Shipwrecks, Nature and More to Visit in Alpena

Situated in northern Michigan, Alpena is a popular destination for tourists during summer. Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary serves as one of the main attractions in town. The MidMichigan Health, a rural regional medical center employs more of the area’s residents than any other location.  Henry Schoolcraft named the town Alpena, which somewhat translates to “a good partridge country”. But the town is known as the “Sunrise Side” because of its location on the eastern shoreline of Michigan. Alpena was once a commercial fishing area and host to many related activities. Today, the town is famous for its limestone quarry, one of the biggest in the world.

People also come to Alpena to explore its rich history and its natural wonders through some of the points of interest discussed below. If you’re into outdoor adventures and love learning new things, Alpena should be part of your next trip to or through Michigan.

Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary

This 4000 square mile sanctuary protects the Great Lakes and its history. Their mission is to educate people about the rich history of the Great Lakes and how it helps form the society we know today. They worked hard to ensure that these underwater treasures will still be around for future generations to enjoy. Some 200 or more historic shipwrecks lied deep within Lake Huron’s fresh water and with the help of the community preserve these priceless treasures. The visitor center also shows different exhibits for visitors to take in and enjoy. Staffs at the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary are equipped with the knowledge to educate visitors and they’re super friendly too. Visitors are always fascinated with the history of the shipwrecks and leave appreciating the Great Lakes that much more.

Alpena Bi-Path

This hidden gem is a great place to go for a romantic stroll or a family picnic. Its view of the river is very picturesque like those of a painting. The Alpena Bi-Path is well maintained and a safe place to ride a bike or just enjoy a leisure walk. It gives you an idea how healthy and happy the lifestyle is in the area. The best time to explore the place is early morning when you can see other bikers around or late in the afternoon.

Stoney Acres Winery

This winery offers some of the best soda and wines in town. It’s near the Thunder Bay Marine Sanctuary and best to drop by to this place before heading home. Servers will let you taste some of the homegrown brewed and even have several choices of sodas for your kids. They even have chutney samples to go along with their wine.

Island Park & Wildlife Sanctuary

Another great family destination around Alpena is the Island Park & Wildlife Sanctuary. They have different types of plants and trees with markers that educate visitors. The sanctuary also has many spots for family pictures or selfie opportunities. What makes this place great is the accessibility. They have easy trails for wheelchairs and walking paths, making the outdoors available to everyone. They have labels along to way to let you know that you can expect on a particular trail.

Besser Museum

Don’t let the exterior fool you, small as it is, Besser Museum has some great exhibits for your family. Their planetarium offers some interesting shows with a presenter that is well versed in the field. It is not too crowded, and perfect for little kids to explore some of their exhibits. The museum houses a refurbished boat and fossil pit which is great for your kids to dig their treasures. Overall, it’s a nice place to visit whenever in town.

If you plan on making your way through Alpena or anywhere in Michigan while the temperature is low, make sure to bring along your favorite hot beverage in one of our Michigan D Tumblers to help keep your drink (and you) warm.


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4 Dangerous Species that Swim in Lake Michigan’s Waters

There is no denying that Lake Michigan is one of the most picturesque places in the world. Many fall in love with its serene yet unpredictable beauty. In return, the lake gave an abundant harvest of fishes and other scrumptious seafood. Its shores littered with pristine beaches, numerous attractions, and colorful towns to visit. However, Lake Michigan hides some of the deadliest animals on earth. When you’re visiting the lake wearing one of our Great Lakes Words T-Shirts, make sure to keep an eye out for these 4 creatures that could be lurking underwater, though chances are very low that you’ll ever have an encounter with one.


Snakesheads have really sharp teeth, grow 3 feet long, and they can ‘walk’ on land for 7 days.  They use their fins to ‘walk’ from one body of water to another as they find food. Their feeding time means devouring everything in their paths leaving nothing behind. Once they run out anything to eat, they move on to the next body of water ready to consume everything again. How bad are snakeheads? The Maryland Department of Natural Resources once offered $200 gift cards for each snakehead caught dead.


