A New Yorker Tries the Mitten State On For Size

Jake Steinerman, a New York native, moved to Michigan several years ago to attend the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Now, he can’t imagine living anywhere else and plans to further discover what the Mitten State has to offer by visiting five cities in five weekends later this summer. He’s looking to Pure Michigan fans to help determine the path of this adventure, and today tells us what he thinks makes our state so great.

A few years ago, if you would have told me I was going to be a graduate of the University of Michigan and subsequently live in the state, I would have given you the same response I gave my dad when he recommended I look into applying to UofM: “Michigan? Why Michigan? What a random place to think of.”

Growing up in Woodmere, New York, I was a naive teen living in a bubble community, in the shadow of New York City – I had no exposure to any kind of college sports, or anything resembling a Big 10-style college atmosphere; that culture doesn’t exist on Long Island. To me, I found it extremely odd that football was a big deal in Michigan. Football and Michigan? That’s not at all what I thought of when I thought of the mitten state; then again I didn’t know much of anything about Michigan growing up.

Well, it has been five years since my dad suggested I look into going to Michigan, and I could not be happier with how my four years there have gone. Now a proud Wolverine graduate with a degree in Social Computing Informatics, I have decided to remain in Michigan – in Midland to be more specific – to work in Information Systems at the Dow Chemical Company.

I’m excited for my new life here in the “City of Modern Explorers,” and if my four years in Ann Arbor – my favorite city in the country and one that will forever be my home – are any indication, I’m just starting to discover the magic of Pure Michigan.

Now I should point out, my moving out here is not a case of “big city boy experiences life in small town America for the first time.” Growing up, and still today, my family frequents northern Vermont. That has given me plenty of exposure to the beauty that rural America holds, and a true appreciation for the outdoors. Some of my favorite things to do are kayaking down the river on a warm summer day, biking along the lake with boats passing by, apple picking in the fall, and snowboarding in the winter. There is something truly special about Michigan though that makes it stand apart from other places that I’ve lived in and visited. I look forward to discovering just what that is, starting this summer.

Be sure to follow me along as I explore all that the Mitten has to offer, and find out what makes Michigan “Pure MIchigan” on Twitter using #JakesPureMichigan.

Jake Steinerman is looking to fans of Pure Michigan to help determine the path of his “five cities in five weekends” adventure. What cities should he discover in Pure Michigan?

  • Jami

    Iron River Michigan! Its in the U.P! Lots of lakes, scenery and good times.

  • lois tews


  • LeeAnn

    Make sure to hit the lakeshore area, especially Manistee!

  • Twig

    Grand Haven

  • http://kmpinkel.wordpress.com/ Kimberly

    I would recommend a couple of regions, not just cities, to hit. The Leelanau Peninsula is fantastic. You can even go late Sept/early October for the wine harvest. Weather is beautiful and, of course, there is Lake Michigan. It is comprised of small little hamlets, so impossible to say exactly which place to go, but I know a fantastic place to stay in Sutton’s Bay.

    Second, If you can get to the Islands, try Chamonix Islands in Lake Huron. Takes you to another world! Get up really early, hit the east side beaches and watch the sunrise, or stay up late and watch the moonrise!

    Third, come a bit south of you and dig into the D! Too many awesome places to go to, but pick your pleasure and its there. You love art? It has it. Love sports? Its there, too! Music? Food? You get the idea.

    Fourth, anywhere on the west coast. Frankfort is my all time favorite. Still unspoiled by massive amounts of tourism, quaint in all the right ways, Betsie Point lighthouse, Sleeping Bear Dunes. Close to Leelanau, so if its not diverse enough-hit any Lake Michigan beach town and watch the sun set.

    Fifth, is a toss up. As you lived in Ann Arbor, you know what college towns are like, but Kalamazoo is pretty great. If you want the college, brew pub atmosphere, its your town, but if you require a bit more sophistication, now that you are a graduate, hit Grand Rapids.

    Look forward to hearing about your adventures!

