6 Michigan Cities to Stroll Through this Spring

It’s finally spring and we can emerge out of our winter cocoons, stretch our legs, and stroll the beautiful streets and cities in Michigan. Here are six places we think your feet should travel, according to Margaret Clegg of The Awesome Mitten.

Sault Ste. Marie

As the oldest city in Michigan, there’s a lot of history to see in Sault Ste. Marie. See the historic Soo Locks up close and personal or take a walk to The Tower of History and enjoy a panoramic view of the Soo and the city from a height of 210 feet. If you enjoy shopping, there are numerous unique shops along the downtown strip. Find unique items for your home at Thinking of U, handmade wooden products from Island Books & Crafts, and outdoor weather wear at Bird’s Eye Outfitters. After a stroll through Sault Ste. Marie, quench your thirst at any of the drinking establishments in the “BARmuda Triangle,” featuring 13 bars that are all within walking distance to each other and to hotels. Visit 1668 Winery and Lockside Brewery for locally made brews or make a stop at Zim’s, a bi-level bar that features a live DJ and dancing.

Brighton

The downtown area of Brighton feels like strolling down a road from yesterday. With the church set up the hill, just atop the river, the setting is so peaceful. There is so much to do and see along Main Street. On a warm spring day there are children playing in the park, people taking their dogs for a walk, and families feeding the ducks in the pond. Downtown Brighton prides themselves in being a “strolling community,” and you can see more than 30 public art exhibits as you walk through the area. There are also many fun-filled shops, like Oh My Lolli, where they make handmade candies,  conveniently located just across the from the playground. There’s Sassafrass Gifts, where you can unique items for a friend. When you’ve worked up the hunger for a bite to eat, you can enjoy an authentic Italian meal at Buon Gusto or a drink at Downtown Main Martini Bar and Grille.

Photo Courtesy of Margaret Clegg

Ann Arbor

College campuses are always the best place to take a stroll. Around the University of Michigan campus there are college students out throwing frisbees, musicians on street corners, and community events all year long. Nothing accompanies a good walk quite like a good meal, and Ann Arbor is great place to grab a bite. You can grab an outdoor seat at the Jolly Pumpkin for a salad or granite baked pizza, accompanied by a nice locally made beer. If your tastes are a bit more ethnic, you can pop on over to The Earthen Jar, where the Indian buffet is completely vegetarian and gluten-free, and the other customers are so friendly. If you want to walk with the community in a unique way, take part in the Fool Moon art parade, which kicks off the outdoor festival season.

Photo Courtesy of Margaret Clegg

Grand Rapids

We can think of no grander place to take a walk in the spring than Grand Rapids. While this 158-acre campus has many things to see on foot, the annual butterfly exhibit at Frederik Mejier Gardens & Sculpture Park is a huge attraction.  There are over 50 different species represented during this time, from March 1st through April 30th. Additional features of the gardens include outdoor sculptures to view, wooded trails to walk, and a children’s garden that provides hours of enjoyment. Once you’ve had your fill of viewing fresh flowers, you can take a short drive down the street to Green Restaurant, an eatery that focuses on fresh, local and organic foods. If time allows, venture a bit farther into the city and stop at the Downtown Market. There you can sample a variety of local flavors, with an appetizer of meat and cheese from Aperitivo, locally sourced meals from Making Thyme Kitchen, and organic desserts from Love’s Ice Cream.

Photo Courtesy of Margaret Clegg

Petoskey

If the view of the coastline takes your breath away, Petoskey is a beautiful place to visit. If you’re looking to enjoy the scenic beauty up close, Petoskey has many trails, pathways and preserves to take by foot or by bike. For historic views of Petoskey on foot, participate in one of their hour long Ghost Walks or do a self-guided tour of the Petoskey locations that were significant to Ernest Hemingway while he vacationed here. For a quick lunch after taking a stroll, stop by The Grain Train. This health food store also has a convenient hot food bar and deli. The view from the seating area overlooks the water, and is truly refreshing. If you’re looking to sit down meal, make sure to visit Petoskey during their annual Restaurant Week, which takes places May 20th through the 27th.

Photo Courtesy of Margaret Clegg

Traverse City

Traverse City is know as the Cherry Capital of the World, and in spring time the orchards are in blossom. There is more to this city than cherries and wine though. Tucked a few miles away from the downtown, The Village at Grand Traverse Commons invites people to walk back to older times. What was once the Traverse City State Hospital has been beautifully restored to include restaurants, unique crafters, business offices and housing. Enjoy their outdoor scenery by strolling through the gardens and preserved parklands, enjoying a picnic on their front lawn, or visiting their historic arboretum. Inside you will find many shops, including Gallery Fifty, which carries art from every state around the country. Purchase clothing that represents our great state from High Five Threads and enjoy locally grown tea at Cuppa Joe Cafe. For a fun dining experiences, enjoy homemade tamales at Spanglish or visit Left Foot Charley to sample local wines.

Photo Courtesy of Margaret Clegg

What are your favorite places to visit in the spring? Which Michigan destination are you headed to in the coming weeks?