Although there had no official reports of Piranha in Lake Michigan, they sometimes turn up in small lakes around the Midwest. Most recent discovery are Pacus, a close relative of piranha was caught in Lake St. Clair in Port Huron in southeastern Michigan. This fish species is very popular among aquarium fanatics because of their human-like teeth. A native of South American countries, they can thrive on cold waters of Lake Michigan and alarmingly so. Many Michigan anglers are reeling in Pacus along with their catch. The fish most like made its way on the lakes when the owner decided to let them run free. Talk about being responsible pet owners.

Sea Lamprey

Sea lamprey is a parasitic fish native to the northern and western Atlantic Ocean. It is another example of ocean fish that learned to adapt to its environment. They are now swimming in the freshwater of Lake Michigan. In the 1950s, there had been great infestations of sea lamprey in the lake. These parasitic fish have an eel like body and a mouth filled with numerous teeth. They feed on their prey by latching onto the body and grinding a hole with its rough tongue. If that is not scary, I don’t know what is.

Bull Shark

There had been unconfirmed reports that Bull Sharks was once caught in Lake Michigan in the mid-1950s. But the reports are somewhat blurry and there is no concrete proof to verify the attack. On the other hand, the Conservation Report claimed that Bull Sharks are not limited living on the salt water. Due to the shark’s impressive adaptation, it can swim to fresh water. Bull sharks have been recorded to swim into the Mississippi River and as far as north of Minnesota. An angler once caught a 5-foot Bull Shark in Alton, Illinois in the outskirt of St. Louis.

For now, it is unlikely to find Bull Shark anytime in Lake Michigan because of the low water temperature. However, due to Global Warming, these sharks might find its way into the Lake. In summer of 2012, the water temperature of Lake Michigan reached a scorching hot of 80 degrees. The once-rare occasion of finding Bull Sharks will likely become a common occurrence in the lake.

The Real Danger

If you’re planning to spend some time on -or in- Lake Michigan, you really don’t have much to worry about when it comes to the sea life. However, make sure to pay attention to the lake’s rip tide reports for the day you’re heading out.


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Why Haven’t You Visited Alma Yet?

Alma is the biggest city in Gratiot County in Michigan. Residents of Alma love their annual Highland Festival. The festival is full of fun with Scottish clans gathering for bagpipes, a lot of dancing, a celebration of friendship, caber tossing and, of course, kilts. But before it happens, there are some spots in Alma that you may want to try to get a real taste of the city’s hospitality, some excellent homegrown Michigan cuisine, and some wonderful outdoor activities.

Apple Barrel Cider Mill

If you like an alternative in the mainstream mills that’s always packed with people, Apple Barrel Cider Mill serves as a prime example. They make their cider with old school presses just beside a window where you can watch them do it. Locals will tell you to visit the place as it’s one of best destinations near Alma. The place has a unique homey décor with hand-hewn barn beams and different antiques hanging on the walls. They also serve great donuts paired with a free coffee. The Apple Barrel Cider Mill also has goodies like homemade pies, fudge, and cheese. It is one of the great places to buy Michigan-made products and you can’t beat their cider slush during the summer.

Fred Meijer Heartland Trail

This town gem brings out beautiful scenery for every season. The Heartland extends from Greenville to Edmore going through Alma. It’s a destination itself, where the bike trails are easy to navigate with within a thriving wildlife sanctuary. Don’t get too surprised if you meet deer, turkeys, and other migratory birds along the trail. Park benches and shady parts of the trail offers a great resting place for bikers and hikers alike. And if you do attempt to bike this lengthy trail sometime soon, make sure to keep warm with a Michigan bike crank hoody.

