January 19, 2021

20 socially distant things to do in metro Detroit this winter

When the word “coronavirus” first started appearing with frequency in national headlines around this time last year, would you ever have imagined that you’d be largely locked inside a year later as a pandemic continued to grip the U.S. for months on end? We honestly can’t remember how we thought this was all going to shake out, but after watching Contagion (2011), yeah, we guess this makes sense. Well, the good thing is that the incompetent Donald Trump is officially out of the White House, the COVID-19 vaccines are starting to be administered, and, well, that’s reason enough for celebration. The bad news is that most of us won’t be able to get vaccinated for months, so it’s looking like another Michigan winter without many of the usual things that help to make it bearable. That doesn’t mean there’s absolutely nothing to do. Here’s a roundup of some socially distant ways to kick it while we wait for our vaccines.

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Ice skated in Campus Martius
If you take away the blizzards, black ice, and below zero temperatures, winter in Detroit is actually quite beautiful. Ice skating in Campus Martius makes the most of Detroit’s winter wonderland. 
Photo courtesy of Downtown Detroit Partnership

Ice skated in Campus Martius

If you take away the blizzards, black ice, and below zero temperatures, winter in Detroit is actually quite beautiful. Ice skating in Campus Martius makes the most of Detroit’s winter wonderland.

Photo courtesy of Downtown Detroit Partnership
Take a hike
Take your mind off the silly human world by going for a scenic hike through Michigan’s many nature and hiking trails. Some of our favorites include the nearly nine-mile Graham Lakes Trail (Paint Creek Trail, Oakland Charter Twp.) and the sprawling 27 miles of Stony Creek Metropark (4300 Main Park Dr., Shelby Charter Twp.). Bring a mask as a courtesy just in case the trails get crowded.
Photo via Shutterstock

Take a hike

Take your mind off the silly human world by going for a scenic hike through Michigan’s many nature and hiking trails. Some of our favorites include the nearly nine-mile Graham Lakes Trail (Paint Creek Trail, Oakland Charter Twp.) and the sprawling 27 miles of Stony Creek Metropark (4300 Main Park Dr., Shelby Charter Twp.). Bring a mask as a courtesy just in case the trails get crowded.

Photo via Shutterstock
Eat in an igloo
The state says it expects to allow restaurants to open for indoor dining in February, assuming the spread of the coronavirus continues to stabilize. Until then, restaurants are allowed to continue to offer outdoor seating, carryout, and delivery. A number of them have pivoted to igloos, tents, and heated patios to give guests an enclosed space to dine in during the cold winter months. Beware a false sense of security — officials recommend people only dine with others in their own or one other household to limit possible exposure, since you have to take your mask off to eat. (Duh.) Tip: tip generously.
Photo courtesy of Honcho

Eat in an igloo

The state says it expects to allow restaurants to open for indoor dining in February, assuming the spread of the coronavirus continues to stabilize. Until then, restaurants are allowed to continue to offer outdoor seating, carryout, and delivery. A number of them have pivoted to igloos, tents, and heated patios to give guests an enclosed space to dine in during the cold winter months. Beware a false sense of security — officials recommend people only dine with others in their own or one other household to limit possible exposure, since you have to take your mask off to eat. (Duh.) Tip: tip generously.

Photo courtesy of Honcho
Make a reservation at a museum
Many local museums are still open, but the rules vary. The Henry Ford Museum (20900 Oakwood Blvd., Dearborn; 313-982-6001; thehenryford.org), which features the popular Marvel: Universe of Super Heroes exhibition, is open with masks and social distancing required, but the museum advises people purchase tickets online ahead of time. At the Detroit Institute of Arts (5200 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-833-7900; dia.org), online reservations are required. On Wednesdays, you can reserve the entire Cranbrook Art Museum for $50 for a one-hour time slot for a group of up to six people (9221 Woodward Ave., Bloomfield Hills; 248-645-3323; cranbrookartmuseum.org). The Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit is also open, where you can check out the new Black Art Library exhibition featured in this week’s issue (4454 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-832-6622; mocadetroit.org).
Photo by Kathryn Goffnett

Make a reservation at a museum

Many local museums are still open, but the rules vary. The Henry Ford Museum (20900 Oakwood Blvd., Dearborn; 313-982-6001; thehenryford.org), which features the popular Marvel: Universe of Super Heroes exhibition, is open with masks and social distancing required, but the museum advises people purchase tickets online ahead of time. At the Detroit Institute of Arts (5200 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-833-7900; dia.org), online reservations are required. On Wednesdays, you can reserve the entire Cranbrook Art Museum for $50 for a one-hour time slot for a group of up to six people (9221 Woodward Ave., Bloomfield Hills; 248-645-3323; cranbrookartmuseum.org). The Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit is also open, where you can check out the new Black Art Library exhibition featured in this week’s issue (4454 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-832-6622; mocadetroit.org).

