Summer Bucket List

11 outdoor activities in and around Birmingham that you and your family will feel safe doing this summer.

Javon David said summers in Birmingham are usually a blast. In the past, her family has spent them attending Downtown Birmingham events, such as the Village Fair. However, due to coronavirus concerns, many events like the carnival were canceled, and community members are still feeling leery about exposing themselves– and especially their children– to large crowds, particularly at indoor venues.

2020 certainly did not bring the spring we wanted; however, that does not mean summer needs pan out the same way. With so many walkable and outdoor activities in Birmingham, residents are still in a great position to enjoy the summer months like they always have.

“This summer will look a bit different, but we will likely still partake in our Sunday routine of attending the Farmers Market and heading over to Booth Park,” David said in May. “We will spend time outdoors but will avoid crowded events.”

Kelsey Hogan, another Birmingham resident, agreed: “We’ll probably be avoiding any indoor places and activities that make social distancing challenging like indoor kids’ play places, the movies and malls. But, since our area is filled with tons of amazing parks, places to walk and local restaurants doing special takeout menus, I’m not at all worried about it!”

David said Birmingham is a great place to live, even in these trying times, as there is a strong sense of community and camaraderie among neighbors: “The Birmingham community has a ‘family’ and ‘togetherness’ feel that makes me proud to live here.”

Bucket List Item #1:

Ride your bike up to the Dairy Mat. Sidewalks are everywhere in Downtown Birmingham, so biking is easy. And what’s better motivation than a cold treat on a hot, sunny day? Dairy Mat is located at 35032 Woodward Avenue. For more information and hours, visit facebook.com/dairymat.

Bucket List Item #2:

Take a box ride down Booth Park’s hill. Booth Park is located at the southwest intersection of Old Woodward and Harmon. Although the park’s features include an expansive playscape, labyrinth, tunnel, rain garden, stream banks, a trail and open green space, one of the biggest attractions that the kids– and adults!– can enjoy is the astroturf hill that visitors can “sled” down on cardboard boxes. Don’t worry: the grounds are made with recycled rubber material, which allows for safe landings.

Bucket List Item #3:

Enjoy a slice at Shain Park. Another Downtown Birmingham park is Shain Park, and, luckily, right around the corner is Brooklyn Pizza (111 Henrietta St). Since 1996, Brooklyn Pizza has offered authentic, wood-fired pizza that tastes like it comes directly from Brooklyn, New York. Grab a pie and find a bench at Shain. Oh, and don’t forget to pack some coins! The little ones love tossing them into the park’s fountain.

Bucket List Item #4:

Visit the Farmers Market. Open on Sundays from May through October every year, the Birmingham Farmers Market sells Michigan-grown produce subject to Michigan growing patterns, as well as beautiful spring floral arrangements, plants, baked goods, fresh locally raised shrimp, eggs, meat and more. It’s located in Public Parking Lot #6 at 660 North Old Woodward. For hours and other information, visit allinbirmingham.com.

Bucket List Item #5:

Have a picnic at Kenning Park. Birmingham resident Kelsey Hogan said she and her husband  prefer Kenning (2300 E. Lincoln St.) to other Birmingham parks (especially after the coronavirus outbreak) since it is usually less busy and has a lot of space to spread out. The spacious area makes for a perfect spot to stretch out on a picnic blanket and enjoy a homemade meal or carryout from one of Birmingham’s local restaurants. Griffin Claw Brewing Company (575 S. Eton St.), for example, offers a great takeout menu and is within very close proximity. 

Bucket List Item #6

Pick up a decorating kit from Bakehouse 46. Rainy days, of course, will happen, but that does not have to mean boredom. Slide on your rain boots, pop open that umbrella and take a walk over to Bakehouse 46 (136 N. Old Woodward Ave.), a newer bakery in Birmingham that is a collaborative culinary experience between the Cupcake Station and Blake’s Farm. In addition to baked goods, coffee, cider and more, Bakehouse 46 also sells DIY Cupcake and Donut Decorating kits for $10 each. For hours and more information on those or other menu items, visit bakehouse46.com. 

Bucket List Item #7:

Create your own smoothie at Beyond Juice. Beyond Juicery + Eatery has two Birmingham locations: one at 270 W. Maple Rd. in Downtown Birmingham and the other at 2221 Cole St. Although the restaurants offer an extensive smoothie menu, one fun option is to create-your-own. Don’t forget to ask for a slice of lemon poppyseed bread to enjoy with it!

Bucket List Item #8:

Say hello to animals at E.L. Johnson Nature Center. Located at 3325 Franklin Rd. in Bloomfield Township, the E.L. Johnson Nature Center is a beautiful 40-acre site that offers visitors “myriad visual pleasures and a plethora of learning opportunities.” In addition to its two miles of walking trails, the area fosters a safe habitat for a host of wildlife including red fox, coyote, deer, mink, birds, amphibians and reptiles, as well as special wildlife pens that contain orphaned deer and injured hawks and owls that can be observed up close.

Bucket List Item #9:

Take a walk near Quarton Lake. Fed by the Rouge River, Quarton Lake is located on Birmingham’s west side. Within the last 10 years, the city has installed native plants and flowers along the water to provide natural beauty, prevent streambank erosion and deter water fowl.

Bucket List Item #10:

Explore Cranbrook Gardens. Open May through October, guests can enjoy all 40 acres of Cranbrook Gardens, featuring extensive plantings, fountains, statuary, lakes and streams.

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