Why Allendale Should be Part of Your Michigan Vacation Itinerary

Located within Allendale Charter Township, Allendale stretches two-thirds of the total township. It starts from the eastern boundaries of Grand Rapids to the western boundary of Lake Michigan. It was first named as Malta and later change to Allendale by state senator Pennoyer. The senator honored the wife of Hannibal Allen, Agnes Allen. The town was originally famous for being the main campus of Grand Valley State University.

Allendale might be an off-the-beaten-path for some, but others will love to come here for a bit of adventure, history, and a relaxing weekend with nature. Here are some of the best destinations in and around Allendale.

Coopersville Farm Museum

Built in 2001, the Coopersville Farm Museum is a non-profit organization keeping the tradition of rural life alive. With their mission, the museum has become an active part of the community, particuarly when educating people about the past. Here, children learn the importance of farming and how it was done before without technology or modern machinery. They also have exhibits from all over West Michigan covering topics like tools, barbed wire, and feed sacks.  There is also an old grange hall dedicated to all sorts of trinkets from rural towns around the country.  The museum may look small on the outside but is packed with goodies from floor to ceiling.

Gerald Ford Museum

This museum will take you back in time and get a glimpse of the life of President Ford and his wife. The museum honors democratic citizenship to instill an appreciation of the past. There are also temporary exhibits that display several artifacts from museums across the country.

The beautiful landscapes in this museum also leave people in awe. The layout is nicely done with friendly and very knowledgeable staff to assist guests. Short films show vital information about the former President’s politics and life. Another great thing about the museum is that the tours are very organized and easy to follow. Exhibits are well balanced, honest and very factual. Take a souvenir with you in their gift shop which features items relating not just to the Ford presidency but to other American Presidents as well.

Public Museum of Grand Rapids

The Grand Rapids Public Museum is one of the oldest history museums in the country. Founded in 1845, it still has an amazing facility and fascinating exhibits. The museum has three stories and is located just by the downtown riverfront. It houses some of well-preserved objects of the past and collections from more recent times. Some of the great features of the museum are the mystery puzzle and the planetarium. Family members of all ages will love spending time inside the museum. And if they get their tummy grumbling, the museum has a café with some great choices. Staff is also ready to assist guest as they’re all friendly in a way that you’ll only find in towns like Allendale.

Windmill Island Gardens

A few miles away from Allendale, you can find the picturesque beauty of Windmill Island Gardens. It’s not too big which makes it a perfect place to explore and enjoy all the scenery in one visit. They offer tours but the main attraction is their famous windmill. Let the kids enjoy a comfortable pace in the beautiful garden lined with different flowers in vibrant colors. Try to come to their Tulip Festival and you’ll truly experience Windmill Island Gardens in its most lustrous time. Spend the day taking pictures and you’ll definitely capture great frames in this scenic locale.

With the chilly season coming soon, if you spend much time in Allendale or Michigan in general, you might want to grab yourself one of our comfortable Michigan sweatshirts!

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Don’t Overlook Allen Park – There’s More than Meets the Eye

Allen Park is part of Wayne County, Michigan which was famous for their tree-lined streets brick houses. The town is also part of several communities known as Downriver. The town houses two of the most prominent brands in the country, Ford Motor Company and the Detroit Lions. Several Ford Motor offices and facilities are located within the boundaries of Allen Park.

Just recently, Allen Park gathered much of the state’s attention as it hosted the Made in Michigan Festival. Hosting the much-awaited state festival proved that this small community has a lot to offer and makes up much of why Michigan is so awesome.  

Made in Michigan Festival

Because the kick-off event went really well last year, organizers of the festival have made it two days long now. The last weekend of September was dedicated to food, wine, shopping and music in Allen Park celebrating pure Michigan-made excellence. From September 29 to 30, visitors to Allen Park had all day fun for everyone in the family. The festival featured many food trucks and the best Michigan craft beers. To get more into the festivity, live music played all day. There is always something for everyone in this two-day event, an open-air market of all Michigan-made surely inspires everyone to love our state. This event will always draws  some serious crowds, so make sure to plan ahead once you’ve decided to go.

But if Made in Michigan makes you crave for something else, Allen Park has some great eats to discover when festivities aren’t going on.

Moro’s Dining

For a taste of authentic Italian dishes, Moro’s Dining has a lot to offer. They are well known for their flamboyant table-side food preparation to make sure to only get the freshest dishes. Their portions are really generous and the taste even better. They serve great steak options with a perfect balance of seasoning bringing out the natural flavor of the beef.  Don’t miss out on their Strawberry Romanov dessert which is made at your table complete with extravagant preparations.

