Be A Tourist in Your Own Town with Fun Events in Lansing and Port Huron

If you’re near Lansing or Port Huron in the upcoming weeks, be sure to plan some time to take a “staycation!” These two Michigan cities will host “Be A Tourist in Your Own Town” events that will showcase all the great things to see and do in their respective areas when you want to get away without going far.  We asked Lori Lanspeary from Greater Lansing CVB and Judi Stewart from Blue Water Area CVB to give us the inside scoop on what to expect.


Child_CapitolThis year, Lansing will celebrate the 20th anniversary of its ‘Be A Tourist in Your Own Town’ event! What started out as a great way to promote the tourism assets of Lansing during National Tourism Week with a mere 12 attractions open in the downtown area twenty years ago, has now grown to a region-wide celebration of over 70 cool things to see and do in the Lansing region.

The event is set for Saturday, May 31st from 10 a.m.- 5 p.m. Lansing residents and visitors are encouraged to purchase a ‘passport’ for one dollar and gain entry to all the participating attractions for free that day.

PotterPark04Of course the most popular and well-attended attractions include most of the originals such as Potter Park Zoo, Impression 5 Science Center, Michigan Historical Museum and the State Capitol – but this year, some great new spots have been added to the itinerary such as a tour of Red Cedar Spirits, home to the MSU artisan distillery program. Or how about taking a free sailboat ride courtesy of the Lansing Sailing Club on Lake Lansing? Or a free pedal boat rental at Holt’s Burchfield Park? Wine tastings? Yep, Lansing’s got you covered at Burgdorf’s Winery. Or head to the campus of Michigan State University to handle some real live bugs, fly through the solar system at Abrams Planetarium or stand in the shadow of a dinosaur at the MSU Museum.

Buses are continuously circling four routes that will get you to the majority of the attractions. Pay 50 cents and ride the BATYOT designated busses all day.

Of course it wouldn’t be a passport without collecting stamps. Collect 10 or more stamps from participating attractions on the back of your passport and you can enter to win fun prizes. In celebration of the 20th year of Be A Tourist, 20 golden tickets have been randomly included in 20 of the passports sold prior to the event that are redeemable for a $20 Visa gift card.

This event is not just for residents of the area. Visitors are welcome to enjoy the plethora of things to see and do and get inspired to make plans to return!

For everything you need to know about the 20th Be A Tourist In Your Own Town check out the website.

Port Huron

IMG_7199Port Huron’s “Be a Tourist in Your Own Town” event is happening June 7, 2014 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. It’s a chance for visitors and area residents to discover and rediscover the attractions and history that make Port Huron the Maritime Capital of the Great Lakes.

The event will feature many signature attractions of Port Huron. Drive or board the free trolleys and buses that will run continuously between points of interest, get on and off as you wish. Explore the River Walk, tour Michigan’s oldest working lighthouse, see how a Sea Cadet training ship operates, and learn the history of ice harvesting. Visit the original depot Thomas Edison worked in as a young inventor and dig for fossil at the science museum. There is something for everyone to enjoy. Port Huron has a variety of downtown restaurants and a new collection of outdoor art sculptures located throughout the city. Most attractions are free or discounted for the day!

Tour Stops Include:

Screen Shot 2014-05-28 at 11.01.59 AMBlue Water Trolley and Bus Transfer – Chamber of Commerce-north / McMorran Place-south.  Downtown a place to explore shop and dine many new and unique restaurants
YMCA of the Blue Water Area – Austin Martiny Water Safety Class
Blue Water River Walk – Grand Opening Celebration 10 am -2pm, Official Ceremony 11 am
Vantage Point / Great Lakes Maritime Center - Flower Market and Entertainment, Great Lakes Nautical Society – ship models, Antique Outboard Motor Club – display, River Day- Kids free fishing clinic
Studio 1219 - Art Exhibits, pottery demonstration, make a tile
Carnegie Center – Historical and Maritime Museum
Huron Lady II  – The Huron Lady II will have 6 special one-hour cruises at 10:30 a.m., 11:45 a.m., 1:00 p.m., 2:15 p.m., 3:30 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.
Gray Fox Sea Cadet Training Ship – Docked on the Black River next to Zebra Bar on Quay St.  See how a training ship operates.
Knowlton Ice MuseumLearn about the natural ice industry, at one time one of the ten largest U.S. industries, short film, Twin Pines Farm Dairy display, kids crafts
McMorran Tower – Climb 188 steps for a bird’s eye view of the City
SC4 Natural Science Museum – “The Making of a Fossil: A Michigan Legacy” exhibit, fossil dig and other kid’s science activities
Huron Lightship Museum – Only remaining Lightship on the Great Lakes served as a floating lighthouse.  For 36 years it guided mariners into the narrow channel of lower Lake Huron.
Pine Groove – Electronic music festival located in Pine Grove Park, 3 music stages, exhibits, food & beverage, vendors, kids’ activities
Thomas Edison Depot Museum Edison conducted his first electrical and scientific experiments in Port Huron. View a film of young Tom Edison’s boyhood.
Fort Gratiot Light Station Grounds – Lighthouse climb and tour, Tourist Trot – 5K run for adults and youth, plus a shorter 2K Fun Walk (

