Just because the weather is cold doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy Michigan in winter. Whether you want to explore the outdoors or keep warm inside, there are plenty of winter activities in Michigan for everyone. Pack a coat and some gloves, and get ready for a season full of holiday activities and other great adventures.
Tag: USA (Page 1 of 3)
The Dream Lake trail was my absolute favorite hike in Rocky Mountain National Park. It branches off from the Bear Lake area and takes you up to a series three more alpine lakes: Nymph Lake, Dream Lake, and Emerald Lake. We stopped at Dream Lake thanks to non-ideal hiking conditions, but online photos make me think it’s the prettiest of the three anyway.
The Bear Lake Trail
As a former Magic Kingdom Cast Member, this park will always have the fondest memories associated with it for me. It was the first Disney World park and is home to the iconic Cinderella Castle. I know what you’re thinking. “Isn’t the Magic Kingdom just for kids?” Nope, not at all. Despite its reputation as the “kids’ park,” there is plenty of fun for guests of all ages, as I’ll demonstrate in this very in-depth guide for adults at the Magic Kingdom.
Maybe it’s a bit cliché, but I love the fall. Or the autumn if you’re fancy like that. It combines great weather, beautiful foliage, some of my favorite holidays, and a lot of great events, so it’s easy to see why so many people enjoy this season. It’s also the perfect time to explore Michigan. Read on to find out all about the best reasons to visit Michigan in the fall.
As the home of two very proud Big Ten universities, college football is naturally a big deal. Plus, Detroiters have suffered through the Lions’ failures for so many decades that college football is really the only way that many Michiganians (Michigander is used more commonly, but it just reminds me of male geese) have been able to experience actual success on the gridiron.
As a Wolverine, I’m partial to the games at the University of Michigan. The Big House aka Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor is an experience in and of itself. The stadium doesn’t look particularly large as you approach from street level, but as you emerge into the bowl and realize the massive expanse in front of you, it’s incredible. The Michigan State Spartans also have a stadium in East Lansing where they play football, but it’s just not the same. If you want the full experience, show up on the Saturday of the annual Michigan-Michigan State game and watch families be torn apart based on rooting interest and friendly wagers. Check these links for schedules for Michigan and Michigan State.
I didn’t realize how much of a Michigan thing visiting cider mills in the fall was until I lived elsewhere for a while. When I was living in Florida, I couldn’t even find real cider, which was pretty distressing in the fall when I most want it. Locals will queue up in long lines for single cups of cider or gallons to take back home with them. (The cider mill references here are specifically related to the non-alcoholic version of cider, though some of the local ones are starting to brew their own alcoholic versions as well.) It never really feels like fall until I’ve had a cider mill donut (traditionally covered in cinnamon sugar) and washed it down with an icy cold glass of locally brewed cider. It’s incredible, and that’s coming from someone who doesn’t even really enjoy apple juice. The cider can be served cold or hot, and I recently sampled a cider slushie as well. The best cider mills have other autumn-y activities to do while snacking, like pumpkin patches or trails to enjoy the fall colors.
My two favorites are both located in the southeast Michigan area, a little bit north of Detroit. Yates, in Rochester Hills, is the most iconic, with its red barn and wooded trails. The lines are long on fall weekends, and it creates its own local traffic jam on the busiest days as visitors hunt for parking spaces. Blake’s, located in Armada has a huge variety of different seasonal activities like berry picking. It’s also home to perhaps my favorite cider mill donuts. It’s a bit further from the city, but well worth the trip.
The Michigan Renaissance Festival, held in Holly, actually kicks off in August, but it’s always felt like more of a fall thing to me. It begins in late August and runs through the end of September. Even if you’re not into dressing up in period costume (if you are, you can rent them there), it’s a lot of fun to wander around and enjoy the atmosphere. There are medieval games that you can play like axe throwing (I STILL can’t figure out how to get the axe to stick in anything, let alone the target) and target archery. There’s also a spot where you can pay to lob tomatoes at some hecklers in stocks. The periodic jousting shows draw big crowds, and you can watch knights perform different skill tests on horseback. Find all of the info you need about Renfest here.
Oktoberfest at Frankenmuth
Frankenmuth is a small town located between Flint and Saginaw that is designed to look like a little Bavarian village. It’s known for its amazing chicken dinners, a mind-blowingly large Christmas store, and lots of kids’ activities. During September, Frankenmuth throws a traditional Oktoberfest party – the only one that’s officially sanctioned by the original Oktoberfest in Munich.
