Save time and money with these local minivacation ideas

By: Tiffany Esshaki | C&G Newspapers | Published June 3, 2015

 Downtown Ann Arbor is a hopping urban area that’s lots of fun to explore, according to Dave Lorenz, of the Michigan Economic Development Corp.

Downtown Ann Arbor is a hopping urban area that’s lots of fun to explore, according to Dave Lorenz, of the Michigan Economic Development Corp.

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METRO DETROIT — Have you ever come home from a big trip out of town, looked around at all the daily chores you left behind and thought: “I need a vacation from my vacation.”

It’s for that reason, and so many others, that many families these days are opting to forgo a big summer excursion in favor of a more relaxed vacation at home. But just because you’re not packing your bags and draining your retirement fund to head out of state doesn’t mean you can’t take a quick break from your routine.

Dave Lorenz, manager of industry relations and international marketing with the Michigan Economic Development Corp., said domestic tourism and so-called “staycations” were a trend that grew popular a few years ago when the economy took a turn for the worst.

“It really became a growing phenomenon caused by the rising cost of gas,” Lorenz explained. “But even though gas prices are down, that time really got us thinking about the cost of travel. Even though Americans will invest a great deal of discretionary income on leisure travel, they started thinking, ‘Gee, maybe I shouldn’t spend that much on a trip.’ So it kind of stuck.”

That trend was furthered locally by the fact that Michigan, no matter what part of the state you’re in, is anything but boring. A trip out of town for the day can be as much fun as an adventure across the country, Lorenz insists.

“It doesn’t matter where you are — there’s always something great to do any time of year within a tank of gas away,” he said. “We can offer something for virtually any interest: whether it’s culture or food or active things like kayaking or traditional outdoor things like golf.”

Lorenz’s first tip for planning a day trip within driving distance is to make sure you make the day as efficient as possible, which usually starts by researching and planning what you’d like to do. Clicking on to is a good way to review all the attractions, lodging options, and shopping and dining opportunities available around the mitten.

“There are so many things just a short drive away. You can do maritime experiences or outdoor experiences in Port Huron and along the thumb area,” he said. “If you head south or west, there are tremendous golf courses. We have about 700 public golf courses (in Michigan), and they’re pretty spectacular. In fact, (Michigan’s golf industry) is overbuilt, so prices are out of whack — you get really low prices and really high quality.”

He also suggested tooling around some of Michigan’s more urban areas, like downtown Monroe or downtown Ann Arbor. But if you want some top-of-the-line city sights, look no further than our own downtown Detroit.

Renee Monforton, director of communications at the Detroit Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau, happens to agree. She said the metro Detroit area draws about 16 million visitors annually from outside Wayne, Macomb and Oakland counties, and that tourism pumps a whopping $5 billion or more into our economy. It only makes sense for locals to take advantage of the city that’s so appealing to outsiders.

“Detroit has a number of significant attractions within as little as a half-hour around metro Detroit,” said Monforton. “Signature attractions like The Henry Ford and (the Detroit Institute of Arts), which is in the top fine art museums in the country. Plus, there’s a whole cultural center downtown, and with four professional teams, we typically rank right up there in terms of sports. Fans are always coming here, and actually so are Canadians, who come for the shopping.”

Monforton’s suggestion for daycationers this summer is to head out to one — or many — of the festivals happening around the region. Between major events like the 33rd annual Downtown Hoedown from June 5-6 — featuring country stars like Darius Rucker and Rascal Flatts — to the Maker Faire Detroit at The Henry Ford in Dearborn or the 13th annual Orchard Lake Fine Art Show, which both take place July 25-26, there’s something to do nearly every weekend through Labor Day and beyond.

“Staycation is sort of a common phrase now, and I think there’s even a local push in marketing for folks who don’t have the time or the economics to travel outside of Michigan for vacation,” she said.

No matter what activity you and your family choose for your Great Lakes State escapade, Lorenz’s final tip is perhaps the most important: Enjoy yourself like you were heading far, far away.

“Even if you have to pick some kind of lodging facility for the night, do it. You need to break away and forget that the house is just down the road,” he said. “Coming home isn’t always the best idea because there’s always something to do, like mow the lawn. Leave that for next weekend and go have these leisure experiences.”

Boredom breaker

Check out these events, slated to happen around metro Detroit this summer, compiled by the Detroit Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau:

• Autopalooza: Ongoing at several locations. Visit

• Downtown Hoedown: June 5-6, West Riverfront Park, Detroit. Visit

• Motor City Pride Festival and Parade: June 6-7, Hart Plaza, Detroit. Visit

• Historic baseball games: Every Saturday and Sunday, June 13-Aug. 23, Greenfield Village, Dearborn. Visit

• Detroit River Days: June 19-21, Detroit Riverfront. Visit

• Wild Summer Nights: Every Wednesday in July and August, the Detroit Zoo, Royal Oak. Visit

• Concourse d’Elegance of America: July 24-26, The Inn at St. John’s, Plymouth. Visit

• Maker Faire Detroit: July 25-26, The Henry Ford, Dearborn. visit

• Orchard Lake Fine Art Show: July 25-26, Powers and Daly roads, West Bloomfield. Visit

• The Arab and Chaldean Festival: Aug. 1-2, Hart Plaza, Detroit. Visit

• African World Festival: Aug. 14-16, Charles H. Wright Museum of African-American History, Detroit. Visit

• Woodward Dream Cruise: Aug 15, Woodward Avenue, Pontiac-Detroit. Visit

• Michigan Renaissance Festival: Weekends, Aug. 22-Oct. 4, 12600 Dixie Highway, Holly. Visit

• Detroit Sports Commission Pre-Kickoff Classic: Aug. 28-30, Wayne State University, Detroit. Visit

• Arts, Beats and Eats: Sept. 4-7, downtown Royal Oak. Visit

• Detroit Jazz Festival: Sept. 4-7, Hart Plaza to Campus Martius, Detroit. Visit

• Fifth Third Bank Michigan State Fair: Sept. 4-7, Suburban Collection Showplace, Novi. Visit

• Romeo Peach Festival: Sept. 4-6, downtown Romeo. Visit

• Dally in the Alley: Sept. 15, North Cass Corridor, Detroit. Visit