Photo by Kathryn Goffnett
Catch a movie
Michigan movie theater chains like AMC Theatres, Emagine, and MJR Digital Cinemas (various locations) were allowed to reopen just in time for the holidays, but it’s not the usual experience you’ll expect. Capacity limits are set at 100, masks are required, and theaters have to implement thorough cleaning procedures between screenings, and enforce social distancing requirements. Plus, there’s no concessions allowed, so no popcorn. Still, it’s nice to be able to be lost under the spell of Hollywood. You can also support indie theaters like Cinema Detroit (cinemadetroit.org) and the Film Lab (thefilmlab.org), which offer top-notch films virtually.
Photo by Jam1 Productions / Shutterstock.com

Catch a movie

Michigan movie theater chains like AMC Theatres, Emagine, and MJR Digital Cinemas (various locations) were allowed to reopen just in time for the holidays, but it’s not the usual experience you’ll expect. Capacity limits are set at 100, masks are required, and theaters have to implement thorough cleaning procedures between screenings, and enforce social distancing requirements. Plus, there’s no concessions allowed, so no popcorn. Still, it’s nice to be able to be lost under the spell of Hollywood. You can also support indie theaters like Cinema Detroit (cinemadetroit.org) and the Film Lab (thefilmlab.org), which offer top-notch films virtually.

Photo by Jam1 Productions / Shutterstock.com
...at the drive-in
If you’d rather watch a flick from the safety of your own car, there’s always the Ford-Wyoming Drive-In (10400 Ford Rd., Dearborn; 313-846-6910; forddrivein.com), a 70-year-old favorite that screens affordable double features all week long, with tickets priced at $12 for adults and $5 for kids under 12. Downtown Detroit also has a new 77-screen Monroe Street Drive-In Powered by Emagine (32 Monroe St., Detroit; emagine-entertainment.com) set to open Jan. 22 at the site of Dan Gilbert’s Monroe Block project, which has fallen behind schedule. (Hey, times are apparently tough even for billionaires.) Admission is $20 per vehicle; it’s advised that you buy tickets online ahead of time.
Photo by Austin Evans Eighmey

...at the drive-in

If you’d rather watch a flick from the safety of your own car, there’s always the Ford-Wyoming Drive-In (10400 Ford Rd., Dearborn; 313-846-6910; forddrivein.com), a 70-year-old favorite that screens affordable double features all week long, with tickets priced at $12 for adults and $5 for kids under 12. Downtown Detroit also has a new 77-screen Monroe Street Drive-In Powered by Emagine (32 Monroe St., Detroit; emagine-entertainment.com) set to open Jan. 22 at the site of Dan Gilbert’s Monroe Block project, which has fallen behind schedule. (Hey, times are apparently tough even for billionaires.) Admission is $20 per vehicle; it’s advised that you buy tickets online ahead of time.

Photo by Austin Evans Eighmey
Head for the hills
Sledding: a timeless classic. Some of our favorite spots are Balduck Hill on the east side (5271 Canyon St., Detroit) and Kensington Metropark in Oakland County, which has toboggan runs and beginner snowboarding at the Orchard picnic area (4570 Huron River Pkwy., Milford; 810-227-8910; metroparks.com).
Photo by J.A. Dunbar / Shutterstock.com

Head for the hills

Sledding: a timeless classic. Some of our favorite spots are Balduck Hill on the east side (5271 Canyon St., Detroit) and Kensington Metropark in Oakland County, which has toboggan runs and beginner snowboarding at the Orchard picnic area (4570 Huron River Pkwy., Milford; 810-227-8910; metroparks.com).

Photo by J.A. Dunbar / Shutterstock.com
Take me to the river
The Detroit Riverfront Conservancy is raising funds with a number of activities at the Detroit Riverwalk (detroitriverfront.org/give/WinterontheRiverwalk). A $25 donation provides gloves and hand warmers to five children visiting the Riverwalk; $50 provides five families with complimentary s’mores kits; $100 means your family will receive four pairs of gloves, four activity booklets, and two s’mores kits; a $250 donation gets you a prize bundle including  a Winter on the Riverwalk-branded sled; and $1,000 gets you a fireplace for a group of up to 10 to enjoy s’mores, hot beverages, and more. A limited number of private Fireside Happy Hours are available from from 6-8 p.m. on Jan. 14, 28, and Feb. 11 on a first-come, first-served basis.
Photo by Tony Bennett, Detroit Stock City

Take me to the river

The Detroit Riverfront Conservancy is raising funds with a number of activities at the Detroit Riverwalk (detroitriverfront.org/give/WinterontheRiverwalk). A $25 donation provides gloves and hand warmers to five children visiting the Riverwalk; $50 provides five families with complimentary s’mores kits; $100 means your family will receive four pairs of gloves, four activity booklets, and two s’mores kits; a $250 donation gets you a prize bundle including a Winter on the Riverwalk-branded sled; and $1,000 gets you a fireplace for a group of up to 10 to enjoy s’mores, hot beverages, and more. A limited number of private Fireside Happy Hours are available from from 6-8 p.m. on Jan. 14, 28, and Feb. 11 on a first-come, first-served basis.

