Top 5 Day Trips To Take From Detroit

Detroit is known for putting the world on wheels and introducing us to Motownmusic , but did you know that there are great day trips just a short drive away from the city? Read more on these quick Pure Michigan getaways, authored by The Awesome Mitten’s Jennifer Bowman.

Detroit is a phenomenal hub for entertainment: sporting events, concerts, burgeoning restaurants, and more–if it’s at the forefront of urban renaissance, the Motor City’s got it. When visiting or living in an area with so many things to do, however, it can be easy to miss some the other great places that surround us! Whether you’re in Detroit or the metro area, there are numerous day trip options out there for people of all ages and walks of life. Get away for the day with one of these top five picks, all within  a 90-minute drive of Detroit.

1. For History Buffs: Lansing

If you’re looking for somewhere to learn about Michigan’s history, there’s no better place to start than our state capital! Less than an hour and a half from Detroit, Lansing is home to the Michigan Historical Museum, a collection of artifacts and exhibits that range from our state’s first settlers through 20th century wartime efforts, pop culture influences, and more. After browsing everything the museum has to offer (and there’s a lot, so set aside at least a couple of hours), head next door to the adjoining state library and archives (Michigan’s most comprehensive resource for studying government history and personal genealogy!). Follow up with a trip downtown to the architecturally beautiful State Capitol Building for a lesson in Michigan legislature, then cap off your visit in historic REO Town to see the birthplace of the commercial automobile.

The Michigan State Capitol Building in Lansing, Courtesy of The Awesome Mitten

2. For Creative Types: Ann Arbor
When it comes to an artistic community with a flair for all things creative, Ann Arbor is the place to go. Spend time admiring the work of others at the University of Michigan Museum of Art, get hands-on with a class or art party at the Ann Arbor Art Center, or head to town each summer for the widely-popular Ann Arbor Art Fair. There are also countless resources available for makers, including art and stationery supply shops, resale and thrift stores, and other unique finds like The Scrap Box, which allows artists and teachers to give new life to discarded materials. At the end of your day, stop by Zingerman’s for some local, artisanal food and get your dose of artistic performance with an indie flick or film festival at the Michigan Theater or State Theatre. With a multitude of unique options, Ann Arbor brings together several opportunities that will entertain and inspire.

Ann Arbor’s Michigan Theater, Courtesy of The Awesome Mitten

3. For Those Who Like To Play Tourist: Frankenmuth
You don’t have to venture out of the country (or state, for that matter) to experience a little slice of Bavarian life! German-inspired Frankenmuth allows you to play tourist without the hassle of a passport. Visit downtown for tons of unique shops–clocks, cheese, fudge, and other souvenirs await–and stop by Zehnder’s or the Bavarian Inn Restaurant for authentic German dishes or a famous fried chicken dinner.

Of course, no visit to Frankenmuth would be complete without a trip to Bronner’s, the self-proclaimed “World’s Largest Christmas Store.” Finish your holiday shopping early with a few ornaments for family and friends, or pick up a trinket or two for yourself! On the way out of town, stop by one of the local antique stores for an amazing selection of treasures, followed by a trip to Birch Run Outlets for some great deals before hopping back on the interstate.

Frankenmuth’s Bavarian Inn, Courtesy of The Awesome Mitten

4. For Nature Lovers: Milford
In addition to a beautiful downtown, Milford provides access to plenty of outdoor trails and water activities. See the best of what this area has to offer at Kensington Metropark, where visitors can explore over 4,400 acres of recreational area by bike, foot, boat, kayak, or canoe. Nature lovers will appreciate fishing, camping, and bird-watching opportunities, while moderate enthusiasts are sure to enjoy picnic and swimming areas, seasonal concerts, paved paths, disc golf, and much more. The best thing about Kensington Metropark, however, is that it’s open all year! In the winter, take part in sledding and cross-country skiing or make the most of frozen water season with ice skating and ice fishing. There’s also a year-round farm center for viewing a slew of cute animals, and educational events such as maple tree tapping tours (complete with live syrup-making demonstrations).

