Things to Do and See Around the Pure Michigan 400 Weekend

Michigan International Speedway (MIS), home to the Pure Michigan 400 and located in the scenic Irish Hills, is a perfect destination for NASCAR enthusiasts who love the outdoors. The two-mile track is located on more than 1,400 acres near Brooklyn, a small-town community with unique attractions and destinations nearby.

Whether you are a lifelong fan, or this is your first race, there’s so much to experience during race weekend when visiting the Irish Hills. So rev up your engines and read more on how to plan your ultimate weekend at MIS.

MIS is one of NASCAR's fastest tracks

Photo Courtesy of Craig Gardiner Photography

Things to Do

If you’re arriving to the area early, or staying a few days after the checkered flag drops, there plenty of activities that will make your visit complete.

Camping continues to be a huge part of the Pure Michigan 400 experience, and for good reason. MIS is a destination within itself, with ten campgrounds and nearly 9,000 campsites, it is the largest registered campground in Michigan. If you don’t have a camper or tent, take advantage of one of the RV rentals offered by the speedway.

The Cherry Creek Winery in Brooklyn makes homemade wine in a 100-year-old school house, as well as fresh butter fudge and Michigan cherry preserves. Staying on a historic note, the Walker Tavern Historic Site and Cambridge Junction Historic State Park is an iconic spot in the area, and offers one of the largest Farmers Markets in Southeast Michigan. Here, at crossroads where Sylvester Walker fed weary travelers in the mid-1800s, you’ll now find more than 50 venders offering fresh produce, baked goods, and locally produced crafts.

Cambridge-Junction

From 1836 to 1855, when a stagecoach ride from Detroit to Chicago was a long and arduous five-day trip, a favorite stopping place to relax and enjoy a meal was Walker’s farmhouse and tavern.

Just beyond the grounds of MIS, you can explore the US-12 Heritage Trail which bridges southern Michigan’s east and west shores. The US-12 Heritage Trail encourages travelers to journey its winding roads, meet its people, explore its places, and uncover its hidden treasure. Feed your travels at Randy’s Barbeque Shack, home of award winning smoked beef brisket, chicken and more.

Play some games on the grass at one of 32 golf courses within a half hour drive from MIS. Located in Brooklyn is Hills’ Heart of Lakes, one of the finest golf courses in the Jackson area- which also happens to be owned and operated by Senior PGA Tour Pro Mike Hill and his family! After the champion has been crowned and the crowds have cleared out, stick around to enjoy 18 holes at  Clark Lake Golf Club with great weekday special rates as well as a full service restaurant and bar.

Hills' Heart of the Lakes is one of the most popular courses in the area

Photo Courtesy of Hills’ Heart of the Lakes

Explore the Area

The Irish Hills Area has more than 50 lakes, many of which have public access swimming and boat, canoe, and kayak rental options that allow you to explore Michigan’s inland lakes while unwinding from an exciting weekend at MIS.

You might fall in love with the small town feel that encompasses southeast Michigan as you explore the area. In addition to Brooklyn, Onsted, Tecumseh and Manchester are all welcoming communities with unique attractions and local charm.

About a half hour drive North West of Brooklyn is the historic city of Jackson which has much to offer in way of history and culture, and a lively arts district. Check out a historic prison tour at Michigan’s First State Prison. Adjacent to the prison is a must see in Jackson’s art district, ART 634, a true “Center for the Creative Spirit” with displays of music, dance, photography, painting and more.

The historic prison tour is a can't-miss when visiting Jackson

Photo Courtesy of Jennifer Bowman, Permissions given by the Michigan Department of Corrections

Traveling east on I-94, you’ll find Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti. Ypsilanti has a great outdoors scene for golfing, mountain biking, canoeing and hiking as well as beautifully preserved historic areas and hotspots of arts, music, and shopping. Home of the University of Michigan, the city of Ann Arbor has a thriving art community, one of America’s Best Main Streets, nature trails, and restaurants that will satisfy any foodie. (We recommend a corned beef sandwich at Zingerman’s).

