Ten Things to Add To Your Ypsilanti Bucket List

Today, guest blogger Maureen Clemons from The Awesome Mitten tells us about ten of her favorite things to do in Ypsilanti! 

Photo courtesy of VisitYpsiNow.com

Photo courtesy of Visit Ypsilanti (visitypsinow.com)

Most Michiganders have heard of Ann Arbor, but not everyone is familiar with its “second city” and close neighbor: Ypsilanti (nicknamed Ypsi). Ypsi is right next to A2 and has a lot of its own quirky things to offer. From its historic buildings to a thriving art scene, we’ve compiled a list of things to do (in no particular order) in this fun town:

Arbor Brewing Company Microbrewery – The “greenest brewery east of Colorado” is owned by an inspiring local couple, Rene and Matt Greff. After expanding their Ann Arbor brewery to their hometown, Ypsilanti, they decided to use solar power to run the place. A must try beer is the Bollywood Blonde.

Cafe Ollie – As you walk into this Depot Town coffee shop style eatery, you see brightly painted walls, chalk board menus, and local art for sale on all the walls. Then you notice the awesome menu serving everything from ice cream to alcohol. Full meal options are available as well, including vegan and vegetarian plates. The most highly recommended being the mac and cheese. If the food doesn’t bring you in, then maybe the local live music will!

Materials Unlimited – Upon entry you’ll be instantly overwhelmed by the vintage rooms filled with hard to find furniture, light fixtures, and more. Materials Unlimited was voted by Hour Magazine as the best shop in Metro Detroit for vintage antiques, fine antiques, and salvage furnishing! Stop in soon and celebrate their 40th year in business!

Photo courtesy of  Visit Ypsilanti (visitypsinow.com)

Photo courtesy of Visit Ypsilanti (visitypsinow.com)

Sidetrack Bar and Grill – This famous Ypsi restaurant resides right on the train tracks. In fact, in the 1920s the building was hit by a derailed train! You’ve got to have a burger and the strawberry shortcake.

Yankee Air Museum – Stop here to see everything aviation. They have permanent and rotating historical displays throughout the year, including rides on a flight simulator. They also offer the real thing: rides on real World War II bombers!

The Wurst Bar – For the best wurst experience, this is the place to eat. They’ve got it all: every type of sausage you can imagine, burgers, beer and an awesome atmosphere.

Michigan Brewery Guild Summer Beer Festival – In late July, you can celebrate summer in the best way, with craft beer and awesome food. The Michigan Brewers Guild brings attendees 80 different Michigan breweries and over 800 beers. Tickets are on sale now!

Rolling Hills County Park – You can ride the slides in the water park, take a hike on the trails, or get sporty with disc golf, softball and horseshoes. A perfect summer spot.

Photo courtesy of  Visit Ypsilanti (visitypsinow.com)

Photo courtesy of Visit Ypsilanti (visitypsinow.com)

Color Run – Having this famous and bright run in a smaller city allows participants to see so much more and feel like a part of Ypsilanti. Plus, all the restaurants and stores have awesome deals. This year’s color run took place on June, 21st. Sign up for next year here!

Dreamland Theater – A hole in the wall theater that supports puppet shows, local musicians, and more!

These are just some of the best spots in Ypsilanti, are we missing any of your favorites?

Learn more about Ypsilanti in the video below.

658efac66ec1d17663aa9ded1aeef00bMaureen Clemons is your resident Royal Oak local (Royalocal), beer drinker, concert goer, road tripper, ice cream advocate, cat lover, MSU Spartan. Learn more on Twitter, @moreangrim.

Celebrate American History on Mackinac Island with Patriotic Events at Fort Mackinac

Mackinac Island is getting ready to celebrate the 200th Anniversary of the Battle of Mackinac Island. Today, Mackinac State Historic Parks provides a look at some special patriotic events happening on the island to commemorate the occasion.

Photo courtesy of Jennifer Lilienthal at Fort Mackinac

Photo courtesy of Jennifer Lilienthal at Fort Mackinac

On July 17, 1812, war descended upon Mackinac Island as a combined force of British, Canadian, and Native American soldiers captured Fort Mackinac from a small, unsuspecting American garrison. The fall of Mackinac, one of the first engagements of the War of 1812, set off over two years of combat between the United States and Great Britain for control of Michigan and the Great Lakes.

In the summer of 1814, the United States dispatched seven warships and nearly 1,000 men on a two-month expedition to recapture the island. British and American troops actually met in battle on Mackinac Island on August 4 at what is today Wawashkamo Golf Club, but at the time was Michael Dousman’s farm. The ensuing battle resulted in American defeat. Only the Treaty of Ghent, which ended the War of 1812, restored peace to Mackinac. American soldiers took possession of Fort Mackinac from the British garrison on July 18, 1815, three years and one day after the post had been captured.

Photo courtesy of Mackinac Island Tourism Bureau

Photo courtesy of Mackinac Island Tourism Bureau

This August, Mackinac State Historic Parks continues to commemorate the bicentennial of the War of 1812. Special 1812 demonstrations and tours take place every day at Fort Mackinac. New exhibits in the East Blockhouse present the compelling story of the American attempts to recapture the fort in 1814. A series of special events between August 2 and August 4 will mark the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Mackinac Island. Just some of the exciting features of these special events include a large scale battle reenactment where the actions of the British and American forces are displayed in the very footsteps as they were two centuries ago.