  • E

    Glen Arbor.. its amazing with crystal blue water & the dunes right next to it

  • http://peaceinatincan.blogspot.com Kiki Dunigan

    #1. Northport (Wineries)
    #2. Munising (Pictured Rocks)
    #3. Grand Rapids (Culture)
    #4. Clark Lake (Eagle Point Resort)
    #5. Grand Haven (Great Beach/Downtown)

  • Diane Kokko

    Royal Oak, Frankenmuth, Grand Rapids, St. Ignace, Saugatuck are a good start and you’ll be driving thru Mackinaw City so stop there too. Near sunset stop for dinner at Legs Inn in Levering. :)

  • Dante Trottier

    O.k, first off, being from the U.P., I’m offended by the term Mitten State. We are the Great Lakes State. The Mitten State refers only to the Lower Peninsula and excludes the U.P. In June, I spent my summer vacation in the Lower Peninsula and was somewhat alarmed by the amount of “mitten only” map usage on signage and logos that I saw around the L.P. Granted, we use the map of the U.P. on its own but we always refer to it as “Da Yoop” not Michigan. So, Pure Michigan, you need to stop using this term. It is offensive to Yoopers, who also consider themselves Michiganders.

    With all that said, Marquette, Michigan is one of the most beautiful and interesting places to visit in all of the Midwest. We’d love to have you visit and see what the “other” peninsula has to offer.

  • Mitchell

    1. Traverse City. 2. Grand Rapids. 3. Frankenmuth. 4. Detroit. 5. Bay City

  • Kristen Gearhart

    Come to ArtPrize in Grand Rapids! Art is all over the city–on buildings, street corners, in the river, on bridges. Read more about it: http://www.artprize.org/.

  • Leslee Fritz

    I like Kiki’s suggestions. Here are mine:

    #1. Glen Arbor/Glen Haven (Sleeping Bear Dunes, historic communities)
    #2. Grand Rapids (Culture)
    #3. Munising (Pictured Rocks)
    #4. Harbor Springs (Lake Michigan shoreline, quaint downtown)
    #5. Leland (Fishtown)

  • Brenda

    Paw Paw for the wine festival in September!

  • Renee

    I would recommend a trip up to the Upper Pennisula…..specifically Grand Marias, pictured rocks lakeshore tour, & most definitely need to check out the keewenaw peninsula. Awesome adventures & lots of outdoor adventures to discover.

    My second favorite place is located just outside of Manistique Michigan (in the upper peninsula) is located in the Palms Brook state park its official name is Kitch-iti-kipi the “Big Spring” a natural fed springs.

    My other favorite place is Charlevoix, Michigan.

    But if you just drive around the state of Michigan & keep your eyes open you will find all kinds of things to see & do in Pure Michigan.

  • Bev

    1. Ludngton
    2. Manistee
    3. Holland
    4. South Haven
    5. Tawas

  • Amanda

    Marquette is one of my all time favorites, I lived there for almost five years during college. Many awesome places to eat including the Vierling for fresh whitefish and blueberry beer. Take the bike path from Lower Harbor out to Presque Isle. Watch some freighters come in. Hike up sugarloaf or Hogback. The serenity of Little Presque. Marquette is truly a gem.

    Traverse city and the areas around it, including the sleeping bear dunes and kayaking down the platte river to Lake Michigan.

    Mackinac Island is awesome. Rent a bike and ride around the perimeter. Visit the historic hotels, restaurants, lots of fudge, the fort, it’s a beautiful place.
    Grand Rapids.

  • Renee

    Oh… & whatever you do spend at least one whole day on Mackinaw Island!

  • Collin

    Take the long way home. Find all the local Gems, Most people never find. Take the long way home along fresh water shores, Where the walleye run and run. Take the long way home, to find yourself back in time. Standing in the shoes of our ancestors on a national battle field. Take your time, and Follow the signs to Monroe. On the South-East corner of Michigan. Along the sunny shores of Lake Erie. Monroe rich American history, and Unique local flavor come together for an Unforgettable side trip. Where you can enjoy a mix of small town store-fronts. Canoe rides down the River Raisin. Shady strolls through a Wild-life refuge. Fresh cut Dinners, and A little Jazz music. This Weekend, Make your way to Monroe. and Discover a Hidden gem, That most Certainly, is Pure Michigan. Come to Monroe

  • Diane

    My suggestions would be:
    1. Petosky (and you must collect a Petosky stone)
    2. Harbor Springs
    3. Charlevoix
    4. Cross Village
    5. Mackinaw City

  • cathy

    Midland, with the Alden B. Dow Home and Dow Gardens as well as great dining experience al Fresco.
    Cultural centre : MCFTA.
    country cllub.
    railtrail from Tridge to Chippewa Nature Centre.