Great Wall

Once you get those hearts pumping, it might be time to refuel that lost energy. Great Wall is an excellent Chinese restaurant which offers great food choices for your tired body. There are several restaurants in town, but this one stands out from the rest. The restaurant is a local staple if you need comfort food along the way. They offer meals that everyone in the family will love, even those picky eaters. They only serve the fresh ingredients with great flavors on all their dishes. It’s a family-owned restaurant, very clean and the staff is friendly and trustworthy, so feel free to ask for their favorite plates. Great Wall is known for their fast service and consistently good food. If you can’t come to their restaurant, you can also grab one of their take-out meals and it never disappoints.

Alma Brewing Co

Whether you are on a casual date night or out with longtime friends, Alma Brewing Co can satisfy your cravings. They have good sliders, tasty burgers, and great salads. If you love beer, they also have an excellent selection of brews that are great any time of day. Their friendly staff can suggest what beer goes best with their menu. Staffs are trained to get your orders spot on and always quick to serve. Alma Brewing Co is a great place to relax, enjoy good food and chat with friends. Their micro-brewed ale and wine make a perfect getaway.


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Why Livonia Should be a Stop on Your Michigan Vacation

Livonia is located at the northwest end of Wayne County in Michigan. It’s a large suburb with traditional American neighborhoods built in the 1950s and 1960s. The municipality is part of Metro Detroit with a population of 96,942, making it as the 9th largest municipality in Michigan.

Whether briefly stopping to stretch your legs after a long drive or taking in all of Michigan, here is a list of attractions to visit in Livonia.

Motor City Comic Con

Every year, children of all ages and young at hearts anticipate Motor City Comic Con in this part of the country. It’s a three-day event usually held in May at the Suburban Collection Showplace. People love to go here because of the wide array of vendors. Pop Funkos is a real thing here, from The Walking Dead, Alice in Wonderland to the ever popular Game of Thrones. Get the inner nerd out of you finding rare comics books in a sea of hundreds.

Firearms Exchange

Want to master your shooting skills? Head on to Firearms Exchange and let them show you how it’s done- properly and safely. Safety is their top priority as they will assists you in almost everything that you need, even if you are a pro. Most people recommend the place because of their professionalism and politeness. They even have a gun cleaning room loaded with free supplies. Their prices are relatively fair for their service and well worth checking out if you’re spending time in Livonia or have time to head there from Detroit.

Brightly Twisted

For a more artistic destination that everyone will love, try to get your hands dirty in a good way. Brightly Twisted offers dye sessions on their locally made scarf. Tie-dye was a popular fashion back in the 1990s. It now evolved into a modern work of art and some even made it in mass production like Brightly Twisted. It’s a perfect souvenir for the trip. In every scarf you dye, you are making a personalized memento to take home with you.

Roush Automotive Collection

Marvel in some of the most interesting cars built by man. The Roush Automotive Collection featured an all all-electric car from the 1900s. They also have a brand new Ford GT from the actual NASCAR race cars.  You can walk around the vicinity and take as many pictures as you like. Another helpful thing about the museum is they have signage with a brief description of every car. Smaller kids can learn a thing or two about automobiles while you can admire them as a great piece work of art.

Visit Farmer’s Markets

A trip to another place is not complete without loading your car with fresh produce from one of their farmer’s markets. It is a great way to enjoy local products while learning the authentic culture of a town. Farmer’s markets always offer great multicultural cuisines and the best delicacies you’ll find in the area. You can chat about how they grow their own products or how they started selling their amazing dishes, the possibilities are endless. Some of the best known in and around Livonia are Farmington Farmers & Artisans Market, Fresh Thyme Farmers Market – Farmington, Northwest Detroit Farmers’ Market, and City of Wayne Farmers Market.

Those of you from Livonia or Michigan who want to show some love for your place of origin ought to check out our Michigan Natve Unisex T-Shirt.


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More to Grosse Pointe Park than Meets the Eye

Located in Michigan, Grosse Pointe Park has a population of 11,555. It’s bordering towns are Detroit and Lake Saint Clair. Most people refer Grosse Pointe Park as GPP or The Park. But locals call the area from Alter Road to Nottingham the “Cabbage Patch” due to the area’s duplex style houses.

