Meandering Michigan, Port Huron

Port Huron is a beautiful, nautical town full of history and offering a variety of art, dining and shopping with the attractive, historical storefronts. Located on the St. Clair River, it is the connection to Point Edward, Ontario in Canada through the Blue Water Bridge. The city is located at the southern end of Lake Huron and is the easternmost land location in Michigan.  There several spots to walk and sit along the river, watching very large freighters and ships make their way back and forth to Lake Huron.
A Michigan site to see. Jointly owned by the USA and Canada, the bridge was opened in1938. It has gone through some changes and expanded in order accommodate more International traffic. Crossing from Port Huron over beautiful crisp blue water to PortEdward and Sarnia Ontario. What a great feeling watching large freighters close up, going under the bridge.

The Community Foundation of St. Clair County did a great job of restoring and improving the banks of the Blue Water River creating the Blue Water River Walk. The River Walk includes an observation dock, outdoor interactive classroom, pedestrian trail, a diner, wetlands park, fishing pier, and public artwork on display. Guided tours are available.

If you are going to spend the day and visit several places in Port Huron, you should consider the passport. You can purchase a passport that includes entry to the Port Huron Museum, Huron Lightship, Thomas Edison Depot Museum, and the Fort Gratiot Light Station. In addition to the passport there are also special admission prices for families. Passports are available at the Port Huron Museum.

The Andrew Carnegie Library, built in 1904, is home to the Port Huron Museum. The Museum is home to the history of the Lake Huron region and tells the stories of Michigan and the Great Lakes. There are many nautical and local eye catching items with a large, beautiful Ship Model collection. The first floor is home to rotating exhibits, with something different and interesting to see each visit from dinosaurs to NASA Space Programs.

The Huron Lightship was the last operating lightship on the Great Lakes, launching in 1920 and retiring in 1970. The ship is located on the Lake Huron, at the Pine GrovePark. Dedicated in 1990 the ship is now a National Historic Landmark. This was the last lightship for the area. Tours for this real, functioning lightship are seasonal and open in April.

The Edison Depot Museum is inside the Fort Gratiot Depot, built in 1858 by Grand Trunk Railroad. Truly a stone's throw from the Blue Water Bridge. At one time, Thomas Edison worked in the building as a news reporter. Full of information and child friendly hands on things to do, makes learning about Edison fun. A beautifully restored Baggage Car rests close to the building, on the rail tracks with easy access. Clearly, well taken care of and restored with alluring colors and charm.

Fort Gratiot Lighthouse is the oldest Lighthouse in the area. It's located at the entrance of the St Clair river from Lake Huron. Built in 1825, it collapsed and had to be rebuilt in 1829. Then the lighthouse was worked on again in1860. The height of the structure went from 65 ft. to 82 ft. It is a brick tower painted white and stands proudly at the waters edge. At this inviting area is a working Coast Guard facility, which is still being used. Lighthouse Beach and Park for families to enjoy are side by side. The lighthouse is closed from January through April. Tours are available, see the website for more information. Check Facebook for special, lighted, evening tours.
The lighthouse property also includes a gift shop with a variety of nautical, Port Huron, and Michigan themed gifts. The Fort Gratiot Hospital, currently under restoration, is also on the property. The hospital is Port Huron's oldest wooden structure.

Moved from Military St, to 16th St. at the Grand Trunk mainline is the First International Tunnel and as of 1993 is a registered National Historic Landmark. The Grand Trunk Western Railroad tunnel links Port Huron and Canada. Opened in 1891, this international submarine railway tunnel was the first in the world. The tunnel's total length is 11,725 feet, with 2,290 feet underwater.

Studio 1219 offers six galleries featuring paintings, pottery, jewelry, mechanical art objects and much more. It's a fascinating assortment of high quality art from local artists. If you are interested in classes, Studio 1219 offers classes in the very large studio upstairs, which is also a great space for art parties. Check the gallery's website for calendar of featured shows and events.

