Thankfully, there's a ton to do in Michigan with kids. We're slowly building up traditions for this trip, and I have to say that there are so many things we want to do when we're there that we can't possibly fit them all in. That sounds like a vacation destination to me, don't you think?
Here are some of the adventures I actually remembered to photograph:
**The Michigan State University Tollgate Gardens, part of the MSU extension program. This is truly a hidden gem. Or maybe it's not hidden at all, and I was just totally oblivious for the 24 years that I lived in Michigan. Both are possible. Whatever the case, this is a really lovely place for kids. The grounds itself actually features farm animals, barns, a large pond, and more, but I only photographed the part specifically designated as the children's gardens.
One of the exciting features is the toll house:
As Ninna demonstrates, kids can go inside and operate the barrier for the toll bridge:
There's a tiny pond with fish and frogs, like this gorgeous guy:
This sign greets visitors to the garden. Could there be a more perfect way to welcome children? I want this plastered all over our house:
And look! They planted "The Pizza Garden" from Sharon Lovejoy's Roots, Shoots, Buckets & Boots: Gardening Together with Children!
**The Detroit Zoo. As far as zoos go, this is one is decent. I'm always wishy-washy about zoos--the whole caged wild animal thing, you know--but I always, always end up going to them anyway. The Detroit Zoo has a pretty good variety of wild animals, a farm animal exhibit, and several buildings with reptiles, amphibians, birds, and a rainforest exhibit. There are also lots of other things to do, like sit on these frog fountains that my chicks have ADORED the past two summers.
Or, you can be like Bojey and try to climb into the flamingo habitat:
Most importantly, during my entire childhood The Detroit Zoo had THE BEST COMMERCIAL EVER. If you're from Michigan and were born between the 60's and the 80's, I know you have this commercial memorized. If you're not, behold the awesomeness and wish you were.
**Kensington Park. As a child I visited this park many times, but this was my first visit with the chicks. It's a huge county park with so much to do, you couldn't possibly do it all in one day or even two--there's a lake with a sand beach for swimming, a waterpark, trails galore, a farm, and too much more for me to remember. We visited the farm and went to the beach, but I'm not quite talented enough to manage a four year old, a two year old, and an expensive camera in the presence of sand and water, so I've only got photos of the farm.
Off to the side of the farm proper is the children's section. There's a frame house that encourages climbing, with a wraparound bench, open windows with wide ledges, and more:
And perhaps my favorite part, a massive field of corn with a trail smashed down for the kids to explore.
Ninna and my best friend's daughter with their heads poking up over the corn. What could be more fun?I sometimes need a break from photo-taking (or I forget my camera, or Bojey wants me to carry her nonstop, or my battery needs charging...), so I have nothing to show for the following places, also on our favorite destination list:
**Greenfield Village. This gathering of historic buildings, complete with dressed-to-the-nines employees playing the part, has so much to offer. At four and two years old, the chicks were primarily interested in the riding the historic train and carousel, but there is so much more for them to do as they get older. It sounds kind of dorky, but I promise it's not. Or maybe it is; I probably wouldn't know the difference.
**The Doll Hospital and Toy Soldier Shop. I know--it doesn't sound like a vacation destination. But it is for me. Holy mother of toy stores--this place is amazing. Each year the chickies and I have to visit. It's like a compulsion.
The list of things we didn't have time for is miles longer than the list of things we did do, so I know we'll continue to have variety on our Michigan trips. But we went on enough fun outings to truly make it feel like a vacation.
Oh, and I drank Vernors. Lots and lots of Vernors.
How are you spending your summer travels?