Angelina’s Mexican Restaurant

If you’re craving for some salsa, head on to Angelina’s Mexican Restaurant. They serve homemade salsas, Mexican sodas, and offer a variety of lunch specials. People would often order the restaurant’s legendary rice and beans. Because of the popularity of the location, it can often get rather crowded, so make a reservation if you know you’ll be heading there. Angelinas has great pricing for their food with large portions. Like any other authentic Mexican restaurant, you will be greeted with the warmest smile and fresh from the stove food. Also worth a try since Allen Park has several parks with great picnic areas is to take the food with you and prepare an alfresco dining experience in the open with your family.

The Glass Onion Griddle

This place takes an ordinary breakfast food and put a unique twist that everyone loves. For a small place, you wouldn’t expect they’d serve such amazing comfort food, but you’ll be glad to be proven wrong. The Glass Onion Griddle is a cozy place to bring your family and friends for an energizing meal before visiting other hotspots around Allen Park. Protip: Their eggs benedict are a must if you’re coming here for the first time as is their Great Lakes coffee.

Whenever you are planning to go to Allen Park, whether for a festival or get a feel of Michigan life, make sure to taste some of their local cuisines. And while you’re at it, make sure to cozy up if you head there during the upcoming winter with one of these great Michigan hoodies.

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Auburn Hills with the Family – What to See and Do

Auburn Hills is a city in Oakland County in Michigan that’s great to visit for a day trip or as part of a vacation in Michigan. It houses the world headquarters of Chrysler, Oakland University and the former home of Detroit Pistons. Back in 1908, the automobile genius, John Dodge bought a farmhouse in Auburn Hills and made it his retreat house. The city has a peculiar upside down “L” shaped which makes it one of the hardest to navigate through, so tourists may find themselves in and out of Auburn Hills depending on which way they travel. Nevertheless, the city houses a number of precious historic finds and natural wonders.

Oakland University

Tourists often pay homage to Oakland University which shares a border with Auburn Hills and Rochester. The university grounds hide a marvelous gem with scenic beauty. It also has an old yet very attractive clock tower, as well as landscapes with ponds and hammocks. Their food court even has a Chic-Fil-a, which is one of the few locations still left in Michigan and happens to be the first in the state. They have a different event going on throughout the year which makes it a bit more interesting for visitors.

Walter P. Chrysler Museum

The city is home to the Chrysler’s headquarters. It had its own building that used to be like Disneyland to car lovers. However, the museum is no longer available. Some visitors who visited the location described the museum as a precious place that brings back sweet memories. They had ‘one-off’ projects cars that a certified motorhead would appreciate. It’s worth a quick drive to this iconic place while planning your next stop in Auburn Hills.

Hawk Woods Nature Center

Camping is often seen as an integral part of father and son bonding moments. But for a fun activity, visitors come to the Hawk Woods Nature Center to experience a rustic kind of bonding for the whole family. The center offers a great family activity all year and everyone will find it enjoyable and interesting. People come here to teach their youngsters how to deal with the outdoors and spend some time away from all their gadgets. It is a great way to teach kids an old school way of living and tell camping stories they will hold dear in their hearts. The Hawk Woods Nature Center has well-groomed trails, boardwalks, and heated showers. All these amenities rest in the middle of 80 acres of scenic meadows and forested woodlands.

Sea Life Aquarium

Tourists come to the Great Lakes Crossing Mall not just to go shopping but to see the largest aquarium in Michigan. Sea Life Aquarium caters to families as their facilities are all child-friendly. It features over 5,000 sea creatures like sharks, octopus, turtles and much more. They have many interesting sea creatures swimming in their tanks that you won’t find in a regular aquarium.  They also have an aqua tunnel and an interacting area for some of the animals. For some, it’s a great diversion for kids to look through (with an older sibling)  while their parents do some serious shopping around the mall. Nevertheless, it’s a great way to spend an afternoon with the family. Sea Life Aquarium also offers educational tours discussing the ocean and the environment.

Does your kid love Michigan as much as you do? They’ll be more than happy to get a Michigan Antlers shirt.

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What You Should Visit While in Bay City, Michigan

Bay City is situated near Saginaw Bay on Lake Huron. Along with Midland and Saginaw, Bay City was formed in Central Michigan and the area was called the Great Lakes Bay Region. The city offers an array of tours, historic finds, and some interesting districts.