The unofficial colors of Grosse Pointe Park are Pink and Green which signifies the classy lifestyle of GPP residents. A film called “Grosse Pointe Blank” was set in town. But in reality, the town only gets 11 seconds of fame in the film’s footage. Grosse Pointe has 5 cities – namely Grosse Pointe Park, Grosse Pointe Farms, Grosse Pointe City, Grosse Pointe Shores, and Grosse Pointe Woods. Each has its own Police and Fire Departments.

The town has some of the safest road conditions in the region. Likewise, students of Grosse Pointe public schools do not use school buses. They either walk or their parents drop them off. The famous Edsel Ford and his descendants still live in GPP. During the Great Depression, the town was very popular because of its closeness to the Canadian border.

Although GPP is a small town, it is packed with attractions worthy of a visit while on vacation in Michigan. Here are some them:

Edsel and Eleanor Ford House

Visit the well-known house of Edsel and Eleanor Ford. Spend the day walking around the beautiful grounds for a beautifully serene experience. There are tours that offer educated guides for visitors. These guides are well knowledgeable and entertain questions from visitors. They have an onsite restaurant that serves delicious food, meaning you won’t have to leave the grounds for a great meal. Aside from their lovely home, the home offers a beautiful garden that’s worth taking the time to explore. The location also shines during the Christmas season as they put up a great display that adorns the garden.

Saint Paul Catholic Church

Located at 157 Lake Shore Rd deep in the suburb of Grosse Pointe Farms, Saint Paul Catholic Church is a landmark you should not miss. Marvel at its architectural design and intricate interior. If you have any interest in architecture, historical locations or just like exploring Michigan, this is a stop you need to make.

Riverfront-Lakewood East Park

Riverfront-Lakewood East Park is a beloved park in Grosse Pointe Park because it’s peaceful and a perfect place to train dogs. The park is a nice place to enjoy an afternoon walk or jog to shake those calories off. You can also find a nice picnic spot for your family and let the kids experience the outdoors. There are no official recreational activities in the park, but fishing is really popular in there so be sure to bring your pole if you have one. Locals and tourists position themselves at the seawall in high hopes of getting the biggest catch of the day.

Dossin Great Lakes Museum

Before leaving town, make time to visit the Dossin Great Lakes Museum. The museum displays some of the most important historical moments of the Great Lakes. They also have exhibits that tackle the rich history of the shipping industry. For a small museum, you’ll be surprised to find out it has so much to offer. There are picnic spots and fishing ports nearby, which are an added bonus for you anglers out there.

And if you do end up fishing around Grosse Pointe Park, make sure to don your Michigan Fishing Hoodie to keep warm as the temps start to come come down.

Image By Andrew Jameson - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,


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Michigan Church Designated as a National Treasure

The First Congregational Church in Jackson, Michigan celebrated their 150th anniversary this month. In a report from the Jackson Citizen Patriot, the church earned a national historic designation in July. Getting a spot on the National Register of Historic Places is a fitting and wonderful way of celebrating their anniversary. If you’re visiting Michigan and can make it to Jackson during the trip, make sure to add it to your list of  things to do on vacation in Michigan.

For “Peace and Harmony”

Rev. Kerry Taylor-Snyder, the church pastor said in an interview that the news “is very exciting. It’s recognition of the history of the church and what people have done through the years in standing for social justice, peace and harmony.”

Its Rich History

Early beginnings of the First Congregational Church go back 169 years. It helps with the foundation of the city and those people who lived first lived the area.

In 1837, Jackson was barely thriving when the Congregational and Presbyterian founded their churches. Both churches hoped for a better society for the small population in the area. But the relationships between these two churches was anything than peaceful.

Displeased with the pro-slavery stand by the General Presbyterian Assembly, Rev, Marcus Harrison separated from the church. Along with 58 members, they rallied against the church on March 6, 1841. Harrison later became the first minister of the First Congregational Church.

At that time, slavery was a common practice in the south but still hotly debated. The church became one of the first churches to stand against slavery.  It later passed a resolution against the inhumane act.

