Saturday, November 19, 2016

Black Friday- Get Outdoors

REI had such great success with their #optoutside program last year on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, that it is doing the same this year. State parks in many states, including Michigan and Minnesota, are offering free admission. You'll still have to pay to visit state parks in Wisconsin, though our local Havenwoods State Forest offers some nice trails and a nature center for free.

So what can you do to get outside? Weather will be cool (likely in the 40s) but not horrific, so why not bundle up and go to a playground with some kids? The county parks have 114 tot lots. To find one near you, visit the Milwaukee County Maps page or read my blog about what I consider the best playgrounds. Kayla's Playground in Franklin is super fun with a hiking trail on the property too. You'll see some equipment there you can't find elsewhere.


Lake Park has a playground, a burial mound, some nice trails which have recently been trimmed and groomed, and the lion's bridge for photo ops. Northpoint Lighthouse is open on Friday, November 12-4, so you can climb the tower.   This park has drawn lots of attention for the pokemon go users.  Maybe you want to download the app and give it a try.

Disc golf is fun and can be played with a group or solo.  Milwaukee county parks went to the pay to play system this year for the 5 main courses, so for a day it costs $5, or you can buy a permit for 2017 and play for free during December. There are five smaller practice courses where you can play for free. You need to bring your own discs. The courses have been improved over the past year to include concrete tee pads and new baskets.  The courses are somewhat protected from the wind by trees, and it makes for a pretty walk through the woods.
New baskets at Brown Deer Park
Do you like to hike?  You can download trail maps for local parks at the Park People website. With nearly 30 to choose from, there is a new place waiting to be explored. My favorite pick for this time of year is Kohl Park with a 2 mile trail that takes you through one of the few pine forests in a park. The scent of pines will stay with you long after the hike is over.
An old silo at Kohl Park, a former farm

The scent of pines is heavenly at Kohl Park

For a unique skyline view of Milwaukee while there are few leaves on the trees, go to the top of Kilbourn Reservoir Park at Bremen & North Avenue. There are steps on both sides of the hill for some extra exercise after a good turkey dinner, and a playground at the rear of the park at street level.
See Milwaukee from Kilbourn Reservoir Park

It's always fun to get near the lake. My kids love skipping stones or walking on the beach.  Check out Grant Park, which has a nice sandy beach with plenty of rocks. With three playgrounds in the park and hiking trails too, you're bound to find something to keep everyone moving.

Most restrooms are not open this time of year and portable toilets have been removed, so plan accordingly.

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