It’s certainly easy to find adventure in the rugged open spaces of Michigan, but there’s plenty to explore in the towns and cities as well.
From group scooter outings in Detroit and brew tours in Grand Rapids and Traverse City to shooting sports in Lansing and a historic escape room in Muskegon, the state offers up unique thrills and teambuilding experiences for any group.
The Motor City has its own approach to urban teambuilding activities, according to Dave Beachnau, senior vice president of sales, marketing and sports for the Detroit Metro CVB.
“Detroit put the world on wheels and now we have the Bird scooters and mobile bike shares, so it’s amazing to see how people are navigating around town,” Beachnau said. “We’re definitely seeing an increase in businessmen riding Bird scooters in suits.
“You can rent a bike and explore downtown for two or three hours,” he added.
Beachnau also noted plenty of spaces to explore while on two wheels, including the Dequindre Cut Greenway, an in-city trail that was once a Grand Trunk Railroad line. Along the greenway visitors will see urban artwork and graffiti and can visit the Eastern Market.
Planners can take advantage of several group-only tours.
“We also have behind-the-scenes tours at Little Caesars Arena,” Beachnau said. “The Fox Theater is a fabulous facility and they do tours as well.”
Both the Fox Theater and Little Caesars Arena are located in The District Detroit, the city’s entertainment district. Built in 1928, the Fox Theater is a showcase of grand architecture and design common with historic movie houses of the early 20th century. Planners can arrange tours or hold an event at either site; both have a wide variety of meeting and event spaces.
If attendees want some outdoor fun, Detroit has teambuilding options for that as well.
“When we think about outdoor parks, Belle Isle Park comes to mind,” Beachnau said. “It’s a Michigan State Park on the Detroit River, and we’ve had groups do scavenger hunts there before. We can also do mini-golf tourneys, fun runs and canoe outings."
The nearly 1,000-acre park has a diverse selection of attractions as well, from the annual Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix road race to the Belle Isle Nature Center—where visitors can feed the deer—and the verdant backdrop of the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory.
The park also offers fishing piers, a sandball court, beach bar and more teambuilding opportunities. In winter, visitors can learn to ice skate or snowboard.
Lansing has plenty of urban teambuilding opportunities for groups, according to Tracy Padot, vice president of marketing communications for the Greater Lansing CVB.
“The Greater Lansing region has a lot of unique opportunities,” Padot said. “We have everything from axe throwing and shooting sports to foot golf and rock wall climbing.
“We even have an outfitter that will rent canoes and kayaks for paddling tours along the Grand River that winds through the heart of downtown Lansing,” she added.
The city boasts one of the first axe throwing attractions in the state, Bull’s Eye Axe Throwing. The venue caters to experienced and novice axe flingers and even has its own competition league, plus the entire site is designed for wheelchair accessibility so everyone can partake.
At the Demmer Shooting Sports Education and Training Center, groups take aim at a different kind of teambuilding target. Planners can arrange sessions of firearms or archery shooting, and the 24,000-square-foot facility also offers meeting space.
Teambuilding adventure activities are easy to set up if groups are meeting at the Lansing Center. River Town Adventures is adjacent to the convention center and attendees can explore the city with bike trail tours, kayak and canoe rentals, or even paddleboard events.
When it comes to food, drink or outdoor fun, Grand Rapids goes for it full throttle. Planners can take advantage of brewery tours, cultural tours, nature experiences and other teambuilding.
“We often arrange custom beer experiences for groups,” said Tim Nelson, director of convention services at Experience Grand Rapids. “I’ve also planned tours of the Public Museum’s CARC building, Treetops Adventure outings and the Blandford Nature Center.”
The Grand Rapids Public Museum offers a variety of amazing spaces for rental, from the Chaffee Planetarium to the Meijer Theater, and planners can also arrange regular tours as well as special behind-the-scenes tours at the CARC (Community Archives and Research Center) private building, where 90 percent of the museum’s collections are stored.
While Grand Rapids offers an impressive number of things to see and do, the free downtown shuttle system is key to any group’s adventure.
“The DASH Bus is a game changer for us,” Nelson said. “Attendees are exploring much more of the area.”
The city also uses its parks to entertain groups, according to Nelson.
“I’ve organized concerts at Rosa Parks Circle and picnics and games at Millennium Park and John Ball Zoo,” he said. “I also did a large product showcase at Riverside Park where attendees tried out fishing poles, kayaks and a variety of other outdoor equipment.”
Adventure abounds in Muskegon County, and the teambuilding choices vary with the seasons.
In warm weather, groups can experience Duneiversity, programs that educate about conservation and health and wellness along the forested dunes of the Lake Michigan shoreline.
Activities include summer luging, archery, kayaking and more. In the snowy months, attendees can ice skate, luge and snowshoe their way through the Winter Sports Complex.
The area also offers a few twists on the typical group outing.
The Hackley & Hume historic site recently launched a new escape room event in the attic of a former lumber baron’s Victorian mansion.
“This is a new event that sold out very quickly,” said LaShelle Mikesell, administrative marketing coordinator for the Muskegon County CVB. “More dates are planned for the future due to its overwhelming popularity.”
Groups can also experience a cheese and beer pairing by two area businesses, The Cheese Lady and Pigeon Brewing Company, or take it up a notch with an oyster tasting and instruction on how to shuck oysters at The Fishmonger’s Wife, a regional fish market.
For those looking for an active teambuilding adventure, there’s bubble soccer. Each player is encased in a giant plastic bubble with only their feet free and set loose on a soccer field. The sport is fun to play and watch. Attendees can participate in the game or just cheer on their colleagues, so they’ll still have a good time.
Setting out for teambuilding adventure is easy in Traverse City, according to Jenny Jenness, PR/media relations manager for Traverse City Tourism.
“Just steps from downtown, groups can snowshoe to and from wineries, learn to stand-up paddleboard on Grand Traverse Bay, take a group yoga class on the beach (or on that stand-up paddleboard), take a group cooking class at Fustini’s downtown, or a group cooking class at a few wineries, too,” Jenness said.
She also noted some unusual teambuilding activities, like the Kayak, Bike and Brew program, a tour that follows the Boardman River through the city.
“You’ll make your way through town on both a kayak [or stand-up paddleboard] and bike as you tour different breweries of Traverse City and stop for a sample,” she said.
Other teambuilding options include the Traverse City Cycle Pub, which depends on attendees’ foot power to pedal the 14-person cart to each location. At Mammoth Distillery in the Warehouse District, groups can take a private mixology class or receive a personalized bourbon creation.
Michigan CVB Contact Information
Detroit Metro CVB
Experience Grand Rapids CVB
Greater Lansing CVB
Muskegon County CVB
Traverse City Tourism