Tuesday, December 31, 2013

104 Weekend Days in Michigan, Part IV

I already have listed weekend activities 1 through 26, 27 through 52 and 53 through 78 that I would try to do with 104 weekend days in Michigan. Today, I give you the last 26 days of Michigan fun. As with the previous posts, this list is in no particular order, and I have tried to include at least one activity from every corner of the state. 

Weekend Days 79-104

79. Play Baseball or Catch on Navin Field

Navin Field
Walking the hallowed grounds of the former Tiger Stadium (aka Navin Field) is staggering for any Detroit Tigers fan. When I visited in October, I was thrilled to be standing on the same field where so many baseball and football legends played for more than a century. I watched a pick-up game of baseball and wished I could step into the batter's box for an at bat. Thanks to the hard work of the Navin Field Grounds Crew to save the field from neglect, visitors can still play ball at the corner of Michigan and Trumbull.

For information about the old Tiger Stadium and the Navin Field Grounds crew, check out the documentary Stealing Home.

80. Kayak Copper Harbor

The Upper Peninsula offers so many outdoor activities, including kayaking. Copper Harbor is a great place for beginning kayakers to learn the ropes while taking in the natural beauty of the U.P. This community is at the farthest northern tip of the U.P. on Lake Superior. In addition to kayaking, Copper Harbor offers hiking and mountain biking trails. Read Things to Do in the U.P.'s review of a kayaking trip through the harbor here.

81. Drive M-22

The section of M-22 between Traverse City and Manistee along Lake Michigan is one of the most scenic roads in Michigan. AOL Autos named it one of the "Five Awesome American Roads to Drive in a Ragtop" this past Labor Day. The road passes by small towns, sand dunes and smaller inland lakes, providing drivers with stunning views of Lake Michigan.

82. Stroll through Dow Gardens

Midland's Dow Gardens offer "110 Acres of Nature's Beauty." Herbert H. Dow, the founder of Dow Chemical, developed the gardens with eight acres in 1899. Future generations of Dows continued to develop the gardens until they reached their current size. Dow Gardens offer a rose garden, trees, wildflowers, 18,000 tulips, a six-acre stream and a children's garden.

83. Go to a College Hockey Game

Yost Ice Arena at the University of Michigan
Michigan is a hotbed of college hockey with Division I teams at Michigan, Michigan State, Ferris State, Lake Superior State, Michigan Tech, Northern Michigan and Western Michigan. State schools have won a total of 19 NCAA championships with the University of Michigan leading the nation with 9 NCAA titles all-time. The in-state rivalries among these teams are intense and definitely worth watching.

84. See the Detroit River from a Kayak

There would be no Detroit without the Detroit River. The French chose the city's location because of its strategic location for the fur trade in the 18th Century. The river was first traveled by Native Americans and European explorers in small craft like canoes. Although the scenery may have changed in the last 300 years, modern explorers can rent a kayaks and canoes to view the river from a new angle.

Riverside Kayak is based out of Wyandotte, allowing visitors to see the Downriver section of the Detroit River, but the company also arranges tours of Detroit's canals and the Rouge River. Detroit River Sports is located on Belle Isle, allowing views of Belle Island and the Detroit riverfront.

85. Find the Crisp Point Lighthouse

Michigan has more than 115 lighthouses, but Crisp Point on Lake Superior in the U.P. is a tough one to find from land. The roads leading to the lighthouse are not well-marked and are not paved, but the difficulty reaching the lighthouse allows for a visit unimpeded by hordes of tourists. The lighthouse is not near any major towns; Sault Ste. Marie is probably the closest. However, based on this review and others, seeing the lighthouse with your own eyes makes up for the difficulty in finding it.

86. Visit the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum

Not too far from Crisp Point, and a little more accessible by road, is the Whitefish Point Light Station and the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum. The museum is open every day from May through October. Its exhibits include shipwreck artifacts and maritime history programs. Visitors can take tours of the Lighthouse and lightkeeper's quarters. Overnight lodging also is available in the restored Coast Guard lifesaving crew's quarters.

