Metro Detroit Bucket List: Get Active at These Recreation Spots

In our 2022 City Guide, we roundup what every local must do in their lifetime. Here’s where to hike, golf, rock climb, and more.
We asked locals to experience our Bucket List. Here, model LaPorschia laces up her ice skates.

Catch games at Comerica Park and Ford Field

There is no such thing as a bad seat at 41,255-capacity Comerica Park, home of the Detroit Tigers, and most come with a nice view of downtown Detroit. (Tip: Sections 147-151 are prime home run territory.) Come early to take photos with the 15-foot-high tiger statue at the front gates and the statue of six all-time Tigers greats along the left centerfield wall. You can also ride the 50-foot Ferris wheel with carts shaped like baseballs and the carousel, which features 30 hand-painted tigers.

For those headed to Ford Field across the street, the fun begins at 10:30 a.m., when the pregame party kicks off at Pride Plaza. It features beverage tents, music, food trucks, and interactive fan games. Then, at 11 a.m., the Detroit Lions Power Hour begins, offering giveaways, food and drink specials, chalk talk and autographs with the players, and meet-and-greets with the team cheerleaders. Detroit: mlb.com/tigers; fordfield.com

Watch the Wolverines at The Big House

Michigan Stadium is called The Big House for good reason. A seating capacity of 107,601 makes it the largest stadium in the Western Hemisphere and third largest in the world. Grab yourself a ticket and find out why Fox Sports analyst Joel Klatt called last season’s face-off against Ohio State “the best atmosphere that [he] had ever been a part of in college football.” Ann Arbor: mgoblue.com

Enjoy endless outdoor fun at Kensington Metropark

Springtime means it’s time to head back to Kensington Metropark’s 4,500 acres, where you can bike, swim, camp, boat, kayak, paddleboard, ride horses, and hike 7 miles of trails. It also has an 18-hole golf course, a 27-hole disc golf course, two beaches (one of which features a pair of 240-foot water slides and a sizable spray park), a farm center, and multiple playgrounds. Those folks into winter sports never stopped going; it’s an ideal spot for cross-country skiing, ice fishing, and sledding. Milford: metroparks.com

Experience Campus Martius Park

Named one of the 10 Best Public Squares by USA Today last year, the 2.5-acre park features an urban beach in summer and an outdoor skating rink in winter. The beach, which is composed of 400,000 pounds of sand, may lack a body of water, but it comes pre-stocked with chairs, umbrellas, and even sand toys. Campus Martius Park also boasts the Woodward Fountain and the Michigan Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument. Tip: If you want to skate under the Christmas tree, visit after the New Year’s holiday, when it’s less crowded. The tree stays up until just before Martin Luther King Jr. weekend. Detroit: downtowndetroitparks.com

Check out a cider mill

A visit to one of metro Detroit’s legendary cider mills is a must-do activity every fall. Here are four of the greats: Yates Cider Mill, which installed its first cider press in 1876 and is home to a scenic river walk; Franklin Cider Mill, which opened as a grist mill in 1837 and started producing cider circa 1918; Blake’s Cider Mill, which has expanded to two locations and now has an on-site tasting room, a large children’s play area, and more; and Westview Orchards, which has been owned by the same family since 1813 and began producing cider in the 1940s. (It also features a winery and regularly hosts awesome events.) Rochester Hills: yatescidermill.com; Bloomfield Hills: franklincidermill.com; Armada: blakefarms.com; Washington: westvieworchards.com

Cycle the Lexus Velodrome track

Experience Olympic-style track cycling on the Lexus Velodrome’s one-tenth of a mile oval with 50-degree banking. The facility provides bikes, clip-in cycling shoes, and helmets, along with coaching to help get riders safely around the track. A racing program and camps are also offered. Detroit: lexusvelodrome.com

