Making the most of summer: Staycation ideas in Midland

As summer winds down and school gets ready to gear up, there are still plenty of adventures to have locally, now and into the fall. Here are several options to have a stay-cation right here in your backyard.

A part of the Michigan series from Art Prize at Midland Center for the Arts.

The artists

Midland Center for the Arts currently has two interesting exhibits through the September timeframe offering both a Michigan connection and global perspective.

A collection of 40 pieces from Michigan ArtPrize submissions are on display through September at the Center.

ArtPrize: The Michigan Connection

The well-known Grand Rapids ArtPrize is known for being an independent art competition and festival drawing international applicants. This exhibit showcases entries from Michigan artists, including the massive pencil drawing Cavalry by Chris LaPorte, the $250,000 winner of ArtPrize 2010. The event will showcase 40 Michigan entries from previous years and runs through September 9.

Cavalry by Chris LaPorte, the $250,000 winner of ArtPrize 2010.

National Geographic presents Rarely Seen: Photographs of the Extraordinary

A chance to view some of the world’s most captivating images from National Geographic offers a different perspective in this exhibit. Fifty striking images from some of the world’s best photographers showcase a different look at the world most have never seen before.

The Foodies
Midland has a few new restaurant options to check out from food trucks, to new patio seating to expertly-plated fare. Now might be the time to check out one of the places you’ve been meaning to try around your busy summer schedule.

Catch the handmade dough or other Italian fare at Gratzi in Downtown Midland.

Handmade fare at Gratzi

New in 2018, there is plenty on the menu to please and even the basics get the attention they deserve – case in point, the pizza. According to Executive Chef Brent Courson, a ton of work goes into the pizza dough at Gratzi in Downtown Midland to get just the right base for your pie.

Our pizza, and more specifically our dough, is a true centerpiece. We are very proud of it. We have a whole cooler for dough, it goes through a four-day fermentation process. You can’t rush that kind of quality, and you can’t fake it,” says Courson.

You'll always find something cold and new on tap at Whichcraft.

Local suds

With a growing list of options, Midland constantly is adding new options to enjoy craft beer. Check out one of these local spots and you’re sure to find something new and local to try. You’ll find a tap takeover from Perrin Brewing of Grand Rapids at Whichcraft on August 16, with some taps sure to extend into the weekend.

Later this fall, you’ll also find a beer tasting event put on by Opperman’s Cork n’ Ale at Horizon’s Conference Center in Saginaw.

New authentic ventures
So far this year, Midland has welcomed a few new restaurants to the mix, including Cinnamon Indian Cuisine, Los Jalapeños Taqueria and Midland Burger Company. If you’ve been meaning to try something new that you’ve missed with a busy summer schedule, now might be the time.

Using the Tittabawasee should be available until October if you don't mind a little chill.

The Outdoor Aficionados

Tittabawassee River
Grabbing a canoe, kayak or SUP board and getting some rays in on the Tittabawassee River is fun throughout fall. With multiple places to launch, your adventure really just depends on how many miles you want to paddle or float for. You’ll find several places to launch along the river as well as accessible launches in Downtown Midland just off the Tridge, Sanford Lake Park and at Chippewa Nature Center just west of M-30 on Chippewa River Road. Make a day of it and grab a waterproof bag or cooler and bring a picnic with you for a fun afternoon on the river.

Kayakers near the Tridge in Downtown Midland.

City Forest
City Forest is Midland’s largest park and there you’ll find two trail systems, fire pits and at 520 acres, enough room to get your favorite sweaty activity on. Also known for its toboggan run in the winter, City Forest is a fun hike or bike all year round.

Pine Haven Recreation Area
For a bit more scenic route, you can find Pine Haven Recreation Area not too far out of Midland. With 325 acres and numerous trails for hiking, biking and more, you can get a good number of miles in while the weather is still warm. Pine Haven is open in the winter as well when skiers join in on the fun.

The Families
Explore at Whiting Forest
With a long canopy walk, playground, plenty of overlooks and an orchard, Whiting Forest is sure to provide hours of hands-on fun for kids of all ages. Due to be completed ahead of schedule, the new overlook and amenities at Whiting Forest is set to open in October 2018. With plenty of time to explore the interesting and ADA-accessible design, this is a wonderful place to spend an afternoon exploring with kids.

Concerts, splash parks and more, plenty of options for kids in summer and fall.

Splash it out

You’ll find several spray parks in and around Midland including Gerstacker Spray Park near the farmers market and Longview Spray Park at 401 Lemke, near the intersection of Bay City and Waldo roads. Both parks are open to the public and free of charge until October 1. You’ll also find a spray park at Sanford Lake as well and between the beach, volleyball nets, space to grill and an 18-hole disc golf course, you can find hours of fun on the lake as well.

Explore at Dow Gardens
With classes and activities running into fall, you’ll find several family-friendly events like Viva La Pollination on August 24 where kids can learn about pollinators and our ecosystem, complete with a bee petting zoo. And you can catch the last of the popular “Ribbit the Exhibit” at Dow Gardens until August 25 with a whole cast of larger than life frogs designed by artist Andy Cobb.

The Music Lovers
The Pines Summer Concert Series
The last free summer concert at The Pines of Dow Gardens will be on September 9 at 6:30 p.m. featuring Nashon Holloway, a talented musician with a blend of different styles. Concerts at the Pines are a great way to cap off your weekend, often with picnic-style dinners available for advance purchase or the flexibility to bring your own and the best part is the event itself is free.

You can find more information about music at Dow Gardens here.

Dow Gardens Lunchtime Concert Series run Wednesday through August 29.

Dow Gardens Lunchtime Concerts

You can also catch a quick mid-week pick me up at the Lunchtime Concerts at Dow Gardens. Running each Wednesday through August 29, bringing your own picnic lunch is welcomed and you’ll also find food trucks on site. Shows are free of charge and there is no pre-registration required, all you need to do is show up! More information about lunchtime performances at Dow Gardens is available here.

And many more options 
Midland has several more options for great live music in the coming weeks as well, including the Rebel Roots Band at Midland Brewing Company on August 25, the rotating live music lineup at Larkin Beer Garden or the regular Friday night music at Oxygen Bar.

With so many options at your fingertips, there are plenty of opportunities to make the most of the remaining days of summer and enjoy what the city has to offer into fall and beyond.

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