Summer weekends in the suburbs: A guide for Detroiters

The Michigan summer is flying by fast, but there’s still plenty of time to get out of the house and out of your comfort zone for some weekend adventures. Model D partnered with our metro Detroit sister publication, Metromode, to compile companion weekend guides aimed at getting suburbs-dwellers into the city and vice versa. We tried to aim off the beaten path, passing over more heavily trafficked events and destinations to get you to experience something new (or to experience an old favorite in a new way). Here are our suggestions to keep you busy until Labor Day.
July 19

It’s not every day that a four-story-tall chariot makes its way through the streets of Novi, so you might want to take advantage of the unique opportunity provided by the 29th annual Festival of Chariots. Presented by the Detroit chapter of the Hare Krishnas, the main event is a three-mile procession setting out from the Novi Civic Center at 11 a.m. The parade leads to Fuerst Park, where an afternoon festival will include free Indian food, dancing, music, yoga demonstrations, children’s activities and more. If you want to try a little bit of everything, this could be a full afternoon; festivities run until 6 p.m.  
July 26-27

Downriver is perhaps the most overlooked part of our metropolis, but there are plenty of riches to be found in the communities to the south of Detroit, especially if you’re looking to get outdoors. Grab a Huron-Clinton Metroparks day pass for $7 and explore the expansive greenbelt created by Lower Huron, Willow, and Oakwoods Metroparks. Kayak the majestic Huron River, starting at Lower Huron and working your way down to Oakwoods (which sports a terrific nature center hidden at the back of the park). All three parks feature lovely nature trails and picnic areas, and Lower Huron and Willow have kid-friendly water parks. Afterwards, stop by McNasty’s for a drink or Big Bear Lodge for a tasty, Up North-inspired family dinner.

Lower Huron MetroparkOakwoods Metropark
August 1-3

There is so much good stuff happening this weekend we couldn’t pick just one event, so you might have to pick and choose or do some driving. On Friday night and all day Saturday, Livonia is hosting the Highland Games, courtesy of the St. Andrew’s Society of Detroit. Stop by Greenmead Historical Park for traditional Scottish games, bagpiping, drumming, and whisky tasting (our personal favorite). In Northville, the Buy Michigan Now Festival will run Friday through Sunday, filling the streets with Michigan-based vendors and live music. To round out the weekend’s offerings, Christopher Guest’s uproarious 2000 dog show comedy “Best In Show” is screening at the Redford Theatre in northwest Detroit, with live improv beforehand and a special appearance by star Fred Willard. And to think that in some countries these dogs are eaten!
August 8-9

The full moon will be out this weekend, and here are two very different ways to enjoy it: Pack up the family and head to Farmington Hills’ Heritage Park for a campfire and full moon night hike on Friday night. The event is just $3 per person and you can devour s’mores and snacks by the fire before enjoying the outdoors by the light of the moon. Just make sure you pre-register at the city’s website first. For something completely different this weekend, stop by Hazel Park’s Green Acres Park for the Detroit Pagan Pride Festival. With lessons in practical magick and holistic healing, the event runs all day Saturday.

Heritage Park in Farmington Hills
August 16-17

Hopefully by this point in the summer you’ll have seen some of Michigan’s beauty from land and water. So why not go for the trifecta and see it by air? Oxford-based Sky Adventures has been offering hot air balloon rides for nearly 40 years, and their three-hour tours certainly provide a more leisurely view than just taking a jet out of Metro. The ride can be pricey--$190 per person, even if you’re going up with a group -- but if you’ve got some cash to spare, the one-of-a-kind experience seems worth it.
August 23

Okay, we promised you “off the beaten path.” We’ll admit that the suggestion of spending a day at then Edsel and Eleanor Ford House in Grosse Pointe Shores doesn’t seem that off the wall, but this particular day promises a couple of truly unique experiences at the beautiful historic site. Performance kite-flying team Windjammers will be on hand for a program entitled “Peter Pan’s Flight Academy” from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Enjoy striking demonstrations and learn to make and fly your own kite, then check out normally off-limits areas of the Ford House with the “Behind the Scenes Tour” at 11 a.m.

Edsel and Eleanor Ford House
August 29-30

There are plenty of delightful tried-and-true events going on this weekend, from Arts Beats and Eats to the Hamtramck Labor Day Festival, but if you’re looking for a new way to celebrate summer’s last long weekend, try heading to Rochester Hills for some intense bicycling action at the Thunder Games Track Races. Held at Bloomer Park’s International Velodrome, the event promises two evenings of high-speed cycling (like NASCAR, we’d hazard, but with slower speeds and better nutrition). While the games will feature top-shelf cyclists, the general public is encouraged to camp out on the hillside and enjoy live music along with the racing. Races start at 7 p.m. each night. Sounds to us like a perfectly weird way to wind down another fun-filled summer in metro Detroit.
Look for Model D's recommendations for ways suburbanites can spend summer weekends in the city in the next issue of Metromode.
Patrick Dunn is an Ann Arbor-based freelance writer and regular contributor to Metromode and Concentrate.

All photos by Chris Gerard.

Read more articles by Patrick Dunn.

Patrick Dunn is the managing editor of Concentrate and an Ann Arbor-based freelance writer for numerous publications. Follow him on Twitter @patrickdunnhere.
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