  • Kirk Beaudry

    Top five to see in Michigan for sure….
    1. Peterson park sunset-Northport
    2. Glen Arbor/Sleeping Bear Dunes
    3. Frankenmuth
    4. Grand Rapids
    5 Boyne City

  • Jim Miller

    Kalamazoo (esp. Air Zoo) – Holland (esp. Windmill park) – Ludington/Empire (esp. Sleeping Bear Nat. Lake Shore) – Traverse City (esp. Old Mission Peninsula wineries) – Sault Ste. Marie (esp. the Soo Locks). Keep in mind though that Michigan – when all territory (not just land area) is included – is the largest state east of the Mississippi. 5 days is pushing it.

  • Hannah

    You have to go to the Munising\marquette area it’s beautiful, and you won’t get bored!

  • mary

    Sault Ste. Marie Soo Locks
    Paradise Tahquamenon Falls

  • Bill Veik

    You could do 10 different 5 cities in 5 weekends, and still not hit the entire state. But here is a loop to start:
    1) Grand Haven/Muskegeon
    Lighthouses, water, amusement park, shopping, everything tourist
    2) Ludington/Manistee
    More lighthouses, water, S.S. Badger, casino, everything tourist, camping
    3) Traverse City
    Food, shopping, the bays, wine country, everything tourist
    4) Mackinac City/St. Ignace
    The Bridge, water, shopping, food, parasailing, Coast Guard ships, the U.P.
    5) Mackinac Island
    fudge, the Grand Hotel, food, shopping, water, biking, scenic tours

  • Gloria

    I would recommend the three cities of Grand Haven, Spring Lake and Ferrysbury..all connected by the bridge over the canal leading from Spring lake to Lake Michigan..I think you would enjoy the small town frinedly people who live there…plus the beaches on the big lake..the sunsets are unforgettable..

  • Marian Taranto

    There are so many wonderful places to see, but our familie’s favorites are Frankenmuth for the totally Bavarian experience and Ludington for the best sand dunes in America, not to mention the most thrilling dune buggy rides at Mac Woods for 82 yrs.! Make sure to go to Mackinac Island too. So beautiful!

  • Sheryl miller

    Silver Lake by hart, Michigan. And Drummond Island. Driving on the dunes in Silver Lake, the only place you can do that in Michigan. And Drummond Island, to visit Marble Head and The Ledges or some people call it Shale beach, which is full of fossils

  • Mary Ann

    You must visit Grand Haven–and especially the Board Walk! There isn’t a more beautiful, tourist-friendly place in Michigan. Be sure to walk to full-length to take in everything!!! And it is free!!!!! You won’t be sorry!!!!

  • http://www.bonifasarts.org/ Paul Rose

    You better put Escanaba on the list……big art fair this weekend…one of the nicest Harbors around!

  • Lynette

    As a Michigan girl born and raised, now living out of the state.
    I would have to give a few recommendations.

    1. Traverse City

    2. Petoskey

    3. Frankenmuth

    4. Mackinac City and Mackinac Island.

    You cannot go wrong with these places. Definitly see the light houses on the cost line, enjoy the scenary as their is so much beauty in Michigan. Definitly wonderful places to visit. I sure miss home sometimes.

  • Robert

    Many choices, Grand Haven for the beach, Mackinaw and it’s Island and our Great Bridge, Grand Rapids for Arts, Houghton & Hancock for the wilderness and the history of an old copper mine.

  • Carrie

    Come visit south central Michigan! There’s a lot of things to see and experience in Hillsdale, Jackson and Lenawee Counties! While it’s not a big city, there are many things to enjoy in our beautiful rural area: Michigan International Speedway, Hidden Lake Gardens, St Julian Winery, many unique shops, any number of farmers markets in each of our communities, numerous campgrounds with canoeing and kayaking available, county fairs to experience and much more!

  • Rico

    1) Holland/Gr. Haven/Saugatuck: The southwest is Best!
    2) Torch Lake/Charlevoix/Torch river Get your kayak on!!!
    3) Paradise/Taquamenon Falls
    4) Mackinac bridge/Island
    5) Traverse city/and the shore/island/Grand Isle, Sleeping Bear/ Glen lake

  • Joe Girard

    Mountain bike the “Stairway to Heaven” at Copper Harbor, and then kayak over to Montreal Falls on the Keweenaw Peninsula. If you hustle, you can still make to “The Library” in Hancock by dinner time.

