From a leisurely drive along the shoreline of Lake St. Clair to the crack of a bat or a walk in nature’s beauty, drives near Detroit boast all-American beauty even locals will love. These are the best, the most beautiful and the most enlightening, in the city.
MSU Hidden Lake Arboretum and Conservatory
6214 Monroe Rd. (M50)
Tipton, Michigan 49287
(517) 431 – 2060
Distance: 60 miles, one way
Price: $3 per person, children younger 2 free
Hours: daily – 9 a.m.to 7 p.m.
Heading down US-12 find the 755-acre MSU Hidden Lake Arboretum and Conservatory. The drive takes you through the farm country of southern Michigan and at Hidden Lake you’ll be treated to a collection of dwarf and rare conifers, and gorgeous views of the Hosta Hillside. In the conservatory, there are three environments; temperate, arid and tropical, each displaying a unique variety of plants. Guided tours are available — reservations required — while self guided tours may be taken during open hours.
Blue Water Tour
Michigan’s eastern shore along Lake St. Clair and the St. Clair River
Junction of I–94 & M–29 to Port Huron
Distance: up to 60 miles to Port Huron, one way
A short ride east out of Detroit on I-94 reach US-29, the path that meanders along the eastern shore of Lake St. Clair and the St. Clair River. This scenic and historic shoreline drive will take you though small towns such as Algonac, St. Clair and finally Port Huron. Along the way, see sparkling Lake St. Clair and the St. Clair River, historic homes, inns and restaurants. The history of this area dates back to French explorers and the maritime tradition of the Great Lakes.
Pioneer Wine Trail
10 wineries west of Detroit, via I-94
Distance: 60 miles one way
Price: free to $5 tastings
Hours vary, check winery schedules
Sometimes a scenic drive has more to do with the destination, and for wine lovers, the Pioneer Wine Trail is it. Within 60 miles of Detroit along the I-94 corridor heading west, find no less than seven wineries and tasting rooms wound through the city’s subtly beautiful wine country. Near each of the wineries there are restaurants and accommodations, if one day driving through Detroit’s scenic vineyards is not enough. Most of the wineries are open seven days a week but you should check to be sure of the exact hours because the beautifully distractive drive through the countryside may keep you out late.
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Toledo Mud Hens
Fifth Third Field
406 Washington St.
Toledo, OH 43604
Distance: 57 miles one way
Price: $9 adults/$7 children 12 and younger and seniors 65 and older/$9 fireworks nights Fri – Sun
Check the schedule for game days and times
Baseball fans should head south to Toledo to take in a Mud Hens — the Detroit Tigers minor league team — game. With a large number of home games, the scenic drive south will be well worth the time. At the stadium, you will only be a short distance from the Veterans’ Glass City Skyway Bridge on US-280, which crosses the Maumee River. Drive across this single-tower bridge, which uses suspension cables radiating out from a center column, offering up a dazzling, illuminated nighttime image of the span.
University of Michigan Matthaei Botanical Gardens
1800 N. Dixboro Rd.
Ann Arbor, MI 48105
Distance: 40 miles
Price: free, donations accepted at the Conservatory
Hours: grounds daily – 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Conservatory Thurs to Tues – 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Wed – 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
One of the nicer scenic drives close to home is along the Huron River with a stop at the University of Michigan Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Conservatory just east of Ann Arbor. By heading west along Michigan Ave (US-12), you will come to Huron Street in Ypsilanti. Make a right turn to head north to Huron River Drive. This scenic road runs along the Huron River for a quiet drive and passes through the campus of Eastern Michigan University. There are plenty of stops along the way at the campus, from book stores to coffee shops. Finally Huron River Drive intersects with Dixboro Road, which leads to Matthaei and its botanical wonders.
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Award winning freelance writer and photographer Lawrence DiVizio is based in Southeast Michigan and works to convey in words and images the world around us. His work can be found at Examiner.com.