2020 wasn’t the year we planned for but it wasn’t all bad. My family spent more time outdoors then ever before. We went on countless hikes, discovered new-to-us playgrounds and checked out newly developed creative events. To keep up on fun around town, we explore A LOT and have a great time at new and old favorites throughout the year but if you want to know what topped the list – here it is (in no particular order).
It had been awhile since my last visit to Wild Lights and I have to say I was blown away. It’s not just a walk with light displays here or there, it’s an entire loop of illumination and interactive displays for kids to enjoy. I had to drag my boys out because they did not want to leave. Tickets sell out quickly during normal years so make sure you keep an eye out in October 2021 to get your tickets because it’s a metro-Detroit must.
The MARVEL exhibit is at The Henry Ford until January 31st and worth a visit. Our family loves superheroes and getting to see and interact with the characters was a lot of fun. We don’t do too many indoor activities these days but The Henry Ford has done a great job to make sure staff and guests are safe.
From flying kites and building sand castles in the summer to taking in the lights and warming up by the beachside bonfire, Valade Park is the star of the Detroit Riverfront all year long. When a real snowfall hits we’ll be back for sledding this winter.
The summertime destination for all metro Detroit families has to be Lake St. Clair Metropark. Arrive early to claim your spot in the sand and take in the crystal clear water. After beach time you can let the littles run through the splash pad (there’s also a pool with a waterslide). Stop by the large playground before you leave to let them wear themselves out a little more. It makes for the perfect summer day.
The LittleGuide find of the year was definitely Carpenter Lake Nature Preserve in Southfield. The ‘rock’ park is unlike anything around, super fun to explore and great for Halloween photoshoots when you are The Lion Guard. Bauervic Woods Park is a couple miles away and if you want a traditional playscape and have extra time I would definitely do both.
A hidden gem in Wayne County, Crosswinds Marsh offers a great adventure for kids and adults. Race along long wooden bridges from mini island to mini island and then get lost in the woods as you go for a nice long family walk. We visited in the fall and I can’t wait to go back with the gardens are in bloom next summer.
The Ford House was another fun fall surprise. I’ve been on the House Tours but I never specifically explored the grounds and they are gorgeous. It was the perfect place to be with fallen leaves and changing colors. The free kid activity bag they offered in October and November was without question the best I have ever been given – we are still using the items almost daily at home!
We have visited a lot of Nature Centers and they are cool but Howell’s Nature Center is more like an outdoor amusement center. There are rescued animals to visit, hilly terrain to hike (ziplines too although that’s a next year goal) and one of the most fun playground’s around! It’s amazing and an absolute must.
I’ve been to indoor Jurassic Quest in the past and I have to confess I much preferred the Drive-Thru experience! Our entire family got the chance to enjoy the large animatronic dinosaurs from the comfort of our car without chasing kids through crowds and worrying about snack, backpacks and strollers. It’s too soon to know how it will look next year but if it’s another Drive-Thru experience I can’t wait!
Another creative arrival in 2020 was Glenlore Trails. The outdoor light installation makes a night time walk magical. From the summer debut to the Haunted Forest and now the holiday Aurora, I hope we can continue to enjoy the trail throughout the new year.
About Carrie Budzinski
Carrie Budzinski is the Vice President of LittleGuide Detroit. She grew up in Livonia and Detroit and continues to live life in both cities. Carrie loves exploring the city and finding hidden gems in the suburbs..