Standing Against Slavery

Slavery was first brought to the country in 1619 to get manual labor in the production of tobacco.  Slavery was practiced throughout most of the the 17th and 18th centuries. While slaves helped build the economy in founding the new nation, they received worse than nothing in return.

With the making of the cotton gin in 1793, it called for more slaves to work in plantation farms. But by the mid-19th century the debate over slavery grew to a fever pitch. There had been a growing eradication movement in the North and the westward expansion that would tear the country apart. This started the bloody Civil War from 1861 to 1865.

The First Congregational Church in Jackson was among the first communities to take an open stand against slavery.

The Romanesque Revival designed building was dedicated in October 1860. Up to this day, the congregation still uses the building. For many years, it served as a community landmark, according to the church historian, Marilyn Guidinger.

The church first became a historic site in Jackson County in 1975. It was later placed on the State Register of Historic Places in 1897.  Earlier this year, the church submitted a 30-page application be accepted as one of the National Historic Places. Taylor-Snyder said that they waited for more than six months to receive the good news.

As one of the National Register of Historic Places, the government designated the church a historic location worthy of preservation and, certainly, your attention.

Usually, markers are placed to indicate that a place is included on the national register. However, the church does not have any funds for a marker at this time, according to Taylor-Snyder.

It’s spots and people like those with the First Congregational Church in Jackson that really make us love being from Michigan. Show some of your pride with a Michigan t-shirt or hat.



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What’s Worth Checking Out in Escanaba

 Escanaba is a port city in Michigan’s Delta County and can be found on the banana belt of the Escanaba River in the Upper Peninsula. It is the third largest city in the region with 12,616 residents. Escanaba Township can also be found just north of the port city sharing the same name. Both are named after the Escanaba River, a name which was derived from the Ojibwa language.

Delta County Historical Museum

Make time to visit the Delta County Historical Museum to learn some interesting facts about the history of Escanaba. Back in the day, a WDBC radio station used the building but moved to a new location downtown during the 1950s. The city then acquired the building and let Delta County Historical Society leased it in 1956. The city government allowed the society to use the building as a museum for a total of one dollar a year.

Fayette Historic Townsite

Tourists often come to the Fayette Historic Townsite not because of its modern amenities but for its rich history. don’t miss your chance to experience the life of the pioneers back in the days. The town was once a thriving industrial community that is well known for its production of iron ore from 1867 to 1891.  However, when the industry fell because of the Great Depression, residents left the town.  It later became a ghost town. The city preserved the area and even introduced real life recreations of the 19th century. Actors wear era-inspired costumes and portray the daily life of the former residents. Visitors can get a real glimpse of Americana before modernization.

Sand Point Lighthouse

Located at the end of Ludington Street and Escanaba Municipal Marina is where Sand Point Lighthouse and Historical Complex stands. The lighthouse was fully restored and equipped with a Fresnel fourth class lens placed at the focal point of the tower. It has an interesting story, though.  According to urban legend, Mary Terry, one of the first women that served as a lighthouse keeper on the Great Lakes would occasionally appear on the grounds. Several years after her death, she was still reported to show up at the lighthouse to check up on things.

Upper Hand Brewery

To end a great day at Escanaba, the Upper Hand Brewery offers a unique blend of beers to tired tourists. They have one of the best-crafted beers in the North, which celebrated the flavors of nature. They have an onsite brewery where visitors can taste their hand-crafted beers fresh from the barrels. Relax in their cozy tavern while waiting for the sun to set .

William Bonifas Fine Arts Center

The name of the center was derived from “Big Bill” Bonifas who came to the Upper Peninsula in the 1880s from Luxemburg. He focused on the timber industry where he made his fortune. Meanwhile, his wife Catherine had another purpose in life – making donations in the cultural and educational matters for the city. Tourists flock to the center because of its unique exhibitions and art displays. Due of its contributions, the center was given the prestigious “Governor’s Arts Award” in 1990 and in 2007.

When you’re out walking around Escanaba, stay comfortable in one a Great Lakes Girl pullover.


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