Be A Tourist in Your Own Town: Explore the Art Scene in Ann Arbor, Lansing and Grand Rapids

Vacations are not only fun, but they are good for you.  Studies suggest that taking a vacation is good for your health and helps to boost happiness.  While weeklong getaways to far-away destinations are popular, you can often find a great getaway by being a tourist in your own town.

Weekends are a great time to plan a “staycation” and in our new series, Be a Tourist in Your Own Town, we’ll be highlighting some of the great things to do, when you want to get away without going far.  

Exploring the arts and culture scene is not only enjoyable, it can help you learn things you didn’t know. Try visiting a museum or an art exhibit that you haven’t been to, or find a place where you can create artwork of your own. We’ve put together some suggestions for exploring the art scene in Ann Arbor, Lansing and Grand Rapids. You may even discover a favorite gem that was hiding in plain sight. After all, there’s no place like home.

Ann Arbor

Take a tour of Motawi Tileworks in Ann Arbor

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Photo courtesy of Motawi Tileworks

Motawi Tileworks is an art tile manufacturer on the west side of Ann Arbor. This locally owned, nationally known art studio creates unique handmade tile reflecting the classic styles and craftsmanship of 20th Century American design. The company’s team of talented artisans uses locally produced clay and glazes hand-mixed to their own recipes to make Motawi tiles. The tiles are created for distinctive installations and as art pieces. Fun and educational guided tours are free every Thursday at 11am, no reservations required. Private tours are available by appointment for a minimum fee of $50, which includes up to ten people. $5 per person after ten people.

Ann Arbor Art Center

This unique gallery shop offers original, one of a kind artwork, fiber, jewelry, ceramics and paintings from local and regional artists. The exhibition gallery showcases the talents of different Michigan artists each month in individual and group exhibits and themed competitions. ArtVentures, an art activity studio, invites children and adults to drop in and learn about art around the world through fun, educational, hands-on projects! Group bookings are available.

If you’ve worked up an appetite after your tour, Ann Arbor is also a great culinary destination with restaurants that will satisfy any palate.

Lansing

Take an afternoon to explore the Eli and Edyth Broad Museum in East Lansing

 The Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum is a venue featuring international contemporary art. It serves as a hub for the cultural life of Michigan State University, the local and regional community, as well as international visitors. The unique building, designed by the world-renowned, Pritzker Prize winning architect, Zaha Hadid opened to the public in the Fall of 2012. Open Tuesday – Sunday. Admission is free except for some special events.

Visit Lansing’s Saper Galleries

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Photo courtesy of Saper Galleries

Saper Galleries is an award-winning gallery which features high-quality works of art of all media. Since 1978 Saper Galleries has been a leader in making available works of art by noted artists such as Picasso, Rembrandt, Peter Max, Pissarro, Alvar, Norman Rockwell and many other superb artists who are not yet as well known.

After a leisurely stroll through the gallery, try out a unique farm-to-table dining experience at Red Haven.

Grand Rapids

Explore the exhibits at the Grand Rapids Art Museum

The Grand Rapids Art Museum (GRAM) collection spans Renaissance to Modern art, focusing in on European and American 19th and 20th century painting and sculpture including The Works on Paper Study which features more than 3,500 prints, drawings and photographs. The Grand Rapids Art Museum also serves as a unique gathering place in the heart of downtown with exhibitions, programming, and special events designed to inspire people of all ages and backgrounds.

Photo courtesy of Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park

Photo courtesy of Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park

Hop on the Tram at Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park

Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park is a botanical garden and sculpture park that serves more than a half-million visitors annually. The 132-acre grounds feature Michigan’s largest tropical conservatory; one of the largest children’s gardens in the country; arid and Victorian gardens with bronze sculptures by Degas and Rodin; a carnivorous plant house; outdoor gardens; and a 1900-seat outdoor amphitheater, featuring an eclectic mix of world-renowned musicians every summer. Indoor galleries host changing sculpture exhibitions with recent exhibitions by Picasso, Degas, di Suvero, Borofsky, Calder and Chadwick.

