All Aboard to Magnificent Michigan
We chatted with Michelle Grinnell from Pure Michigan to get the inside scoop on why Michigan should be your next weekend adventure, or family vacation. Read on to discover more about this gem of the Midwest:
Amtrak: What makes Michigan a destination worth considering for a vacation?
Michelle:There is so much to discover here in Michigan. We have 3,200 miles of freshwater coastline, one of the nation’s top craft-beer scenes, thousands of miles of trails to explore, thriving urban centers, and four seasons that ensure you can plan the perfect trip any time of the year. Visitors to Michigan receive a warm welcome from communities across the state. We really are about more than just taking a vacation – we want you to create memories here with your family and friends that will last a lifetime. We have some terrific trip planning tools on michigan.org and people can follow-us on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat (Pure-Michigan), Pinterest) or check out the Pure Michigan blog to be inspired to plan their Pure Michigan vacation.
Amtrak serves some great Michigan destinations like Detroit, Ann Arbor and Grand Rapids. Are there any things to do or see in those cities?
Detroit is really in the national spotlight right now, and there is so much interest in what is happening there. As America’s Comeback City, Detroit offers travelers an exciting blend of old and new. The architecture in the city is really incredible and I highly recommend taking a guided tour of the city through a group like Detroit Experience Factory. Some of the must-see attractions include the Detroit Institute of Art and the famous Detroit Industry fresco cycle by Diego Rivera; Motown Museum; the Detroit Riverfront and Eastern Market (rent a bike at Wheelhouse Detroit and bike along the river, and up Dequindre Cut to the market). Detroit also offers three casinos, four professional sports teams and some great automotive heritage sites. Food-lovers will not be disappointed either with more than 70 restaurants opening in the city in the past two years.
When you talk about food, you have to talk about Ann Arbor. This city is renowned for its diversity of flavors – be it Ethiopian cuisine, a New York style deli or Cuban street food. It is a very walkable city, combining the culture and sophistication of a big city with the charm and hospitality of a small town. Ann Arbor is also home to the largest stadium in North America – the Big House – where more than 110,000 college football fans gather on Saturday afternoons in the fall to cheer on the University of Michigan Wolverines.
On Michigan’s west coast, Grand Rapids earned the title Beer City USA and is the heart of the craft beer movement that has really taken off here in Michigan. There are 15 breweries in Grand Rapids, with an additional six up and down the coastline, including several in Holland. Art lovers won’t want to miss the Grand Rapids Art Museum and Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park. Each year in September, Grand Rapids is home to Art Prize – a radically open, independently organized international art competition that brings more than 400,000 people into a three square mile area to be part of a conversation about art.
What are some unknown things about Michigan?
People probably know that Michigan is surrounded by four of the five Great Lakes – but they may not know that no matter where you stand in Michigan, you are never more than six miles away from some body of water. Holland, one of Michigan’s beach towns, is home to DeZwaan, a 250 year old working Dutch windmill, which still mills flour and is available for tours. Michigan is a terrific state for bird watching, and every fall thousands of Sandhill cranes stage in Jackson, Michigan and prepare for their southern migration. Michigan is also a wonderful place for family vacations. Chris Van Allsburg’s The Polar Express was set in Grand Rapids, Michigan and during the holidays, families can ride the real Polar Express (the 1940’s steam train Pere Marquette 1225) which departs from Steam Railroad Institute in Durand and includes cocoa with Santa. You can take an overnight safari in Battle Creek at Binder Park Zoo or ride in a Model T at Greenfield Village in Dearborn. Detroit is home to the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History – the largest institution in the world dedicated to the African American Experiences – as well as the Arab American National Museum – the only museum in the U.S. devoted to Arab American history and culture.
Anything else we should know about Michigan?
Michigan is best known as a summer destination, but visitors coming in fall and winter will find exciting activities and lots of fun events. Fall color tours in Michigan are breathtaking, with vibrant reds, blazing oranges and rich yellows set against the sparkling blue waters of 11,000 inland lakes. Stop at one of more than 100 cider mills in the state for fresh cider and donuts or enjoy the bounty of harvest time at farm markets across the state. When winter rolls around, we don’t hibernate – we take a snow day! Michigan has the second most ski areas of any state, more than 3,000 miles of cross country ski trails and one of the most extensive interconnected snowmobile trails in the nation. It is also the perfect time of year to take a romantic getaway, complete with spa experiences and indulgent meals set amongst a winter wonderland.
Inspired? Amtrak can take you there on the Blue Water, Wolverine and Pere Marquette. All Aboard!