For one weekend in September (corresponding to the actual Oktoberfest in Munich), Frankenmuth comes alive with traditional entertainment, food, and – of course – beer. If a plane ticket to Germany isn’t in your budget, don’t miss a chance to wander among the Bavarian style buildings and soak up the closest thing to the real festival. More info can be found at this link.
Halloween is one of my favorite holidays, which plays heavily into my love of the fall. The Zoo Boo event at the Detroit Zoo in Royal Oak is a family friendly event held after hours. Kids and adults can dress up in costumes and trick or treat along a route through the zoo. Most of the animals aren’t visible in the dark, though the reptile house usually remains open for exploration.
The walkway is lined with a seemingly impossible number of carved pumpkins. Entertainment varies, but the last time I attended, there was a lot of pumpkin smashing in the name of science as well. Plus, did I mention that you get to leave with a load of candy? Find out more about the Zoo Boo here.
Hallowe’en at Greenfield Village
Greenfield Village at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn throws another awesome Halloween event on select nights in October. The village, a collection of historic buildings that were relocated to the site, takes you back in time to Halloweens of old. More than 1000 carved pumpkins line the path through the park, and characters in period costume wander through the crowd. Special shows and live music provide additional entertainment, and if you keep your eyes open, you might just spot the legendary Headless Horseman. Find out more about the event here.
Hiking is nice any time of year, but it’s at its best in the fall when the leaves start turning. Taking drives to view the foliage is a big deal out on the East Coast, but you can have the same experience without driving cross-country (and paying for more expensive everything out there) right here in Michigan. Because the state spans such a great distance from north-south (sorry, Connecticut), you have a bigger window to hit peak colors. The leaves in the UP (that’s the Upper Peninsula for you non-locals) turn first, and then the colors creep southward until they brighten up the whole state.
America’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
Forget Macy’s in New York. The America’s Thanksgiving Day Parade right here in Detroit is my favorite annual parade. Every Thanksgiving Day, people line the streets to watch a seemingly endless array of floats, high school bands, and gigantic balloons. Though my favorite part of the parade – the Briefcase Drill Team – had its last performance a few years ago, the parade is still a fantastic event. Every year, kids get to submit designs for a new float and balloon and the top choices are built in real life. The parade wraps up with the mayor presenting Santa Claus himself the key to the city. If you’re more into running than stuffing your face at dinner (or both), don’t miss the Turkey Trot, a series of races before the parade with distances of 1 mile, 5k, and 10k. Get more info on the parade and Turkey Trot here.
Not planning to visit Michigan in the fall? Maybe one of these other seasons will suit your tastes better:
Don’t forget to save this for later on Pinterest!
Driving Pikes Peak is one of those classic American experiences that everyone should try at least once. My dad went as a kid, and it’s always been on my list of things to do. I finally got a chance to make the drive this year and it was amazing!
Pikes Peak (known as a fourteener because it tops 14,000 feet high) is located in Colorado Springs and the peak can be accessed by driving, taking a cog railway ride, or hiking. We chose to drive the 19-mile road to the top. Here’s everything you need to know about it.
The drive up Pikes Peak
One of my favorite things about traveling for work is getting to try new restaurants in the areas I visit. After eight weeks in Albany, New York, I’ve compiled my list of my nine favorite places to eat. Read on for my Albany dining guide.
C.H. Evans Brewing Company at the Albany Pump Station
This brewery is housed in an old water pumping facility that was originally used to pump water from the Hudson river to supply the city. Nowadays instead of water tanks, it holds vats of beer, although the still-operational crane from its previous life still hangs above the dining room as a reminder of the past.
I was determined to order a salad, but a delicious BBQ pork entree caught my eye on the menu. The dish is layered with scalloped cheesy potatoes on the bottom and topped with pulled pork, melted white cheddar, and delicious BBQ sauce. Health-wise, it’s about as far away from a salad as you can get, but it was well-worth it.
Public House 42
I loved the atmosphere at this Irish pub. You had to climb down a few stairs to get into the half-street level bar felt a little like entering a secret hideout. There was a decent sized bar and a handful of tables, so between that and the low ceilings and dim lighting, it felt very intimate.