Cupcake1

Margaret Clegg was born and raised in Michigan and resides in Flint. She is a Central Michigan University graduate and the proud wife of an amazing husband and owner of two adorable dogs. She is a passionate advocate for Celiac Disease and works with many organizations within the state to help those with these special needs. She’s a proud MSU fan and loves ice cream. You can find her on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Periscope.

Six Reasons for a Group Getaway in Grand Rapids

Grand Rapids garnered headlines this January when the New York Times named it #20 of 52 Places to Go Worldwide in 2016. But the city won an equally important honor a few months before, when readers of Groups Today magazine voted it the Top Emerging Destination in the U.S. – confirming that Grand Rapids is a great place to travel en masse.

Whether it’s a bus tour or a family reunion, a girls’ getaway or men’s weekend, you can’t go wrong with these crowd-pleasing group ideas.

1. Hit the Beer City Ale Trail.

With more than 40 craft breweries within minutes of the city, it’s no surprise that USA Today just picked Grand Rapids as the nation’s best beer scene. Start your journey with three excellent downtown breweries – including Founders, widely acknowledged as one of the world’s best. Pick up a Beer City Brewsader Passport while in town and visit eight Brewsader breweries to earn a collectible t-shirt!

Photo Courtesy of Experience Grand Rapids

2. Travel the Grand Rapids Food Trail.

Tour 30+ delectable destinations on the Food Trail to learn why Grand Rapids has been named America’s #2 Most Affordable Foodie City. Trail stops include the Downtown Market, a local food emporium featuring 20+ artisan food vendors – from butcher to baker to organic ice cream maker. Still hungry? You’ll find an incredible array of creative farm-to-fork restaurants around every corner.

3. Shop ‘til you Drop.

Five huge shopping centers include a new Tanger Outlet Mall, home to 80+ brand-name designer discount stores. Distinct neighborhood shopping districts offer more unique items, and downtown’s Avenue for the Arts is lined with artisans selling handmade goods.

Photo Courtesy of Experience Grand Rapids

4. Soak up the Culture.

Downtown hosts four world-class museums, including the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum, which is undergoing a major renovation in advance of a June 7 reopening. Just 10 minutes away is Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, named one of the world’s Top 30 Must-See Museums. Don’t miss the breathtaking Japanese Garden there.

Photo Courtesy of Experience Grand Rapids

5. Get Your Art On.

ArtPrize, the world’s richest, most radical art competition, draws half a million people to downtown Grand Rapids each year. (This year’s event takes place September 21-October 9.) But art is everywhere you look, every day of the year – on sidewalks and buildings, in three art museums, and throughout neighborhoods and business districts.

Photo Courtesy of Experience Grand Rapids

6. Enjoy Nights on the Town.

From Broadway musicals to live-music bars, from comedy clubs to pro sports games, Grand Rapids offers something for every taste when evening rolls around. Much of the nightlife is concentrated in downtown’s safe, walkable entertainment district – including this year’s biggest theatrical show, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera (May 18-29).

What is your favorite thing to do when visiting Grand Rapids? Share with us by commenting below!

Experience Serious Laughs in Grand Rapids this Month

Have you been looking for an excuse to explore the west side of Michigan? Consider LaughFest in Grand Rapids! LaughFest is an annual comedy-filled event you won’t want to miss.  

The sixth annual LaughFest boasts hundreds of comedic acts including solo performers, groups, and community showcase participants March 10-20 in and around Grand Rapids. With big name acts including Seth Myers, Kathy Griffin and Emmy Award winner and Grammy Award nominee David Cross there is someone to fit everyone’s sense of humor.

Photo Courtesy of Experience Grand Rapids

“It’s one of the many things that makes West Michigan a unique place,” Joanne Roehm, festival director for Gilda’s LaughFest, said. “LaughFest is a great opportunity to get out of the house, laugh a lot, and beat the winter blues – all for a good cause. Raising funds for free cancer and grief programming offered through Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids.”

Over the past five years, the ten-day festival has raised over $1,000,000 in proceeds for Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids which provides free emotional healthcare to children, adults, families, and friends on any kind of cancer journey or those grieving the death of someone in their life due to any cause.

This year, LaughFest partnered with over 50 locations throughout Grand Rapids for #selfieswithsmiles. This fun, social media campaign is a fun and easy way to get involved with LaughFest and win some great prizes to commemorate your stay!

Photo Courtesy of Experience Grand Rapids

To enter, while out and about in Grand Rapids, look for a LaughFest #selfieswithsmiles poster at most of the LaughFest key venues and snap your selfie! Then simply tag #selfieswithsmiles and #experiencegrandrapids on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook and you’re entered to win LaughFest tickets and swag, Beer City USA merchandise, and restaurant gift certificates. Find and take selfies with as many #selfieswithsmiles posters as you can for more chances to win in the weekly drawing. Winners are announced via social media so be sure to follow and “like” LaughFest and Experience Grand Rapids on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

When asked if any of the LaughFest comedians might be at the #selfiewithsmiles locations, Roehm answered coyly, “You never know what will happen during LaughFest!”

So get your tickets and head on over to Grand Rapids for LaughFest 2016. It promises to be seriously funny.

Have you ever attended LaughFest? Share your experience with us below!