If you’re a native Michigander, you know that there’s no place like the Great Lakes State. There are many reasons to love the Mitten, but let’s start with five of them.
Craft Beer Galore
If you consider yourself a beer aficionado or are simply picky about your favorite brews, beware of crossing state lines without bringing along your favorite six-pack. Not only are we fifth in the nation in the number of breweries, microbreweries and brewpubs, Grand Rapids is celebrated as Beer City, USA. We’re spoiled with places like Bell’s Brewery, Short’s Brewing Company, Founder’s Brewing Company and dozens more giving us experimental and fun concoctions every season. The best part is that all of these places are often right down the road.
Every Type of Sport
It doesn’t matter what sport you prefer to play (or just watch), there’s a favorite season and team for everyone in Michigan. Sports pride runs deep in many families, causing rivalries and competition to flare up. There are of course the national teams based in Detroit—Tigers (MLB), Red Wings (NHL), Pistons (NBA), and Lions (NFL)—but there are a number of local teams of all kinds that have gained a strong following. When it’s warm enough to play, there’s baseball, softball, basketball, gymnastics, soccer, football, rugby, lacrosse, roller derby and swimming. When it’s a little snowier, there’s ice hockey, skiing and snowboarding and even ice climbing. I also have a few friends who surf in Lake Michigan, whether it’s warm outside or not.
Music for Everyone
If you’re from Michigan, you know that Detroit has a long musical history as the birthplace of Motown. As communities grew across the state, that love for music didn’t stop outside of Detroit Rock City. Whether you prefer a punk show in Lansing, an indie concert in Grand Rapids or a rock festival in Detroit, there’s something for every music genre in Michigan. We’re the host state of several unique music festivals, including the Detroit Jazz Festival, the Kalamazoo Blues Festival, Movement Festival, Founders Fest, Electric Forest, Blissfest, Faster Horses, Mo Pop, Hoxeyville, Wheatland Festival, Farm Block, Traverse City Microbrew and Music Festival. In the Mitten, it doesn’t have to be a headliner to be a great show. Sometimes, our favorite musicians are found in coffee shops, breweries and local dives.
All Kinds of Food
Michigan is a very racially diverse state—no two Michiganders look alike. With that diversity brings some very special restaurants (it also helps that we have numerous local farms to provide fresh ingredients). Whatever you are in the mood for, we’ve got it. There’s Taystee’s Burgers, a 100% halal burger joint in Detroit, Golden Harvest for punk brunch in Lansing, The Lunch Room, a cafe in Ann Arbor with lots of vegan options, Blue Nile for some Ethiopian cuisine in Ferndale, Taqueria Mi Pueblo for traditional Mexican dishes in Detroit and Muldoons in Munising for a Yooper pasty. Detroit also features over 20 different food carts, more popular in the warmer months. Read about more great eateries in ing’s Food Issue, here.
Activities for Every Season
Now, the best for last: Michigan has unlimited opportunities to go outside and explore in every season. There are over 4.5 million acres of state land and 3.9 million of that is state forests. There are miles of trails through pine, maple, birch forests, sand dunes, wetlands and along freshwater coasts with unbelievable views. There is something new to do for each season in Michigan. In the late spring and summer, we bask in the warm weather and bright sun while we can, visiting all the Great Lakes, swimming, camping, hammocking and hiking. In autumn, we stare in awe as the leaves of our trees put on a colorful show, making our state a popular stop for a fall colors tour. The winter can be harsh, but we’re no longer phased by icy wind and sudden snow showers. Instead, we embrace the cold weather as we snowboard, ski and snowshoe, then hurry inside to enjoy hot cocoa by the fireplace. The weather isn’t always easy to predict—something we love to joke about—but we know that many other states will never be able to enjoy the seasons in the same way.
Lauren Utykanski enjoys blueberry green tea, the farmer’s market and travelling. They told her olympic dog walking doesn’t exist yet, so instead she decided to study Professional Writing with a minor in Museum Studies. Keep up with her on Instagram at @laurenuty.