87. Eat at the MSU Dairy Store

I have never had the MSU Dairy Store ice cream, but I always see it mentioned as the best ice cream in Michigan by Michigan State students and alumni. Unlike most ice cream shops, the Dairy Store is part of MSU's College of Agriculture. It sells dairy products, including a wide variety of cheese, from the school's dairy plant where students learn about the dairy and food processing fields.

As for the ice cream, there are flavors dedicated to each Big 10 school, so Michigan Wolverine fans can order a Maize-N-Berry without feeling like traitors to their school.

88. Travel to Beaver Island

Beaver Island is the largest island in Lake Michigan, but it is sparsely populated. It is 32 miles from Charlevoix on the mainland and can be accessed only by air or boat. Daily ferry service from Charlevoix runs from May through September, and the trip takes approximately two hours by boat.

Two small air carriers also allow travelers to fly to the island in 20 minutes. The island offers a myriad of outdoor activities and, despite its small population, has restaurants, a supermarket, shops, motels, bed and breakfasts and vacation home rentals.

89. Walk Detroit's RiverWalk

Detroit RiverWalk Photo by A. Burtka
Like many industrial cities with waterfronts, Detroit neglected its waterfront on the Detroit River for much of the 20th century. However, recent efforts by the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy have transformed the riverfront into a wonderful place to go for a walk or run during the warmer months.

The RiverWalk includes several parks, lawn chairs, a carousel, water fountains, a sand volleyball court and more. The RiverWalk is still developing, but the strides that the Riverfront Conservancy has made in the last ten years are astounding.

90. Explore Tahquamenon Falls State Park

With 50,000 acres of wilderness, the U.P.'s Tahquamenon Falls State Park is the second largest state park in Michigan. It is also home to one of the largest waterfalls east of the Mississippi. The Upper Falls have a drop of nearly 50 feet, and the Lower Falls are series of five smaller falls four miles downstream on the Tahquamenon River. The park offers hiking and camping in the warmer months and snowmoboling, cross county skiing and snowshoeing in the winter.

91. Visit Petoskey

Petoskey Photo by abarndweller
The city of Petoskey is located on the shores of Lake Michigan's Little Traverse Bay in Northern Michigan. It is famous for its many Petoskey stones, fossilized coral which is also Michigan's state stone. Ernest Hemingway vacationed in the area as a boy and set several of his Nick Adams stories in Petoskey. Today, it is a popular tourist destination with beaches, outdoor activities, dining and shops.

92. Enjoy Lake Huron

Lake Huron has beaches throughout the Lower Peninsula and Upper Peninsula. When you are on the eastern side of the state in the summer months, hop in the car and take a dip in this Great Lake one weekend. The lake also offers abundant opportunities for fishing and boating.

93."Drive" Across Lake Michigan to Wisconsin

U.S. Route 10 is an east-west highway that begins in Bay City on the eastern side of the Lower Peninsula and ends in West Fargo, North Dakota. The highway is broken up by Lake Michigan, so travelers must take a car ferry from Ludington, Michigan, to Manitowoc, Wisconsin, in order to continue on U.S. 10. The S.S. Badger takes four hours to cross Lake Michigan and is not technically a part of the U.S. Highway system.

94. Marvel at the Pictured Rocks

Pictured Rocks Photo via National Park Service
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore extends for 42 miles along the shores of Lake Superior in the Upper Peninsula. Pictured Rocks offers beautiful beaches, more than 100 miles of hiking trails, waterfalls, forests and, of course, the stunning sandstone rock cliffs along Lake Superior. I have never been and really hope to visit someday soon.

95. See a Play at the Purple Rose Theatre

Chelsea's Purple Rose Theatre is a not-for-profit theatre company founded by Emmy-Award-winning actor Jeff Daniels. Daniels was raised in Chelsea, just outside of Ann Arbor, and returned to live in Chelsea, despite the demands of traveling to act in television and movies. He founded the theater in his hometown in 1991. The company performs original productions throughout the year, including plays written by Daniels.

96. Go to the Opera

I have never been to the opera. It is not that I do not appreciate the music; I consider much of it to be beautiful. I just have not had a lot of interest in going to the opera with so many other forms of entertainment competing for my time. However, sometimes you need to try something new. The Detroit Opera House offers several operas throughout the year, as well as ballet performances.

