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.

Take a Look Inside DeZwaan Windmill in Holland, Michigan

The Tulip Time Festival returns to Holland, MI May 3-10, 2014! To get us excited for the event, guest blogger Ann Van Heest from Discover Holland gives us a look inside of one of Holland’s iconic sights – DeZwaan Windmill. 

Photo courtesy of Discover Holland

Photo courtesy of Discover Holland

Windmill Island Gardens is one of Holland’s true gems.  A visit to this 36-acre park adjacent to Holland’s downtown area is like stepping two centuries back in time, as you’ll find authentic Dutch architecture framing a view of the Island’s crown jewel: DeZwaan Windmill. Today we’ll tour five stories of this remarkable windmill, learning its story and how our Dutch-certified miller grinds wheat into flour using centuries-old technology.

DeZwaan (The Swan) Windmill was brought to Holland, Mich. from the Netherlands in 1964. It opened to the public in 1965 and enjoys the unique status of being the United States’ only authentic, working, Dutch windmill, as well as the last windmill to leave the Netherlands.

Photo courtesy of Discover Holland

Photo courtesy of Discover Holland

We’ll begin on the ground floor of the mill, where we see that we’re surrounded by thick brick walls. These bricks were laid in the traditional Dutch style, sloping downward to drain water from the building. The two sets of double doors on the ground floor allowed farmers to drive their horse and wagon full of bagged wheat right into the mill. The flour is ground on the fifth story of the mill, so farmers would have to use the “elevator” to convey the bags up to the grinding floor. The elevator is a wind-powered pulley that hoists bags of wheat through an open elevator shaft. The shaft is also where the miller’s wooden-shoe telephone is found.  Traditionally, millers spent most of their days in the upper floors of the mill and visiting farmers would send their messages to the miller via a wooden shoe attached to a rope! They could slip a note or payment into the shoe and the miller would pull up the rope when he had a chance.

Photo courtesy of Discover Holland

Photo courtesy of Discover Holland

The tour continues through packaging and storage floors, where we might see the miller and her assistants bagging DeZwaan-ground flour that is sold at the gift shop or distributed to local restaurants for use in their baked goods and pizza crusts.

Take a look at some of the original pieces and parts of the mill, mounted on the wall for us to touch and examine. Your guide will share the story of some of these pieces and how they were made, and she will also tell you how the blades of the mill were used to convey information for communities and also used as signals during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands in World War II.

On the fourth floor of the mill, we’ll look around and see that there are no longer surrounded by brick, but by the mill’s original wood timbers. The Dutch imported Norwegian fir beams to construct the mill in 1761, and you can see how they were hand-planed. Look for the Roman numerals carved in the sides of the beams, which helped the millwrights who originally assembled the mill know how the beams fit together. They also guided the modern millwrights who re-assembled the mill in Holland, Michigan! This floor is known as the “milling floor,” and is where the milling process is fine-tuned – the miller can regulate the grinding process by raising or lowering the top millstone.

Out on the gallery deck, we can see how truly immense the blades are! This is my favorite part, as we can get a great view of the tulip fields planted adjacent to the mill, but also get up close and personal with the blades, which are 80 feet long and six feet wide. From this gallery deck, the miller can rotate the cap of the mill so the blades are facing into the wind, and she can also engage the brake and stop the blades from turning.

Photo courtesy of Discover Holland

Photo courtesy of Discover Holland

We will climb up to the fifth floor of the mill, which is noticeably tight quarters as the mill narrows towards the top and the two massive sets of grindstones take up most of the floor space. There are three gears on this floor, which the miller must engage in order to operate the elevator pulley we first learned about on the ground floor, or to begin the grinding process. When the miller releases the brakes and allows the blades to turn, the massive gear in the middle of this room begins to turn. Despite the many tons of gears now turning, the sound is just a whisper, as the wooden gears are lubricated with beeswax and turn very quietly. When the grinding gears are engaged, the noise is still much quieter than you’d expect!

Photo courtesy of Discover Holland

Photo courtesy of Discover Holland

Thanks for joining us on a tour of our graceful DeZwaan. We hope you will come and experience it with us! During the Tulip Time festival (May 3-May 10), visitors will be able to experience the more than 100,000 tulips blooming at Windmill Island Gardens, guided tours of the mill, the authentic Dutch street organ and a short film screened every thirty minutes in the post house building. Take time to tour the antique tropical green house, the “Little Netherlands” historic display, and visit the gift shop which also sells homemade fudge. There is plenty of parking, and Windmill Island Gardens is open daily from 9am-7pm during the festival, and 9:15-5 during the summer months.

