited to describe Detroit’s downtown. It’s full of scenic recreational spaces, old classics and newfound favorites for art, food, fun and festivities.

 

Belle Isle Park
Relax near the James Scott Memorial Fountain. Feed the fallow deer at the nature center. Have a picnic or rent kayaks along the Detroit River. Marvel at the fish at the island’s aquarium. Belle Isle Park hosts the annual Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix (May 31-June 2) and is a perfect spot to throw a blanket in the grass for the Ford Fireworks (June 24).

Detroit Princess Riverboat
Lunch, dinner, moonlight or themed cruises with music and entertainment all summer long. The Detroit Princess Riverboat is docked on the Detroit River near TCF Center. Heated/cooled and five stories high, the vessel is a unique way to take in stunning views of The D.

Detroit Tigers game
Opening day at Comerica Park is April 4. Ride the Ferris wheel and Big Cat carousel. Start your own bar crawl at Detroit classics like Nemo’s, the Elwood and Bookie’s before and after the game. Fireworks after Friday night games on
select weekends, base running for kids on Sundays.

Hart Plaza
A city centerpiece, Hart Plaza is where the best of Detroit’s summer fests are staged — Movement (May 25-27), Arab & Chaldean Festival (July 27-28), Ribs & R&B Music Festival (Aug. 9-11) and Detroit Jazz Festival (Aug. 30-Sept. 2). Isamu Noguchi’s Horace E. Dodge and Son Memorial Fountain is the POI that leads you into the plaza.

Beacon Park
DJs and a free summer concert series. Outdoor yoga and fitness jams. Football tailgates, face painting, food trucks and the latest craze called knockerball. Detroit’s newest public park, Beacon Park, is certainly one of the city’s most active. The park’s restaurant, Lumen, features a rooftop garden and dining space.

Campus Martius Park + Cadillac Square
Downtown Detroit’s official gathering spot. For the summer, 400,000 pounds of sand are spread in Campus Martius’ center. Build a sand castle, just chill or come hang during weekly beach parties with food trucks, drink specials and entertainment. At Cadillac Square, immediately east, find retail markets on Fridays, the pop-up Detroit Sports Zone, and last year’s beer garden is back for 2019.

Eastern Market
One of the country’s oldest farmers markets, Eastern Market on a Saturday is full of fruit, veggies, flowers, food, music and more. This is diverse Detroit at its best. Awesome delis, boutiques and pizzerias border the market. Flower Day is May 19. Other weekday events are available June-October.

Splash Pad | Mt. Elliott Park
Refresh and recharge with a little freestyle splash time. Kids big and small can activate the cannons and duck through the cascades in the Great Lakes schooner-themed water feature at Mt. Elliott Park.

City Sculpture Park
Die-hard Detroiter and artist Robert Sestok rallied his neighbors and local government to support him, bought an empty lot on Alexandrine Street and created City Sculpture Park. A physical testament to Detroit’s DIY ethos, the public space rotates exhibitions and hosts visiting artists’ programs.

The Belt / The Z

An alley that links Gratiot and Grand River avenues, The Belt is an outdoor art installation and entertainment destination. Appreciate the murals and then slip into some of Detroit’s hippest, underground watering holes — The Skip, Standby and Deluxx Fluxx. Next door is The Z parking garage, a street art stop in its own right. Explore all 10 floors, which are covered with murals from artists all over the world.

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2

Dearborn/Wayne

Dearborn Wayne mapSpanning east and west of downtown Detroit, this large region is rich with the character of Arab-American, Mexican, Polish and Italian neighborhoods. Middle Eastern dining, the rolling hills along Hines Drive and the vibrant downtowns of Wyandotte and the Grosse Pointes are must-sees.

 

Walk with history in Greenfield Village
Part of The Henry Ford campus in Dearborn, Greenfield Village is an outdoor day trip that takes you back in the day. See Thomas Edison’s Menlo Park complex, ride in an authentic Model T, travel by steam engine on the Weiser Railroad. American history comes alive. Wear comfortable walking shoes. Thomas the Tank Engine takes over the village railroad tracks on April 27-28; May 4-5 & 11-12.

Float along the lazy river at Turtle Cove Family Aquatic Center
Lower Huron Metropark is home to Downriver’s most complete water park. Two water slides, a sprayscape with a 300-gallon dumping bucket and a zero-depth-entry pool with lap lanes for the more serious swimmers. Plus, the infamous lazy river loved by all. Turtle Cove is open Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day. You need to purchase a vehicle permit to enter the metropark, and the water park costs extra on top of that.

