March 2018 Things to Do

March is a great month in Michigan. Here are things you might want to add to your Michigan Family Travel calendar  (in no particular order)

1. Go to the Flint Institute of Arts and  see the Ubuhle Women: Beadwork and the Art of Independence exhibit. It is only through the end of March- so go now!

2. Go to Greenfield Village, okay, technically it is at the Henry Ford and see the Science Behind Pixar exhibit-only through March 18th. It is really enjoyable. Our son saw it twice and enjoyed it both time! 

3. Go see Robin Hood at the Thunder Bay Theatre. Now through March 25. The award winning theatre is back with another family friendly production.

4. Go to the Ypsilanti District Library-Whitaker Road branch for a University of Michigan Scientist Spotlight featuring several research sharing their cutting edge research with visitors. Inspire your children to pursue great questions through meeting a working scientist. You won't want to miss this!

5. Ski through the night at the two mile snowshoe/ski trek capped by a bonfire and hot chocolate March 3 at Mackinac Island State Park with the Mackinac Island Turtle Trek.

Wizard of Oz Ballet at River Raisin Centre for the Arts in Monroe

Wizard of Oz Ballet at River Raisin Centre for the Arts in Monroe

6. Go see the Wizard of Oz ballet at the River Raisin Centre for the Arts March 23-March 25. This classic story as told in the "language of dance" will be sure to satisfy all family members.

7. Hike on the North Country Trail. Now that Spring is coming and the snow is melting-there are no more excuses!

8. Subscribe to our newsletter for more travel ideas, Michigan Trivia and more! Issue #1 online and Issue #2 is available now. Michigan Trivia: What was Aretha Franklin's first top ten hit? 

 

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Winter in Michigan

Winter in Michigan is a reflective time. A time to slow down and watch the snow fall across the evergreen tree in the back yard, drifting up against the white fence. To smile at the bold squirrel perched on the snow bank as I drove by, a nut gripped tight in its forepaws.

footprints in the snow

footprints in the snow

 

It is a time for ice fishing in the U.P in the brief Sturgeon season or ice skating downtown at Campus Martius.  It is a time for counting down to Opening Day at Tiger Stadium and Greenfield Village.

It is a time to walk in the woods along the North Country Trail or bike with your fat tires along Huron River Drive past North Campus in Ann Arbor, leaving the crowded cafes and busy parking structures behind as the wind stings your face. 

It is a time to work on puzzles, organize your travel photos, get out your campground guide, and reserve  your spot at Wilderness State Park. 

It is a time to spend all Saturday morning at the Upper Peninsula Children's Museum or walk around the still, silent grounds of the Cross in the Woods in Indian River, or admire the outdoor sculptures at the Solanus Casey Center. 

Cross in the Woods Indian River photo courtesy A. Chromicz

Cross in the Woods Indian River photo courtesy A. Chromicz

 

It is a time to be still and let the  power of nature once again pull you in and heal your heart that the world insists on breaking. Again. 

Winter in Michigan 

Winter in Michigan 

 

 

Hallowe'en at Greenfield Village 2016 Recap

Hallowe'en at Greenfield Village yielded some unexpected surprises which added to an already enjoyable family experience.

The first surprise was at the Josephine Ford Plaza, before you even entered the village. Nestled along the side, a bit away from the fountain and main gathering area was a collection of classic hearses, festooned with spooky regalia. These lovingly maintained autos added an appropriate reminder of the historic origins of Hallow's Eve. I give credit to the thoughtful planners and curators of The Henry Ford for adding something new, yet making it culturally accurate and family friendly, by placing it out of the way so families with young children or sensitive children could easily avoid it. There were many families with young children who did not seem to be bothered by the hearses, but obviously, for some folks it might be a bit too intense, but easily avoided. Well done!

The route itself changed this year, continuing along Post Street rather than turning right at Christie Street and heading through the Edison at Work District. This eliminated the mad scientist inside one of the Edison labs, which was always fun, but did allow for a greater concentration of the main storytelling areas. Anthony, in his dramatic performance of Poe's The Tell-Tale Heart was as mesmerizing as ever.  The singing witches trio was bouncy and fun, and provided a nice contrast. I think it was a good choice to vary the route, although I do think some additional consideration to timing the performances should be made, because occasionally the singing drowned out The Tell Tale Heart oration. 

Readers of this blog will know that we previously mentioned this is a true family friendly event and The Henry Ford makes great efforts to accommodate a wide range of ages and sensitivities. That being said, folks looking for a scary or gory Halloween experience or to receive bags full of candy are going to be disappointed. 

Rather, expect a charming stroll through a tastefully decorated historical treasure, with amazingly talented entertainers, great attention to detail, lovely costumes, and enough seasonally appropriate spookiness to spark the imagination not shock it into submission. 

Family Questions for Discussion

1. What did you think of the new route at Hallowe'en at Greenfield Village?

2. Did the change add or detract to your family's experience of the event?

3. How does sharing a common travel experience help strengthen your family?

4. What was  your favorite part of the Hallowe'en at Greenfield Village?

5. What would be your family's dream autumn travel experience be?

 

Things to Do Independance Day Weekend 2016

The weather in Michigan is looking glorious for outdoor family fun this long Independance Day Weekend- with temperatures in the low 80's and no rain expected.  This may put a hold on many fireworks displays due to the very dry conditions, but families who choose to get out and about will find plenty to do. 

