It’s my first post at Brighton Patch, and I’m eager to share trends and tips with fellow hipster parents. A former journalist and freelance writer, I dig writing. As a mother to one crazy toddler and expecting my second in seven weeks (yikes!), I realized the time-consuming treasure hunt it takes to find unique and trendy kid stuff without sacrificing my desire to still be “cool.” So a few months ago I started a parenting blog, Tiny Mitten Secrets, on discoveries and inspiration for parents who don’t want to lose the edge on awesome. Now I’m connecting with Brighton Patch to offer such insights in my own community. I hope to inspire!
Fall in Michigan is a reminder of the Mitt’s beauty and abilities. A reason we tolerate the bitter winters and humid summers. Crisp air warmed with the escaping summer sun. Vibrant apple reds and bumblebee yellows painting the leaves. Pumpkin pies & warm cider.
To many, fall usually means pumpkin patches, apple orchards and cider mills. To me, it means keeping my fanatically curious two-year-old Jack satisfied with new activities. We’ve maxed the apples and cider, which the two of us can't drink anyway. It’s time to get creative. So, here are five local activities I uncovered that don’t include pumpkins or apples:
1. Nature Walks or Horse Rides: Brighton Recreation Area
The almost 5,000 acres at Brighton Rec offer endless nature trails and explorations for families. I plan to create a Nature Walk Sorting Basket for Jack to collect autumn’s treasures when we visit. I took a basket and filled it with small paper cups for Jack to stash his findings. A shoebox or similar would do the trick too. Figured the activity would help with Jack’s toddler obsession to gather and sort.
The changing season would be great to view strolling along on horseback. The Brighton Rec Riding Stable is open year round for trail and pony rides. Trail rides are available for all ages with handled rides for kids under 8 and hour-long trips for those over 8.
Brighton Rec is also hosting its Fall Harvest Festival for registered campers, Oct. 7-9 and Oct. 14-16. The event features costume contests, family activities, scavenger hunts, talent shows, monster mash dance, trick-or-treating and tie dying (bring-your-own clothes).
2. Friday Night Lights: Brighton Football
Nothing screams fall more than football. The Lions are 4-0, first time since 1980. MSU is undefeated in the Big 10 and Michigan’s undefeated overall. So attending a Brighton football game may keep the family’s cheer loud. In fact, this Friday (10/7) is homecoming and the Bulldogs face Howell at 7 p.m.
3. Visit the Farm: Carousel Acres or Domino’s Petting Farm
Jack loves animals. A visit to any zoo or farm is like Christmas morning. We’ve frequented Kensington Metropark’s Farm, which is having the Fall Farm Festival this weekend (10/8-9, 12 – 4 PM), but that includes pumpkin hayrides and I promised no pumpkins or apples. Plus, Jack is basically best friends with a few goats there. It’s time for some new friends.
Carousel Acres in South Lyon offers farm animals, pony rides, butterflies, reptiles and other unique animals such as Reindeer and lorikeets. Open 10 AM – 2 PM, $6/person, $3 pony rides.
Or pet the animals at the large Domino’s Petting Farm in Ann Arbor, which houses donkeys, miniature cows, goats, lambs, rabbits, peacocks, llamas and many rare animal breeds like Clydesdale horses and Longhom cattle. The farm also features a pond to feed ducks and 15 acres of open pastures. Open 9 AM – 4 PM year round, $5/adults, $4.50/kids. Admission includes hayrides.
4. Play a Game of… Football, Soccer or Disc Golf
In college, my husband and I enjoyed a game of disc golf on a weekly basis. If you’re unfamiliar, it’s a hippy-style sport where players attempt to throw a mini-sized Frisbee (disc) into a hole (chained basket). Today, we’re not as lucky to hit up the course regularly. Jobs. Kids. House. We're even minutes away from Kensington’s Black Locust course.
I’ve realized the fall offers the perfect atmosphere for a game of disc, Jack in stride. I know he’d enjoy throwing a few discs himself. Most disc courses – like the Locust – are located in woodsy-scenic areas. Perfect for nature discoveries. Daily wristband/$2 (on top of park pass).
If you’re not into discin,’ a game of family soccer or flag football could do the trick. Take a trip to any of the school’s fields, Kensington or other area open spaces.
5. Take Family Fall Photo Fun
Every mid-September, I’m reminded that we need to take our annual family photos. Jack’s birthday is Sept. 16 and we’ve been smiling for the camera each fall, which offers the perfect backdrop for family photos. So, grab your favorite photographer and feed the ducks at Mill Pond, throw the leaves in your backyard or just take a walk. The fall leaves will do all the hard work. All you have to do is dress cozy and have fun!