Photo by Tony Bennett, Detroit Stock City
Enjoy a livestream concert
This is the longest we’ve ever gone in our adult lives without experiencing the magic of live music. It’s not the same, but livestream musical performances are the next best thing Ann Arbor’s Blue LLama Jazz Club (bluellamaclub.com) is launching a new virtual concert series with Andrew Brown’s Djangophonique at 8 p.m. on Jan. 23 and the Diego Rivera Quartet at 8 p.m. on Jan. 30. Performances are 75 minutes and include VIP meet-and-greet sessions with the artists on Zoom. Tickets are $15 for the livestreams and $40 for VIP. Paxahau, organizer of Detroit’s Movement electronic music festival, has been hosting livestream DJ sets throughout the year on Twitch (twitch.tv/paxahau). Techno artist Drummer B will perform a live set of his new album Age of Aquarius from inside Detroit’s historic Belle Isle Aquarium at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 28; donations go toward helping the nation’s oldest aquarium stay afloat. There’s also the 44th Ann Arbor Folk Fest, which has also gone digital, starting at 7 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 29 and Saturday, Jan. 30. As always, funds raised go to support folk venue the Ark (theark.org/folk-festival).
Photo of Andrew Brown’s Djangophonique courtesy of Blue LLama Jazz Club

Enjoy a livestream concert

This is the longest we’ve ever gone in our adult lives without experiencing the magic of live music. It’s not the same, but livestream musical performances are the next best thing Ann Arbor’s Blue LLama Jazz Club (bluellamaclub.com) is launching a new virtual concert series with Andrew Brown’s Djangophonique at 8 p.m. on Jan. 23 and the Diego Rivera Quartet at 8 p.m. on Jan. 30. Performances are 75 minutes and include VIP meet-and-greet sessions with the artists on Zoom. Tickets are $15 for the livestreams and $40 for VIP. Paxahau, organizer of Detroit’s Movement electronic music festival, has been hosting livestream DJ sets throughout the year on Twitch (twitch.tv/paxahau). Techno artist Drummer B will perform a live set of his new album Age of Aquarius from inside Detroit’s historic Belle Isle Aquarium at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 28; donations go toward helping the nation’s oldest aquarium stay afloat. There’s also the 44th Ann Arbor Folk Fest, which has also gone digital, starting at 7 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 29 and Saturday, Jan. 30. As always, funds raised go to support folk venue the Ark (theark.org/folk-festival).

Photo of Andrew Brown’s Djangophonique courtesy of Blue LLama Jazz Club
Bring your favorite fine-dining home
Sometimes carryout just doesn’t travel well. A number of metro Detroit spots are offering meal kits that you can make right at home. Southwest Detroit’s PizzaPlex (4458 W. Vernor Hwy., Detroit; 313-757-4992; pizzaplex.com) has Wine & Pizza of the Month club that comes with build-your-own pizza kits paired with a bottle of wine, starting at $30 or $75 for three months. Midtown’s upscale SheWolf Pastificio & Bar (438 Selden St, Detroit; 313-315-3992; shewolfdetroit.com) has a “Mercado” program of menu items that can be assembled, cooked, baked, or grilled at home. And New Center’s The Kitchen By Cooking With Que offers vegan and pescatarian meal prep plans (6529 Woodward Ave, Suite A Detroit; 313-462-4184; cookingwithque.com).
Photo by Tony Lower

Bring your favorite fine-dining home

Sometimes carryout just doesn’t travel well. A number of metro Detroit spots are offering meal kits that you can make right at home. Southwest Detroit’s PizzaPlex (4458 W. Vernor Hwy., Detroit; 313-757-4992; pizzaplex.com) has Wine & Pizza of the Month club that comes with build-your-own pizza kits paired with a bottle of wine, starting at $30 or $75 for three months. Midtown’s upscale SheWolf Pastificio & Bar (438 Selden St, Detroit; 313-315-3992; shewolfdetroit.com) has a “Mercado” program of menu items that can be assembled, cooked, baked, or grilled at home. And New Center’s The Kitchen By Cooking With Que offers vegan and pescatarian meal prep plans (6529 Woodward Ave, Suite A Detroit; 313-462-4184; cookingwithque.com).

Photo by Tony Lower