Just because you live in Metro Detroit doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the great outdoors.
If your family is looking for fun – and free – adventures this spring and summer, there are plenty of great things to do right here in the Big D.
“It’s important that every family in Michigan gets the chance to enjoy all that Michigan offers,” said Merisa Campbell of the Michigan Wildlife Council, which promotes the importance of conservation and wildlife management. “Whether you live in a small town Up North or in the heart of Detroit, there are so many ways to learn about nature and wildlife.”
Here are three great opportunities to find out more about Detroit’s great outdoors.
Go Wild Over Wednesdays
Once you get a taste of Mother Nature at the new Outdoor Adventure Center (OAC) along Detroit’s riverfront, you’ll be itching to get outside and explore some more.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources created the OAC to provide hands-on opportunities to learn about the abundance of outdoor recreation in the Great Lakes State.
You’ll learn about how the DNR manages state parks, forests, and wildlife as you and your family spend an afternoon touching a waterfall while you walk behind it, reeling in a virtual fish from a fishing boat or riding a mountain bike or snowmobile. There’s also a beaver den, campsite and massive oak tree to explore as you climb the roots.
Admission is free from 6 to 8 p.m. for the entire family on the last Wednesday of each month. All “Wild Over Wednesdays” evenings offer special programs, games and story time for younger visitors. In April, the Wild Over Wednesdays topics were birds that call Michigan home and how the DNR contributes to bird conservation and research.
WHAT: Outdoor Adventure Center
WHERE: 1801 Atwater St., Detroit
WHEN: 10 a.m.–3 p.m. Wednesday–Friday; 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Saturday; noon–5 p.m. Sunday
ADMISSION: Free for Wild Over Wednesdays (6–8 p.m. the last Wednesday of each month); regular admission is $5 adults, $3 for seniors and children under age 12, free for children under 2
Kids Fishing Fest
Whether your family is just beginning a fishing tradition or continuing one, the Kids Fishing Fest on June 12 is a way to get up close and personal with our waterways.
The free festival is noon to 4 p.m. at William G. Milliken State Park and Harbor and is designed to engage children ages 6 to 14 in fishing along the Detroit riverfront while learning about respecting our waters.
The Detroit River is considered one of the best fishing spots in the Midwest, especially for walleye. That’s because intense conservation efforts over the past 50 years – including pollution cleanup, shoreline restoration and the creation of spawning reefs – make the river an attractive place for fish.
The festival will have free fishing pole rental as well as free bait, snacks, games, music and more.
WHAT: Kids Fishing Fest
WHERE: William G. Milliken State Park and Harbor, 1900 Atwater St., Detroit
WHEN: Noon–4 p.m. June 12
Every Kid in a Park
Want to hit the road this summer? Start right here in Detroit then travel across the country exploring hundreds of parks, lands and waters for free thanks to the new Every Kid in a Park program.
The program is designed to encourage families to get outdoors by allowing fourth-graders and their parents, teachers and caregivers to get free passes to visit national lands and waters.
The Every Kid in a Park initiative is aimed at engaging children with the nation’s natural beauty and rich history. Part of the National Park Service’s 100th birthday celebration, the program aims to ensure that all youth have the opportunity to experience the great outdoors.
In Michigan, you can visit such parks as the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and Isle Royale National Park.
The Every Kid in a Park pass is good through Aug. 31.
WHAT: Every Kid in a Park
This story is part of an ongoing education effort about wildlife conservation and the work needed to ensure that Michigan’s forests, waters and wildlife are here for generations. The Michigan Wildlife Council invites people to learn more at HereforMiOutdoors.org.