Sage Branch Library

Located in a historic building that has a matching Victorian, Gothic, and French Chateau interior design, the Sage Branch Library offers a large selection of books. The building was built in 1884 and the library lies on its second floor. It also offers some modern amenities like multimedia resources for the town.

Saginaw Valley Naval Ship Museum

Coming to Bay City, visitors are expected to drop in the Saginaw Valley Naval Ship Museum. Visitors can experience real life scenarios of the sailors navigating through the tight spaces on the ship. The museum features important events in navigation history and the Great Lakes. It is a huge ship and may take over an hour to go through its spaces. This is a great excuse to visit the town all year long.

Wenonah Park

Walking in this park will let you feel like a local and experience Bay City as it is. People often come here because of the events held in the park. Wenonah Park plays host to several festivals throughout the year and numerous wedding and private events. It offers a nice relaxing ambiance to walk through. The park is well maintained, lined with great restaurants and bars. The city even hosts free concerts within the park that people flock to and enjoy the music while watching a lovely sunset by the river.

Dobson Antique Toy and Firehouse Museum

This museum boasts a huge collection of antique toys and firehouse, with over 12,500 model cars and trucks. They have rooms dedicated solely for Tonka, Coca-cola, Betty Boop and NASCAR. They even showcase a 9/11 Memorial and Snap-on tools. Some of the permanent exhibits include real firetrucks like the New York Super Pumper, the largest fire truck in the world. Visitors of all ages will definitely find their own favorite collection the in the museum. Dobson Antique Toy and Firehouse Museum is very accessible to all visitors; they have handicapped accessibility and motorized carts for those who need them. The staff is friendly and will be happy to assist in navigating this mammoth size museum. On good days, the owner will give a tour to visitors, giving them a first-hand look at the stories and facts about his collections.

Center Avenue Historic District

One of the most photographed areas in Bay City is the Center Avenue Historic District, which is an iconic spot to visit in Bay City. It is just a short drive but most tourists choose to walk to this location. Some homes will even allow visitors to come inside and take a look at some remarkable, picturesque houses. People also enjoy cruising along this historic district, letting them feel like they’re going back in time. Some houses may need some fresh paint or minor repairs but most are still in good condition. The Christmas season is a special time to visit the Center Avenue Historic District as it offers enchanting displays of holiday lights.

The next time you’re in Bay City or out and about anywhere in Michigan, make sure to keep your cold drinks cold or your hot drinks hot with this Great Lakes Girl Tumbler.

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Enjoy Sunshine, Embrace rain, and Live Life to the Fullest

We often live our lives in a mundane fashion. There are so few that truly look for adventure and actually seek those experiences out.

Why is adventure so important?

It’s the adventure that allows us to take a few moments to look into our soul.

Enjoying the Sun…. Embracing the Rain

Our souls are often neglected through the business of life. We tend to run so fast that we are unable to take a few minutes to reflect and consider if the path that we are on is actually the path that we are supposed to be on. Or is the path we are on something imposed on us by our circumstances or family?

My wife and I planned to take a kayaking adventure through Paddling Michigan. (Great company and an awesome guide named Andy) We were scheduled to leave about 3pm and take about 4 – 6 hours kayaking from Miner’s beach out to Lover’s leap and then back to Miner’s beach. That plan didn’t go exactly the way we thought.

A Short Weather Delay

We were delayed for a little while at the start of the journey, the weather was unpredictable and could have moved either way very quickly. Once the storm declared its intentions we were able to launch and start on the adventure.

My oh my, what an incredible start. The wind was coming out of the south which allowed for very calm water along the shoreline of Lake Superior. The sun was peeking through the different clouds giving us the splendor of Pictured Rocks.

(For those who don’t know, Pictured Rocks is a State Forest area in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The mineral found with the sandstone runs with the water down the side of the sandstone painting them with magnificent color. When the sun reflects off the sandstone set atop the crystal clear, intense tropical blue water, it is a sight unmatched anywhere in the US)

With the calm water we were able to sneak into the coves that were dripping the water leaking through the sandstone. The experience was breathtaking and something that is a once in a lifetime experience. We felt so fortunate to have some perfect weather and our hopes were high for an incredible sunset on the trip back, but that wasn’t to be.

We were Enjoying the Sunshine!

We had reached the halfway point of our trip, Lover’s Leap. Lover’s Leap is likely the most notable arch along Pictured Rocks. There are many legends that give the point character and charm. But the beauty and experience of paddling under this magnificent arch is an experience that and only be felt in person. It was at this point that the Coast Guard issued a weather warning and that all water craft needed to get off the water. You can always tell the guides that are worth their weight in salt by the way they act when plans change. Andy was one of those exceptional guides. We were able to land safely at Mosquito Beach and have our lunch while we waited further instructions.