A big surprise in a small store, actually two connected stores. One store is focused on gourmet foods, kitchen, home goods, gardening products and recipe books. The other entrance brings you into a store with botanical soaps and lotions, handbags, towels, and quality clothing for  men, women and children.  Weekends has been in business since 1992 and recently re-opened the second, seasonal location in Lexington.  This store is a homemakers delight, with a large variety of Michigan-made items. Michigan products include Zingerman's baked goods and cheeses, American Spoon, Jessica's Natural Foods, Cherry Republic, Patricia's Chocolate , Dave's Sweet Tooth, McClure's, Germack, Detroit's Original Zip Sauce, Motawi Tileworks, Schuil Coffee, and more . In addition to food and kitchen items Weekends sells .

Step back into Port Huron' in the 1890's. What a great place to get ice cream, desserts and a wonderful menu for lunch and dinner. Rock and Gayle have made Port Huron locals proud by collecting local items to restore and decorate with. The Art Deco Room includes actual theatre seats at the tables, shows silent movies featuring Port Huron’s Colleen Moore and is filled with historic theatre memorabilia.

Gayle is responsible for the menu including fresh homemade soups and salads including an artichoke salad. For lunch or dinner, many sandwiches, burgers - including a stuffed pizza burger and stuffed jalapeno popper burger, gourmet loaded baked potatoes, and many dinner entrees including chicken wellington. For dessert in addition to ice cream, there is a wide selection of cakes, pies, and sundaes.

The Atrium not only offers great food, but a great atmosphere. Truly a one-of-a-kind dining experience.

With so many museums and historical sites, we had limited time to meander downtown Port Huron. We'll certainly be back to visit other restaurants, boutiques, and galleries.

To see all the photos from Meander through Port Huron, use either the Google or Facebook Link below:

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From the Mind of a Michigan Girl

When I started this blog in August 2015, I really had no idea what I was doing or where I was going with the blog. I knew I had a voice, something to say and lots to share. Almost two years later, Michigan Girl is more than I could have ever imagined. Thanks to my partner in crime - my mom, our friends, family, followers and Michigan Artisans and Business Owners, we are sharing our love of Michigan with so many.

Although we've lived here our entire lives, we find something or somewhere new every day. Michiganders are very lucky to have a beautiful state with so much to offer. We've met so many wonderful and interesting people with inspiring stories. We are loving this journey and excited to see where it takes us.

We often preview our Michigan Meanders through social media as we travel and before we post on the blog. So follow our Facebook and Instagram pages. You can also connect with Michigan Girl on Google+, Pinterest, Twitter, Flipboard, the Michigan Girl Email Newsletter, and LinkedIn.

If you have suggestions on where you'd like to see us Meander, be sure to share through the survey on our blog home page, or use this link:

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Summer Fun at Michigan Drive-Ins

With Spring, and ultimately Summer just around the corner, it's a great time to get outside and have fun. Michigan has several drive-in theaters for those that want to see a movie outside and enjoy the weather too.

119 W Chicago Rd., Coldwater
(517) 278-5628
In 2001, the Capri was listed as one of the Top 10 Best Drive-In's in America by USA Today. It's been owned and operated by the same family since it opened in  1964. The Capri opens today, March 24th.

28190 M-152, Dowagiac
(269) 782-7879
The "Fiver" was originally built in 1961. It is only open on weekends, with the exception of a few special shows on Thursdays. Five Mile is open Memorial Day through Labor Day. In addition to the theater, there is a children's playground.

9812 Honor Highway, Honor
(231) 325-3413
The Cherry Bowl Drive-In opened in 1953 and is named because it's in Northwest Michigan, the Cherry Capital of the world. The Cherry Bowl even has a 50' s style mini-golf course if you'd like to get out the car and have some fun. The popcorn is popped fresh in their original 1953 popcorn popper.  Open from the 1st weekend in May, thru September, on Fri/Sat nights only at first until mid-June. After mid-June, the Cherry Bowl is open 7 nights a week through Labor Day. After Labor Day, the Cherry Bowl goes back to
weekends only through the September.

