It’s rare that you get to play the tourist in your own hometown, but Oakland, Macomb, and Wayne counties have a lot to offer. Here are 7 ways to enjoy your vacation right where you live.
1. For the outdoors-type
You don’t need a cabin “up north” to enjoy the great outdoors. For hikers check out the Paint Creek Trail, which traverses through Rochester, Rochester Hills, Oakland Township, Orion Township and the Village of Lake Orion. People come from all over the state to try out the excellent bike trails at Addison Oaks and Bald Mountain, so don’t miss those (and pack a picnic to make a day of it). For longer family stays escape to one of the great state parks offering cabins and campgrounds like Groveland Oaks. Good fishing can be had at Lake St Clair (mainly for largemouth bass and some panfish), Stony Creek Lake Impoundment allows anglers to use most of the shoreline to fish (good for crappie, sunfish and northern pike) and even the Detroit River has some good walleye hotspots.
2. For the history buff
Detroit’s downtown is taking off, and walking tours by groups like Detroit Experience Factory are a superb way to learn about its incredible history. Our tour guide on the Art and Architecture tour aptly pointed out that every 100 years or so Detroit suffers a catastrophe and is forced to “rise from the ashes”, which is part of why it’s inspiring to learn about the people and buildings who shaped the city – and find out where it’s headed now. To learn more about one of the original families behind the city, check out the walk-throughs at the Whitney House, where lumber baron David Whitney spared no expense – the daily champagne tour of the Woodward Ave premises is fascinating. Further afield, Meadowbrook Hall and Cranbrook House run tours of the historic homesteads, and the music history from Motown Museum will leave you feeling like a know-it-all when those out-of-state visitors come to stay.
3. On the water
Designated ‘blueways’ in Macomb County are routes along the lake, river, canals, and bays that are specifically designed for people using small boats, making it an undisturbed day out. Clinton River is one of the best options for paddlers, the Auburn Hills to Utica section boasts steep gradients, hairpin turns and fluctuating water levels for experienced kayakers, while the lower river (Sterling Heights to the river’s mouth at Lake St. Clair) features forested riverbanks and relaxed scenic stretches. If you’re a beginner try Budd Park in Clinton Township to Mount Clemens.
4. For the foodie
Nothing beats being wined and dined in your own backyard, plus you can feel good about supporting local farms and growers. Wine and cheese tasting events are a great way to savor local flavors, so if you’re a vino lover look for events at Michigan by the Bottle in Royal Oak or Auburn Hills. Cider fans can visit Macomb’s Westview Orchards, the Franklin Cider Mill, or Yates Cider Mill in Rochester. Motor City Brew Tours have their finger on the pulse of the craft beer scene, traveling to several breweries in the metro area and are run by knowledgeable beer history author Stephen Johnson. For more immersive food experiences check out a cooking class in your area or take Wheelhouse Detroit’s Eastern Market tour to dive into the city’s food system.
5. For some tranquility
Sometimes all you need is some downtime, but thankfully you don’t have to drive to Traverse City to find quaint BnBs and tucked-away escapes. Hanging out in the gardens of Leonard’s Maple Cove Bed and Breakfast feels like a world away from the rat-race, and the tiny township nearby is home at an adorable vintage market. Just down the road, the historic village of Romeo will make you feel like you’ve stepped back in time with its abundance of Victorian mansions, and nearby Lake Orion and Oxford enjoy a much slower pace of life.
6. For the family
A mall doesn’t typically sound like a great place to hang out, but Great Lakes Crossing in Auburn Hills is home to SEA LIFE Aquarium and LEGOLAND® Discovery Center. The over-sized food-themed playground doesn’t go astray either, especially for toddlers. A little further north is Canterbury Village, which is great for a day of exploring old world charm. For some treetop and zipline adventures for the whole family check out TreeRunner in West Bloomfield or Macomb’s Go Ape ariel playgrounds.
7. Museum musings
If you’re from Oakland, Macomb or Wayne County then you can get into the enormous Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) for free. The giant fresco by Mexican muralist Diego Rivera is a hit (one attentive curator told us to lie down and look up at it for the best view) and you could spend all day wandering the halls of the Woodward Ave museum. The DIA balances ancient gems with modern exhibits, like the current Star Wars costume display (complete with a self-guided audio tour). The Henry Ford Museum and the historic Greenfield Village is another full day of exploring American innovation, while youngsters seeking the more macabre can get their fix at Farmington Hill’s Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum.