For those of you who may be new here, or may not know, we are a Michigan born family. Hubby and I were raised in Southeast Michigan, in the suburbs of Detroit. All three of our girls were born and raised in Dearborn, before our move to Central Florida. Therefore, we know a lot about things to do in Detroit summer, and the surrounding areas.
We’ve made it back to visit family and friends every summer since our move away. It seems we are more like tourists now. Always looking for something new to explore, even though we still have our staple favorites. Here you will find a variety of things to do in and around Metro Detroit during summer.
Things To Do In Detroit
Belle Isle is an island on the Detroit River, and nestled between Michigan and Canada. Summer of 2019 we spent an afternoon at Belle Isle Park. Although we were only there for part of a day, we are able to do and see plenty.
Opening August 18, 1904, Belle Isle Aquarium is America’s oldest aquarium. At opening, it was the third largest aquarium in the world, which is crazy to know. Why? Because it’s not really that large compared to so many others nowadays.
You can find collections of water bearing species from all over the globe, and most notably the Great Lakes. Also, it is home to the only know collection of all 7 species of gar in North America. Best to visit on a day that’s not too hot, because it is not air-conditioned. It was pretty hot the day we were there, and the only relief is a small room they allow the kids in to do some hands on activities.
Neighboring the aquarium, is the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory, which also opened in 1904. Several things make this place special. First, it’s currently “the oldest, continually operating conservatory in the United States.” Second, it’s home to the largest municipally owned orchid collection in the country. The collection was donated by Anna Scripps in 1955, and thereafter named to honor her generosity.
The conservatory is filled with native and exotic flowers, plants, trees. and much more. During summer, the surrounding grounds are filled with many beautiful flowers and plants. The day we visited, there was a wedding party holding rehearsal. What a great place for an outdoor ceremony!
Growing up in a boating family, and living on the water for many years, I can’t believe it took me this long to visit the Great Lakes Museum. The underdog of our day, I was very impressed with the wide range of exhibits, and hands on activities for the kids.
The Gothic Room of the Detroit III passenger steamer, and the pilot house of the SS William Clay Ford were among my favorite parts. Sadly we couldn’t explore the outdoor exhibits because they were working on the new landscaping. I personally would have loved to see, and take pictures with the anchor from famous Great Lakes shipwreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald freighter. Just may need to head back next summer.
After reading about this place, I decided to share, even though we’ve never visited. Outdoor Adventure Center brings the great Michigan outdoors to Detroit’s riverfront. You can find OAC in the historic Globe Building, along the Detroit riverfront. Filled with exhibits, activities, simulators, and much more. This will be on top of my list of places to visit when we go back next summer.
How about taking the family out to the ballpark? We haven’t done this in several years, but always have a good time when we do. Especially when we’ve gone with extended family.
For the little ones, ours enjoyed the carousel and mini ferris wheel. Some nights you may eve catch a firework show.
Sadly the inside of the estate is closed for restoration, but still worth a visit, just to walk the grounds. The home of Henry and Clara Ford is located on the University of Michigan Dearborn campus. Sitting along the River Rouge, you are free to roam around the mansion.
Follow the meadow to the northwest, and you come to stunning landscape work of Jens Jensen. Beautiful limestone layered dam and walkway, large pond, and many walking trails.
To the other side of the home, is a rose garden, koi pond, and walking paths. Enough here to keep you busy for a couple hours, bring a blanket and lunch for picnic.
One of my absolute favorites to share with you Greenfield Village, and you can read all about it in our blog post HERE
Greenfield Village is an 80 acre sanctuary filled with over 300 years of American history. It also makes it one of the best educational travel destinations. You will find many original buildings, such as the court house in which Abraham Lincoln practiced law.
Can you believe in all the years I lived in Michigan, I never went canoeing? Suppose I was to busy boating, and wave running. Summer of 2019, I got to mark another one off the bucket list, as we went canoeing on the Huron River.
You can find Motor City Canoe Rental about 30 minutes south of Detroit. Canoe along the Huron River, with several different location options. We chose Atwater Paddles in Flat Rock. TIP: Eat at Atwater Tacos, right near the canoe launch.
Grosse Pointe Shores
Although you can’t tour the home of Henry and Clara Ford right now, you can tour the home of their son, Edsel. The Edsel and Eleanor Ford home is about 20 minutes north of Detroit on Lake Sinclair.
Of all the historic homes I’ve toured, this has by far been my favorite. We loved everything about it, and you can read our full review HERE
Whittaker’s Berry Farm
Several summers ago, the girls and I went strawberry picking with my sister, cousin, and their kids. Whittaker’s Berry Farm is about an hour south of Detroit, in Ida. Perfect for a road trip day. Ida is not far from historic Monroe, which is Michigan’s third oldest community. You can find Whittaker’s Berry Farm on Facebook.
Not far from Motor City Canoe, is Oakwoods Metro Park. Easily could be part of a day trip to canoe, and visit the park. Summer of 2018, we went with family, and the kids had a cousins day.
Oakwoods Metro Park has a nature center, walking trails, bike trails, and more. Plus, you can find two other Metro Parks within a short distance, both which have swimming pools too.
Back when we lived in Michigan, for several years we were zoo members. During our summer visits back to see family, we’ve still gone back to spend time here.
You must see their butterfly house, and arctic encounter. For the arctic encounter, you walk through window tunnels, and the polar bears swim over you. Don’t miss riding the train too. In addition, the Detroit Zoological Society runs the Belle Isle Nature Center in Belle Isle Park.
One thing we all look forward to every summer are the festivals. You can find multiple festivals happening on any given weekend, all summer long around the Detroit area.
Which kinds of festivals? Everything from arts, crafts, church, boats, cars, music, beer, pierogi, and so much more! I found this great resource of festivals for all over the US and Canada, but here you can find the Michigan Festivals. Most of the church festivals can be found on the Detroit Diocese website, and church links.
This is just a small portion of all the things to do in and around the Detroit area during summer. I feel Detroit doesn’t get the recognition it should. I’m sure because I lived there almost 40 years, I know where to go and what to see.