Learn more about Port Huron’s “Be a Tourist in Your Own Town” here.

Have you ever taken a “staycation” in your hometown? What did you do?

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


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.


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


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


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

 Have you taken a “staycation” in your neighborhood? Let us know about some of your local favorites.

Craft Beer Countdown: 15 Can’t-Miss Lansing Area Hangouts

Today, guest blogger Ryan Ranspach from “I’m a Beer Hound” counts down 15 can’t-miss craft beer hot spots in the Greater Lansing area. 

Michigan’s craft beer culture has expanded dramatically over the last decade. While the Capitol area has only two full time brewing operations in Eagle Monk on the west side of Lansing and Bad Brewery in downtown Mason, there are an abundance of tremendous craft beer bars. Here’s our list of 15 fantastic places to enjoy a beer when you’re in greater Lansing.

15. Nuthouse Sports Grill–Rounding out our list is the catch-all sports bar located across the street from Cooley Law School Stadium, home of Lansing’s minor league baseball team, the Lugnuts. The Nuthouse has a fairly large, solid menu of bar food and plenty of space to watch a game. While still offering great game day specials on domestics, they have considerably expanded their commitment to having a variety of craft beers on tap from Michigan and beyond.

14. The Draft House–Located outside Dewitt on Old US 27, this quaint and dimly lit bar is a hidden gem of the area. The decor is that of an old barn complete with a grain trading board (used now as a way to track who has drinks bought for them from friends), old farming implements, and a cow’s head blithely mounted above the kitchen entrance. They have fantastic food with daily specials and a good selection of rotating craft taps.

13. The State Room–The restaurant inside the Kellogg Center on MSU’s campus has a surprisingly expansive craft beer list to go with their Encyclopedic wine list. They offer daily and weekly draft specials along with a wide selection of bottles, and their menu is outstanding and imaginative. Often forgotten being inside a hotel, this is one the area’s premier dining locations and also a perfect place to enjoy a relaxing pint after work.

12. Dusty’s Tap Room–Seeing the growing popularity in the craft beer culture, Okemos’ iconic Dusty’s Cellar and Wine Bar built a relaxing, up-scale pub adjoining their restaurant. With a solid draft & cocktail menu and food options to suit all appetites large and small, the Tap Room is a welcomed escape from the chain restaurants in and around the mall. Dusty’s has always been successful, and it’s no surprise that Tap Room has thrived over the last several years.

11. Woody’s Oasis Bar & Grill–On Grand River in downtown East Lansing, Woody’s Oasis Bar & Grill offers Mediterranean food just like their several deli locations around town. What sets the bar & grill apart is just that, a good sized bar with a good selection of Michigan and other craft beers as well as daily food specials. Affordable, delicious, and friendly, this is a good spot near campus to enjoy a drink without the craziness of some of the nearby college bars.

10. Midtown Beer Company–Holding the torch as downtown Lansing’s only true brewery, MBC has done a good job of re-branding themselves over the last couple years. It is a friendly pub with good bar food and a drink list devoted to Michigan beers and spirits, and they always one or two of their own beers on rotating taps. They have a great burger special on Mondays and other deals throughout the week.

