I’m looking forward to this Friday when temperatures in Michigan are forecast to be 15 to 20 degrees above average. Here in West Michigan it will really feel like spring with the mercury hitting the mid 50s. That’s a scorcher for this time of year! It’s a double bonus for my family, because it just happens to fall on a day when my boys are off school. Like many Michiganders, we’ll make the most of it by heading outdoors. Here are a few ways you can enjoy Michigan’s spring preview this Friday.
Visit the Dune Climb at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore – I’ve hiked up the dune climb on a warm, sunny day. It’s a workout even for someone in really good shape, and it’s hot out there on the sand, which can add to the difficulty. I think a mild winter day might be the perfect time for a climb — warm enough not to freeze, but cool enough not to bake. And the view of Lake Michigan at the top is spectacular no matter the season. The park is open for visitors year round.
Ride a Bike Trail – If the snow is melted in your neck of the woods, hit a local bike trail. My boys are always so excited when they can ride their bikes for the first time each spring. Portage Creek Bicentennial Park is just south of Kalamazoo. This urban linear park offers scenic views of Portage Creek and takes you through the Celery Flats Historical Area. There you’ll find a variety of historical buildings and interpretative sites honoring the celery farming industry that once thrived there.
Stargaze at The Headlands International Dark Sky Park – Located in Emmet County near the Straits of Mackinac, Headlands is the place to go when you want to see the stars. With earlier sunsets, winter is a great time for stargazing. Take advantage of the warmer nights at the end of this week. Pick a spot on the beach that’s free of light pollution and watch as the night sky puts on a spectacular show. Camping is not permitted, but you are welcome to bring chairs, blankets, coolers and even build a fire to keep warm.
Mackinac Island – Mackinac Island is open even in the winter, but with the crowds gone your visit will be a completely different experience from summer. A few hotels, restaurants and shops are open all winter. Hike and bike the trails around the island and soak in the calm of the winter season. As long as ice isn’t built up in the bay, you can still catch a ferry to and from the island.
Yard Work – Get a jump-start on your spring yard work and enjoy the warm temps at the same time. Clean out flowerbeds, rake up leaves you missed in the fall and clean up sticks and debris left by winter storms.
Backyard Fire Pit – After a long winter your fire pit is probably pretty lonely. Throw some logs on Friday night and make S’mores. I miss those summer nights around the campfire! Don’t have a fire pit? Order one of these from Amazon Prime today, and you’ll have it by this weekend.
Go to the Playground – My kids ask to go to the park even in the winter. But we usually don’t, because you can’t really play on the equipment if it’s buried in snow. It should all be melted by Friday, so I’m sure our weekend will include a trip to the park. Kids’ Corner in South Haven routinely makes the list of top playgrounds in the state. Overlooking Lake Michigan, it features an enormous wooden play structure that keeps everyone from toddlers to tweens entertained.
Sightseeing at Tahquamenon Falls – The falls are an easy walk along a paved pathway, less than 1/2 mile from the parking area. Located in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, it’s the second largest waterfall east of the Mississippi, second only to Niagara Falls. Nicknamed Root Beer Falls, the water is tinted amber from tannin seeping into the river from trees in nearby swamps. The falls are in a state park near Paradise.
Nature Center – Visit your local nature center for a convenient way to enjoy the great outdoors with well-defined and marked trails. Blanford Nature Center in Grand Rapids features trails, a children’s play area, wildlife education center, visitor’s center, farm and historic buildings. You can easily make a day of it with the whole family. Admission is a bargain at just $3 a person.
Fayette Historic State Park – Once the site of a thriving iron-smelting operation, Fayette is now a ghost town located in the Upper Peninsula along Lake Michigan. Take a walk among the abandoned buildings and imagine what life was once like there.
Detroit Zoo – The Detroit Zoo is open all winter and many animals from wolves to tigers to polar bears are active during the winter. Indoor displays are also open, housing warm weather animals like giraffes and rhinos. Don’t wait for summer. Friday would be a great day for a zoo outing!
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