Michigan Parks In Your Backyard
Vicki Briganti – WWJ-TV Writer / Producer / Editor
The Fourth of July weekend is finally here. Assuming we get warm, sunny weather, it’s the best time in Michigan to bike, BBQ, swim, boat, camp, and fish. Oh, and of course, watch fireworks.
The fireworks show in the city of Gibraltar rocks. Maybe they don’t have three barges worth like Detroit, but you feel closer to the display. They explode over your head. I walk away afterwards with ash in my hair. Gibraltar residents take the Fourth of July to new levels; throwing parties, setting off personal fireworks, and parking on front lawns to make room for family and friends who couldn’t squeeze their cars onto the packed streets.
What do you have planned for the weekend? Have you visited a Michigan park this summer? I’m surprised many Michigan residents don’t utilize our beautiful parks. Thirteen Metroparks are within driving distance if you live in southeastern Michigan. With so many options, there’s a place for you. Plus, it’s cheap fun. It’s only $5 per vehicle for a day pass or you can buy a season pass for $25.
My favorite Metropark is Metro Beach. There’s a beach with swimming and a pool with two waterslides and a diving board ($3 fee). Adults and kids alike can run through the Squirt Zone Spray Ground. The flat, paved path for bikers, walkers, and bad inline skaters like me circles around the park and out onto Metropolitan Parkway. Located on a peninsula, Lake St. Clair surrounds you on all sides. Other amenities include a Par 3 golf course, concession stand, mini golf (extra fee), marina with spots for fishing, and live music in the Welsh Activity Center on Sunday nights at 6:30pm during the summer. Sometimes the beach is closed due to high bacteria in the water, so check ahead if you plan to swim.
To learn more about the Metroparks, log on www.metroparks.com or call 1-800-477-2757.
Michigan State Parks
Sometimes I can’t decide if I’d rather visit one of Michigan’s 98 state parks. You can pay an extra $10 when you register your car. The “P” on your license plate tab designates your entrance into each state park. The closest parks in southeastern Michigan with good swimming are Dodge #4 State Park in Waterford; Brighton Recreation Area in Howell; and Island Lake Recreation Area in Brighton.
I prefer Island Lake Recreation Area. Four miles of paved biking paths in addition to unpaved mountain biking trails await you. The paved path connects into Kensington Metropark, but you’ll need to wear a bike helmet to ride inside Kensington. There are two places to swim at Island Lake: Kent Lake and Spring Mill Pond. Shade is easy to find on the Kent Lake beach.
After spending years soaking in the sun, I’ve started seeking places with shade. If you want to be near the beach and still get shade, I’d suggest Pinckney Recreation Area, Island Lake Recreation Area (Kent Lake), and Dodge #4 State Park. Shade is hard to find at the swimming areas in Metro Beach and Stony Creek Metroparks.
To find out more about Michigan State Parks, log on www.michigan.gov/dnr.
Where Should You Go?
Here are my best recommendations by activity based on a lifetime of frequenting both Michigan State Parks and Michigan Metroparks:
- Biking — Stony Creek Metropark has a six mile paved trail, in a loop
- Hiking — Pinckney Recreation Area
- Swimming — Island Lake Recreation Area and Pinckney Recreation Area
- Picnics — Kensington Metropark (Stop at Holden’s Deli on Milford Road on your way in for delicious fried chicken, French fries, pasta salad, and fountain drinks.)
- Wave Pool — Lake Erie Metropark (extra fees apply)
- Boating — Dodge #4 State Park
- Walking, Views, Inline Skating, and overall Best Park — Metro Beach Metropark
Whatever you choose to do, enjoy those BBQs and fireworks. Don’t drink and drive. Don’t drink and motorcycle. Don’t drink and boat. I wish you all a safe and fun-filled Fourth of July weekend.
>> More Motor City Musing With Vicki Briganti