Six Pure Michigan Activities to Experience in Lenawee County

Photo courtesy of Mike Dickie

Photo courtesy of Mike Dickie

If you’re looking for a picturesque countryside, hometown charm and more than 50 lakes for recreation and enjoyment, look no further than Lenawee County this summer. The Michigan International Speedway located in Lenawee is known for its NASCAR races, Faster Horses Festival and other exciting events for the whole family. If you’ll be in the Lenawee and Irish Hills area this summer, here are six fun-filled places to visit.

Taking a trip down US-12 or M-50 will lead you to a few local wineries and breweries.

Cherry Creek Winery (15750 US-12, Cement City)

Located in a Historic 1870 Schoolhouse, enjoy a wine tasting at the knotty pine bar. Sample Cherry Creek’s freshly made butter fudge, or Michigan Cherry Preserves. Sample gourmet items like fresh pressed Artisan Olive Oil or 18 year old Balsamic Vinegar from Modena Italy, all bottled on site. Special events, including live entertainment by the vineyard, most weekends.

Pentamere Winery (131 E. Chicago Blvd., Tecumseh)

This Downtown Tecumseh winery offers around a dozen wines to choose from, try a few in the tasting room and take a peak at the cellar where all of the wine is stored and bottled. The winery also offers it’s own wine jellies and gift items.

J. Trees Winery (703 E. Chicago Blvd., Tecumseh)

Located in the Historic Hayden-Ford Mill, this winery’s tasting room also includes small plates and panini sandwiches. Their wines and ciders are crafted from estate grown fruit, as well as other high quality Michigan fruit. Enjoy a drink on the outdoor patio, overlooking the water!

Tecumseh Brewing Company (128 W. Chicago Blvd., Tecumseh)

The brewery offers an extensive selection of craft beer, 12 to 16 beers on tap, ranging from American Ales to German lagers and from hearty stouts to Belgian ales.

Need a place to unwind? The area around Michigan International Speedway includes many parks and lakes, perfect for camping and boating!

Photo courtesy of Mike Dickie

Photo courtesy of Mike Dickie

Hidden Lake Gardens (6214 M-50, Tipton)

Hidden Lake Gardens is open 362 days of the year with an admission fee of $3 per person. Guided tours, requested at least two weeks in advance, are available for $3 per person. Year-round educational programs for all ages are offered at the Visitor Center, which also houses a library, exhibits, auditorium, meeting rooms and a gift shop. The Conservatory includes tropical plants, arid plants, and a variety of flowering houseplants. A picnic area with shelter is available without reservations. In addition to more than 6 miles of one-way paved drives, there are nearly 10 miles of hiking trails to allow the visitor a closer look at the beauty the Gardens provides.

Enjoy a day on the lake! Great for fishing, boating, or just relaxing, the Irish Hills area offers many lakes. Devil’s Lake and Wamplers Lake are both located near Michigan International Speedway and offer something for everyone!

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of Dan Cherry

Devil’s Lake located less than 10 miles south of the track off of US-223, with a public boat access located on Southwest shore off Devils Lake Hwy (Across the street from 9555 Devils Lake Hwy, Manitou Beach). Manitou Beach is a great place for a bike ride, with stops at Jenni’s Coffee and Cream for an iced coffee or ice cream cone. Enjoy lunch or dinner at Manitou Bar and Grill and shopping at Devils Lake View Living, and The Buoy at The Lake which both offer jewelry, purses, home décor and more.

Wamplers Lake located in W.J. Hayes State Park (1220 Wamplers Lake Rd, Onsted)

W.J. Hayes State Park, in the heart of the Irish Hills, is bordered by a group of inland lakes frequented by anglers and boaters. It is home to Wamplers Lake, a 780 acre all sports lake great for fishing and all water sports. There are numerous geocaching hides in the park, metal detecting is allowed in designated areas and dogs are welcome visitors, too. The park offers modern campsites, a large swimming area, two boat launches, fishing pier, foot paths, a picnic shelter, activity areas and free children’s programs.