3615 S. State Rd., Ionia
Danny Boys is a newer theater, instead of a traditional screen, Danny Boy's uses a high-tech inflatable water-resistant version that is 70 feet wide and 35 feet high. For $5 a car, you can purchase a snack permit and bring your own treats. In addition to the theater, Danny Boy's has special entertainment on the weekends like bounce houses, petting zoos, and celebrity appearances. Danny Boy's opens in the spring.

920 E Summit Ave., Muskegon
Originally the NK Drive-In, built in 1948. In addition to movies, Getty-4 also has a large playground and arcade room for all the kids, and a self-serve concession. Getty opens for the season on April 14, 2017.

E. Sanilac Rd.(M46), Carsonville
(810) 657-6684
The Hi-Way Drive-In is Michigan's oldest drive-in theater. It opened in 1947. Hi-Way Drive-In allows campers anytime for those looking for a place to camp.

5200 Fenton Road, Flint
The 23 Twin Drive-In opened in 1972. The theater will be open for the season on April 7, 2017.

10400 Ford Rd., Dearborn
At one time, the Ford Drive-In was the largest Drive-In Theatre in America. It's open for viewing year-round, has multiple screens and has in-car heaters available in the winter.

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Looking for Products Made in Michigan?

Looking for products made in Michigan? Look no further, these stores sell Michigan-made products (many have online stores along with the physical store).

Heart of Michigan Store, Howell

So far, in all our Meanders, Heart of Michigan Store has one of the best selections of Made in Michigan products. Products include clothing, jewelry, home décor, bath & body, books, food, treats, pet products and one of our favorites, Lake Art.

If you visit the online store, they offer lots of fun Michigan gift baskets and boxes which include famous brands like Faygo, Jiffy, Better Made, Win Scheulers Cheese, Vernors or sports themed gifts with MSU, Tigers, Detroit Red Wings and others. You can also select sets that include Michigan cutting boards with cheese and sausage, nuts, popcorns, jams, jellies, or maple syrup. You can make your own gift box too.

In addition to selling Michigan Products, the store also bakes Pasties fresh daily and sell Michigan Brews and Wines from these Michigan vineyards:  Howell's Main Street Winery, Black Star Farms, Leelanau Cellars, Chateau Grand Traverse, Burgdorf's Winery, and Tabor Hill Winery.

The General Store, Hastings
We came across The General Store in Hastings on a whim, and what a surprise it was. Such a charming store with a wide-variety of local brands and products: Cherry Republic, Coyer Candle Co. handmade soy candles and air fresheners, hand-made wooden bowls by JM Woodworking, Jewelry by Lake Effects Studios, Detroit Coaster Company, Heritage Beard Company, Gee Dee Bee's Honey by Maple Leaf Farm, handmade wooden kitchen utensils from Clarksville, Michigan, Cellar Door Soap, vegan purses designed by Michigan State Graduate, Jenna Kator, books by local authors, University of Michigan and Michigan State items, and lots of products promoting Michigan. 

Absolute Gallery, Old Town, Lansing
The Absolute Gallery in Lansing's Old Town is a great spot to find art and jewelry by local artists as well as many other Michigan-made products including books, cards, and other unique finds. 

Keans Store, Mason
Kean's is Mason's oldest continuously operating business, founded in 1928 by Gus and Fern Kean. Kean's is still a family owned and operated by Teresa and Steve Wren. The first thing you see when you walk into Kean's is the old-fashioned candy counter, with an large vareity of traditional hand-made candies, as well as several Michigan-made selections. You can also find kids toys and games, clothing, jewelry, home decor, food and kitchen items, cards, and much more. As you stroll through the store, you'll also find the studio and shop of local jewelry artisan, Margaret Ross. Margaret makes beautiful, hand-crafted pieces.

The Artisan's Bench, Brighton

If you are looking for handcrafted artwork and unique pieces, you must visit The Artisan's Bench. About eighty percent of the items are made by local Michigan artisans.

The Eyrie, Ypsilanti
The Eyrie is a Michigan artisan market in Ypsilanti's historic Depot Town. It's a self-described cultural gift shop featuring over 180 Michigan artisans' work including photographs, greeting cards, jewelry & accessories, paintings, pottery, blown glass, unique home decor, candles, lotions and much more. Make sure to save plenty of time for this stop, even though it's not a large store, it's very much packed with must see Michigan work and products.