Additionally, the U.S. Brig Niagara, a reproduction of one of the ships present for the battle, will be available for dockside tours. Concerts of patriotic music, and special bicycle tours around the island, highlighting points of interest pertaining to the War of 1812 round out the programming for the weekend.

For more information on the 200th Anniversary of the Battle of Mackinac Island weekend events visit, the website.

Have you ever visited Fort Mackinac? Tell us about your visit!

Exploring a Shipwreck on a Drummond Island Off-Roading Adventure

Today, guest blogger Christian Anschuetz from Modern Explorers tells the story of how his group of thrill-seeking adventurers came across a shipwreck while on an off-roading adventure on Drummond Island.

Photo courtesy of Modern Explorers

Photo courtesy of Modern Explorers

With everything that progress has brought to our modern world, it’s refreshing to know that there are still places on the planet that remain pristine.  Perhaps surprisingly, Michigan brims with more places like this than many expect, and our group of would-be adventurers, true modern explorers, seek and discover these hidden gems.

Our crew of ten men and women has made it their mission to find these often wild and remote places in the hopes of inspiring others to do the same.  From the northern shores of the Upper Peninsula’s Keweenaw, to the great National Huron and Manistee Forests, they have visited ancient copper mines, followed in the footsteps of Au Sable lumbermen, camped in the ruins of abandoned ghost towns, and most recently, visited the historic Drummond Island.

Here’s the story of how we discovered a well-known, but rarely visited shipwreck, on our latest adventure.

A piece of the Agnes W. Photo courtesy of Modern Explorers

A piece of the Agnes W. Photo courtesy of Modern Explorers

A summer squall rages across Lake Huron.  Strong winds whip the air and the surf into a frenzy, punishing all in its path.  Today’s victim would be a sturdy steamer that was once the largest vessel to travel the Great Lakes.  But neither her size nor her steadfast crew could protect her from the wrath of Mother Nature, which forced the Agnes W aground.  It was July 3rd, 1918 when the Agnes W crashed into the rocky shoreline and sank.  Nearly a century later, my team and I find ourselves staring at her well-preserved wreckage as we look to the south from Traverse Point on Drummond Island.

Locating the Agnes W on a map was a simple task, but making our way to the wreckage was another matter altogether.  Drummond Island is a beautiful, rugged place, and the path to the sunken ship was long, narrow, and harrowing.  While the off-road vehicles we took down the trail were up to the task, the drivers were tested after just a mile of navigating the sand, mud and stone.  We shared a deep sense of accomplishment as we exited our vehicles at the shoreline and began the hike toward where the Agnes W broke upon the rocks.

Photo courtesy of Modern Explorers

Photo courtesy of Modern Explorers

As we walked the last quarter mile to Traverse Point, our curiosity grew with every step: What would we find?  Two hundred yards from our destination our group made its first discovery: a massive beam pierced with wrought iron stakes lay upon the shore.  This large piece of debris had to belong to the Agnes W, so with sharpened eyes we moved forward, finding more and more of the wrecked ship along the way.  By the time we arrived at the tip of Traverse Point, we were surrounded by artifacts.  Less than 40 yards away we could see the well-preserved hulk of the steamer peeking through the surface of the water.  Despite the warm air and bright sun, a cool and eerie feeling descended on our group.

Individually and collectively, we wondered about the fate of the crew that night.  What was their experience of the violent collision between ship and land?  How many perished, how many survived?  Some answers to our questions reside in the history books.  Many others have been lost to time.  What the wreckage made clear, however, was that even this great ship was no match for the giant rocks that are the foundation of Drummond Island.  After discussing the little-known history of the Agnes W, we took our last photos and began the hike back to our vehicles.

Photo courtesy of Modern Explorers

Photo courtesy of Modern Explorers

As with most things on Drummond Island the adventure isn’t complete until you are safely back to your starting point.  This time we tackled the trail off the beach knowing that the surviving crew of the Agnes W likely forged a similar path as they left that shore cold, wet and scared.  Our team departed under far better circumstances, and with a sense of satisfaction that we had found what we were looking for.

During the following days we navigated even rougher terrain as our team explored and discovered towering cliffs, amazing rock formations, old ruins and intriguing Chippewa sites the locals call “places of power”.  For Drummond is a big island with an even larger history.  A land that calls out to would-be adventurers to rediscover her secrets.  A worthy destination for all, and one that deserves the title Pure Michigan.

Have you had the opportunity to explore Drummond Island? Tell us about your experience! 

Check out the Modern Explorers in action and see the wreck of the Agnes W for yourself in the video below.

Christian ModExpChristian Anschuetz embraces the duality of modern life, and freely moves from being a technologist at work, and an avid outdoorsman and adventurer for play.  As an IT executive and entrepreneur, he happily takes the lead of the Modern Explorers crew.  As a former Marine, the path he leads the team is often fraught with obstacles, dirt, and adventure. You can reach Christian at christian@modern-explorers.com. To learn more about the Modern Explorers follow them on Facebook or check out their YouTube Channel.