The Memorial Day fun kicks off this weekend! With boating, beaches and cookouts galore, there are endless opportunities to unwind in Pure Michigan. Today, our guest blogger from The Awesome Mitten shares his four most important pieces of a long weekend in Michigan!
Being the Car State, Michigan is true to its name beyond being the home of the Big Three. Our state is huge! It takes two more hours to drive from Detroit to Ironwood than from Detroit to New York City. I know you might be asking, “Who wants to drive to Ironwood?” (I do!) Perhaps you just want a casual weekend getaway north, or maybe you’re driving to your parents’ house for the weekend–it’s still probably three to six hours. Those holiday weekends that add an extra day of vacation time sure come in handy; to prepare yourself for such a weekend, we’ve come up with a list of necessities that you shouldn’t leave home without!
1) Layers of clothes for persistent changes in weather. You’re likely to be sweating, shivering, and almost-but-not-quite comfortable throughout the whole weekend. I like to head to Moosejaw in Detroit and find gear that prepares me for all the climates; a few years back, I learned this lesson when it was thirty-five degrees in Traverse City in the morning and I left for my day adventure all bundled up. I went to Sleeping Bear Dunes for the climb, but failed to wear removable layers. Halfway to Lake Michigan, I looked like a wrestler preparing for the Big Fight in my sweatshirt; sweating and tired, I gave up. Now I leave for my many Michigan adventures with rain gear, sun gear, swim gear, and anything-can-happen gear!
2) A beach towel because you’ll inevitably end up with wet, sandy feet. Since you’re never more than six miles from water in Michigan (according to my fourth grade teacher in Ludington), you should always have a towel with you. Buy one from your hometown! It’s a fun way to show hometown pride–you’ll probably find that the folks in the cabin next door actually live ten miles from you. I use my mom’s towel from high school and receive a lot of shout-outs when people see “Mona Shores Sailors”–they’re mostly about the championship hockey team, but I love being able to make a connection and share a story with other Michigan adventurers.
3) A very large cooler (and perhaps a companion picnic basket) that can fit Michigan craft beer and wine, the makings for sandwiches, and fruits and veggies from the many roadside stands that dot the state. This way you can picnic among the state’s many natural gems. Make a point to drive down unfamiliar roads and find some of the lesser known treasures we’re lucky to have in our state. Being from Ludington, I know there are a ton on any road. But I can’t tell you where they are–local’s honor. A must-stop is Forty-Five North Winery on Leelanau Peninsula, which is just off of CR-204 smack in the middle of the peninsula. Adventures abound from I-94 to US-2!
4) Tunes! Whether planning to drive all over or lounge on the beach from 11:00am to 11:00pm, you need music. Greetings from Michigan by Sufjan Stevens is perfect for when the windows are down, the sun is shining through prongs of white pines, and the roads curve around lakes and hills. Take time before you head out to make a Michigan-centric playlist–you may, and should, find music you didn’t know was about Michigan. “America” by Simon and Garfunkel is a good place to start your Michigan musical journey.
Jonathon Arntson grew up in Ludington where he spent most of his summers at the beach or napping afterward to the lingering rhythm of the waves. He moved to Detroit in September of 2013 to join the Urban Studies program at Wayne State University. He is an adventurer with an affinity for the streets of Detroit Some of his favorite things about the Mitten are Jeffrey Eugenides, Tigers baseball, Michigan brews, UpNorth, and, of course, the beaches of the Great Lakes.