Their menu was pretty standard Irish pub food, so I went with a shepherd’s pie since that’s my perfect collection of foods all thrown together in a dish that warms your heart. I was a little disappointed by my first bite, but I think I just happened to get a dry part because the rest of the dish was amazing. When the mountain of food was set down in front of me, I figured I’d maybe get through half of it and take the rest home for leftovers the next day. I was wrong; I inhaled all but a few bites because I just couldn’t stop eating it. The veggies were crisp, the mashed potatoes were delicious, and the cheese baked on top had a perfect little bit of crunch to it.
You’ll have to head out of Albany a bit to visit this spot, but Troy is only a few minutes up the road and Dinosaur BBQ is well worth the short drive. It’s a New York chain, and I’ve been to several of their locations, including the original in Syracuse. Whenever I’m in New York state for work, I try to have dinner at one of these restaurants if I can find one nearby. All of the locations I’ve been to feature eclectic décor, and the Troy location has the added benefit of an outdoor patio overlooking the Hudson River.
There are two different sauces on the table for you to dress your own meat – a regular and a spicy. I’m partial to pulled pork when I get BBQ, but I’ve been told by co-workers that their chicken is phenomenal as well. I always get their BBQ fried rice as a side because it’s both delicious and unique, and their macaroni and cheese and baked beans are great as well.
The Recovery Sports Grill
This small chain of sports bars has a few locations around the area, and it’s a great location to watch a game if you’re looking for good food to accompany it. The original location in Albany is fittingly right across from the medical center, and they’ve expanded to other locations in the area.
I fell hard for their Thai peanut salad – I’m a picky eater, and I’m pretty sure this is the first time in my life that I’ve ordered a salad exactly as it appeared on the menu without asking for them to keep certain items off of it. it’s unique because it doesn’t come with dressing, substituting a delicious peanut sauce that is perfect for dipping the grilled chicken in. The cold noodles seemed like an odd choice at first, but they ended up being my favorite part of the salad.
Parish Public House
I inadvertently visited this bar/restaurant on Mardi Gras – I should’ve seen this coming since the menu is Cajun themed – and was pleased to find the place draped in beads and full of people celebrating. There was a live band playing for the first couple of minutes I was there, but they went on break when they finished that song. Unfortunately, the large crowd meant that most of the menu items I was interested in were gone, so I ended up with a ham po’ boy sandwich to go. I was a little disappointed because I’m used to po’ boys being served hot, so when I got back to the hotel room and found out that it was cold, I wasn’t thrilled. The ham was fantastic though, and the bread was top notch.
I naturally had to go back again to try what I really wanted, and was thoroughly delighted by their crawfish and tasso ham mac and cheese (I ordered it with just ham). It was incredible. It’s some of the best mac and cheese I’ve ever had. I’m drooling just thinking about it.
The Olde English Pub
This English pub is adorable. It really looked like a little cottage, and the interior was well-themed. There’s a cute little garden in the front that features a classic red English photo booth. The first level of the restaurant has a perfect neighborhood-style bar that was lined with patrons. I happened to stumble across trivia night, so while I didn’t play, I also enjoyed listening to the questions being read off.
I chose to sit upstairs where it was a bit quieter and had some fantastic fish and chips. I’m not generally a fan of fish, but theirs looked good enough that I decided to try it and I was not disappointed. The batter was perfectly crispy, and I left completely stuffed.
Wellington’s caught my eye as I was walking back to my car from another restaurant, so I made a point to visit it later in the week. I was mostly drawn to the sleek décor seen through the large windows, so I checked out their menu online and decided to give it a try. I got a fantastic seat in an armchair by the window, and I even got a view of the capitol building.
I started off with their Saratoga kettle chips since they were only 99 cents. I was glad they were so cheap, because I didn’t like whatever seasoning they used and only ate a few of them. The restaurant was redeemed by the next two courses though.
Though their menu has numerous fine dining options, I opted for a simple caesar salad with grilled chicken added. I really liked it despite the fact that I forgot to ask for the dressing on the side so it had a little more on it than I usually use. The lettuce was chopped into the perfect size to eat it gracefully – a vastly underrated quality in salads if you ask me – and there were large croutons that offered a delicious crunch. The chicken on top was what blew me away though. Most of the time when you add chicken to a salad, you get a sad, bland little piece of luke warm meat. This was not the case at Wellington’s. The chicken I got was so good that I’d gladly order it for an entrée if that was an option. It was steaming hot and coated in a delicious seasoning that gave it just a little bit of a spicy kick.
