Michigan Marvels

Everything I knew about Michigan came from my limited knowledge of Detroit and Flint (from Michael Moore’s film) and so my knowledge about the state was negative and as it turned out misinformed.  First of all, we stayed at a lovely winery (Fenn Valley Vineyards) on our first evening in Michigan.  The whole area was surprising because it was one fresh fruit stand after another – every few miles, or so; this was the first time since the Pacific northwest and British Columbia where we could purchase fresh produce so easily.

The first full day in Michigan we spent the day at Meijer Sculpture Gardens in Grand Rapids, and I have to say that it was amazing.  I would highly recommend it!  The sculpture garden was impressive with both an array of quality and a quantity of sculptures.  They had several famous sculptors including Rodin.  Plus, an interesting tram tour gave a good background on each piece (an extra nominal fee for the tram).  However, the children’s garden here was very interactive and the best that I have ever seen.  The boys played for hours in the Great Lakes fountain, the sensory garden, a maze, a labyrinth, a log cabin, a fun fort, a dinosaur digging site, and many other fun areas for kids.  They wanted to return the next day…enough said.

The second day in Michigan held yet another capitol tour for the boys in Lansing.  They really enjoy seeing these old, elaborate and grandiose buildings.  I am surprised at how child friendly many of the tours are for kids.  Each capital has its on allure and of course, stamp (for their Capitol Booklet).  We headed towards Ann Arbor and we were able to tour the Natural History Museum and the children’s museum.  Plus, we caught up on our laundry.

It was in Ann Arbor that John was also able to meet cousins that he hasn’t seen in 40 years.  Yep, 40!  We met Michael and Lisa and their kids at Grizzly Peak Brewery which had fantastic food (see the Traveling Growler for the beer review).  My kids fell in love with Michael and Lisa and my oldest child is still trying to figure out how to get them out to Bend, Oregon for a visit.  Of course, they are welcome!  I think their teenage sons would enjoy the city.

We also went to the Henry Ford Greenfield Village and it was awesome (and expensive).  This was are most expensive tour yet but I have to say that it was extremely interesting and informative.  We rode in a Model T, took a steam train, and rode in a horse-drawn carriage.  At this same museum, we watched for hours skilled craftsmen (and women) blow glass, work with tin, make pottery, use a printing  press, and showcase other useful skills.  We also spent time learning about Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, and many other inventors.  The boys wanted to go back here the next day too but the entrance fee (over $100 with rides), was a roadblock for returning.  I would recommend this amazing place to families but I wish it was more affordable.

The final visit in Michigan would be a relatively new national park, Raisin River National Battlefield Park.  I will be writing a separate blog about this area because I found it so interesting.

Coming up:  Ohio & Niagara Falls:)

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