Encounter lions, tigers, and lights at the Detroit Zoo 

Home to more than 230 species of animals, the Detroit Zoo is Michigan’s most popular paid attraction, drawing more than 1.3 million visitors annually. Must-do activities include visiting the Arctic Ring of Life, one of North America’s largest polar bear habitats, and attending annual events, such as the Zoo Boo and Wild Lights. New this year is a 7-acre children’s experience, stretching from the zoo’s barnyard to its Buddy’s Pizza location, that integrates play spaces with several animal habitats and features an expanded prairie dog home. The Polk Penguin Conservation Center, which has been closed for repairs since 2019, has also recently reopened. Royal Oak: detroitzoo.org

lexus velodrome
LaPorschia (left) and Ryan (clockwise), a certified sales consultant at Cadillac of Novi, at the Lexus Velodrome.

Catch air at Ann Arbor Skatepark

The 20,000-square-foot facility at Ann Arbor Skatepark is a skateboarder’s dream. The concrete structure’s various features, which include bowls and street runs, accomodate various skating styles and experiences. Best of all: It’s free to use. Ann Arbor: a2skatepark.org

Kayak the waters of the Detroit River and Belle Isle

Paddlers will take in a unique mix of urban and natural attractions along the banks of the Detroit River. Float around Belle Isle’s peaceful canals, or venture into one of its three inland lakes. Lake Okonoka contains several small islands to explore. More advanced kayakers can circle Belle Isle or paddle out to the island and back from the mainland. Detroit River Sports and Riverside Kayak both offer guided tours. Detroit: detroitriversports.com; riversidekayak.com 

Play a round at Shepherd’s Hollow Golf Club

Those teeing up at the 27-hole Shepherd’s Hollow might feel as though they are at one of the state’s legendary northern courses. Tall pines line most of the holes, and elevated tee boxes and greens can be found throughout the course’s sprawling 350 acres. Golf Digest even included Shepherd’s in its ranking of the nation’s top 45 public golf courses. Clarkston: shepherdshollow.com

Experience Midway Sports and Entertainment

This sprawling complex has been providing family fun for six decades and features go-karts, minigolf, a driving range, batting cages, rock-wall climbing, spinning bumper cars, and Euro bungee jumping. A high-speed go-kart track will open at Midway Sports and Entertainment in May, complete with tight turns, a bridge crossing, and swift straightaways. Taylor: midwayfun.com

Hike Independence Oaks County Park 

A 14-mile network of trails winds through the 1,286-acre park, which is ablaze with vibrant color in the fall. At Independence Oaks, you’ll find nine individual trails that range in length from 0.3 to 3 miles and intersect frequently, affording hikers many options. Tip: On the west of Crooked Lake, the Springlake and Ted Gray trails and a portion of Lakeshore Loop meet to form a combined 3-mile loop. Clarkston: michigantrailmaps.com/member-detail/independence-oaks-county-park/

Camp at the Lower Peninsula’s largest state park

At nearly 21,000 acres, Waterloo Recreation Area is more than 9,000 acres larger than any other Lower Peninsula state park and offers nearly every kind of camping imaginable.The park offers extensive recreation opportunities, including 50 miles of trails for hiking, mountain biking, and equestrian use; a beach; 11 fishing lakes; eight boat launches; and a riding stable. Chelsea: dnr.state.mi.us/parksandtrails

Take flight at Tree Runner Adventure Park 

The largest aerial adventure park in the Midwest delivers at the West Bloomfield Township location of Tree Runner Adventure Park, with 14 above-ground courses of varying degrees of difficulty, 45 zip lines, and more than 250 aerial obstacles. Beginner courses are 10 to 15 feet off the ground, while expert courses are 30 to 40 feet above ground and require a higher level of fitness. Night ziplining is also offered. Riders must be at least 6 years old and weigh between 60 and 265 pounds. Rochester and West Bloomfield Township: treerunnerwestbloomfield.com

Cool off in Brighton and West Bloomfield

Brighton Recreation Area’s Jump Island, Michigan’s first outdoor inflatable water park when it opened in 2016, features slides, a rock wall, a blast pad, an inflatable iceberg, a trampoline, and a smaller Splash Island inflatable structure for younger children. 