Milford’s Kensington Metropark, Courtesy of The Awesome Mitten

5. For Your Great Lakes Fix: Lexington
When you’re traveling the Great Lakes State–why not visit a Great Lake? Situated on the shores of Lake Huron, Lexington is an adorable beach town that’s perfect for a day of scenic views and leisure activities. Browse one of several charming shops, grab lunch or dinner at a local eatery, then make your way to one of three public beaches to play in the water. Other attractions include Lexington Park (complete with pavilions, swimming and beach access, restrooms, and playground areas), and Lexington State Harbor, your front seat to boat watching and fantastic sunset viewing. An impressive combination of small town living and the Great Lake “wow” factor, Lexington is a delightful getaway for city and suburban dwellers who need a brief disconnect from the busyness of everyday life.

Calm Waters at Lexington State Harbor, Courtesy of The Awesome Mitten

What’s your favorite go-to day trip from the Detroit area? Share in the comments!

JenniferBowman

Jennifer Bowman is a southwest Virginia native who moved to Michigan in 2011 and has been exploring the state ever since. A marketer and online community manager by day, Jennifer is fascinated with discovering new places and spends her free time traveling and writing about her experiences. To learn more about her adventures, you can follow her on Twitter at @JHBowman or on her blog, Wading in Big Shoes.

Ten Things to Do at MSU (Without Having to Go to Class!)

Guest blogger Lori Lanspeary from the Greater Lansing Convention & Visitors Bureau shares 10 fun things to do at Michigan State University without having to crack a book! 

Photo by Thomas Gennara Photography

Photo by Thomas Gennara Photography

Welcome to Spartan Country! Located in East Lansing, on the banks of the Red Cedar River, visitors can find a wealth of beauty and natural spaces on the sprawling campus of Michigan State University. While most people around the country know MSU by its mascot Sparty and its Big Ten sports teams, did you know that Michigan State University is currently recognized as a world leader in research? The school was founded in 1855 as the pioneer land-grant college in America and dedicated to the study of agriculture which explains the beautiful expansive campus. Today MSU has over 200 academic programs offered by 17 degree granting colleges.

BUT beyond the academics, visitors can find so many things to see and do on campus without having to sign up for a single class! Here’s the list of 10 things to do at MSU.

MSUMuseum-Dinosaur1. MSU Museum: Michigan’s first Smithsonian-affiliate, this museum is filled to the brim with research artifacts and natural wonders from around the world. And both the kids and adults love the dinosaurs!

2. W. J. Beal Botanical Gardens: The oldest continuously-operated garden of its type in the U.S. with over 2,700 species organized in economic, systematic landscape and ecological groupings. And the MSU Horticulture Gardens – A family of three adjoining gardens including research gardens, landscape arboretum and the delightful 4-H Children’s Garden.

3. Abrams Planetarium: Sit back and enjoy the wonders of the universe in the sky theatre.

MSU blog Pure Michigan4. Beaumont Tower: This is the iconic bell tower where carillonneurs play noontime recitals and legends tell of first kisses at midnight and engagements in the shadow of the tower.

5. MSU Farms: Colts racing, beef calves frolicking and mooing dairy cows waiting to be milked are a few of the sights to see when visiting the farms.

6. Wharton Center for Performing Arts: Catch the latest major touring Broadway blockbusters plus a great lineup of performing arts at Wharton.

7. MSU Dairy Store: It’s always hard to choose betwen the 32 flavors of some of the freshest ice cream you’ll ever taste. Or pick up some award-winning cheese varieties. Smiles guaranteed!

SONY DSC8. Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum: This Zaha Hadid-designed art museum presents groundbreaking, international contemporary art across all media and is housed in a pleated stainless steel and glass multi-angled building that in itself is an architectural wonder.

9. Demmer Shooting Sports Education & Training Center: This training site for Michigan State University archery, rifle and pistol club teams is open to the public and promotes the safe use of firearms and archery equipment.