Wander through Grand Rapids Public Museum

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Photo courtesy of Grand Rapids Public Museum

This education and entertainment center offers exhibits that display community treasures and explore the regions natural environment. It includes an operating 1928 carousel and the Chaffee planetarium that is equipped with the latest technology, a digital sound system and multiple video players, with numerous special effects.

Take a Walking Tour of Downtown Grand Rapids.

Be sure to check out the Grand Rapids Downtown Market on your way.

Downtown Market features 25,000 square feet of market space, a restaurant, a brewery, a farmer’s market, retail shops, a commercial kitchen, a rooftop greenhouse and the country’s first hands-on kitchen for kids. Visit the outdoor market where you’ll discover (and devour) the best in Michigan produce. And while you shop, why not have a seat and enjoy the talents of local entertainers. The Market Hall hosts a culinary collective of butchers, bakers, fishmongers and more. Stay awhile and enjoy all 138,000 square feet of our food lover’s heaven. Check the website for hours

Grand Rapids is also home to a number of great local breweries to quench your thirst after a long day of exploration. Brewery Vivant, Founders Brewing Co. and Grand Rapids Brewing Co. are just a few that helped shape Grand Rapids into Beer City USA 2013.

These are just a few suggestions to get you started. For more information, visit michigan.org.

 Have you taken a “staycation” in your neighborhood? Let us know about some of your local favorites.

Four Types of Detroit Tours You’ll Want to Experience

Today, guest blogger Dan Fuoco of Visit Detroit gives us some tips for exploring the city with these four types of Detroit tours

Photo courtesy of Instagram user @phillyd1834 | Detroit Tours

Photo courtesy of Instagram user @phillyd1834

Detroit tours are not cookie-cutter or identical – they are custom, one-of-a-kind, jam-packed journeys that will transform your notion of Detroit and leave your thirsting for more knowledge and curious enough to explore on your own.

The right tour can be found based on these four types of Detroit tour experiences:

Historical Tours

The American Revolution. The Underground Railroad. Birthplace of the automobile. The Civil Rights movement. If you didn’t already realize it, these Detroit tours are a goldmine for history geeks.

Historians adore The Henry Ford Museum mainly because of its popular artifacts which include Abraham Lincoln’s rocking chair (from the night of his assassination) and the bus where Detroiter Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white passenger, sparking the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott.

Photo courtesy of the Detroit Historical Society | Detroit Tours

Photo courtesy of the Detroit Historical Society

Also a must-stop location on your Detroit tour itinerary, the Detroit Historical Museum is one of the oldest and largest museums dedicated to metropolitan history in the U.S., encompassing more than three centuries of metro Detroit history. A self-guided Detroit tour is the best way to soak up just the right amount of history without a factual overload.

Musical Tours

Every Detroit tour must include a visit to Motown Museum where you will literally walk the hallways once frequented by Motown legends Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Smokey Robinson, Diana Ross, The Temptations and The Supremes, to name a few. Enter Studio A and relive the humming, snapping, and foot-tapping that swept the nation.

FREE Tours

Detroit Riverfront and GM Renaissance Center | Detroit Tours

Detroit Riverfront and GM Renaissance Center

Did You Know? The “Mo” in Motown was derived from “Motor City” which pays homage to the ultra-obvious notion that Detroit is the car capital of the world! Detroit and its metro area are world headquarters to all three major US automakers: Ford, Chrysler, and GM. Every tour of Detroit should stop at the world headquarters and the iconic building in Detroit’s skyline, the General Motors Renaissance Center. Free tours of the GM Renaissance Center take visitors through the automaker’s showroom, highlighting vintage, new and concept vehicles. The grand finale is a glass elevator ride to the 72nd floor of the Detroit Marriott Hotel and tallest hotel in the Western Hemisphere.