This summer, enjoy Lenawee, the Michigan International Speedway and the communities surrounding it. For more information and deals in the Irish Hills area, visit the Lenawee County Conference and Visitors Bureau’s on Michigan.org.

Step Back In Time at Walker Tavern in Michigan’s Irish Hills

It’s amazing how much history there is to explore in Pure Michigan! And if you head towards Michigan’s Irish Hills, there’s plenty to uncover. Today, the team at the Michigan Historical Center shares the story behind one of the area’s historic gems – Walker Tavern Historic Site.

The Irish Hills of southern Michigan, formed by glaciers millions of years ago, have been home to Native Americans for thousands of years and to Europeans for a little more than three centuries. Located within a two-hour drive of most of Michigan’s major metropolitan areas, they are a great place to bring a picnic, enjoy swimming in a local lake or camp at one of several campgrounds. One of the area’s long time summer destinations is Walker Tavern Historic Site at Cambridge Junction, near Brooklyn.

Passing through kettle lakes and rolling hills, two Irish Hills roads meet at Cambridge Junction. One road, a worn Indian trail surveyed in 1825, joins Detroit with Chicago (now US-12); the other the La Plaisance Bay Pike (now M-50) joins Monroe on Lake Erie to Alto in west Michigan.

High traffic on these two roads in the 1830s created the need for a wayside tavern where people traveling by stage, wagon or foot could rest, take a meal or stay the night. Cost for a meal and lodging was 50 cents — the cost for an acre of land was $1.25. Most travelers on the two roads were looking for farms to purchase. Today’s travelers looking for rest, relaxation and the excitement of learning something new still find Walker Tavern Historic Site an enjoyable stop along the road.

The historic site includes three buildings and 80 acres of park land. Walker Tavern and the barn focus on the 1840s and 50s with artifacts and exhibits about people, travel and work. The Hewitt House is undergoing restoration as it tells stories of early auto tourism. Sundays are the busiest of all the days at the site, with visitors coming by to purchase locally-grown produce at the onsite Farmers Market or to take in a baseball game played by 1869 rules.

Railroads built in the 1850s turned Cambridge Junction from stagecoach hub to community gathering place. For many years the site was a farm. With the advent of the automobile at the beginning of the 20th century, life at Cambridge Junction began to change.

In 1922, the Rev. Frederick Hewitt purchased the old frame tavern, once owned by early settler Sylvester Walker, as well as its counterpart, the brick tavern he built across the road in 1853. Hewitt loved the Irish Hills as a place to hunt and fish, and now he saw opportunity to follow his passion for antiques.

Opening the taverns as antique store, hotel, restaurant and museum, Hewitt capitalized on the automobile tourism that brought a boom to the Irish Hills economy. A day’s ride by car from Detroit, the Irish Hills drew thousands of vacationers, who came to enjoy the lakes, hills and other tourist attractions. In 1929, Hewitt built a colonial revival home on his property. His visitors included Henry and Clara Ford and Michigan Governor Woodbridge Ferris. In 1965 Hewitt’s daughter sold the frame tavern and the land around it to the state, and it became Cambridge Junction State Park.

Today, the park offers visitors the opportunity to explore the natural beauty of the Irish Hills and imagine a time of stagecoaches and one of early automobiles.  New this year in the newly painted red room of the Hewitt House are photos and the scrapbook of the family that recognized the historic value of Walker Tavern and preserved it.

To close out summer, why not find the road that takes you to the Irish Hills? Cambridge Junction State Park is open for picnics and gentle strolls seven days a week from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The three historic buildings on site are open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. Park activities include a local Farmers Market on Sundays through Oct. 6, vintage baseball and various educational programs sponsored by the Friends of Walker Tavern.  To check the site’s events schedule please visit michigan.gov/walkertavern.

Our 13 Favorite Photos from the Pure Michigan 400

It’s been a great year for NASCAR racing in Pure Michigan! With the excitement of the Pure Michigan 400 just behind us, we wanted to share some of our favorite photos from the weekend at Michigan International Speedway. For more, check out our full set on Flickr or visit the Pure Michigan Facebook page.

Were you at the Pure Michigan 400 at MIS over the weekend? If so, tell us about your experience below!