Those instruction — Hike back to Miner’s beach. That’s right surprise, you now have a 4 mile, 2 hour hike back to your pick up spot. Everything changed in a few minutes. What we had planned and what we were about to do were clearly two different things. We hadn’t planned for a hike. We hadn’t prepared for a hike. There were 2 couples and our guide Andy. We now had to figure out how to carry our personal baggage and hike back 4 miles in either water shoes or bare feet.

You see, it is moments like these that define us. It is the chance to look into our souls to see what we are truly made of. To find out if there is a thread of steel that is woven into our soul or if we are find out there is a hollow vacant space. Upon looking inward you are going to find one of two things. The Reinforced steel support structure or absolute emptiness. What are you going to find?

When you are required to start looking inward and find that you haven’t built the steel reinforcements, there is nothing but absolute panic. A panic that causes you to freeze and not act. A panic that causes you to lash out at others. A panic that produces a complaining attitude. A realization that you should have done things different but by then it is just too late. You are in a situation that is completely out of your control and you are forced to adapt and make the best of the situation.

This is the time to Embrace the Rain!

I can say from the deepest part of my heart, I am blessed beyond words to have found my best friends and soul mate to embrace the rain with me.

Boy did we embrace the rain, both literally and figuratively.

With both couples we had no other options but to hike back. It was probably the most fun I have had in a very long time. Within 10 minutes of starting our hike back the sky began to rain, slow and steady. The type that you know will last a long time and drench everything. We LOVED it. It was a time we will not soon forget. We hiked for almost 2 hours and for 1 hour and 45 minutes of that hike we were drenched. We were virtually alone along one of the most amazing cliffs in Northern Michigan hiking in the pouring rain and absolutely loving it. We wanted this. We embraced this adventure know that we had the stamina and the courage to tackle the hike.

These are what memories are made of. These are the times that you look back and say we built a foundation that allowed us to “weather” (pun intended) any type of storm that may show up. We have spent the time building our souls so when things like this do happen we are able to rely on the support of our internal structure.  

What have you done lately to build your internal structure? Are you creating a foundation that will allow you to weather the storms that come in your life?

Creating a true balance in life is all about being able to —

Enjoy the Sunshine

… while there is time to enjoy the sunshine and

Embracing the Rain

… there will always be rain in our lives.

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Our Trip Kayaking Munising, Michigan

My wife and I had the chance to sneak away for a quick 2-day trip to Munising. We wanted to spend a little time checking out some of the different waterfalls but also take the time to kayak with Paddling Michigan and try to see the sunset as we were coming back. What we didn’t expect was the awesome adventure that awaited us.

Most people like to work through a plan or schedule of events and would rather not live for the adventure. But then where is the fun in that?

The Plan

Our plan was to arrive in Munising later in the evening, spend the next day according to our schedule and then head home the following day. What we didn’t know was that while we had planned out our events, the weather made different plans for us.

The morning after our arrival started out pleasant enough. There was a little sun and some clouds were passing through. It looked like an excellent day for kayaking but that wasn’t set to launch till about 3pm. So we were able to sneak a couple of quick little trips. In Munising there are many to choose from. The Twin Falls are one of those semi-secret locations. While they are not as well know as some of the other waterfalls around Munising they are some of the coolest. There is a short hike to get back to the 50’+ drops. When the water is flowing strong they are pretty incredible to see. The paths are well marked but as you walk along these cliff type edges you truly get the feeling that you’re walking back to a secret cove. Once you get into the cove you can totally immerse yourself in the waterfall which you would swear is really some far off tropical getaway. It’s amazing these are literally in our back yard and yet the location feels so secluded.

Our next stop was sand point. One of the most fascinating things you will find is the maroon sand. This maroon sand is called Jacobson Sand. It is only found along the shores of Lake Superior. The tale of Jacobson Sand is in itself nothing short of a mystery. Much like the Black beaches of some exotic far off place, the maroon sand holds its color and creates a feeling of wonder in finding something that you will not find anywhere else. Don’t miss it.

