As summer flies by each year, it often seems there’s just not enough time in the season to fit in all the summer activities we might like to. So while there’s a good month and change left to summer 2012, we came up with a few things you might want to fit in before fall arrives. Our list of ten things to do in metro Detroit before summer’s end aims for activities a bit off the beaten path, so you can keep things fresh before autumn rolls around on September 22. Enjoy the list, and what’s left of 2012’s dog days.
1. Kayak the water trails on the Detroit River, Lake St. Clair, or the Huron River
You can’t beat kayaking for a pleasant, personal, and affordable way to enjoy local scenery and get some exercise. And there are a variety of kayaking opportunities spread across metro Detroit. If you’ve already got your own boat, check out the Detroit River Heritage Water Trail
or the brand-new Lake St. Clair Coastal Water Trail Map
. Both provide a guide to a plethora of landmarks and access points from the tip of Lake St. Clair all the way down to Lake Erie. If you need to rent a kayak (and wouldn’t mind a ride to your launch point), Ann Arbor’s Argo and Gallup Park
liveries offer affordable trips and kayak rentals. Low water levels have closed some of the shorter trips leaving from Gallup. But if you’re up for a solid four hours of paddling, the route from Delhi Metropark to Argo will take you through the gorgeous scenery of Bird Hills and Barton parks.
2. See a free concert in New Center Park
The days of TasteFest and CityFest may be over, but there’s still plenty of free entertainment to be found all summer long in Detroit’s New Center
. New Center Park
provides an intimate and enjoyable atmosphere to pull up a chair or some grass for a night of outdoor music. The Thursday night Alfresco Jazz and Blues series
will feature national stars like the Holmes Brothers (August 16) alongside local groups like Planet D Nonet (August 30). The Saturday Camp Hi-Fi series
will present soul man Melvin Davis on August 18, while DJ Claude Vonstroke will topline a 14th anniversary party for Paxahau on August 25.
3. See a drive-in movie at Compuware Arena
Plymouth’s Compuware Arena
is a concert venue and home to sporting events most of the year, but for the summer the venue becomes a drive-in movie theater
. With first-run double features every night of the week, the arena makes a great stop for an old-fashioned date or a family night out. Just make sure you catch a show before Compuware’s drive-in season wraps up on September 2.
4. Grab some “Street Eats” at a food truck rally
Detroit’s burgeoning army of food trucks has provoked plenty of interest and discussion in the last year or two. But unless you’re paying attention (and are in the right place come lunchtime), it can be difficult to track down one of the culinary coaches to experience the cuisine first-hand. Ferndale’s Rust Belt Market
has simplified the matter with a monthly Street Eats food truck rally, gathering several Detroit food trucks together for a bustling night of on-the-go dining. With live entertainment and the remarkable collection of artisan offerings inside the market, you can’t beat the atmosphere or the eats. This year’s last two rallies take place August 23 and September 20 from 4-9 p.m.
5. Soak up some greaser culture at the Hamtramck Hustle
Summer always brings with it plenty of car shows. But Hamtramck puts a typical unique spin on the event with the Hamtramck Hustle
, which focuses specifically on the sleek muscle of old-school hot rods and rat rods. Motorcycles, specifically choppers and bobbers, are represented as well. With all the slick ‘50s and ‘60s designs on display, a walk through Hamtramck’s Veteran’s Park feels like stepping back in time to experience some classic greaser culture. This year’s Hustle arrives August 25.
6. Celebrate MarkMaynard.com’s 10th anniversary party at Woodruff’s
If you’re interested in Michigan politics and culture and have yet to visit Mark Maynard’s blog
, you might want to take a look. The Ypsilanti resident’s posts range from local, state, and national politics to arts and entertainment, and his bitingly intelligent style places him among our finest local writers. Maynard’s now been in the blogging game ten years, and he’s celebrating the occasion with an anniversary party at Woodruff’s
in Ypsi. The event features a set by hard-rocking minimalists Minus 9. Although Maynard’s keeping the evening’s other festivities under wraps, it’s a great opportunity to hobnob with Maynard and other local luminaries while supporting a good cause; the $5 cover fee goes to FLY Children’s Art Center
. The party starts September 8 at 7 p.m.
7. Check out a street fair
It’s difficult to miss the musical and culinary mania that hits Royal Oak Labor Day weekend for Arts, Beats, and Eats
, but don’t forget the littler guys when it comes to great local street fairs. Dally In the Alley
returns to Midtown the Saturday after Labor Day, September 8, with its yearly offering of unique vendors and local music. This year’s musical lineup has yet to be announced, but Dally always packs a hefty lineup of diverse local talents into the one-day festivity. And don’t forget Ferndale’s DIY Street Fair
, September 14-16, which usually packs an impressive musical lineup of its own. Although the music is the centerpiece at DIY, there’ll also be plenty of local artists and craftsmen on hand, as well as a beer garden and restaurant offerings.
8. Go bargain-binging at Wyandotte Citywide Garage Sale
Garage saling is one of those quintessential summer activities, and hardcore bargain-hunters won’t want to miss the considerable picking opportunities at Wyandotte’s biannual citywide garage sale
. Maps of houses holding sales will be available at the Ford-MacNichol Home
for $1. This fundraiser for Wyandotte’s museums runs 9 a.m.-4 p.m. on September 15 and noon-4 p.m. on September 16.
9. Tour taquerias on two wheels with Bike Ypsi’s Taco Tour
Metro Detroit offers a wealth of unique and fun opportunities to get out on your bike, from tours to races to group rides, but we can’t pass up the one-of-a-kind Taco Tour presented by Bike Ypsi
. The approximately 15-mile ride gets started at Corner Brewery
and hits several of Ypsi’s best taco joints, offering meat and vegetarian options. For the price of admission you also get to sample a special craft beer brewed up for the event. Be sure to register early for the tour, which runs 1-4 p.m. on September 16.
10. Step back in time at the Northville Victorian Festival
Coming in just under the wire for our summer list, Northville’s Victorian Festival
gets started on the last day of summer and continues into the first two days of autumn. But the one-of-a-kind festivities are a perfect opportunity to soak up some of the waning warm weather. Kicking off with a parade on Friday, September 21, the festivities in Northville’s downtown area will feature Victorian-era costumes, food, games, entertainment, music, and demonstrations. And don’t miss Northville’s vintage baseball team, which plays at Ford Field Friday and Sunday nights. Wrapping up the summer season, the festival runs September 21-23.
Photos by David Lewinski Photography