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.

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:

Beat the Winter Blues with Some Indoor Family Fun

While the spring season is drawing near, there’s still plenty of time to enjoy some fun indoor activities in Pure Michigan. If your family seems to have come down with cabin fever this winter, these great family activities are sure to put a spring in their step heading into warmer days. Here is a roundup of just a few of the many awesome indoor activities to take advantage of during the winter months. For more indoor family fun, visit michigan.org

Indoor Waterparks

New and Improved! – Avalanche Bay Indoor Waterpark: Boyne Falls, MI

Photo courtesy of Boyne Mountain Resort

If you’re looking for a new thrill, you won’t want to miss Michigan’s first ProSlide SuperLOOP™, an extreme body slide with a 360 degree loop. This epic slide opened earlier this winter at Avalanche Bay Indoor Waterpark at Boyne Mountain Resort in Boyne Falls.  The Big Couloir experience begins in a launch capsule and features a trap door that drops away and propels riders into an enclosed tunnel traveling with G-force at speeds up to 38 feet per second.  The new half-million dollar attraction is a real adrenaline rush combining anticipation with a free fall sensation and speed!  For those not quite so daring, Avalanche Bay also has many other aquatic attractions.  As Michigan’s largest indoor waterpark at 88,000 square feet, the park boasts six amazing waterslides, a Rip Zone surfing wave, four-story mountain water-play structure, shallow children’s pool, activity pool, lazy river, relaxing hot tubs, mega-arcade, and pub with a full bar.  The park has received top honors being named a top ten indoor waterpark in the U.S. by Budget Travel and featured among America’s coolest indoor waterparks by Travel + Leisure.  Half- and full-day waterpark passes are available and discounts are provided to resort lodging guests. Boyne Mountain’s Ski & Splash Package includes lodging, lift ticket, waterpark admission, hot breakfast, and tubing from $112 per person, per night.

Zehnder’s Splash Village Hotel & Waterpark: Frankenmuth, MI

Treat your family to an unforgettable weekend at Zehnder’s Splash Village Hotel & Waterpark in Frankenmuth. Enjoy over 30,000 sq. ft. of aquatic fun with Splash landing play area, dumping bucket, giggling gorge and Perilous plunge. Relax in the whimsical whirl hot tub or just float along the lazy river. After splashing around, experience some of Frankenmuth’s many other offerings – including Bronner’s CHRISTmas Wonderland, located just next door to Zehnder’s and open 361 days a year!

Great Wolf Lodge: Traverse City, MI

The Great Wolf Lodge in Traverse City features a 38,000 square-foot indoor water park with 8 waterslides, 5 pools, 2 whirlpools and a 4-story/12-level interactive Tree House Water Fort. The state-of-the-art facility utilizes nearly 200,000 gallons of water that is splashed, sprayed, waved and played in by both kids and parents alike.

Hands On Activities

The Henry Ford: Dearborn, MI

Photo courtesy of The Henry Ford

The Henry Ford boasts four one-of-a-kind attractions, 200 acres including Greenfield Village (closed during the winter season) and the Ford Rouge Factory Tour, that will bring you through the ages. Notable treasures such as John F. Kennedy’s Limousine, Rosa Parks bus, and Abraham Lincoln’s chair, plus experiences such as Model T Rides and an assembly plant walking tour make your visit to The Henry Ford truly unique. The Henry Ford offers a glimpse inside centuries of American life with hand-on activities for the kids throughout!

Michigan Science Center: Detroit, MI

The Michigan Science Center is a unique and dynamic hands-on museum, offering programs and activities that inspire families to discover, explore and appreciate science, technology and math in a fun environment. The museum takes an interactive approach to science with engaging, hands-on shows and activities, including Michigan’s only Chrysler IMAX Dome Theater and exhibits covering topics such as space, motion, health and nutrition, engineering and more!  Check out the website for hours, show times, special events and traveling exhibits.

Ann Arbor Hands On Museum: Ann Arbor, MI

Discover the scientist within you at the Ann Arbor Hands On Museum. This interactive museum features more than 250 hands-on exhibits, including some visitor favorites such as whisper dishes, tornado, Building in a Building, Google Liquid Galaxy and the popular water table!  Perfect for kids and adults of all ages, you’ll have a blast witnessing science demonstrations and special events that bring chemistry, physics, geology, math, music and more to life! Visit the website for special events and programs.

Morley Candy and Sanders Factory Tour: Clinton Township, MI

Morley Candy Makers is the place where Sanders chocolate and desserts are created. Morley Candy Makers free factory tour is perfect the family and available Monday through Friday. The journey begins with the story of chocolate, how chocolate is made and how Sanders and Morley Candy Makers got their start in Detroit. Observe Michigan’s largest candy maker create delicious treats in the 100 foot observation walkway, enjoy a chocolate sample and visit the unique candy shop to put the finishing touch on your visit.

Jump, Bounce, and Play

AirTime Trampoline and Game Park: Troy, MI

AirTime Trampoline & Game Park is a high energy trampoline and music experience unlike any other. Imagine bouncing up and down on wall to wall trampolines with the speakers pumping out your favorite songs. With over 15,000 square feet of trampolines and foam pits, guests can flip, jump and bounce while enjoying time with family and friends. AirTime is an exciting activity and perfect outlet for energetic kids!

Jeepers: Auburn Hills, MI

Jeepers is an indoor animated theme park for families with children age 12 and under. The park provides a broad variety of entertainment activities including amusement park rides, soft play areas and skill games, plus comfortable family dining and birthday parties all in a climate controlled indoor setting. Visit the website for hours, prices and events!

Where is your favorite place in Michigan to enjoy some indoor fun?