Exploring Southeast Michigan Before Winter Comes

Heather Raulerson

As we headfirst into the winter season, I’m dragging my feet and enjoying every last bit of fall in Michigan. And I’m not alone. For most of us who live in northern states, winter comes early and stays for a long time. So, when the sun is shining, we go out and grab as much of the warmth as we can. And for those searching for things to do and maintain social distancing, this list will be great in helping you generate ideas for something to do on those increasingly rare sunny days we have left for the year.

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Photo by Heather Raulerson

What is there to do in Southeast Michigan before the snow comes?

For Outdoor Enthusiasts

Surprisingly, there are many things to do still. Make sure to look at the state and local parks. There are plenty of paths and trails for you to take advantage of, like the ones in Stoney Creek Metropark, Kensington Park, and Rochester Municipal Park. My favorite is the Paint Creek Trail, Michigan's oldest nonmotorized rail-trail, and for 8.9-miles, you can bike, run, or walk from the town of Rochester to Lake Orion. I can always find the last bits of color left on the trees before they all fall to the ground on the Paint Creek Trail. It is quite relaxing only to hear your feet crunch the crushed limestone and then occasionally hear water flowing nearby. This trail is the perfect place to be if you want to avoid crowds and enjoy the peacefulness of nature. There are several hop on and off points along the route, which loosely follows Paint Creek. One of those hop-on/off points is at the Paint Creek Cider Mill, where you can take a break with cider and donuts.

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Speaking of Cider Mills, this is another activity that you can enjoy before Winter shows up. There are over 63 Cider Mills in Michigan. Fall is their busiest time of the year. Most people head to the cider mills in September and October, but there is no reason not to visit during the late fall before the snow comes. Cider and donuts are a delicious treat to get on a sunny day. Here are a few cider mills for you to explore: Yates Cider Mill in Rochester, Franklin Cider Mill in Bloomfield Hills, and Blake’s Orchard and Cider Mill in Armada. At Blake’s, you can now browse through their Holiday Market, where you can pick up gifts, wreaths, and holiday decor. And if you are hungry, you can get a take-out order from their Tasting Room. Even if it is sunny out, hot cider is the perfect complement for colder temperatures.

For Wine Connoisseurs

There are several wineries in Southeast Michigan where you can partake in tastings. A few of the local wineries you can visit are Vine 2 Wine Custom Winery in Northville, St. Julian Winery in Troy, Village Winery in Romeo, and the Fieldstone Winery & Hard Cider in Rochester. You will need to check with these establishments on their website to find out if they are retail only or have tastings available during this timeframe. If you happen to stop into the Fieldstone Winery & Hard Cider, you can also enjoy the Big Bright Lights Display that is going on during the Holidays in downtown Rochester. Although on the weekends, you will find large crowds on the sidewalks admiring the lights, and not everyone is wearing a mask.

For Bike Enthusiasts

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Make sure to check out the Dequindre Cut. This two-mile paved path is another previous rail line repurposed into an urban green space and pathway. It is located on the east side of Detroit, Michigan, just west of St. Aubin Street, starting at Gratiot Avenue and running to Mack Avenue. On the weekends, you can always find people enjoying this route. Not only is this a great place to bike if you live in Detroit, but you can also find some fantastic street art along the path.

For Street Art Enthusiasts

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Spending a sunny day exploring around Detroit will take you on a fantastic art journey that you wouldn’t expect. A great place to start is around the Eastern Market area. Each spring in Detroit, one of the top five Mural Festivals is held in the World!. You can enjoy the street art created at the “Murals in the Market” festival all year long. And this is an excellent social distancing activity before the winter snow arrives. There are over 150 street art murals in and around Detroit. You can find a good majority of them around the Eastern Market, along the Dequindre Cut, at the Belt, in the Z Parking Deck, and many more places around Detroit. How many can you find?

For Unique Art Enthusiasts

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If you are looking for something truly unique, take an afternoon drive out to the Heidelberg Project. This two-block art exhibit from the outside looks like giant piles of trash, but when you look more closely, you can see the brilliance behind Tyree Guyton’s creation. His mission has been to transform burned-out and abandoned homes in his neighborhood. Since 1986, this project has grown, and now, you will see bike tours stopping by and numerous cars parked in his area from people all over exploring the art displays. The Heidelberg Project is a must-see stop when you are in Detroit as his use of dolls, toys, shoes, and other forms of medium create eye-popping and bizarre works of art that you have to see for yourself.

If you find yourself looking out the window and see sunny skies, grab those car keys and head out to explore while you can. Colder temperatures will be arriving soon, along with all the white stuff, and we will all be stuck in our homes for the winter duration. So, go ahead and make the most of this sunshine and get out and explore Southeast Michigan. I hope you find this list useful in generating ideas for activities or introducing you to something new. The majority of these activities are all outdoors, so you should easily maintain and practice social distancing while enjoying them. Be safe and healthy, everyone!

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Freelance travel writer and photographer who loves sharing her adventures from around the world. It is never too late to pursue your dream!

Rochester Hills, MI
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