Tag Archives: detroit

Detroit Metro Parks (and other places to skip stones)

Sometimes you just need to get outside and get immersed in nature. Deep forest, marshlands, estuaries, lakes, water fowl and everything that goes along with it. Without traveling more than 30 minutes from Greektown, you can find peace and tranquility in the form of Metro Parks.

Detroit Metro Parks are as diverse as the city itself. Many have Nature Centers with turtle tanks and local wildlife hides for show and tell. We’ve attended many pre-registered events for a meager $3.00 that gave B inspiration for weeks of imaginative play.

There are paved running trails that are stroller friendly and more rugged trails lined with mulch. Whether you like a colorful playscape or a deep, dark forest, there is something for everyone!

One of our favorites is Lake Erie Metro Park because of the children’s play area and tiny beach nearby to throw rocks into the lake (B’s favorite pastime). This past Saturday morning was absolutely gorgeous weather and the park was the perfect place to stretch our legs. We packed a picnic lunch and spent a few hours climbing, swinging, digging, sliding and skipping.

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Another favorite of ours for toddler-sized nature walks is Oakwoods Metro Park where the 700ft. nature trail surrounding the Nature Center is perfect for B’s interests, legs and attention span.

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A balcony overlooking the river/estuary was perfect for skipping stones with B.

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The path was perfect for exploring. We searched for different sizes, shapes and colors of leaves for our seasonal nature table. We found leaves, insects, spiders and birds to observe quietly. We collected acorns, chestnuts and bark that had fallen around the trail. It was punctuated enough for B and diverse enough to hold the adults interest for the morning.

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Do you have a favorite spot in nature that you love to spend family time?

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Mai Tiki Wanna Playa?!

Beach, bonfires, brisket and Paul Bunyan combined with Tiki huts, sand volleyball and waves… am I still in Michigan?!? Yes, about three hours north of Detroit (give or take traffic). We took a little family weekend getaway to Oscoda, MI and had a BLAST!

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It was pleasantly Autumn weather in northern Michigan. The water was chilly, but not polar bear and refreshing to feel the waves lapping at your feet and soothing your soul.

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We tossed around a frisbee, zipped down a twelve foot high metal slide (it was AWESOME) and tried our hand at some beach volleyball.

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The resort is made up of vibrantly colored little cottages on the beach where you can step outside your front door and stick your toes in the sand. Mother Nature put on an awe-inspiring light show at sunset. (We took this picture with our iPhone, imagine it in living color, insane!)

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A mix of sun and clouds wasn’t exactly August beach weather, but we were happy to play in the sand, building and demolishing sand castles. Sand toys, balls and frisbees were all available for free to guests.

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The town hosted a Paul Bunyan Festival the weekend of our trip (September 20-22, 2013) with bountiful sights to see! A doggie costume contest, a brisket and ribs contest (yum), a wood carving contest (think chainsaws and bear statues) and plenty of carnival food and rides. There was even a real life Paul Bunyan giving free axe throwing lessons, now THAT was a sight to see!

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There was a huge wooden slab target surrounded by massive hay bales to arrest any wayward axe tosses. Most people landed the target with no problem. Paul Bunyan’s favorite advice to give is often something I say to my two and a half year old, “finesse not force”. We sat and watched men and women of all ages and physical stature give the axe throwing a try, it was definitely something I will not soon forget.

Resort Details:
Mai Tiki Resort
3322 N. US Route 23
Oscoda, MI 48570
989-739-9971

We liked:

The beach

The kids pay area

The full kitchen

There was a bonfire on the beach every night with wood and chairs provided

The box fan in the unit (there is central air, but the fan helped as a noise buffer for our toddlers bedroom)

The charcoal BBQ grill for each unit

Free wifi

Flat screen TV with cable that also accepted a DVD player (movies for our toddler to watch as needed, it rained for about two hours one day).

We brought:

Food to grill and snacks to munch

Marshmallows and sticks to roast them
(There is a Walmart, other chain stores and mom & pop shops within a few miles north and south of the resort to buy whatever you need)

Charcoal and lighter fluid

Paper towels, plates and napkins because there is no dishwasher

Kitchen towels, bath towels AND beach towels (we will also bring tupperware for food storage and our own sponges for dish washing next time)

Oh yes, we brought beer and wine too

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Sure, I would have liked an updated decor with tile floors and new everything, but for the price and locale, it really was a good value. I can appreciate that sand and lake weather can beat down the exterior and interior of a place more than I could imagine, but the manager/owner seemed to take care with heart. There was always a friendly helpful answer to every question we had both before and during our stay. Even when we locked ourselves out, he was kind and gentle with helping us back in.

We really liked our stay and would go back again.

