March 20 is the first day of spring and with a sense of adventure, you can make it the first day of a year of new experiences. Once the snow disappears and the days turn warm, most of us slowly emerge from our winter cocoons briefly to breathe fresh air and stretch our limbs. For many, that’s where it ends. Instead of taking advantage of this special time, we go back indoors to dream of summer and our planned vacations. Don’t let this happen to you! Springtime in Michigan is a beautiful time of life and opportunity. No one says we cannot enjoy it as if it were summer. Make this year different – start planning your spring fling!
Here are some ideas to help you make it happen:
1. Spend a long weekend in a new city
Join the rest of the world! Get out and about and visit a Michigan city you have never seen before. Eat at a new restaurant. Explore a new park. Visit a new museum or theater. Plan to spend a few days in places like South Haven, Saugatuck, Ludington, Grand Rapids, Petoskey, Tawas, Marquette, Escanaba and more. Where is someplace you have never been? Just find it on a map and go!
2. Plan a fishin’ expedition
Fancy yourself a skilled angler? Gather some friends and head out for a few days of trout fishing on the Au Sable, Manistee, Huron or Black Rivers. Fish for steelhead in Grand Traverse Bay or walleye in Saginaw Bay. Charter a boat for Lake Michigan and bring in loads of whitefish and perch. Whatever your fancy, Michigan has a spot where you can reel ‘em in.
3. Hit the links
You’ve played every course in Genesee County and you have a league lined up for the season – but that doesn’t mean you can’t take a detour here and there. Get a group of friends or just go as a couple and find a new place for golf. Have you played Arcadia Bluffs yet? What about Forest Dunes in Roscommon or Eagle Eye in Bath? Set a destination and make a plan to hit a few new courses over a couple of days. Make sure to grab a souvenir golf ball from each one – how many can you collect this year? (Attention disc golfers: have you had a chance to visit the courses in Ludington or played Flip City in Shelby? Not to mention there are new courses opening up right here near Genesee County.)
4. A new kind of hunting
Spring is a great time to hunt for the ever-elusive morel mushroom. Genesee County has its fair share of hiding places and secret troves on public land. Round up the kids and head out into the forest for a day. If you can’t find morels, what other varieties can you find? How many can you identify? If you are truly a fungi fan, don’t miss the National Morel Mushroom Festival taking place this year May 18-21 in Boyne City. This year’s event features a morel cooking exhibition, live music and carnival rides.
5. Time to bloom
April showers bring May flowers and that is reason to smile. Pick up a flower guidebook and take the family out for a flower find. Identify each variety and catalog them. How many different colors and variations can you see? Then, make the trip to the Tulip Time Festival in Holland, running May 6-14, for even more appreciation of springtime color. The festival, one of Michigan’s biggest, features live music, dramatic performances, artists, brew-tasting events, Dutch dancing and lessons, parades and more.
6. May is Michigan Wine Month
Now that I have your attention, May is the time to get your drink on and Michigan has more than a few wineries to accommodate you. It’s time to make a trip, smash some grapes and take a few sips. Take a ride to Black Star Farm in Suttons Bay, Brys Estate in Traverse City, or any vineyard in Leelanau or the Old Mission Peninsula. Why not combine a few of these spring fling suggestions and do some fishing, golfing AND wine-tasting? Sounds like big fun to me.
If you can’t find the time to head out and travel the width and breadth of Michigan, there are, of course, multiple opportunities at home to experience something new and make this spring memorable. The trick is to get out and enjoy the warmth and sunshine in as many different ways as possible.
Here are a few ideas to harness the power of spring in your own backyard:
7. Batter up!
April is the start of baseball season and taking in a game can be a fun, laidback time for family and friends. Think about it. When was the last time you went to a ballgame? I’ll bet it’s been a while. Baseball may not be as popular as it once was but that doesn’t mean it isn’t still great. Spring is the perfect time to watch a team still in contention. The Whitecaps, Loons, Lugnuts, Tigers and others have the ability to captivate a crowd. What team is nearest you and have you been to a game? If not, now is the time to take a look.
8. Flash those pedals
Once the roads and paths clear, there is no excuse not to use them. Dust off that bike that has been sitting unused in the garage and oil up the chain for a new season. Cycling is a great way to exercise for older adults and kids. If you don’t have a bike, why not get back on the seat if you can afford it? I still maintain there are very few things like the breeze through your hair as you really get going on a bike. Don’t forget your helmet!
9. Train for the day
With spring comes the opening of road race season. Genesee County has a number of 5K runs and walks coming up to set your sights on. In May alone, there are four scheduled local races: Flint 6K for Water (5/20, Flint), Race2Grace (5/20, Burton), Freedom for Veterans Race (5/27, Clio) and Memorial Day 5K (5/29, Burton). Not ready yet? Pick a race in the middle or end of summer, make it a goal and then take the spring to get back into shape. You can do it!
10. Paint your thumb green
Spring is the time for gardens. If you have ever dreamed or thought of putting in a garden or planting trees, put it off no longer. Make your garden oasis a reality by charting a plan and getting it done. Vegetable, butterfly, flower, herb – whatever garden you dream of is fine. Working with nature and the earth quiets the soul and after a harsh few years, we all need some serenity.