The Big Race!

The big event is undoubtedly the Pure Michigan 400 on Sunday, August 28. NASCAR’s biggest stars bring the drama and excitement to the fastest track in NASCAR as they make their final push to make the final Chase for the Sprint Cup.

A NASCAR race is fun for the whole family and definitely should be on everyone’s Pure Michigan bucket list. Purchase your tickets now and don’t forget to tag your photos with #PureMichigan and #PureMichigan400 while you’re there!

The Pure Michigan 400 provides thrills from the start to the drop of the checkered flag

The Pure Michigan 400 provides thrills from start to finish

Have you ever attended the Pure Michigan 400? Share your experiences with us below!

Get out on the Water This Summer in Cadillac

All summer long in Michigan, boaters, paddlers and fishermen have an insatiable itch to hit the water. Those fresh fragrances, sights and sounds are a siren’s song to the adventurous as well as for those who seek that special peace found only on the water. So get your boat on its trailer, load up the canoes and kayaks, stow your gear and make your way to Cadillac

Read more on what you can experience when visiting this quaint Michigan destination, courtesy of the Cadillac Area Visitors Bureau.

Three Awesome Lakes

Lakes Cadillac and Mitchell in Cadillac, and Lake Missaukee east of Cadillac, offer thousands of acres of prime fishing and watersports opportunities. Lake Cadillac’s 1,130 acres also feature over 400 acres of prime fish-holding weed cover. Lake Mitchell is a roomy 2,580 acres, with 2,000 of those dominated by lush patches of aquatic cabbage weed. The lakes are connected by a canal and offer many access points. In adjacent Missaukee County, Lake Missaukee’s 1,880 acres vary in depth from five to 27 feet, and much of the center portion lake bottom is covered with a wide variety of native aquatic plants.

The Cadillac canal connects you to amazing lakes in the region

Photo Courtesy of the Cadillac Visitors Bureau

Three Awesome Rivers

Three prime rivers wind their way through or near the area and offer fishing and paddling experiences second to none, hosting paddlers and fishermen from around the world. The Big Manistee River, a National Scenic River, offers over 90 miles of access and varied difficulty levels, from beginner to expert paddling experiences.

In the Cadillac region it’s perfect for the casual paddler, and with its many switchbacks providing sandbars, it’s great for socializing and sunbathing. The Big Manistee is also a year-round haven for fly fishermen who chase its feisty Steelhead, varieties of salmon, trout and largemouth bass.

The Manistee River is an ideal summer destination for time spent on the water

Photo Courtesy of the Cadillac Visitors Bureau

The Pine River lures anglers and paddlers with its designations as a Wild and Scenic River and as a Blue Ribbon Cold-Water Fishery. Its 7 percent river gradient in some sections offers the fastest average flow of any Lower Michigan river creating a challenging paddle. It requires watersports recreation passports for all watercraft and may be obtained at the US Forest Service Station, and rental thru local liveries.

About 20 miles southwest of Cadillac the Pere Marquette River flows in a westerly direction to its mouth at Pere Marquette Lake, just south of the city of Ludington. With Steelhead, salmon, browns and ‘brookies,’ it’s a popular haunt for fishermen, and paddlers return often because of its beautiful scenery.

Enjoy some sunset fishing on Lake Mitchell when visiting Cadillac

Photo Courtesy of the Cadillac Visitors Bureau

Our lakes also offer memory making opportunities for fall color via vehicle, boat, or bicycle.   Cadillac offers four designated Fall Color Scenic Routes, coupled with Countryside Train Rides, Craft Beer Festival and a Mountain Bike race making our area a hot spot for fall.  The fall color season kicks off the last week of September through the end of October offering several species of color intense trees for several weeks of constant color change.