Screen Shot 2014-04-21 at 11.56.07 AMAnn Van Heest is the information coordinator at the Holland Visitors Bureau. Her first job was selling fudge at Windmill Island Gardens. Follow her @DiscoverHolland on Twitter and Instagram.

 

 

Pure Michigan May 2014 Events Roundup

As they say ‘April showers bring May flowers’ and the wet weather means the tulips and daffodils are coming! While you’re probably up to your neck in spring cleaning projects and to-do lists, take some time to enjoy the beauty of Pure Michigan all around you and maybe go for an outing, too.

Below is a roundup of some of the many events going on around the state in May. Please visit michigan.org for a complete listing of Michigan events.

Week of April 28 – May 4

Art After Dark – Fine Wine Tasting
May 2, 2014, Farmington Hills
Art After Dark continues to be one of our most popular events that draws people from all over town! Stroll through a collection of artwork, enjoy a sampling of appetizers and listen to the soft sounds of live jazz at the Costick Center from 7 to 9:30 pm. Taste an array of specialty selected fine wines from Bella Vino Fine Wines & Spirits. Tickets $30 and you must be 21 and up.

Jackson Storyfest
April 30, 2014 – May 3, 2014, Jackson
Held the first weekend of May each year, storytellers from all over the United States bring their special stories to Jackson, Michigan; where audiences of all ages share in the laughter, the tears, and the memories. Join us April 30, May 1, 2, and 3, 2014, for Jackson Storyfest, celebrating 27 years of “Stories to Tickle, Tug and Touch You”.  We look forward to seeing you April 30, May 1, 2, and 3, at sites in downtown Jackson, Michigan!

Michigan International Women’s Show
May 1 – 4, 2014, Novi
Food, fashion and fun for mothers, daughters, sisters and girlfriends at the 19th annual Michigan International Women’s Show with shopping, cooking, fashion shows, makeovers and entertainment.

Victorian Days in Grand Ledge
May 2-3, 2014, Grand Ledge
The 2014 Victorian Days weekend gets off to a royal start with a visit from Queen Victoria at our second annual Grand Victorian Ball on Friday evening beginning at 7pm in the Grand Hall at the Grand Ledge Opera House. Saturday morning activities kick off with a Civil War firing squad demonstration at Bridge Street Plaza at 10am. Demonstrations of period skills and crafts along with a General Store may be seen throughout the day in the Plaza. A quilt show may be found at Imagine This in downtown. A Civil War encampment and demonstrations; our annual moustache contest; and a Chautauqua Assembly program will be presented on Island Park. An 1860s Vintage Baseball game will be played at Fitzgerald Park. Our high tea and the third annual Gilbert & Sullivan sing-along will be held for your enjoyment as well. Games designed especially to please the youngsters will take place throughout the day too. Riverboat rides and carriage rides are available for your enjoyment.

Dog Walk & K-9 Festival
May 3, 2014, Vicksburg
Our Dog Walk & K-9 Festival features top-notch entertainment and competitions, fun activities, great exhibitor booths, tempting treats and a kid’s-only fun zone. So gather your family members and friends (including dogs) on May 3rd and enjoy a day in the park with us. Can we get a “Woof – Woof” to that? In honor of our event’s 30th anniversary, we’ve pulled out all the stops! We’ve expanded the hours (the event now runs until 4pm) and added new activities and food vendors to the lineup. This year a new all-in-one admission fee will give you access to all of the fun Dog Walk & K-9 Festival activities.

Lexington in Bloom
May 3-4, 2014, Lexington
The Lakeshore Garden Club along with the Lexington Business Association presents: “Lexington in Bloom”. To celebrate spring there will be a spring open house weekend, gardening workshops, tips for entertaining, an ice cream social, and Mother’s Day ideas.

Spring into the Past Tour of West Michigan Small Museums
May 3-4, 2014, Grand Rapids
Twenty five museums of the Tri-River Historical Museum Network invite you to visit during their annual “Spring Into the Past” Tour May 3rd and 4th when all will be open from 11am to 5pm. Located in Barry, Ionia, Kent and Montcalm counties, each uniquely displays the heritage of its local community in a historic church, school, depot, meeting hall or house.

