Sunday, August 7, 2011


In our fifty state exploration STOP - for those who don't know our family is trying to visit all 50 states.  Each year for summer vacation we explore new ones.  Our progress after this year 47/50 for Travis and I, the kids, depending on the kid, are around 34/50.  RESTART we went to Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.  What is there to do you ask?  Well I had no idea either.  That is half the fun of this journey, exploring the unknown.  So after some Internet searching, some Facebook questioning, and a whole lot of friend asking I planned a fun packed vacation.  We went to at least two cities in each state to give us a more well rounded and accurate feel of what each has to offer.  Here starts the breakdown.

Michigan boasts cheap McDonald's food.  Yes imagine my surprise and downright Golden Arch delight to find a 50 piece Nugget Value Meal that includes two fries and two drinks for the bargain price of $14.99.  Being a family of 6 we added one more fry and one more drink to round out the meal.  Family of six dining out for under $20.  I love it.  Random opinion:  If that 50 piece Value Meal is intended for two people, oh my yikes - that is a flaming travesty.  And I love McDonald's, but I assure you - that's wrong.

Michigan is also home to Ann Arbor - home of the Wolverines and University of Michigan.  Hey it's exciting if you are a college football fan.    As previously mentioned it houses a great Hands On Museum.  Also the weekend we were there it had what I think must be one of the nation's biggest art fairs, which was great including these guys rapping - may I suggest that they were not the next Eminem or Jay Z.  It also has a great looking, cool room colors art deco style Motel 6 that reeks of smoke and will stink your vacation clothes to high heaven for the next week.  Hey bittersweet but still fun.

Michigan is also home to Muskegon, a great beach city on Lake Michigan.  So huge it feels like the ocean.  I had heard this, I assure you it is true.  Water as far as the eye can see, a la ocean.  Muskegon itself feels like a dying town, fairly run down, a contestant for the craziest streets and intersections I have ever seen -although the other northern Midwest states vied for the title - it housed perhaps one of the most amusing restaurants I had ever seen a Chinese/Steak House.  Although the food was pretty abysmal on the Chinese side, the steak was delicious and the desserts amazing.  And the owner, a little Asian man, was very nice and super sweet to the kids making sure they got lots of free candy, gum, and lollipops on the way out.  As for the beaches so raved about - they are great.  Seriously the first day beach was perhaps the nicest I've ever been to for kids, not too cold - as we had been warned they would be - waves just the perfect side, shallow water that went out forever, pretty clear water, and just the perfect crowd size.  But the next day further down to the Pere Marquette Beach, named one of the "Greenest" in America, was way below expectations, algae galore as it can't be seaweed, a bit of a fishy stench, weird brown water and next to no waves.  But at the back side of the beach are children's play areas, food shacks, and bathrooms.  This town also housed the USS Silverside, a WWII submarine that boasts more kills etc... of any WWII sub left.  You can get on and tour it as well as visit the museum and get on a Coast Guard ship.  You can see life size torpedoes and climb in the hatching tubes.  Note: Travis checked to make sure I couldn't close this on him before he climbed in.  The other tourists were hysterical.  Can you tell we love pranks in our family?

Michigan is also home to Grand Haven, 10-15 miles south of Muskegon.  It was a great beach city but boosting more tourism, newer updates and additions, and many more evening entertainment options.  It is still great for kids and if I were to do it again or recommend a place for families it is here that I would send you.  Evening light shows over the water, a great downtown strip for shopping, eating, and boardwalking where I saw an awe inspiring collection of yachts that were impressive in both their size, numbers, and additional boat features.  These were just a few of the draws. 

Overall Michigan was a pleasant surprise and very entertaining.  Kudos for superseding my expectations.

1 comment:

Laura Lynn said...

Jon and I have visited almost all of the 50 states. We have an ongoing contest to see who can finish first. (We both did a lot of travel before we married so we are picking up from that.)But now we take the kids so it has been a lot of fun!