Taking advantage of springtime in Michigan
By: Ryan Burklow and Michael Corn (With special contributions from Jordan Kennedy and Gabby Abel)
Whether you know it as the Mitten, the Automotive Capital of the World, the 26th State or the Great Lakes State, few states have more to offer their residents than Michigan come spring time.
With so many great things to do around the state, it would be nearly impossible to experience everything Michigan has to offer in just a year. Luckily, we’ve compiled a list of 26 ways to take advantage of Michigan’s beautiful spring time. This is not a ranking, and the activities are in no particular order.
Not just fun, but very inexpensive as well. One of the best ways to take advantage of a beautiful Michigan spring night is by inviting all your friends and family over for a bonfire. What could possibly be better than sitting around a roaring fire sharing stories — funny and scary — and enjoying the company of your friends and family — add some great Michigan beers (plenty more to come on that subject) and you’re in for a great night.
We’ll be talking about all the great Michigan sports later on, but for now, is there anything more symbolic of springtime in Michigan than opening day? If you answered no, you’re correct. Every year, people from all over Michigan head to Detroit for one of our state’s greatest traditions. There is something about opening day, even if you are just in the city to experience the opening day atmosphere with no plans to actually watch the game. In short, NO ONE does opening day like Detroit.
This year’s opening day will see the Tigers taking on the Boston Red Sox on Friday, April 7. If you can get out of work, I strongly recommend heading down to Detroit — even if you don’t have tickets.
In my totally unbiased opinion, perhaps the best day of the year. While I think that’s all that needs to be said about Oberon Day, I guess I should probably mention that Oberon Day is the day of the year that Bell’s Brewery releases the newest batch of their seasonal best-seller. While I’m not exactly a sommelier, (fancy wine taster [I think])I can confidently describe the beer as basically bottled summer. Released every year on a spring Monday, no Michigan spring/summer is complete without at least one Oberon. When trying to pick the perfect beer to accompany a beautiful spring day, the hardest decision you’ll be faced with is whether or not you want an orange slice in your ice cold Oberon.
Our state’s motto is “If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you.” And the advice is basically the same if you seek a pleasant place for a springtime bicycle ride — look about you. Whether you’re in Mackinac Island (No cars allowed), going on a slow roll in Detroit, or just taking advantage of all the beautiful natural resources our great state has to offer, there’s certainly no shortage of wonderful places to go for a bike ride.
From Beer City, USA to Oberon Day, Michigan is the premier state for beer in the US. Founders Brewery of Grand Rapids and Bell’s Brewery of Comstock, both rank in the top 20 of largest brewers in the nation.
Not to be outdone by the state’s breweries, our state boasts a ton of incredible wineries. With more than 120 Michigan wineries, we won’t list them all (you’re welcome) but to check out how you can schedule your own wine tour visit www.michiganwines.com.
Our state is home to many great museums. Whether you’re visiting the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation in Dearborn, the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids, the Detroit Institute of Arts Museum or the Air Zoo in Kalamazoo, there’s no shortage of opportunities to add some more history and culture to your lives.
American or Lafayette? That’s what you’ll be asked when you make your way downtown for a Detroit coney dog. The infamous meal has its origin rooted in our great state and has many different varieties and recipes across the area. Don’t forget to try Flint’s Original Coney!
There are few states with a prouder professional sports tradition than Michigan. In fact, Detroit is one of just 13 cities that has a team from all four major sports. And starting in 2017, all four teams will be home downtown in America’s Comeback City.
The Tigers have been a part of the American League since 1901, making them Detroit’s oldest professional team. The Tigers have been lucky enough to have some of the greatest athletes to ever play baseball, be it Ty Cobb, Al Kaline, Hank Greenberg or Alan Trammell. Now, fans from all over Michigan can head down to Comerica Park to watch the new crop of Tiger greats — Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera, Cy Young and MVP winner Justin Verlander — go after the franchise’s 5th World Series championship.
