Formal plantings create a backdrop for weddings at Millennium Garden. Photo by Linda Koutsky

Suburban parks — a visit to Millennium Gardens

Do you have a to-do list of places in the metro area you mean to visit?

A lot of times we’re only tourists in our hometowns when we have out-of-state visitors. But I keep a list in Google Docs of places I’ve heard about so it’s handy on my phone when I’m out and about.

Last week I had a meeting in northern Plymouth and about an hour to spare after it was over. I knew I had something on my list and sure enough it was just a few blocks away.

They call it a Woodland Restoration but it felt more like a meadow to me. Plymouth Creek cuts through the park. Photo by Linda Koutsky

Typical of the western suburbs, Plymouth is dotted with lakes and marshes and curving roads. The City of Plymouth says their 164 miles of trails and 1,670 acres of parkland make up one of the nation’s premier park systems.

Plymouth Creek Park is located near the intersection of Highway 55 and Interstate 494, close to the city hall, post office and a large retail center. Trails crisscross the park and are easily accessed from the parking lot at Plymouth Creek Center.

Millennium Gardens is a planned formal garden on the edge of a marsh walking trail located behind the Plymouth Creek Center. It wasn’t listed on the center’s welcome sign, so I actually drove past it. When I did get to the building I learned it was a community activity center, senior center and event space with a large hall overlooking the gardens.

The place was bustling on the Friday morning I visited. The Plymouth Senior Program offers day trips, clubs, classes, presentations, discussion groups, fitness programs, game and card groups and arts and crafts. The lobby gallery showed work by participants in a painting class.

I wandered out back to the gardens. Formal plantings of roses, daisies, lilies and native shrubs, a butterfly garden, a labyrinth and meandering stone paths are surrounded by flowing water, ponds and a water fountain. Stone columns, decorative arbors and plenty of seating fill out the space. Though it’s obviously designed for weddings, it’s a nice garden for everyday users.

Behind the gardens, nature trails traverse the park. I walked past some birch trees and headed for a bridge in the distance. In my short walk I saw a rabbit, three squirrels, a swimming muskrat and three snakes!

The snakes really took me by surprise; I haven’t seen a snake in decades. The first one was just over the creek’s bridge. It squiggled into the grasses of the meadow/marshland area. As I snapped a photo two more followed it off the path in front of me. Do snakes travel in threes?

I looked them up at home: just common garter snakes, but a nice peek at suburban wildlife for this mostly urban dweller.

A woman I met in the gardens says she plays 500 one day of the week then cribbage on another. She likes to walk in the park afterward and enjoy the flowers.

Nature and parks are essential for a thriving community. They lead to healthy minds and bodies, preserve water and air quality, protect wildlife and enhance a community’s livability. I recommend keeping a list of nearby parks and nature centers on your phone for your own quick escapes.

For more destinations and adventures, follow Linda Koutsky on Facebook.


Stop in near the park at Kai & I, 3355 Plymouth Blvd., for fresh Asian fare. Eat in or get it to go for a picnic.