In no way did the resort compensate me to write this review, as always, these are just my opinions.

Where was your last weekend getaway?

Flying on a Tuesday

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Another beautiful day in Detroit. Seventy-seven degrees, slight breeze, sunny blue skies smiling down on everyone, it is a MUST to get down to the Detroit Riverfront before cool Autumn comes rolling in. The playscape is beautifully designed with parents and kids of all sizes in mind. Benches in both sun and shade, clean, lined trash bins and a spectacular backdrop.

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The perfect spot for swinging and sliding!

As we are still in full potty training mode, it was extra nice to be able to park within a few feet in the Rivard parking lot (free). We are still lugging our froggy potty around with us everywhere so B has a familiar spot to relieve himself. However, he did also use the public facilities here today, exercising his new found ability to pee standing up. The restrooms were clean and fully stocked. There was no kiddie potty like at schools or museums, but it was a public restroom that didn’t induce the gag reflex, always a good thing.

We played for about an hour and then headed over to visit Eastern Markets Tuesday vendors in Shed 2. Food trucks, live street performances and of course sampling of all the delicious jams, pickles, sweet breads and fruits. The smells and sounds are a treat for the senses and we always walk away with both our belly and our mind on FULL.

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So much to do! The staff at Eastern Market are amazing at inspiring and utilizing local talent giving creativity a direct pipeline to the lucky foot traffic twice a week.

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We even got to see the championship Detroit Waldorf School jump rope team in action! They performed some amazing feats and then opened it up for everyone to get a try. Totally cool.

What’s your favorite “last days of Summer” thing to do?

Detroit is Two-Faced

Detroit is two-faced! Or is it us that is two- faced toward her? I suppose your opinion would be based on your most recent experience.

You may be in love with the D today because your summer taxes are paid, the weather is perfect and you just had a fantastic lunch outdoors at your favorite local spot. Whereas, tomorrow you hate her because you ran over a broken bottle, got a flat tire AND a parking ticket (as a result of not moving your disabled vehicle) and the Tigers lost to the frighin Royals, ugh!!

Are you an optimist or a pessimist? Is the glass half full or half empty?

I chose to love the city on Sunday. I chose to be an optimist. Even though my dear hubby was stuck at work, I took a picnic lunch to him for his break and then took B to the River Walk to burn off some of his boundless toddler energy. I parked near my old building (free parking on Sundays) and walked through the Renaissance Center (because who doesn’t like a good puzzle on a Sunday) to the gleaming blue waters of the Detroit River.

Free Parking

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Gerbil Tubes Shooting off the RenCen

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Enjoying the sunshine and watching the boats.

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We sauntered down the River Walk past all of the pooches on the pet walk, the joggers and even one brave woman on rollerblades speedily pushing a stroller (woah!) to Wheelhouse Detroit where you can rent any bike complete with gear, totally awesome!

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The fountain and carousel were a big hit with B!

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The outdoor seating was plentiful, the grills were turning out some quality eats and the sun was beaming. We had just eaten our picnic lunch with Big Daddy, but once B caught sight of that slushie machine, there was NO WAY he was leaving without one. Sooo, my little man got his “special treat” of red dye #40 and he couldn’t have been happier.

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The playscape was just big enough for B to get his “swing on” but not get lost in an intricate web of shoots and ladders like some we’ve been to. It had beautiful benches, flowers, waste receptacles and clean, kid friendly bathrooms. There was also a HUGE free parking lot two feet away. Note to self, park there next time if not bringing a stroller!

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Here is the dichotomy: All of this beauty, cheer, food and fancy drawing your eyes to the river and the joys of being near it, but if you turn around… It’s a chained off, barren, seagull infested blight.

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This is where we make our choice
to love her or hate her, or maybe the third option is just allow ourselves to feel both. Isn’t that what a relationship is all about?

What are your most recent experiences in Detroit?

The Stroller Crew Hits a Detroit Hot Spot

Moms, babies and toddlers love to get out and enjoy the sunshine. Eastern Market is the perfect place to do it, especially for the new Tuesday market. The Tuesday market is like the “best of” from the massive Saturday market, from my “mommy” perspective. I looove Saturdays at Eastern market for the sheer volume and amazing vibe, but I can barely weave my way through the crowd myself, let alone with a stroller!

You might not grab a Bloody Mary at Viviano’s with little ones in tow, but you’ll have your choice of locally sourced grass fed beef burgers with homemade buns at Ned’s food truck (totally cool converted airstream) with their farm fresh accouterment. Of course what kid doesn’t love macaroni and cheese?!? The Mac Shack has the most decadent options I’ve ever seen on this comfort food classic, a must-try.