For more information visit www.cadillacmichigan.com  for more information and a long and varied list of lodging opportunities from campgrounds to resorts, plus diningshopping and a whole host of activities that will make your stay one to remember.

What is your favorite thing to do in Cadillac?

Here’s How to Plan an Ultimate Kalamazoo Weekend

Nowhere is the combination of big city energy and small town feel more evident than in Kalamazoo, a community that combines energy and innovation with friendliness and an easy-going attitude. A vibrant Art Deco downtown sets the stage for quality dining, unique shops and galleries, and live entertainment. In Kalamazoo, you’re never far from lakes, outdoor recreation, festivals and world-class attractions.

If you’re looking to spend a weekend in the area, our friends at Discover Kalamazoo put together a list of must-do’s when visiting.

Places to Hang Your Hammock

Many people love the beach, but many more love the feeling of swinging (or sleeping!) between a pair of tall trees at the park. In Kalamazoo, there are countless places to set up a hammock, but three spectacular destinations that you have to see to believe.

Hang out in Kalamazoo this summer

Photo Courtesy of Morgan May (IG @Morgan_May14)

1. Fort Custer Recreation Area
5163 Fort Custer Dr.
Augusta, MI 49012

This recreation area has three lakes as well as the Kalamazoo River, high rolling meadows, soggy wetland, and abundant woods. There are 22 miles of hiking, biking, and horse trails. 219 modern campsites, two cabins, and three rustic cabins, Activities include Eagle Lake beach, picnic shelters, hunting, fishing, mountain biking and cross country skiing areas.

2. Lillian Anderson Arboretum
W Main St.
Kalamazoo, MI 49009

Kalamazoo College’s Lillian Anderson Arboretum comprises 140 acres of marsh, meadow, pine plantation and second-growth deciduous forest in Oshtemo Township, Kalamazoo County, Michigan. The Arboretum was established in 1998 as a resource for the Kalamazoo College community, Kalamazoo-area residents, and visitors to the area.

3. Al Sabo Preserve
6310 Texas Dr.
Kalamazoo, MI 49009

Al Sabo Preserve is an area of northeastern Texas Township, in southwestern Kalamazoo County. It comprises 741 acres of marsh, forest, streams, and rolling hills. Numerous trails provide recreational opportunities throughout the preserve for families to explore during any season.

Pet-Friendly Stops

Going on a trip wouldn’t be the same without the entire family – especially your furry family members! When planning a trip to Kalamazoo, don’t leave your four-legged friend behind. Here’s a few spots in KZoo that are more than happy to host your pet.

Well-behaved dogs are always welcome at Arcadia Brewing Co.

Photo Courtesy of Dan Woodall (IG @frodomonster)

1. Arcadia Brewing Co.
701 E Michigan Ave.
Kalamazoo, MI 49007

Established in 1996, Arcadia Brewing is a British-style microbrewery and pub that offers a creative American menu, where handcrafted award-winning ales fuse with an innovative and eclectic fare. Specializing in wood-fired cuisine and brick oven pizzas made in a brick fire oven from Naples, Italy and house-smoked barbecue specialties like brisket and ribs smoked in a Southern Pride meat smoker.

2. Spirit of Kalamazoo Ice Cream
128 Portage St.
Kalamazoo MI

The Spirit of Kalamazoo sells unique clothing and merchandise representing the city of Kalamazoo, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo College and the state of Michigan. The store also sells delicious Plainwell Ice Cream, a locally made hard ice cream, and Water Street Coffee, a well-known local coffee.

3. Water Street Coffee Joint
315 E. Water Street
Kalamazoo, MI

Speaking of Water Street! The Water Street Coffee Joint offers house-roasted fresh brewed coffees and espresso drinks, shakes and smoothies made with Palazzolo’s gelatos and sorbettos, soups, salads, savories and the most incredible desserts, all made by hand with love, small batches and real ingredients.