9. Zoobie’s Old Town Tavern–Zoobie’s in Lansing’s Old Town district was the first bar in town to get a liquor license after the 21st Amendment ended prohibition. After being vacant for several years, it just recently reopened with a cool, retro atmosphere that aims to capture the old neighborhood bar days of the 1950′s. Though the food menu is limited to bar snacks, the beer and cocktail list is outstanding and makes this a great spot to grab a drink before or after dinner.

8. Taps 25–Taps 25 is a small and friendly bar located across from the Lansing Center and just down the street from the State Capitol. They have exactly 25 beers on tap which are listed on a large and well-organized TV monitor at the back corner of the bar. Situated next to a carry-out taco joint and nearby all that downtown has to offer, this is another spot to grab a beer at for happy hour or after dinner.

7. REO Town Pub–The neighborhood pub on South Washington near downtown Lansing wears a lot of hats. While having a diverse and loyal group of regulars, they also hold a delicious grilled steak special each Wednesday and frequently partner with the I’m a Beer Hound project to hold exclusive beer tasting events and area festivals. The Pub’s friendly atmosphere and commitment to helping spur growth in the area makes it a local favorite to enjoy after-work drinks at.

6. Harrison Roadhouse–The Roadhouse sits on Michigan Avenue in the shadow of MSU’s campus and all its major sports stadiums. Being a quick (though brisk in the winter) walk to just about any Spartan event, it has long been a favorite gathering place for fans, students, and alumni. A few years ago they vastly expanded their draft system allowing them to offer almost 30 beers on tap, the majority of them being Michigan and other craft beers. They also have great drink specials every day and a cozy patio for the summer months.

5. Reno’s Sports Bars (East & West)–With locations on both ends of town, the Reno’s Sports Bars have two of the largest draft beer systems in the entire area. They both feature huge food & drink menus, dozens of TV’s, and video game rooms. In terms of being customer-oriented, the Reno’s franchise has really stuck the landing on meshing a successful sports bar theme with an enthusiastic support for craft beer, and it has them near the top of the list for beer enjoyment in the area.

4. Beggar’s Banquet–Now in their 40th of year of business, Beggar’s Banquet remains in the pantheon of East Lansing dining and watering holes. They have endured changing times by continuing to serve fantastic food and drink at fair prices without pretenses or snobbery. Like many other places in the area, they have remodeled their bar and expanded their draft list substantially in the last few years. This redux has given the iconic restaurant a whole new dimension in terms of enjoyment and has made them one of the best places area for pints, snacks, and dinner. “Gimme Eat!”

3. Crunchy’s–Open since 1982 (originally serving only Stroh’s on tap), Crunchy’s is one of the premier beer bars in the area. They have 27 taps that rotate frequently and include some of the best micro brews from around the country. Their commitment to beer is matched by their commitment to keeping their bar as a hole-in-the-wall, come-as-you-are kind of place. In addition to serving solid and cheap bar food, when a limited release beer comes to the market, Crunchy’s is always among the first to serve it. This charming dive bar is a must-visit when you are in East Lansing.

2. HopCat East Lansing–Just recently opened, HopCat has stormed the gates of the Lansing area beer scene. Their original location, a smaller and quainter version of this one, has long been voted by beer enthusiasts and Beer Advocate as one of the best beer bars in the world. The new East Lansing property features a gaudy 100 beer taps as well as an extensive bottle list. Their menu is concise yet well-rounded and the space, while quite large, is still comfortable. This was an outstanding addition for Lansing beer enthusiasts and should be for many years to come.

1. Soup Spoon Cafe–No drumroll needed here. This is one of the best places to eat delicious, locally sourced food and drink hand-crafted beer in the area. Located near Sparrow Hospital on Michigan Avenue in Lansing, Soup Spoon has gone from a greasy spoon breakfast joint to one of the premier dining establishments in town. Their menu features dishes for all appetites and budgets, and they serve only Michigan beer on tap. If you love craft beer, and there is only one place you visit to eat and drink at in Lansing, definitely try Soup Spoon.

Where do you like to go to grab a Michigan craft brew? 

Ryan Ranspach writes for several websites including I’m a Beer Hound. Originally from the Detroit area, he now lives with his wife in Lansing. Having a wide range of interests, both work and recreation give him the opportunity to travel extensively throughout Michigan experiencing all the great things the state has to offer. His blog is available here.