I almost never order dessert when I’m eating out, but there was a “pumpkin pie” option that was so different that I couldn’t pass it up. It came with two cinnamon waffle triangles with pumpkin gelato and cinnamon whipped crème all stacked together. It was a little melted by the time it was brought to me, but it still tasted fantastic. I love finding unique things like that, and I especially love pumpkin pie.
City Beer Hall
This bar and restaurant was recommended by a local. It has a cool, biergarten-like atmosphere with large tables and benches on the first floor. There’s a large bar area with tons of beers on draft and in bottles and cans. If you’re feeling adventurous, they even have a mechanical bull to try.
I had an incredible pulled pork sandwich with a side of fries. I’m somewhat picky about pulled pork, and this was perfectly moist and not too fatty. The fries were also my favorite style of battered crispiness.
I found myself in Albany on National Grilled Cheese Day, so what better way to celebrate than by having lunch at Capitol Melts, a grilled cheese place just down the hill from the capitol building? I had an incredible mac & cheese melt with added bacon. The mac & cheese was good enough that you could just eat that – you can, in fact, order it as a side. It was the perfect way to celebrate Grilled Cheese Day.
Capitol Melts is a great place to grab a quick lunch during the week. It’s only open until 2 pm on weekdays, so you’ll have to time your visit for the workweek. It’s a fast counter-service style place, so you’ll be able to grab your food and get back to work quickly if you’re in the area.
Have you visited any of these restaurants? Did I miss any favorites that I should hit if I go back again? Let me know in the comments.
Read more posts about my work travels here:
- The Fun Side of Business Travel
- Thacher State Park
- An Evening in San Antonio
- Surviving Solo Business Trips
Enjoy the Albany dining guide? Don’t forget to pin it for later.
After being a bit neglected over the last few years, Epcot is about to see some big changes that will be a bit of a departure from its original vision. I picked it to be my first park guide in my series about Disney World for grown-ups because it’s historically been considered the non-kiddie park. I dispute that, as it was always my favorite as a kid, but I was also kind of a weirdo. This is the place where you’ll see the most childless adults hanging around, so feel free to start here if you still feel awkward. Read on for my top tips about Epcot for adults. Don’t forget to check out my grown-up’s guide to all of Disney World here.
Drinking around the world
I guess I have to start with this one. Any Disney fan over the age of 21 (sorry, even though you’re drinking in pavilions made to resemble other lands, the standard American drinking age still applies) has probably heard about drinking around the world. It’s a pretty simple concept: you head to World Showcase – that’s the part around the large lagoon at the back where all of the different countries are– and have a drink from each of the 11 pavilions. You’ll want to get an early start – most places open at 11 – to make sure you can pace yourself throughout the day. You don’t want to be the person who gets kicked out of Epcot because you’re falling over drunk. I highly recommend saving your last drink for just before Illuminations so you can enjoy it during the fireworks show.
I love spontaneous adventures. So, when my boyfriend mentioned that he’d never seen Tahquamenon Falls when we were packing up to leave St. Ignace, I immediately suggested that we stop there before heading home. Sure, it was a couple hours in the opposite direction from where we needed to go, but we had all day to kill and it had been a long time since I’d been there too.
What’s generally referred to as Tahquamenon Falls is actually a series of waterfalls on the Tahquamenon River. The larger Upper Falls is more spectacular and is one of the most well-known spots in the state. The Lower Falls area consists of multiple smaller cascades that require some more effort to view, but offer a chance to play in the water a bit.
Disney is just for kids, right? Think again. Whether you’re reliving childhood memories or visiting for the first time, a Disney vacation is a blast for adults of all ages too. As a veteran of several grown-ups only trips, here are my best tips for making the most of your vacation to Disney World for adults only.
Don’t be self-conscious
Even if friends and family back home think you’re a little weird for going to Disney World or Disneyland without kids, no one at the parks will care. If you look around, you’ll see plenty of adults there by themselves from college-aged travelers to honeymooners to retired couples to intrepid solo travelers soaking up the magic on their own. And even if you were the only adults there sans children, everyone else would be too busy enjoying themselves to care. Don’t let worrying about what other people think of you put a damper on your fun.
The Alberta Falls trail is fairly easy and offers a rewarding view of a cool little waterfall. The trail to the falls is about 1.6 miles, and hikers can continue past the waterfall for a few miles to view some scenic lakes and ponds. We decided to turn back after reaching Alberta Falls because we wanted to explore some other areas on our last day, and it made for a perfect morning warm-up hike.