10. Big Ten Sporting Events:  Spartan football, basketball and hockey are among the favorite reasons for a visit to MSU. The resounding chants of Go Green! Go White! echo across campus. Make time for one last stop. Your visit won’t be complete without a photo taken in front of the bronze Spartan Statue near the stadium.

Have you visited East Lansing? What else would you add to the list? 

image001Need help planning your trip? Contact the Greater Lansing Convention & Visitors Bureau or while visiting Michigan State University, stop by our East Lansing Visitor Center at 549 East Grand River Avenue located directly across from the Eli & Edythe Broad Art Museum.  Find maps, brochures and Visitor Guides or speak directly to one of our friendly information specialists happy to assist you during your visit.

Lansing: Modern Classic Done Right

Jennifer Bowman is a southwest Virginia native who moved to Michigan just over a year ago. Fascinated by travel and discovering new places, Jennifer spends her free time exploring Michigan towns and writing about her experiences on her blog, Wading in Big Shoes. Today, she fills us in on a recent day trip that she and her husband took to Lansing, Michigan.

Whether you’re looking for intricate architecture, historical venues, great shopping, or places to dine, Lansing has it all. As Michigan’s “capitol city,” this diverse area brims with timelessness while managing to grow and adapt with modern society. For first-time visitors like me, however, experiencing everything Lansing has to offer in just one day can seem like a stretch. Nevertheless, one day is what my husband and I had when we made the trip, so we took a fast-forward tour of the city, sampling the overall picture of what makes Lansing a hot spot for people traveling across central Michigan.

First on our destination list was Lansing’s downtown area. Easily accessed just off of I-496, downtown Lansing hosts a mecca of small shops and eateries, a perfect lunchtime hub for tourists and local businesspeople alike. After grabbing some sandwiches at the Spotted Dog Café , my husband and I walked a couple of blocks to the state capitol building, a must-see for all visitors. Inside, we encountered countless rooms and hallways that were trimmed from top to bottom in Michigan pine, yet meticulously hand-painted to mimic walnut.  As we wandered from floor to floor, I couldn’t help but think of what it would be like to spend time in such a beautiful building every day. All of my thoughtful pondering, however, did not stop my inner child from posing for silly pictures in the reflection on the golden elevator doors.

Next, it was on to the Michigan Historical Center, a site that houses the state library, archives, and historical museum. While my husband and I didn’t have time to skim the library’s extensive genealogical records, we made sure to take in as much of the museum’s enormous collection as possible. With everything there is to know about Michigan history, from its first settlers throughout much of the 20th century, this was one of the best museums I’ve visited while in Michigan. We spent an hour or two looking around, but if we had allotted for it, the museum could easily have sufficed for an entire afternoon’s worth of entertainment.

With the day flying by, my husband and I hopped in the car and drove a few minutes down the road to Old Town. There, we encountered several blocks of art galleries, gift shops, and a little bakery called Aggie Mae’s, where we bought a couple of delicious cookies made with so many ingredients, I can’t begin to remember everything that was in them.  The town was quiet on that Monday afternoon, but our post-cookie stroll was complemented by a refreshing lack of crowds and a serene view of the river.  Eventually, dinnertime rolled around, and we scouted out Meat, a so-called “carnivore cuisine” restaurant. Feasting on pulled pork and brisket, we chatted with a down-to-earth waitress and hung out in the southern-inspired spot for a while—a great way to escape the chilly night outside.

After dinner, we took a quick cruise around the Michigan State University campus, and then found our way across the city for a little shopping at the Eastwood Towne Center.  Comprised of restaurants and upscale stores, Eastwood showed yet another facet of Lansing we had not seen.  We spent the remainder of the evening unwinding among shelves of new and used media at Schuler Books, then called it a night and headed back towards Detroit. So many things to do, and so little time . . . but you can bet I’ll be back. See you soon, Lansing.

Jennifer Bowman is a southwest Virginia native who moved to Michigan just over a year ago. Fascinated by travel and discovering new places, Jennifer spends her free time exploring Michigan towns and writing about her experiences on her blog, Wading in Big Shoes. You can follow her on Twitter @JHBowman.