Week of May 5 – May 11

Carnival in May
May 1-11, 2014, Pontiac
The Pontiac Regional Chamber is pleased to host one of the first big outdoor carnivals of the 2014 with rides, food, games, exhibits and more! The Carnival will run May 1 – 11. There will be live entertainment, a sock hop and car cruise to add to the fun! There is no charge to attend the carnival. Unlimited ride wristbands are just $20. Individual rides and food tickets also available.

yellowtulipsTulip Festival 2014
May 3-11, 2014, Holland
Celebrating over 80 years of culture, heritage and beauty. The Tulip Time Festival is a celebration of Dutch heritage and culture, a multi-generational event that has a little bit of something for everyone including; three amazing parades, multiple Dutch dance performances, concerts, theatre, Dutch attractions, Dutch food, children’s events, trolley tours and so much more!

 

ArtWalk in Downtown Cadillac
May 1-16, 2014, Cadillac
Showcasing local and regional artists in downtown Cadillac stores starting May 1 thru the 16th. Special showcases: Mitchell Street Yarn Bomb will be on showcase starting May 1 – June 30; and Meet the Artist will be Friday, May 11, from 3-8pm.

Farm History Day
May 9, 2014, South Haven
Farm History Day offers students, teachers and chaperones a chance to learn about life on a rural farm in the early 1900s. Take a self-guided outdoor tour around the museum and participate in hands-on displays like candle making, pressing fruit and using a two-man saw. Held from 9am to 2pm rain or shine. No admission charge. If you are planning on bringing a large group, please phone (269) 639-2010.

Lake Orion Flower Fair & Home and Garden Marketplace
May 9-10, 2014, Lake Orion
Historic downtown Lake Orion presents the 14th annual Flower Fair on Friday, May 9th from 11-8 and Saturday, May 10th from 9-6. Outside fair with vendors offering everything from flats of flowers and herbs, home improvement, yard art, landscaping, juried arts & crafts, outdoor furniture and more! Plus, children’s activities, entertainment and food. Flint and Broadway streets.

Morel Mushroom Festival & Craft Show
May 10, 2014, Lewiston
The Lewiston Chamber of Commerce puts on our Annual Mushroom Festival, craft fair at the Lewiston Elementary school, a mushroom tasting with a variety of dishes from area residents and restaurants, guided mushroom hunts with a professional mushroom guide, and local businesses participate with sales, specials and more, come see us!

Week of May 12 – May 18

Tecumseh’s Classic Car & Bike Show
May 15, 2014, Tecumseh
Get your motor running and head to Tecumseh to see over 200 cars and motorcycles on display in the United Bank & Trust Hickman Financial Center parking and the adjacent downtown parking lot from 6–8pm for all to enjoy. For more information, call (517) 424-6544.

National Morel Mushroom Festival
May 15-16, 2014, Boyne City
Always held the weekend after Mother’s Day, the festival features a competitive hunt, guided hunt, live music, a beer tent, a gourmet Taste of Morels, carnival rides, and much more, including the Wine and Dine gourmet dinner and wine tasting.

Keweenaw Migratory Bird Festival
May 1-31, 2014, Copper Harbor
This event, held throughout the month of May in Copper Harbor, offers superb daytime birding opportunities and plenty of fun activities for the whole family. There will be programs, speakers, bird walks, guided tours, and much more during the weekends in May.

Screen Shot 2014-04-09 at 2.39.12 PMWorld Expo of Beer 2014
May 16-17, 2014, Frankenmuth
A beer tasting event. Music, souvenirs and 50 breweries from 5 continents. Brought to you by Jaycees Frankenmuth Chapter. May 16 from 5-10pm and May 17 from 3-10pm. For more detailed information, and to purchase online tickets, visit the link or call (888) 805-1504. We only admit guests that are 21 or older.

Northern Michigan’s Outdoor Sports Exposition
May 16-18, 2014, Cheboygan
Featuring shooting exhibitions, fishing demonstrations, hunting dog exhibitions, turkey hunting contest, boasts, kayaks, ATVs, High Tech gear and much more. In partnership with Woods-N-Water News. Friday 4pm – 8pm; Saturday 11am – 8pm; and Sunday 11am – 4pm.

Family Fishing Fair
May 17, 2014, Portage
Bring the entire family to celebrate the onset of summer on this exciting day at the shoreline! Families of all ages and abilities can experience the joys and benefits associated with fishing, boating and aquatic conservation. Enjoy engaging activities and instruction from local fishing guides and professional organizations who will share their expertise to help your family start a lifetime of fishing memories. Fishing equipment will be on hand for those hoping to reel in their first (or next) catch of the day!

