GTRec Experience Expo showcases the great outdoors

Sailing signWhile I’m a fan of all four season in Michigan, getting outside to exercise with a two-year old can be tough in the middle of winter. Now that the snow blanketing both peninsulas has melted, getting active outside is much easier for my little family.

A great place to get active outdoors in Michigan is in, and around, Traverse City. Obviously, the beaches and both bays make this a gorgeous place to visit in the summer. But dig a little deeper into the recreation opportunities there, and you’ll find activities that are great for people of all ages and abilities, as I found at theĀ GTRec Experience Expo.

For example, you take a bike from Clinch Park and ride the TART trails up to Sabin Dam, then kayak, canoe, or stand-up paddleboard your way back downtown on the Boardman River. If you’re not comfortable going it alone, the folks at The River Traverse City have a daily guided trip.

If you are a water sport enthusiast but have never tried SUP, Traverse City is a great place to learn. And if you’re really good at keeping your balance, you can try SUP yoga. I had enough trouble keeping my balance on dry land on a SUP, so I can only imagine that doing yoga on one will be an incredible full-body workout.

Northern Michigan has a great reputation for abundant golf courses, but disc golf is making inroads into the recreation plans for many people heading north on I-75 or US 131 for many of the same reasons, the beautiful courses. The differences between the sports are obvious, but if you think disc golf is just a structured form of frisbee, you’ve got another thing coming. As Michael Wildner, owner and course pro of Wild Haven Disc Golf showed me during a putting demonstration, the throwing motion is quite different as is the weight of different discs.

Another option for having fun outdoors is taking over tennis courts all over Traverse City. Called pickelball, it combines many elements of badminton, tennis, and table tennis in a way that’s easier on the knees than tennis. And it is a true workout, I was sweating after a few minutes of trying to keep a volley going. According to Carolyn Ebbinghaus, owner of Pickleball Outfitters, the sport is growing exponentially, and Traverse City is a big part of that growth.

So, if you’re looking for an active weekend away or a place to spend a week exploring several sports, the Grand Traverse region might be just what you were looking for.

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