Hey, Hey, Hockeytown… Michigan’s 180th year of statehood is a special one for the Red Wings, as it is also the farewell season for the Joe Louis Arena — the Wings’ home ice dating back to 1979. However, Michiganders will be able to head down to brand new Little Caesars Arena for the 2017–2018 NHL season.
Whether you remember the Bad Boys, the Teal years or the Going to Work Pistons, Michiganders know exactly how much fun can be had at a Piston’s game. Like the Red Wings, the Pistons will also be heading to Little Caesars Arena next season, which makes this the perfect year to head down to the Palace of Auburn Hills to watch this young Pistons team work to make the playoffs for a second straight year.
Michiganders can take part in becoming One Pride while the Lions Defend the Den at Ford Field. Everyone knows about the 0–16 season, the Millen era and the curse of Bobby Lane. But, these are the new Lions. They have found their quarterback of the future in Matt Stafford (who ironically enough went to the same high school as Bobby Lane) and are looking to build on making the playoffs two out of the last three years.
If you’re from Michigan it isn’t soda, it’s POP. So, while you’re out celebrating the spring, be sure to enjoy one of the made-in-Michigan pops.
Faygo first became available in 1907, and at that time a bottle cost three cents. While the price may have gone up to a whopping 79 cents, the taste is as great as ever. So whether you like Rock & Rye, Moon Mist or Red Pop, just be sure to think of Michigan while enjoying the tasty beverage.
Vernors is one of the oldest pops in the world, having been created in 1866 by Dr. James Vernor. Michiganders know that it is much more than just a refreshment — it’s basically a miracle drug. After all, how many other soft drinks can also be used as medicine? If that wasn’t enough, by adding ice cream to Vernors you can enjoy a Boston Cooler, on a beautiful Michigan summer day.
If you’ve ever looked at a map, you probably know that Michigan borders four of the five Great Lakes. But, did you know that a person can stand anywhere in Michigan and be within 85 miles of one of those Great lakes?
The Great Lakes might get all the glory, but don’t overlook the more than 11,000 inland lakes that Michigan has to offer. In case you were wondering, a person in Michigan is never more than 6 miles away from an inland lake. That means you could boat, tube, water ski, or skate (in the winter) at a different lake every day of Michigan’s 180th birth year.
With all those lakes, it really only makes sense that Michigan is also home to 129 lighthouses — more than any other state in the nation. The beautifully historical lighthouses can be seen throughout the state, and are an ideal place for a photoshoot. Did you know you can buy a specialty license plate to support those lighthouses? To learn more click here
Fore (see what I did there) years Michigan golf has been consistently named one of the best golfing destinations in America. With more than 650 public golf courses there are courses suited to golfers of every age and skill set. To book your golfing adventure this summer, visit http://www.michigan.org/golfing.
Whether your Spartans Will, you Hail to the Victors, your Broncos just got done going 13 — r0w , or you attended one of the other 12 public universities in Michigan, you know this state has a proud tradition of college athletics. From Dantonio to Harbaugh, Izzo to the Fab Five, Berenson to Mason — we’ve seen a rich history of college sports pass through the Great Lakes. There are countless sporting events throughout the year that you can take advantage of.
Fans of racing know MIS as the fastest track in all of NASCAR and the home of the Pure Michigan 400. However, MIS also is home to the Faster Horses Festival — one of the largest country music festivals in the country. This three-day concert takes place in July and appeals to even the most ardent country music detractors.
MMMMM FUUUDDDGGGE. That’s all we have to say about that. What else is there to say?
Pedal Pubs are taking Michigan by storm. What’s a Pedal Pub you ask? It’s your favorite neighborhood bar mixed with a bike. Patrons can tour awesome Michigan cities like Detroit, Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor and many more, while enjoying their favorite Michigan beer (see above).