Shop the Historic Avenue of Fashion
This retail and restaurant strip between 7 and 8 Mile roads on Livernois Avenue is on the resurge. Shop Simply Casual Clothingstore and DCreated, and then savor authentic eats at Kuzzo’s Chicken & Waffles. The Avenue of Fashion experience is shaped by a rich American jazz legacy and African-American heritage. The Jazz on the Ave block party is set for Aug. 3.

Go cruising on Hines Drive
This 17-mile road winds through the western suburbs of Detroit from Dearborn to Northville. As you navigate Hines Drive, you’ll notice the roadway follows along the Rouge River and is dotted with a number of fishing docks, picnic areas, baseball fields and biking paths, all urging you to stop and enjoy the outdoors. Part of the 100-year-old Wayne County Parks, it’s a scenic way to see several cities within the Dearborn/Wayne district. Be mindful of rainfall. Located in a flood plain, Hines Drive is often closed in the soggy days of early springtime. The road’s popular car cruise, Cruisin’ Hines, takes place on Aug. 25.

Eat doughnuts, pick apples at Apple Charlie’s

Once September rolls around and the kids head back to school, a trip to the cider mill is a must. Pick your own apples, take a hayride around the harvest, scour the fields for the perfect pumpkin and then hit Apple Charlie’s general store for cider and homemade doughnuts, plain or cinnamon. Downriver’s premier cider mill in New Boston.

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3

Greater Novi

Greater Novi mapJust a 20- to-45-minute drive northwest of downtown Detroit. Lakes, scenic hillsides and world-class golf pair with quaint downtowns, fine dining and nightlife in the Greater Novi district.

 

 

Meet a zonkey, feed a parakeet at Carousel Acres
If a little one-on-one time with the animals is what your family craves, Carousel Acres in South Lyon obliges in some nontypical ways. They’ve got the goats and ponies found at most petting farms. But you’ll also get a chance to feed free-flying parakeets, make the acquaintance of a zonkey (yes, that’s a donkey/zebra hybrid) and say hello to a couple ring-tailed lemurs named Ringo and George. Brushes are provided for grooming if you so choose.

Bet big at Northville Downs
Horses have run at Northville Downs’ location at the corner of Center Street and 7 Mile Road for decades. Live harness races continue at the site in 2019. Michigan’s last track standing. Brush up on your horse-betting terminology: in the money… on the nose… daily double… quinella… trifecta.

Feel like Tarzan at TreeRunner Adventure Park at West Bloomfield
Swing through the trees on zip lines, tackle obstacle courses at varying difficulty levels. East Michigan’s premier aerial adventure park, TreeRunner West Bloomfield hosts themed glow night events each month through the summer season.

Feed the black-capped chickadees at Kensington Metropark
As spring approaches, before the lands become aplenty with things to eat, the songbirds native to Kensington Metropark in Milford are known to perch upon your open palm to partake. Sunflower seeds are a favorite. The trails that branch off from the park’s nature center seem to be popular feeding spots.

Hit the links at The Inn at St. John’s
27 holes in total. Three 9-hole courses named Mark, Matthew and Luke — a nod to Jesus’ apostles and the site’s history as a former monastery. A Carl’s Golfland superstore and luxury resort-style hotel are on-site. Every skill-level golfer is welcome. The prestigious Concours d’Elegance of America car show takes over the Inn at St. John’s campus in Plymouth July 26-28.

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4

Macomb

Macomb mapMetro Detroit’s “East Side” is a mix of waterfront fun, food, shopping and nightlife. A 30-to-45-minute drive northeast of downtown, this boater’s paradise has friendly restaurants and marinas on glorious Lake St. Clair.

 

Catch a professional baseball game at Jimmy John’s Field
Utica is home to Jimmy John’s Field where the United Shore Professional Baseball League plays ball May through early September. Opening day at the field is May 10. The Eastside Diamond Hoppers play the Birmingham Bloomfield Beavers. Watch the league’s website for themed Sunday Fun Days for the kiddos.

Dig your toes in the sand at Lake St. Clair Metropark
It may no longer be officially called Metro Beach, but say that to a local and they’ll know it right off. Now known as Lake St. Clair Metropark, the 1,000-foot-long sandy shoreline on Lake St. Clair is one of metro Detroit’s best beaches. Windsurfers and kiteboarders love it; families with little kids can’t get enough of it; teenagers adore it.

Book a themed summer cruise on Infinity or Ovation
Infinity is a 117-foot bilevel luxury yacht with a spacious open-air sundeck for taking in the sights. Ovation is a 138-foot, three-level luxury vessel with an equally impressive sundeck, full-length dining salon and mid-deck bar. A Summer Cruise series June through early September includes themed excursions such as A Night in Havana, Old World Wines and Uptown Jazz. The home dock is located at Jefferson Beach Marina in St. Clair Shores on Lake St. Clair. Boarding is also offered at three additional downtown Detroit locations on the Detroit River.