97. Taste Michigan's Vineyards

Michigan is gaining recognition for the quality wine it produces. The area near Traverse City always has had a strong tourism industry, but more tourists are coming to the region for the wine instead of heading out west to Napa or to Europe. Visitors can take wine tours to multiple vineyards through the region's rolling hills with views of Lake Michigan.

98. Run the Lansing River Trail

The Lansing River Trail is a 13 mile trail along the Red Cedar and Grand Rivers between Michigan State University in East Lansing and Dietrich Park in northern Lansing. Runners, cyclists and walkers can travel along the trail past landmarks like the Potter Park Zoo. During the fall, the tree-lined trail bursts with the colors of the changing leaves.

99. Visit Holland's Tunnel Park

Like much of the Lake Michigan shoreline, Holland has dunes for visitors to see. The city's 22 acre Tunnel Park has the unique element of a tunnel that passes through one of the dunes. The park also offers a beach, a children's playground and a dune stairway that offers stunning views of Lake Michigan.

100. Drive the Entire Length of Woodward

Woodward Avenue in 1942
Woodward Avenue runs 22 miles from Downtown Detroit to Pontiac and passes through several cities along the way. The historic avenue is being revived in Downtown and Midtown Detroit. The Detroit section also offers views of several old churches, Campus Martius, the Detroit Institute of Arts and many more old buildings with beautiful architecture.

Heading northbound, Woodward takes travelers through suburbs offering smaller downtowns with shopping and restaurants like Ferndale, Royal Oak and Birmingham before ending in Pontiac. It is quicker to get from Pontiac to Detroit on I-75, but you will miss out on the many sites Woodward offers.

101. Volunteer

With 104 weekend days to relax and have fun, offer at least one of your days to help others. Serve homeless people at soup kitchen. Pack clothes and food for delivery to the poor. Hand out water to runners at a charity race that raises money for a good cause. Michigan has many wonderful charities that could use the help and there many resources to find a good cause, including this one.

102. Watch Really Fast Boats in Detroit

The Detroit River has been the home of hydroplane racing every summer since 1904, except during World War II. The Gold Cup awarded to the winner of the APBA Gold Cup race is the oldest trophy in motor sports. The boats are called hydroplanes because they reach speeds near 200 miles per hour, and a majority of the boat's hull actually lifts off the water, or planes.

103. Go Sailing

With four Great Lakes, Lake St. Clair and numerous inland lakes, Michigan offers plenty of opportunities to learn to sail or to take a sailing trip where a captain and crew whisk you around the lakes for beautiful views of Michigan's shorelines and sunsets.

104. Explore the Noquemanon Trail Network

The Noquemanon Trail Network in Marquette offers 45 kilometers (or 28 miles) of U.P. trails with varying degrees of difficulty. They are open year-round and are perfect for running, mountain biking, hiking and cross-country skiing. Several running, biking and skiing races are held on the trails each year, including a triathalon.

Bonus: There are a few things I would love to do on the weekend that are offered only on weekdays.

1. Visit and Tour the State Capitol.

State Capitol photo by Brian Charles Watson
The State Capitol Building in Lansing is the heart of Michigan's government, but it is not open for tours on the weekends. It is Michigan's third capitol building. The original capitol was in Detroit before the state government moved to Lansing in 1847. The current building opened in 1879. For information on scheduling a tour, click here.

2. Take a Day Off for Opening Day

Comerica Park at Night
I have been to many Detroit Tigers games, but I have never gone on Opening Day. Baseball's opening day is the most exciting day for all baseball fans because every team is still a contender this early in the season. Opening Day traditionally falls on a weekday, requiring fans to play hooky from school or work to attend the game at Comerica Park.

3. March in the Thanksgiving Day Parade

Watching Detroit's Thanksgiving Day Parade is fun, but marching in it must be a thrill. The Parade Company allows people to march in one of their 300 Big Heads (giant papier-mâché heads). For more information on how to enroll as a Big Head, click here.

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