Minor League Sports
Not only home to the top pro teams in the nation, Michigan has many amazing minor league teams: the 2013 Calder Cup Champion Grand Rapids Griffins, the 2015 Midwest League Champion West Michigan Whitecaps, the Kalamazoo K-Wings, the Lansing Lugnuts, the Grand Rapids Drive, the Flint Firebirds, the Great Lakes Loons, the Kalamazoo Growlers, the Traverse City Beach Bums, and many others. Michigan is the perfect place for sports lovers of all ages.
Chances are you’ve heard of the Detroit Zoo — the first zoo in the country to feature open, naturalistic habitats that allow patrons to see the zoo’s 2,600 animals in a more realistic setting. However, you may be less familiar with the other zoos that call Michigan home — the Binder Park Zoo, the John Ball Zoological Garden, Celebration Square Children’s Zoo and the Garlyn Zoo. This means that no matter what region of Michigan you call home you can always have a roaring good time at a Michigan zoo.
Michigan is home to 5 National Parks, just one more reason to be smitten with the Mitten. The Sleeping Bear Dunes were recently named one of the best beaches in the world by National Geographic. Michigan’s amazing National Parks are sure to be fun for the whole family.
Silver Lake Sand Dunes
The Silver Lake Sand Dunes might not be a national park (see above), but they are the only sand dunes in the state that you can drive your own personal ORV across. As long as you’re not driving your dune buggy too fast, you can also take a minute to appreciate the miles of scenic shoreline — this beautiful haven has to offer.
In case Thunder Bay isn’t the coolest name you’ve ever heard, this bay located off the coast of Alpena has been given the nickname Shipwreck Alley. What’s more, you can explore the actual ships that are the reason behind the bay’s pseudonym.
Fairs and Festivals
We couldn’t possibly list every fair and festival in Michigan (we’d have to rename this list 50+ festivals in Michigan). We are however going to highlight some of the cool fairs and festivals around the state, but to see a complete list go to http://www.michigan.org/fairs-festivals
National Cherry Festival — A Traverse City tradition that celebrates one of Michigan’s most well-known commodities- cherries. Whether you’re sweet or sour you’re sure to find something you like.
Bavarian Festival — This week-long festival celebrates the connection to Frankenmuth’s rich Bavarian history. So, don’t get your pretzel in a twist, head on over to Frankenmuth and enjoy this unique experience.
Art Prize — All eyes are on Grand Rapids as artists from all over the world showcase their works of art in hopes of winning one of the two $200,000 grand prizes.
Cheeseburger in Caseville — Based on the popular Jimmy Buffet hit “Cheeseburger in Paradise,” this festival is the perfect way to bid farewell to your summer. Featuring a show-stopping parade, sandcastle building, concerts and laser light shows, this festival has something for everyone.
Tulip Time Festival — Holland, Michigan is known throughout the world for its beautiful tulips, so it only makes sense that it would also be celebrated for the Tulip Time Festival. While there are plenty of activities suitable for the whole family, Holland’s nearly 4.5 million tulips are the real star of the show.
Be sure to check out Michigan’s largest amusement and water park. Located in Muskegon, this awesome destination has attractions suitable for thrill seeking adrenaline junkies and amusement park newbies as well.
No trip to the Upper Pennisula. is complete without visiting the modern engineering marvel that is the Soo Locks. Simply describing it truly doesn’t do this wonder justice. Not only are the Locks situated on two Great Lakes, there is nothing like watching the giant freighters come into the Locks to travel between Lake Superior and Lake Huron.
Hunters and fishers come from all over the country to utilize the abundant natural resources Michigan has to offer. With the beautiful forests and countless rivers, streams and lakes — Michigan proves to be a paradise for many people. Legislation was recently signed allowing some hunting permits to be displayed on smart phones — now you can display your license and then share this story using the same device. Now, that’s convenience!
Like we said, there was no way to include every great thing there is to do in Michigan, but you can check out Pure Michigan’s website to see even more.