Shop at The Mall at Partridge Creek (and bring your dog)
Part of the Hall Road Golden Corridor in Macomb County’s Clinton Township, The Mall at Partridge Creek’s massive open-air retail campus has a cinema and features anchor store Nordstrom. The super popular Summer Sounds concert series runs May 27-Sept. 2.

Smell the roses and more on the grounds of the Edsel & Eleanor Ford House
Woodlands and wetlands. Rose gardens, tribute gardens and flower lane. The surrounding grounds and gardens at the Edsel & Eleanor Ford House in Grosse Pointe Shores come alive in early spring and are bursting with color through the summer months. Jens Jensen, one of America’s foremost landscape designers and conservationists, designed the Ford House landscape between 1926 and 1932. Guided grounds tours available May-October.

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5

Oakland

Oakland County mapFrom downtown Detroit, the drive to the Oakland district is 20 to 40 minutes north, depending on your destination. Royal Oak is home to the Detroit Zoo. The bustling main streets of Ferndale, Rochester and Birmingham are brimming with shopping, restaurants and eclectic nightlife.

 

Play disc golf for free at Firefighters Park
The course is well-marked, friendly to beginners and offers 18 scenic holes. One of Troy’s five major parks, Firefighters Park is big, so leave some extra time for exploring after golfing. All you need to play the course is a disc (aka Frisbee). Check beforehand for league and tournament play when the course is closed to the public.

Shop, see a fountain, hear a story at the Village of Rochester Hills
Locals call this outdoor mall the downtown of Rochester Hills. With its beautifully landscaped Village Main, a gazebo for special events (like music, exercise classes and story time), a fountain that turns into a fire pit, and more than 50 shops and restaurants, Village of Rochester Hills rocks a summer day. Summer Fine Art at the Village of Rochester Hills takes place Aug. 3-4. June through August, there’s Family Movie Night in the parking lot. Free popcorn!

Get lawn tickets to a concert at DTE Energy Music Theatre
Hearing your favorite bands live is always a rewarding experience. Hearing your favorite bands as you lounge on a picnic blanket on a green-grass hill with friends and family takes that experience to another level. DTE Energy Music Theatre in Clarkston is metro Detroit’s popular outdoor summer concert venue. Train, the Goo Goo Dolls and Allen Stone play July 23. Hootie & the Blowfish on Aug. 16.

Feed the giraffes at the Detroit Zoo
May through September, you can secure a spot for Giraffe Encounter at the Detroit Zoo. Yeah, most zoos have a giraffe feeding op. That’s because it’s super fun to see that long purple tongue circle around its supper. Only 50 tickets sold per feeding. P.S. Zoo Brew pairs beer with the beasts (May 3), you can bike through the zoo during Bike Safari (June 27 and July 11) and Wild Summer Nights concerts are held in the zoo on Wednesdays, July 3-Aug. 28.

Get friendly with Ferndale
Ferndale’s downtown epicenter is Woodward Avenue and 9 Mile Road. Get breakfast or brunch at rival diners Toast or Fly Trap. Cocktails and tacos at Imperial. Partake in patio drinking at Public House or popular food truck fare at Detroit Fleat Food Truck Park & Boozery. Shop the Rust Belt Market. It rocks. Party up after dark at New Way Bar, The Oakland or The WAB. The city, one of metro Detroit’s most LGBTQ-friendly towns, hosts the Ferndale Pride 2019 parade on June 1.

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Mentioned Attractions And Venues





  1. 1
    Beacon Park
    Beacon Park, Grand River Avenue, Detroit, MI, USA
  2. 2
    City Sculpture Park
    City Sculpture Park, West Alexandrine Street, Detroit, MI, USA
  3. 3
    Hines Drive
    33175 Ann Arbor Trail, Westland, MI 48185, USA
  4. 4
    Apple Charlie's
    38035 S Huron Rd, New Boston, MI, USA
  5. 5
    Carousel Acres
    12749 9 Mile Road, South Lyon, MI, USA
  6. 6
    Northville Downs
    301 South Center Street, Northville, Michigan 48167, USA
  7. 7
    Jimmy John's Field
    7171 Auburn Rd, Utica, MI 48317, USA
    248-601-2400
  8. 8
    Firefighters Park
    1800 W Square Lake Rd, Troy, MI 48098, USA
  9. 9
    DTE Energy Music Theatre
    7774 Sashabaw Rd, Village of Clarkston, MI 48348, USA