Perhaps you will be camping in the Alcona County Campground or visiting friends in Glennie, located in the Huron National Forest. If so, you might consider taking a break from kayaking on the Au Sable and head to town for the parade and festival. The parade features local groups and stores in a classic small-town 4th of July Parade. In years past we have enjoyed goats pulling small children in wagons as well as a variety of tractors and bands, and the occasional semi sneaking in a bit early to continue its run down M-65. 

Visitors near South Haven will definitely have plenty to do-an art fair, parade, fireworks plus the many hiking, boating, fishing, shopping and eating experiences that are typically available.  Many years ago while camping at Van Buren State Park, on 4th of July weekend, we fell in love with this charming town. It was a chilly weekend,  and our teeth chattered as we dipped into Lake Michigan and capped our adventure off with a delicious ice cream cone in town. In the evening, we were excited to be able to see the fireworks display near the waterfront. The pleasant, well-mannered crowds and the majesty of the fireworks display over the water, with boats moored off shore made for a picturesque experience that I cherish to this day. 

In the Metro Detroit area, as well as throughout the state, most towns will have a parade and you should check out their websites for more information.

Plus, Greenfield Village is hosting its annual concert series, Salute to America with the DSO, June 30-July 3.  Ticket prices are about $25. We used to enjoy watching the fireworks over the treetops from our back window while humming a few bars of the 1812 overture. We have often wondered why the 1812 Overture is so frequently linked to 4th of July celebrations, but that is probably the topic for another post. 

I find that we enjoy our travel experience greatly when we step away from the tourist scene for a bit and see towns and villages celebrating their unique local cultures. Every parade has its own basic format-floats, politicians, bands, but each works with these elements in ways that express their own culture in a colorful way. 

Whatever you do, enjoy, be safe and appreciate the courage of our countrymen in 1776!

Scenes from Civil War Remembrance at Greenfield Village 2016

We were able to spend a few hours on Saturday evening at the Civil War Remembrance at Greenfield Village this year. The weather was quite warm for this time of year and very humid. The women in their heavy dresses and the men in their long wool pants, shirts and coats perspiring and red cheeked, but not complaining. 

Many were sitting around small fires, cooking their evening meals-mostly stews or boiled potatoes. 

Evening Scenes from Greenfield Village Civil War Remembrance

The Dodworth Saxhorn Band performed on the village green in front of the Town Hall. The band was in fine form, performing music from the Civil War era and the evening sun and the Greenfield Village Town Hall, bedecked in patriotic bunting provided a stunning backdrop for the band. 

 

Greenfield Village Town Hall

Greenfield Village Town Hall

We treated ourselves to vanilla frozen custard and bottled water. The small sized custards are decent sized so we choose to split two of them for four of us.   

Many of the houses were closed in the evening, so if this is your only planned visit to Greenfield Village this year, you will want to come before 5pm to experience more of the activities. Still, we enjoyed the more relaxed, less crowded atmosphere. The trains, Model-T's and carousel were all running, and many families seemed to be enjoying those experiences. 

The Dodworth Saxhorn Band, a 19th century brass band playing on period instruments plays at a variety of places and are well worth checking out.  Their version of Grafulla's Favorite Waltz is available on iTunes®.

 

Civil War Remembrance at Greenfield Village

If you are looking for a truly memorable experience for your family on Memorial Day weekend look no further than the Civil War Remembrance at Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Michigan. 

This annual event brings together volunteer re-enactors, regular Greenfield Village volunteers in costume and the staff to provide a glimpse at what life was like during the Civil War. 

Depending on the weather, it is likely to be quite crowded, but there is so much to see and do on this day, you might not let the crowds be too much of a deterrent. We enjoy getting there early in the morning to smell the coffee cooked in pots over the campfires.  If you go on Saturday, with the extended hours until 9 pm, folks with young children might want to sneak back to the hotel for a nap or a dip in the pool before returning for the evening events. 

In addition to witnessing the campsites, there is musical entertainment, battle re-enactments, and numerous other activities during the day. Definitely check out the Greenfield Village website for more details. 

It is difficult to say that this is a "fun" experience, given the seriousness of the event that is being memorialized but I personally believe the event is tastefully done- honestly providing accurate historical information, without being overdone.  Critics of re-enactments often point to the sanitized nature of the events they portray.  If that is your opinion then this event might not be for you. 

It is difficult to say how an individual child might  be impacted by certain experiences, so of course please use your judgement. If your child is very sensitive or easily over-stimulated then you might want to experience Greenfield Village at a different event. However, the way the event is set-up you can easily avoid all of the battle scenes and explore the other aspects of life during that time period.  

For me, it is a solemn reminder to be truly grateful to live in the time I live in, as this event serves as a clear marker of how much we have progressed and how much has been sacrificed to get to this moment in history. 

 

Michigan Springtime

Traveling in Michigan in the springtime is truly amazing. The weather has been sunny, mid 60's and blue skies dotted with gorgeous white clouds. 

Being able to get outside and enjoy recreation with the family has been a gift. 

The flowers are rising from their long slumber in places like Kensington Metro Park, Maybury State Park, and the Environmental Interpretive Center at the University of Michigan Dearborn. 

 

A touch of green-oh so welcome this spring in Michigan!

A touch of green-oh so welcome this spring in Michigan!

We had a delightful weekend  getting outside to ride at Kensington Metro Park. The air was cool in the shade and a bit windy, but we had a great time, seeing the sun reflecting off of Kent Lake, glimpsing a swan nesting just off the shore line. 

 

The weekend before we spent time at Greenfield Village and saw many more glimpses of spring, including lambs just a few hours old. Taking the time to see the sights in southeastern Michigan this time of year even for a long weekend or a day trip is truly family travel time at its most memorable. 

What do you love about springtime in Michigan?