Finally Onto Kayaking

It is now finally time for our Kayaking trip. We knew immediately that this was the adventure that we had been waiting for. There was a massive storm system that was moving in and it had the chance to run either north or just a little south of use. The great thing about the storm is that it was being pushed by a southern wind. South winds make the water along the shoreline of Lake Superior calm and almost tropical. We were delayed until we knew it was safe to venture out on the water. The sun started to peek through in a couple of spots with made the combination of the calm water and the stained rocks breathtaking. These are some of the things that photos and words just cannot describe. The minerals from inside the sandstone leak out with the water and literally paint the sides of Pictured Rocks. This national park is one of best kept secrets of all the US parks. The chance to kayak up close to these 2000 ft cliffs is something you won’t soon forget.

As we got close to Lover’s Leap (the most well known arch along the Pictured Rocks) we received a call from the weather service, issuing a warning to get off the water. We were 4 miles away from our launch point on Miner’s Beach. Our only choice was to land on Mosquito Beach and hike back the 4 miles to Miner’s Beach. We had a few minutes to explore Mosquito River and had to sit in awe of the storm front that was moving across Lake Superior.

The hike back was part of the adventure we hadn’t planned on but in my humble opinion it is what makes memories. We all have choices that we face every day in our lives. We often plan our paths and activities but how often do those plans or activities turn out exactly as we had thought they would.  It is at these points that we make a decision. The decision that will truly touch your soul and allow you see what lies below our normal everyday way of life.

When it Rains, It Pours

About 10 minutes into our hike back to Miner’s beach it started to pour. A steady rain that you know is here for a while. They type that slowly drenches everything around you. It is at this point in our adventure that I can truly say “I absolutely love living in Northern Michigan.” The ability to get out where there is no cell phone coverage. Where there are no other people and it is just your group of friends and nature. A chance to look into your soul and discover what it means to be alive. Our 2 hour hike was one of the best hikes my wife and I have ever taken. It was a special experience that allowed us to say that we alone shared.

Living in Northern Michigan is a chosen lifestyle that we don’t regret. The experiences we can share along with the rest of our family are things that bring us closer and allow us to laugh and really know who we are instead of the fake profile accounts that so often permeate our lives.

All I can say is as you live your life – Enjoy the sunshine and Embrace the rain. You can’t avoid both and only you can decide what your memories will be.

For more outdoor activities around Michigan, make sure to bring something warm like our Beer Koozie Hoodie so you can stay warm while keeping your beverage cold.

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Our Overnight Waterfall Trip

We took off for an overnight trip to see a few of the larger more spectacular waterfalls of the Upper Peninsula in Michigan. One of the first stops we made on our way up was an old fashion drive-up dinner (which I honestly didn’t were still around). When we pulled up it was a little confusing, much like attempting to remember how to use an old rotary pay phone. The awkwardness of do I get out and go up to the counter or wait for this caffeine buzzed teenager to scurry over to take our order made the visit seem a little surreal at first. Ultimately, it was a cool experience. The food came out with a window tray and we were able to steal a couple of moments that had almost been forgotten with time.

A Sunset to Behold

Our journey took us to the edge of Lake Superior just outside of Marquette. There are tons of scenic turn offs but since the sun was just about to set we looked for an abandoned beach with hopes of catching some magnificent sunset colors. Sunset glowed in an incredible fashion as it reflected off Lake Superior. Several lonely pieces of driftwood allowed us to get some great set photos.

Michigan Waterfalls

We got up the next morning with high hopes and lots of energy. First stop, Canyon Falls. We were not disappointed. The short 10 minute walk to the deafening echoes of the falls from the canyon walls is well worth the trip. We spent the next ½ hour exploring the rest of the canyon. There were some hair raising drops and great views that allowed us to feel the awe of just how incredible the Upper Peninsula of Michigan really is. All in all we hiked about 2 miles and it was relatively leisurely.

We had planned to stop at Miner Falls and Munising Falls but decided to head straight to Sable Falls. The water was high and while the view was great the adventure was worth the stair climb. We made it down to one of the first side paths along the river and built a few stone towers. We then continued to adventure to the beach front. This is a Rock Collectors dream. The beach was alive with magnificent colors and all sorts of different type of rocks. We even found some petrified wood, which was  a unique find.

We made our way to Tahquamenon Falls. This engineering marvel shows how powerful a force water is. The water is a orangy brown from the amount of mineral deposit found throughout the Upper Michigan. The lower falls is where you will want to take a few moments to allow you to just take in all the sites. The stopping points allow for some incredible nature shots and if you have the time to sneak across to the island you will have an up close and personal experience with the mighty Tahquamenon Falls.

Show off your pride for Michigan and lake living with our fun Great Lakes Girl varsity sweater.

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