This past winter was a rough one, so I’m having a blast getting outside in warm weather to enjoy local activities. One of the best things about being a dad is that I get to expose my kids to cool stuff outside.


If you read the men’s magazines, like I do, they tell you that to go camping you need expensive gear—a GPS wristwatch, a tent, hiking boots, a YETI for every situation and assorted other equipment. Now don’t get me wrong, I love overpriced gear just as much as the next guy but I know families that don’t go camping because they think it’s too expensive, so here is the real truth. With limited equipment and expense, you can have the equipment you really need and be fine.

Head to Grand Rapids (Ohio) or Ann Arbor’s Gallup Park and rent a canoe from a local livery, and paddle on the river. Another favorite of mine is Mohican State Park in Central Ohio. Pack a picnic lunch and eat in the canoe, or get out on shore and stretch. Plan to set up camp in one of the State Parks nearby.


I’ll admit I’m very much an amateur with fishing, but I know the basics. If you want something easy, head to any of several area Metroparks. Oak Openings is my favorite. I also enjoy Olander Park in Sylvania with my kids because they have an annual fishing derby and, overall, a great setup.

Up North

Ok, although I’m known as Mr. Toledo, I love heading “Up North”, to Northern Michigan, especially the west side of the state. Take the family on the drive along the M22 highway around the Leelanau Peninsula and you won’t regret it. Rent a pontoon boat and spend the day on Crystal Lake, where you can literally see almost to the bottom.

UT trail

This trail is a hidden, but well known, community gem. We frequently ride the trail with the kids, starting at the McCord Rd. entrance and biking to UT. We eat our packed lunch somewhere on campus, then ride around while I bore my wife and kids with exaggerated stories of my UT college days. It’s great exercise and the kids really enjoy it.

I know you have your own family adventures and traditions, but these are some of my ideas on how to enjoy being outside (mostly) locally.

A Toledo native, Brad Augustyniak is married with three kids and the owner of GearUp419, a small business consulting firm. Active in our community professionally, he participates in his children’s’ activities as a Cub Scout den leader and soccer coach.

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