At over 5,500 square feet, Lily Pad Springs splash pad in West Bloomfield is the largest in Michigan and boasts more than 50 play features, four water slides, and a huge water bucket that dumps 55 gallons on those standing below. Brighton: jumpislandmi.com West Bloomfield: wbparks.org/lilypadsprings


Panelists Picks

Chiara C. Clayton

Chiara C. Clayton
Communications specialist for the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy

“I love the access to the water the Detroit Riverwalk offers and its big, beautiful space for bike riding, meeting up with friends, or attending fun events. The Aretha Franklin Amphitheatre is a major part of summer in Detroit.

Little Caesars Arena is the best place to see a sporting event or concert and make a night of it. There are so many other fun things to do in the surrounding area, both before and after games.  

Belle Isle is a great place to go to ride a bike, hang out on the beach, have a picnic, or just sit by the water. And cruising the main strip never gets old.”

Brad Smyth

Brad Smyth
Brad Smyth
Owner of Detroit Outdoor Adventures 

“One of my favorite places to fish is Lake St. Clair Metropark. There are two fishing piers that extend out into Lake St. Clair and are great spots for muskie, smallmouth bass, and walleye.

“At the Detroit River, anglers can target walleye or white bass, but with nearly 65 species living in the river, you never know what you might catch. 

“Then there’s Clinton River Park North. The Clinton River is home to multiple species of fish, including suckers, which spawn in the spring, and the sought-after steelhead. You can hike the trails along the river to multiple access sites or launch a kayak.”


New & Notable

dyno detroit
LaPorschia (left) and Joe, an application software engineer at Applied Intuition, give rock climbing a try at Dyno Detroit.

Dyno Detroit

Detroit’s first indoor rock-climbing gym opened in Eastern Market in April 2021. About 12,000 square feet of the facility is dedicated to rope climbing, in the form of 75 different routes. In the rest of the space, you’ll find a fitness center, a yoga studio, and 4,700 square feet of bouldering space for thrill seekers who want to go ropeless above thick pads. Detroit: dynodetroit.com

iFly Detroit 

Don a flight suit and helmet, undergo a quick training session, and take flight with an instructor at this indoor skydiving center. The winds generated by the facility’s state-of-the-art wind tunnels can reach speeds of 150 miles per hour. Novi: iflyworld.com/detroit

Hawthorne Ridge Park’s BMX Track

Perfect for both BMX and mountain bikers, the paved pump track allows cyclists to move forward through a series of up-and-down motions. Hawthorne also has a natural-surface bike park that is loaded with obstacles like elevated ramps, wood berms, and oversized cones. Westland: waynecounty.com/departments/publicservices/parks/hawthorne-ridge.aspx

Putting Edge

A far cry from the standard miniature golf experience, Putting Edge’s entire indoor, 18-hole course glows in the dark, as does its arcade. Golfers encounter a dazzling array of images and sounds throughout the course. These include ocean life, lush rain forests, a jungle, a flower garden, knights in glowing armor, and a fire-breathing dragon. Novi: puttingedge.com/novi

Legacy 925

So much to do under one roof! The Urban Air Adventure Park alone features a trampoline area, an arcade, dodgeball, a playground, a climbing wall, and a ropes course. There are also go-karts (K1 Speed), escape rooms (Ideal Escape Rooms), and an axe-throwing range (Axe Social). Oxford: thelegacy925.com


Mark Spezia is lifelong backpacker and general outdoors enthusiast. In addition to Hour Detroit, his work has appeared in ESPNW and the Detroit Free Press, among other publications.


This story is from the April 2022 issue of Hour Detroit. Read more in our digital edition

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