  • Denise

    Honestly, anywhere in Michigan is worth checking out! The UP offers so much beauty, and is so different in each region there! Alpena is an untapped area that has SO much to offer! Shipwreck tours that you can actually see sunken ships are only one of the many things to do! Check it out!

  • Brittany – the Home Ground

    You absolutely must visit Grand Haven! Having grown up there (without taking advantage of the lake as much as I wish I had), I can recommend it as a truly wonderful place to go. When you stop through, be sure to drop by the Creative Fringe (right downtown, on Washington st) and design some custom jewelry (with the help of the amazing staff) for the women in your life!

    the Home Ground

  • Laurie

    Petoskey, Harbor Springs, M119 up to Good Hart, Cross Village and Sturgeon Bay

  • Lois

    Jake: you’ve got to spend some time in quaint, lovely Marshall, while heading north through South Haven, Saugatuck and up to hang out at PJ Hoffmaster State Park in Muskegon…then Holland and up to the Sleeping Bear Dunes!

  • Lois

    But DO NOT miss Detroit – it’ll take several days or several trips to see it all. Downtown gems, Bricktown, el barrio (Mexicantown), the parks, Belle Isle, the incredibly jawdropping blight and decay, with vibrant neighborhoods and urban gardens right alongside, the east side and west side neighborhoods and architecture, the neighborhood parks and school buildings, the music clubs and venues, the museums, the foot of Alter, the mansions and neighborhoods along Lakeshore Drive…….

  • Kelly

    I would suggest going to Petoskey. It is surrounded by water and so many things to do. Really cool houses that over look the water. It is amazing! Go in the summer when there are festivals going on. Good luck!

  • Grace

    1. The Blue Water Area — Port Huron, St. Clair, Algonac, Fort Gratiot — home of the oldest lighthouse in the state, Lexington, Port Sanilac, the Blue Water Bridges — this is the stretch of the St. Clair River, which is a very busy shipping channel, and Lake Huron.

  • Larry

    1. Manistee
    2. Ludington
    3. Pentwater
    4. Travierse City
    5. Detroit

  • jacobmusich

    1. Calumet
    2. Munising
    3. Fayette
    4. Leland
    5. Saugatuck

  • dbraid

    1. manhattan
    2. brookyln
    3. queens
    4. bronx
    5. staten island

    in that order.

  • mary

    There you go, anywhere you go you can’t go wrong! And the people are the greatest!

  • http://www.Homes2Love.com Dixie Wong

    I would recommend St. Joseph-Benton Harbor, Michigan. I love the art, the beaches, the concerts and the golf course plus we have wonderful nature centers and super farms within 10-15 miles. A MUST SEE!!!!!!!! There are places to walk and paddle. We are working on the biking.

  • http://www.michigan-outdoors.blogspot.com David

    In terms of cities, I’d choose these five, in no particular order:

    1. Detroit: The biggest city in the state can’t be forgotten about, and there is a lot to do.

    2. Grand Haven: The beach and the walk along the Grand River is one of my favorites.

    3. Marquette: The biggest city in the U.P., it’s beautiful in the winter and summer.

    4. Bay City: I liked my few months I lived there, and there’s always somewhere to go, especially downtown.

    5. Alpena: I’ve spent nearly every summer up there, and there’s plenty to do that never gets noticed.

  • Lois C

    Awww . . .You MUST make a stop in Traverse City!!! It’s a great spot any season!!! After a visit there go on west to Sleeping Bear Dunes!! Superb is one of many adjectives to describe this region of Michigan!! Enjoy!!!

  • Alicia Kieft

    I grew up in Bay City, and still love it, but am even more impressed with where I have spent the last 20 years… Grand Haven. It’s too bad you can’t spend a week here. It would be easy to take day trips to many of the other areas others have recommended: Saugatuk, Grand Rapids, Ludington, Holland, and Michigan Adventures. The UP/Newberry area makes another week of day trips: Taquamenon Falls, Pictured Rocks, Mackinaw Island, and Big Springs. If you go toward the thumb area do go see Dow Gardens in Midland, Frankenmuth, and check out the night life on Midland Street in Bay City.