8 Things: Outdoor fun to squeeze into your summer

While Detroit itself has a whole host of summer fun going on, our 'burbs come alive in the summertime. Here are eight Metro Detroit things to sneak into your season, but we know there are thousands more ⁠— pop them in a comment below to share with readers how you make the most of the sunshine.

Sterlingfest hosts a book fair as part of the celebrations. Photo by Joe Powers / Insitu Photography.

Fit in a festival

While big-name concerts will be on our calendar this summer, there are lots of local fairs, festivals, and park events that deserve a mention. Oakland County has a fair that runs until next weekend, Farmington has a Founders festival coming up, Shelby Township has an art fair (July 23), and over in Macomb County Sterlingfest draws a huge crowd (July 28 - 30). August sees the Michigan Renaissance Festival, Dearborn Homecoming, a fine art show in West Bloomfield, and Milford Memories. Plus, don't miss the Michigan State Fair (Sept. 1 - 5) in Novi this year. 

Soak up the silver screen 

It's outdoor movie season! Free screenings happen in parks and public spaces in Berkley, Birmingham, Ferndale, Troy, Clawson, Auburn Hills, and more. Check your city's calendar for times. Drive-in theaters are great options too and although the one at Canterbury Village has closed, there are still locations at Freedom Hill in Sterling Heights, and in Plymouth, Dearborn, and Detroit

Hit a sweet spot 

Ice cream parlors are institutions in Michigan. Families align themselves with their firm favorites and pass on legacy traditions of visiting after baseball games, church services, and for birthdays. You'll no doubt fight us on it, but local favorites we keep an eye on include Royal Oak's Ray's (practically a household name), Lake Orion's Cookies&Cream (for the playground scene), Oxford's Eva's (for good ol' fashioned soft-serve), Hazel Park's Doug's Delights, Ferndale's Treat Dreams (with a lot of vegan options), Farmington's Brown Dog (it's open again), and Rochester's Sanders. 

Friends of the St. Clair River volunteers work along the Blue Water River Walk in Port Huron. Photo by Liz Frenendall.


Make your summer mean something. Friends of the Rouge have clean-up days, this Pontiac community organization could use a helping hand, Rochester Hills has a Grow to Give garden, and you can help Forgotten Harvest tend their farm.

Stop and smell the roses

While Belle Isle's conservatory always has a special place in our hearts, there are lots of Metro Detroit spots to enjoy public gardens. In Taylor, an open-air Victorian-style conservatory (originally built for a flower show in 1998) is open most of the year, and in Rochester Meadowbrook Hall (of Dodge family fame) looks like a page out of "The Secret Garden". Cranbrook Gardens in Bloomfield Hills is expansive, and the surrounds of Ford House in Grosse Pointe Shores offer a lovely day out. 

Greenfield Village. Photo by Doug Coombe.

Stroll Greenfield Village

With its first new addition in 20 years, The Henry Ford Greenfield Village is back on our summer bucket list. The Detroit Central Market opened in June, and Thomas the Tank Engine is back on track.

Pick your own

Is it a cost-effective way of sourcing fruit? Probably not. But nothing tastes sweeter than produce you've picked yourself. Try the apple orchard at Miller's Big Red in Washington Township, or the strawberries at Middleton Berry Farm in Ortonville. Find more here.  

Book an Escape

Clued Upp runs outdoor escape-room-type adventures, with their latest Alice in Wonderland, setting up in Flint, Detroit, and Ann Arbor, as well as some other Michigan spots, in coming months. Solve clues, take on mad and mischievous challenges, and uncover a dark conspiracy at the heart of Wonderland.

A hiker at Independence Oaks in Clarkston. Photo by Steve Koss.

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Read more articles by Kate Roff.

Kate Roff is an award-winning freelance writer and journalism educator, currently based out of Detroit. She is the managing editor of Metromode and Model D. Contact her at kroff@issuemediagroup.com