Outdoor Music Venues

Ready to rock out? Kalamazoo has you covered. Whether you’re taking in a concert or enjoying a play at one of ten live performance theatres, the art scene is magnificent in Kalamazoo. Discover these areas of the city if you’re looking to enjoy some outdoor music this season.

Experience outdoor music events all around Kalamazoo

Photo Courtesy of Entertainment District in Kalamazoo

1. District Square (part of the Entertainment District)
139 S. Edwards St.
Kalamazoo, MI

District Square is Kalamazoo’s biggest outdoor bar & music venue. Night life is king  and an assortment of entertainment options are available from Thursday through Saturday. Enjoy live music ranging from rock, pop, blues and country presented on a state-of-the-art outdoor stage.

2. Bell’s Brewery
355 E. Kalamazoo Ave.
Kalamazoo, MI

Founded in 1985, Bell’s Brewery, Inc. is Michigan’s oldest craft brewery. The Eccentric Cafe in downtown Kalamazoo offers customers a chance to taste many of our well known beers, as well as small batch brews that are typically not available elsewhere.

3. Bronson Park
200 S Rose St.
Kalamazoo, MI

In every city there is a place that houses the memories of generations. It’s true of the Bronson Park District, with Bronson Park at its center. Talk to real locals. Over and over, you’ll hear stories of summer days spent playing tag in and around the park. Of summer concerts and Candy Cane Lane during the holidays. Of New Year’s Fests and art fairs. Some will also tell you how a proud park, surrounded by neighboring churches, the county courthouse, public library, and civic theatre, stood strong as a deadly tornado swept through downtown.

Unique Places to Grab Drinks

Bottom’s up! The beer culture is in full force in Kalamazoo. Home to 12 breweries, one of them being the oldest brewery in Michigan, Kalamazoo is quickly becoming a craft beer destination. With that said, there’s plenty of other coctails to enjoy other than a hearty brew. Here’s three spots to experience delightful craft cocktails.

Unique cocktails are available all around Kalamazoo

Photo Courtesy of Principle Drink and Food

1. Principle Food & Drink
230 S. Kalamazoo Mall
Kalamazoo, MI
Principle Food & Drink was founded in the belief that West Michigan is hungry for an establishment that brings together these key elements: the finest ingredients offered by the local farm community;  talented, dedicated hospitality professionals from the Kalamazoo area; a creative craft cocktail program;  assembled in a comfortable attractive space in friendly downtown Kalamazoo.Try “The Colonial” – House made black tea infused flor de cana rum, cappelletti, orange, honey, lemon and mint.

2. Old Dog Tavern
402 E. Michigan Ave.
Kalamazoo, MI

The Old Dog Tavern opened in January 2010 and is located in the historic Star Building at 402 E Kalamazoo Ave, in Kalamazoo, Michigan. We are directly across the street from Bell’s Brewery and Water Street Coffee Joint—right next to the railroad tracks. Old Dog Tavern is owned and operated by Kalamazoo locals Sean and Amy Smith, with an aire for all things eclectic, odd and quirky. Try Angie Jackson’s “I’ve Got A Gal” – Journeyman White Rye, habanero simple syrup, pineapple juice and fresh lime.

3. Cosmo’s Cucina
804 W. Vine St.
Kalamazoo, MI
A contemporary oasis offering affordable gourmet cuisine, Cosmo’s Cucina was established in November 1992 with the goal of bringing simply creative cooking to Kalamazoo. Cosmo’s offers affordable gourmet cuisine incorporating seasonal foods into ever-changing lunch and dinner menus with creative daily specials, plus the popular weekend breakfast menu. Try the “Topolo Margarita” — Made with hand squeezed limeade, Sauza Commerativo Anjeo tequila, orange liqueur. Served shaken in a chilled martini glass. Also available in a Mango version.

What is your favorite thing to do in Kalamazoo? Share with us by commenting below!