Tuesdays market has all of my favorites. Coffee from the caboose cart, fresh leafy greens from Vang’s, made-that-morning bread and bouquets of gorgeous flowers to brighten any day.
We tasted artisanal cheese, strawberry rhubarb jam, kale chips, pickles and even had a go on the xylophone! You can’t get THAT at the zoo!
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If the little ones may ask for a cool treat on a sunny day, don’t deny them (or you). It doesn’t have to be a market day for you to enjoy Michigan’s own Hudsonville ice cream from Mootown Ice Cream shoppe. Try a double decker sundae, smoothie or even quesadillas!

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Grandma holding B while he tried his hand as a street performer.

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Bathroom details: Bringing a potty training toddler anywhere can be daunting. “Potty Breaks” are frequent and it’s important to know where the good potty spots are. I chose the bathroom in DeVries (formerly R. Hirt Jr.) which lies between Shed 2 and Viviano’s. Head to the back wall of their delicious shop for a one person private toilet which your stroller might actually fit into. Otherwise, it’s rural rest stop accommodations in the public stalls next to the Welcome Center in Shed 3.

Bonus: Shed 3 was open but not full of vendors like on a Saturday. It was an enclosed wide open safe space to let the toddlers run. There were some street performers from a Krav Maga studio which were pretty interesting. There was even a business making an attempt at a “kid zone” offering a bean bag toss and face painting. I’ll be honest, I really didn’t go over to investigate because if B saw something he could throw he would’ve hurt someone or something. Plus, face painting gives me the heebeejeebee’s.

Parking: At 10am on a Tuesday it was easier to find parking than on 7am Saturday. We got lucky with a spot directly in front of Viviano’s.

By an hour and a half we had filled our market baskets and sampled our way through the entire market. A quick side trip to Whole Foods (literally around the corner on Mack Ave) and it was a fun and filling morning.

B returning our cart at Whole Foods.

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Me and B enjoying our tasty lunch, YUM!

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Detroit Prince (SS)

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A beautiful day for a boat ride! The hum of the engine acts as a lullaby while the summer breeze tickles the toes through flip-flops (or flippers, as B calls them). The gentle touch of a toddlers hand is the icing on the cake. Although other “rulers” may be official in the two countries we are balancing between, B is truly a prince today.

As we slide through ancient glacial pathways that now separate two countries, one is tempted to think of those who swam, paddled and sunk in these depths. I am reminded of the constant balance battle between man and nature as a huge plume of steam rises from a smokestack along the rivers edge.

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The Detroit Princess Cruise line is NOT a sponsor nor did they compensate me in any way to take their cruise. I purchased a Groupon and took the chance on a sunny July day that my two year old could miss his nap and still enjoy the river.

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Facts:
Daily outings at 1:00 and 3:30PM at Bishop Park in Wyandotte (behind the Henry Ford Hospital and Bacon Memorial Library) and a separate boat has the same schedule at Hart Plaza/ RiverWalk. All passengers are taken on a first come first served basis do try to arrive thirty minutes before boarding and be prepared to stand in line, even if you’ve purchased your tickets in advance.

Good to know:
The ramp (the gang plank?!) was too skinny to fit the stroller through so we had to “unload it”, fold it and carry kiddo and everything else on board. Once on board we could’ve stayed in the dining area but attempted going up on the covered deck. Found a nice shady wooden bench (relief) after braving metal stairs that were more like a ladder (yikes). The bathroom was much like you would find on an airplane, so diaper changes would need to be done ” al fresco”. You can bring drinks and snacks on board for the 0-5 year olds but anyone 6+ better have cash on hand for anything else available at the bar.

At $17 per person 6+ years old for a two hour cruise it’s a fine family value, though I’m glad I had a half off deal.

Does your toddler love the water? If so, what water fun have you had this summer?

A trip to Trader Joe’s is just as educational as the zoo, right?

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A quick morning errand turned into an education for mom & tot.

Visiting the new Trader Joe’s on Telegraph Rd. and Maple (15 Mile Rd.) gave B the chance to explore hands- on fruits, vegetables, dairy and grains from around the globe. Sipping coffee from a just-his-size sample cup (what, your toddler doesn’t like coffee?) and pushing his cart, he was allowed to be the “big boy” that he so fiercely proclaims to be. We talked about colors, letters, shapes, smells and textures all while trying to watch our manners (no running into the ankles of other patrons with your cart). B showed me and everyone at the store he was more than worthy of that free organic lollipop the cashier offered him.

Zoo, schmoo, how can watching a seemingly lifeless lioness (no matter how close that new glass enclosure can get you) compare to cool air conditioned independence??

Thank you Trader Joe’s, see you next week!