Four Pure Michigan Ways to Spoil Yourself For Singles Appreciation Day

Now’s your chance to spoil yourself! Our friends at The Awesome Mitten share four fun and delicious ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day’s counterpart –  Singles Appreciation Day.

Being single doesn’t mean you have to stay home on February 14th – Valentine’s Day can and should be celebrated by singles!

Photo courtesy of Aaron Murdick's Fudge

Photo courtesy of Aaron Murdick’s Fudge

Michigan provides many opportunities to enjoy single life. Of course, there are many Michigan winter outdoor activities such as skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling or ice fishing to occupy your time. If that’s your thing gather up your group of girlfriends or buddies, bundle yourself up and spend your day in the brisk Michigan winter. I am not what you would call “outdoorsy,” but I still can get a mad case of cabin fever and mid-February is often when that reaches its peak.  If you prefer the indoors, Michigan provides just as many opportunities to treat yourself.

Spoil Yourself with Michigan Chocolates
If you are going to stay in, invite your friends over and treat yourselves to some classic Valentine’s Day Michigan chocolates. My personal favorite is Jackson’s Gilbert’s Chocolates  (mmm I could really go for some chocolate covered potato chips right now.)

The Chocolate Garden is another Michigan favorite that beckons travelers along I-94. With billboards featuring accolades from the likes of the Food Network, I had to stop. When I tasted those delicious truffles, I was amazed at the quality of this seemingly roadside attraction (They sell online too!)

Another popular Valentine activity is to drown our single sorrows in some Mackinaw Island Fudge Ice Cream.  Make it a true Michigan sundae with a little Sander’s Hot Fudge on your Hudsonville Ice Cream.

Photo by Rebecca Calkins

Photo by Rebecca Calkins

Chocolate also pairs well with Michigan wine! Mindo Chocolate does wine pairing events including wine festivals which is where I first tasted these delicious dark specialties, including a few varieties with Michigan fruit. They do not have a storefront, but they are distributed in great little shops around Michigan. I know in my neighborhood they are available at Lone Oak Vineyard Estate.  Speaking of alcohol…

Go Out for a Drink…
Choose your favorite Michigan wine or beer, of course! A tour on a Michigan wine or beer trail is just what a group of single girls or guys needs to have a good time this Valentine’s Day.

I’ve taken several tours along the Southeast Michigan Pioneer Wine Trail both with friends and with family. Pro Tip: pack some bread and cheese or stop at your local farmers market on the way and snack between stops. It’s a great way to soak up some alcohol and make your trip a little more delicious. Weaving your way from Adrian in the south to Haslett in the North is at least a two day activity in order to hit them all, but my personal favorites are Sandhill Crane Vineyards and J. Trees Cellars.

I just went on a mini beer tour in Grand Rapids a few weeks ago with a stop at Brewery Vivant and Arcadia. Of course, Founders is usually a requisite stop for me. Near my home, I’ve also made a mini tour right along I-94 with Dark Horse, Grand River and Chelsea Alehouse.

Sandhill Crane - Photo courtesy of Experience Jackson

Sandhill Crane – Photo courtesy of Experience Jackson

Eat Your Way through Michigan
Although restaurants maybe booked up for dinner, that doesn’t mean a nice singles awareness lunch tour couldn’t satisfy a friends’ trip. Most of my favorites are around my hometown of Jackson, including a few award winning Jackson restaurants  including Michigan’s Best Barbeque at West Texas BBQ.

Work Off the Food with a Dance Party
Since I’m not the outdoorsy type, I have to find some way to work off all of that chocolate, beer, wine and food. There are many great Michigan nightlife hotspots to choose from all over the state. If shaking your booty on the dance floor isn’t your thing, there is always an evening at the casinos or another of my personal favorites, karaoke!

Whether single or taken, we love our fans! Have a Happy Valentine’s Day!

Headshot 1 originalRebecca Calkins is the Communications Director for Experience Jackson. She grew up in Jackson and returned after attending college at Ball State University in Muncie, Ind. When not working, Rebecca enjoys cooking and traveling, always looking for the next culinary or cultural adventure.

Eight New Year’s Resolutions for the Avid Traveler (with a Pure Michigan Twist!)

The beginning of a new year opens the door to new travel possibilities. Today, guest blogger Aaron Cruz from The Awesome Mitten shares some New Year’s resolutions for the avid traveler looking to explore new horizons. 

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Photo courtesy of Aaron Cruz

Great Lakes resort town it up. Wherever you are in Michigan, you are within 85 miles of a Great Lake. Go for the day in the summer or a long winter weekend at a bed and breakfast in Lexington, on Lake Huron, or in Grand Haven, on Lake Michigan. Regardless of  what lake you are on, a beautiful sunrise and sunset is sure to await. The resort town possibilities seem to be endless.

Eat and drink local. Forget the chains: experience something not found around home. Go to the most popular spot in the town you are visiting or discover a hidden gem. If you are in Detroit, stop at Slows BBQ. Visiting Grand Rapids? Forget Starbucks in favor of checking out to Rowster or MadCap Coffee. Don’t go to a bar in Holland and grab a beer you can get anywhere; visit New Holland Brewery and experience some of Michigan’s finest craft beer. If grabbing snacks for the car, go Michigan with some Faygo Rock & Rye and Better Made potato chips.

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Photo courtesy of Aaron Cruz

Set out on a mural walk. You will find public artwork painted on the walls of buildings in Michigan’s biggest cities and smallest towns. It’s a great way to get outdoors, to explore off-the-beaten path areas and to learn some history. “The Water Cycle” mural in the Woodbridge neighborhood of Detroit and the Community House Mural in small-town Harbor Beach should be on your list to visit.

Go on a trip with no plans. Take a road trip with no Michigan destination in mind. That means no maps, no GPS and no idea on when you are going to stop. It will be just you and whatever randomly comes up. Live in the moment. Your best travel stories could come from this unplanned adventure.

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Photo courtesy of Aaron Cruz

Spend more time with nature by visiting a Michigan State Park.  Get away from it all at one of the 97 parks scattered through the state. Many are along one of the Great Lakes, while others are inland and in the country. You can even hang out on an island at Mackinac Island State Park. Bluffs, sand dunes, long hiking trails, forest, vast beaches and wildlife lie straight ahead.

Collect mementos from every place you visit. Purchase a postcard, magnet and other souvenirs.  Grab a free local magazine, flyer or business card and keep your receipts and event tickets. Put them all in a box at home. Later on, when you go through it, you will remember all the great Michigan and travel experiences you have enjoyed.

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Photo courtesy of Aaron Cruz

Head to a lighthouse. Michigan has more lighthouses than any state with over 115, each with its own history and unique design. Some of them contain museums where people used to live as well as stairs you can climb to see the light up close and get panoramic views. Tawas Point Lighthouse is a beautiful example. Where there is a lighthouse, a shoreline and beach to explore is usually waiting.

Putting many of the other resolutions together and a great way to checkout numerous lighthouses and points of interest at once is to experience a Great Lakes Circle Tour. Each route/tour circles a Great Lake, so water will always be nearby, with much of the route following Michigan roads. You’ll find plenty of signage to help you along as you bounce from town to town, country to forest and from the Lower to Upper Peninsula.

What are some of your New Year’s travel resolutions? 

Aaron Cruz

Aaron Cruz is a lover and long time resident of The Mitten. When he is not out on the open road, he’s probably drinking coffee in a random indie coffee shop. He loves taking  photos and road trips, along with checking out skylines, the seasons, shorelines and  hanging around water which makes Michigan the perfect place to live. You can find him  on Twitter Instagram and on his personal travel blog.

 

Twelve Nights of Michigan Bright

The holidays are coming up fast, and there’s no better way to celebrate than by jumping in your car and looking for Michigan’s brightest spots. Guest blogger Maureen Clemons from The Awesome Mitten has located some of the best holiday light displays around the Mitten – one for each of the 12 days of Christmas:

Campus Martius

  1. Campus Martius: Your to-do list at Campus Martius includes renting some skates and gliding around Detroit’s best rink while gazing at Detroit’s biggest and brightest Christmas tree. Afterwards stop by The Snowman Collection (an igloo full of decked out snow men) and grab a hot chocolate from Fountain Bistro. Make sure to park on Woodward because buildings are lit up all along that avenue as well!
  1. Wonderland of Lights: Potter Park Zoo in Lansing also offers lots of animals made out of lights and animals in real exhibits. They also have cookies, crafts and live entertainment. While you’re so close, make sure to check out Michigan’s official Christmas tree at the capital complete with over 9,000 lights!
  1. Wayne County Lightfest: Celebrating 21 years of being bright (and merry), Hines Park is lit up with over 50 animated light displays. This year they’ve got a new 40 foot snowman. Your car can enter on Merriman Road in Westland and see over four miles of Christmas fun.
  1. Adam’s Castle: Royalty lives among us – in Bloomfield Hills. Take Adams to Adam’s Castle Drive (in between Big Beaver and Wattles) and drive until you reach the dead end that is Adam’s Castle. It’s always decorated to impress. Make sure you grab some hot chocolate from Birmingham Chocolate before heading over.

Detroit Zoo Lights

  1. Wild Lights: The Detroit Zoo gets wild every December with their half mile light trail. You’ll see stars, butterflies, turtles, bears and tunnels made of bright bulbs. Stop in the Reptile House to warm up or visit the Wild Adventure Zone to see The Polar Express in 4D. They sell seasonal drinks and snacks too.
  1. Edsel & Eleanor Ford House: A historical site to see all year round, but especially special during the holiday season – the Ford House in Grosse Pointe beckons to you with canopies of lights and the promise of Santa. You’ll see over 80,000 bulbs and maybe even some carolers. For the adults in attendance, there will be some mulled wine.
  1. Huckleberry Crossroads: Hop on the Huckleberry Railroad to ride through lots of lights. If you’d rather take your own car, there is a drive through option as well!
  1. Christmas Lite Show: Over a mile of light displays make up one of Michigan’s largest displays in Grand Rapids. At the end you are promised a picture with Santa. And for convenience there is a Biggby Coffee right next door!
  1. Frederik Meijer Christmas Trees: For all the visual learners out there, Frederik Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids offers a unique opportunity to see Christmas trees and displays from over 40 countries. You’ll also be able to observe over 300,000 lights, carolers and horse drawn carriage rides. And check out their calendar for a chance to meet Santa’s real reindeer!Rochester Lights
  1.  Downtown Rochester: Every building gets a different color store front – complete with string lights hanging down over the whole thing. They call it the Big, Bright Light Show and it doesn’t disappoint! This year, you can visit all the way through the end of January. Don’t forget to stop at Dessert Oasis Cafe to get your hot chocolate on.
  1. Christmas in Lights: The citizens of Iron River enter their decked out homes in a best lights competition and the city creates a map – everyone votes for their favorite! Even though the official voting period is over, grab a map and visit all the contenders/winners.
  1. International Festival of Lights: Throughout December in Battle Creek you can witness tons of light structures on the Battle Creek River along State Street. Every weekend they’ve got special events like the Holiday Extravaganza full of live entertainment on December 20th.

Clemons_PicAre there any other light displays or even houses that you visit every year?

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