Flower Day
May 18, 2014, Detroit
Attended by more than 200,000 people annually, Flower Day at the Eastern Market is one of the largest flower shows in the country. Over 15-acres of the highest quality annuals, perennials, foliage, shrubbery, trees, exotics, tropical plants, flats, hanging baskets and more will be available for purchase. For details contact (313) 833-9300.

Week of May 19 – May 25

Apps & Ales
May 21, 2014, Bay City
This event highlights all of Downtown Bay City’s delicious eateries and pubs. Attendees will enjoy a night full of good appetizers, good beer and good company. Must be 21 years old. Ticketed event. Tickets include a souvenir pilsner-style glass.

untitledSenior PGA Championship
May 22-25, 2014, Benton Harbor
Walk with History as the eyes of the golfing world will be focused on Benton Harbor, Michigan, from May 22-25, 2014, as the world’s top senior golfers come to Harbor Shores to compete for the coveted Alfred S. Bourne Trophy. Tom Watson, Fred Couples, Kenny Perry, Bernhard Langer, Mark O’Meara, and 2012 Champion, Roger Chapman are just a few of the players from the 156 man field that are eligible to compete. Ticketed event. Must register to purchase tickets – see website link for details.

Petoskey Stone Festival
May 24, 2014, Eastport
The Petoskey Stone Festival celebrates one of Michigan’s finest natural resources – the unique Petoskey Stone, Michigan’s official state stone. The festival starts off at 9:30am with the Commissioner’s Stone Skipping. Enjoy music, games and great food.

Native American Festival
May 24-25, 2014, Saint Ignace
Experience History! Come and honor the first Native Americans and the Anishinaabe culture in a historic celebration of traditional drumming, dancing, food, music and cultural demonstrations on the Museum of Ojibwa Culture grounds.

St. Clair Shores Memorial Day Parade
May 25, 2014, St. Clair Shores
The 62nd annual St Clair Shores Memorial Day Parade will take place on Sunday, May 25, 2014. This year’s theme is ” Honor. Freedom. Family.” The parade will be marching north on Harper Avenue from Little Mack to Eleven Mile Road in St Clair Shores, Michigan, beginning at 1pm

Week of May 26 – May 31

Mayfaire Renaissance Festival
May 24-31, 2014, Marshall
The 11th Annual Mayfaire Renaissance Festival runs May 24, 25, 26, 31 and June 1, 2014. 10am-6pm rain or shine, at the Calhoun County Fairgrounds. Admission is $12 for adults, children 6-12 are $6, and the wee nipperkins are free every day. There are six stages with over 40 shows every day. Comedy, dancing, music, swordfightiing, pirates, royalty, peasantry, Vikings, food, merchants and artisans are just some of the things you’ll enjoy in a day full of fun. For more details and a discount coupon, go to the website link. Event held the last two weekends in May.

Mancelona Bass Festival
May 29, 2014 – June 1, 2014, Mancelona
The annual festival is the place to be for parades, a carnival, flea market, craft show and so much more. The entire family will enjoy the barbecue, fishing tournament, kids games, fireworks and free on stage entertainment.

????????????????????????????????????????Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix
May 30, 2014 – June 1, 2014, Detroit
Come and experience the fastest weekend of the summer at the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix, May 30-June 1, 2014. The event features world-class auto racing, family fun, live music, interactive games and displays and much more. Premiere racing action will be featured on the newly-reconfigured Raceway at Belle Isle Park 2.3-mile street course featuring the IndyCar Series doubleheader race weekend – The IndyDual in Detroit. The TUDOR United SportsCar Championship and the Pirelli World Challenge Series also returns to the island. New this year the SST series, SPEED Energy Stadium SUPER Truck Series. Even if you’re not a race fan, there’s plenty to experience and enjoy at the Grand Prix. Friday, May 30, is “Free Prix Day” on Belle Isle as fans will have free admission to the track as well as the race paddock. Great weekend or single-day ticket packages are available and tickets start as low as $35.

Be A Tourist In Your Own Town – Lansing
May 31, 2014, Lansing
Explore a world of possibilities in Greater Lansing from 10am-5pm. Purchase a ‘passport’ for $1 to get free admission to over 50 attractions. Enjoy interactive activities and giveaways for the kids! Special CATA Be a Tourist bus routes provide transportation to most of the attractions for just 50 cents. Collect 10 stamps in the ‘passport’ to be eligible to win great prizes.

Port Austin Carfest
May 31, 2014, Port Austin
This year’s Carfest will feature live entertainment, a beer tent and, of course, lots of hot wheels to check out in downtown Port Austin. There will be fun for the whole family at this town-wide event.

Which events do you plan to attend this May?