Outdoor Tours

Detroit has been called the Paris of the Midwest because of its attention to fine architecture; it is one of the only cities in the country so faithfully emblematic of this architectural style. A Detroit tour focused on architecture should include visiting works from Albert Kahn, George D. Mason and Wirt C. Rowland. Minoru Yamasaki, who later designed the World Trade Center, also got his start in Detroit, where he designed buildings including One Woodward Avenue.

Must-sees should include the historic Westin Book Cadillac Detroit hotel, built in the 1900s; the Chicago style-influenced Penobscot Building, designed by Rowland and Detroit sculptor Corrado Parducci; the art deco Guardian Building; and the Fisher and General Motors Building (Cadillac Place), both designed by Kahn and located in Detroit’s New Center area.

Have you gotten the opportunity to tour Detroit? Let us know what you saw during your visit!

Dan Fuoco_2014_portraitDan Fuoco is the Interactive Marketing Manager for the Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau (VisitDetroit) and is responsible for building and engaging with VisitDetroit’s social media and blog communities.  You can find him geeking out over: social media infographics, muscle cars and Detroit. Follow him on TwitterInstagram and periodically on Pinterest.

Celebrate the Ford Mustang’s 50th Anniversary at The Henry Ford

Did you know that the Ford Mustang celebrates its 50th Anniversary this month? Today, guest blogger Lish Dorset tells us how to join in on the celebration at The Henry Ford Museum. 

Photo courtesy of The Henry Ford

Photo courtesy of The Henry Ford

This year, it’s all about the Mustang at The Henry Ford. If you’re a fan of classic cars, there’s a lot to be excited about this year as the Ford Mustang turns 50. Launched in April 1964, the Mustang was the first of the American pony cars and instantly became an American icon, creating a loyal fan base right from the beginning.

If you’ve been to Henry Ford Museum, you know that we have two very special Mustangs within our collections. The 1962 Ford Mustang I Roadster Concept Car and the 1965 Mustang Serial Number One are visitor favorites within Driving America and help tell the story of the early days of this classic car. As part of the year-long celebration of all-things Mustang, we’ve put these two important vehicles on the road as part of our THF OnWheels Tour so that car lovers across the country can see these two classics up close.

Photo courtesy of The Henry Ford

Photo courtesy of The Henry Ford

Our Mustangs first went out on the road this past January at the 2014 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. As part of Ford’s presence at the show, guests were greeted by these two icons as the company told the story of the car’s history in their exhibit inside Cobo Hall. The cars’ next stop was to Las Vegas and North Carolina for the Mustang 50th Anniversary Celebration in mid-April.

Where can you see our Mustangs back here in Michigan? At this year’s Motor Muster at Greenfield Village. We’re expecting a great Mustang turnout this summer, so it’s definitely an event not to miss.

It’s been a lot of fun so far this year helping celebrate the anniversary of this fantastic car. Whether it’s downloading a wallpaper for your phone or keeping an eye on our blog for updates from our curator of transportation, there’s almost always something Mustang-related to share here at The Henry Ford.

Photo courtesy of The Henry Ford

Photo courtesy of The Henry Ford

Our biggest gift to Mustang fans is our THF OnWheels Mustang #1 Fantasy Sweepstakes. Now through September 30 you can enter the sweepstakes for a chance to enjoy a unique, behind-the-scenes experience with our Mustangs as well as a trip to Detroit for the 2015 North American International Auto Show. It’s the ultimate in VIP experiences for VIP Mustang fans.

To keep up to date with automotive happenings at The Henry Ford, make sure to subscribe to THF OnWheels, our enthusiast channel for car lovers. From feature stories to event information, it’s a one-stop-destination for the car news you need. And it’s a great resource for fueling your love of Mustang this year.

Lish Dorset is the social media manager for The Henry Ford in Dearborn. She lives in Royal Oak with her family. She learned how to drive in a 1994 Ford Mustang, much to her mother’s objection.

For more information on the Mustang’s 50th Anniversary Celebration, watch the video below: