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.

Beat The Heat in the Mitten State with These Summer Activities

After our record-breaking winter, we’re not complaining about warmer temperatures! But when the long mid-summer days get muggy and humid, here are five ways to beat the heat in the Mitten State courtesy of The Awesome Mitten.

Ray's ice Cream - Photo courtesy of The Awesome Mitten

Ray’s ice Cream – Photo courtesy of The Awesome Mitten

Michigan summers are many things. Predictable, however, does not make the list. One day may be a beautiful 75 and sunny, and the next a sweltering 95 and muggy. Though the former is obviously preferable, there are plenty of awesome activities in Michigan to get you through the latter. Here are a few of my favorite ways to beat the heat in the mitten:

In light of the fact that it’s National Ice Cream Month, and since (inarguably) one of the best ways to beat the heat is with a cold, tasty treat, first on the list is ice cream.

Without a doubt, my first choice for ice cream in Michigan is the MSU Dairy Store. Though I worked at Coldstone Creamery for more than a year while living in East Lansing, I still made near weekly stops at the Dairy Store for a cone or a shake. If you haven’t been, make your way to East Lansing and stop in for a scoop of Michigan State Sesquicentennial Swirl post-haste. (Though I’m actually a fan of the more traditional Mint Chocolate Chip, myself.)

Photo courtesy of The Awesome Mitten

Photo courtesy of The Awesome Mitten

Now that I’ve left East Lansing for metro-Detroit, I’ve had to find new locales to get my ice cream fix. Luckily, a short one mile walk from my apartment in Royal Oak is the delicious Ray’s Ice Cream. A staple in the area for more than 50 years, Ray’s consistently tops lists of best ice cream parlors in metro-Detroit. Before I wrap up the ice cream shout out’s, I also have to mention Treat Dreams in Ferndale, whose unique and creative flavors I first had and became enamored of at BRU Fest 2013 and have been enjoying ever since.

Possibly the most popular way to beat the heat in Michigan is to head to any number of the gorgeous lakes in the mitten state. Oft-overlooked, however, is the Detroit waterfront. Beautiful Belle Isle Beach is always a great option for just laying out and working on your tan, but you can also take a ride down the waterslide, walk the trails, or (if the weather takes a turn for the worse) check out the wildlife at the Belle Isle Aquarium.

And Belle Isle Beach isn’t the only place to enjoy Detroit’s riverside; Chene Park Amphitheater is another great way to experience the waterfront in the Motor City. With the ever-popular Jazz Series, as well as many other awesome summer performances, Chene Park is a great way to enjoy some tunes while basking in the breeze from the river.

Photo courtesy of The Awesome Mitten

Photo courtesy of The Awesome Mitten

Speaking of the river, Riverside Kayak Connection has events such as the Detroit Eastside Canal Tour that offer a unique and adventurous way to explore the Motor City. (Don’t worry, novice kayakers, Riverside Kayak Connection has classes and events for all skill levels!)

And when the weather is just too unbearably scorching to enjoy the great outdoors, my personal favorite way to beat the heat indoors is with a few delicious Michigan craft beers. Obviously, everyone clamors for Oberon long before summer (“Oberon Day” was way back in March this year), but there are plenty of other delicious brews that have my mouth watering come summer. On my list are Atwater Brewery’s Dirty Blonde, Kuhnhenn Brewing Co’s Simcoe Silly, and Short’s Brewing Company’s Soft Parade (admittedly a year-round favorite of mine).

Since this list obviously doesn’t cover all of the ways to get through the hot days of a Michigan summer (and, as you may have noticed, it is somewhat biased to the metro-Detroit area), I would love to know: what are some of your favorite ways to beat the heat in Michigan?

HS PhotoHayley Serr writes for The Awesome Mitten and works for Vectorform, a Royal Oak-based interactive design company. Born and raised in metro-Detroit, this Spartan alumna relishes any opportunity to share all of the wonderful things there are to do in Michigan. Hayley loves spending time with her family, cooking, and, of course, any opportunity to explore all the fun there is to be had in the mitten!

 

 

Camping in Michigan, An “In-tents” Adventure

June is National Camping Month! Today, our featured blogger from the Awesome Mitten shares her list of must-visit Michigan camping destinations to help you plan for an “in-tents” adventure.

photo3There’s no better way to explore Michigan than by camping. Whether you’re a seasoned backcountry backpacker or feel more comfortable in an RV, there are an endless amount of camping locations across the Great Lakes state. Every year my sister and I plan out our must-visit camping locations, and it’s a struggle to narrow our list down. While we like to camp year-round, there are a few places we can’t skip during the summer months. It was difficult, but I’ve rounded up my top three favorite camping spots in Michigan.

Disclaimer: southern Michigan is seriously underrepresented in my list. Do you have any suggestions for SMI camping locations?

1. Hiawatha National Forest – Grand Marais

photo1Hiking, kayaking, boating: oh MI! There are so many ways to explore the staggering cliffs, sandy beaches and turquoise shores of Lake Superior along the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. There are quite a few beautiful and rustic campgrounds in the Hiawatha National Forest that provide quick access to the lakeshore. Sites are first come, first serve, so make sure to get to the site early in the day. If rustic camping isn’t your thing, you can stay at one of the modern campgrounds in Grand Marais. Once you’ve set up your nylon home-away-from home, I recommend hiking the Chapel Falls trail to Chapel Rock and beach or taking a guided kayak tour along the shoreline.

2. D.H. Day Campground- Sleeping Bear

Tucked away from Glen Arbor but close to the Sleeping Bear Dunes, D.H. Day is the perfect place to camp when exploring the Northern Lower Peninsula. Some of the sites are a little close to each other, but this rustic campground is relatively quiet. The campground offers easy access to Lake Michigan and is close to Sleeping Bear Trails. After you’ve explored the trails and conquered the Dune Climb, swap your hiking shoes for a kayak and paddle down the Crystal River.

photo23. Exploring the Wild Wild West (UP) – The Porcupine Mountains

With 60,000 acres of wilderness area, the Porcupine Mountains are an awesome place to explore yearround. Visitors can hike into several campsites throughout the park (hike lengths vary), and some drive-up campsites are also available. Or, skip the tent altogether and reserve a cabin or YURT! All of my yurt-camping dreams came true a few winters ago, and I’m sure they are as equally cool in the summer. There are tons of different hiking and mountain biking trails to explore throughout the park, it’s hard to choose which area(s) to explore. Definitely visit Lake of the Clouds!

This summer I’ll be visiting (and camping in) Leland, South Manitou, and Ludington for the first time. I can’t wait to camp and explore each area. Do you have any activity recommendations for the areas?

What’s your favorite camping destination? What should I add to my list? Most importantly, what’s your favorite s’mores recipe?

photo1 (1)Jessica Holli is an associate editor for the Awesome Mitten. She has lived in, and loves, both parts of America’s High Five. This Michigan State University alumna is obsessed with the Great Lakes, the color red, and spending as much time as possible outside. When she is not working she’s exercising in Michigan’s natural playground or planning her next adventure.