Old Town General Store, Lansing

The Old Town General Store not only offers a nice selection of Michigan handcrafted jewelry, candles, home decor, clothing, and more, it's also the place to go for wine, beer, dairy products, bait, ice, household good, bath and body items, and candy. You can also find Michigan-made natural skin care by one of our favorite companies, Integrity Pure& Natural.

Weekends, Port Huron

Weekends of Port Huron is a charming store with a nice offering of Michigan-made products including food and homegoods . This really is a homemakers delight, with a large variety of baby clothing, toys, gardening, recipe books, botanical soaps and lotions handbags, towels, men and women's quality clothing.

Here are a few more favorites:
Made in Michigan Store, 4 locations - Grand Rapids, Grandville, Saugatuck, and Mackinaw City

Online Stores

We'll continue to update with additional places to purchase Michigan-made products. See the right side bar Made in Michigan Section. If you own or know of a business that sells Michigan-made products contact The Michigan Girl at so we can visit and add to our list.

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Meandering Michigan, Midland

We've made two Meanders to Midland, one last fall and one most recently to visit the Butterflies in Bloom Exhibit at Dow Gardens. The majority of our time in Midland has been spent at the Dow Gardens. 

The Dow Gardens were founded by Herbert Dow, also founder of Dow Chemical Company, in 1899. He started the gardens with just 8 acres and through the efforts of Herbert's son, and grandson, there are 110 beautiful acres. In addition to the beautiful gardens of flowers, herbs, streams, waterfalls, and bridges, the Dow Gardens include a conservatory, which is currently featuring the various seasonal exhibits, the Pines Home, home to Herbert Dow and his family, many unique sculptures, including Frank Lloyd Wright's Water Nymph, other beautiful and pieces of art, a children's garden, and the Alden B. Dow Home and Studio a very unique home built in 1941. The visitor's center also includes a gift shop with jewelry, clothing, lotions, items for the home, mostly made in the USA and many by Michigan companies and artisans.

Butterflies in Bloom is located in the sanctuary and is fun for both kids and adults. The sanctuary is filled with thousands of butterflies, starting at the chrysalis stage, emerging as butterflies flying all over the sanctuary. Many had the experience of butterflies landing on them, especially those wearing bright colors.

Dow Gardens most anticipated edition, Whiting Forest is coming in 2018. A 1400 foot, 5 story high, Canopy Walk over the Whiting Forest, 54 acres of native Michigan forest, meadow, and wetland. The canopy walk will be the longest in the nation. The forest will include an orchard and a 13,600 sq foot children's park that includes a beach and flowing water.

See the Dow Gardens Website for more information on hours, pricing, scheduled tours and events.

Just north of Dow Gardens is the Dahlia Hill Society of Midland is an award-winning, very unique site with eight terraces that are home to 3,000 dahlias made up of over 300 varieties of dahlias. In addition to the dahlias, there are garden sculptures. At the top of Dahlia Hill are two museums, called
Equiline, containing original artwork of Charles Breed. Breed uses plastic as a medium for the floral and botanical based artwork.

Downtown Midland is a gorgeous bridge with three separate walkways, connecting in the middle, named appropriately, the Tridge. Built in 1981, it connects the Chippewassee and St. Charles parks and is also where the Tittabawassee and Chippewa rivers meet.

More to come from the mind of ...

To see all the photos from Meander through Marshall, use either the Google or Facebook Link below:

Meandering Michigan Series: Marshall

I grew up in Charlotte, Michigan, just 28 minutes from Marshall. I've stopped there many times but never actually made it downtown until recently. Of all of our Michigan Meanders, Marshall might be our favorite. We will surely be back later this year. While researching Marshall, we were amazed at the number of historic landmarks, museums, homes, and interesting sites to see. The downtown shopping, restaurants, walks, historic sites, and museums, are worthy of a day trip if not a weekend staying at one of the bed and breakfasts in town.

Our first stop was the Visitor's Center located inside The Old Stone Barn, which, like many locations in Marshall, is a historic site. Built in 1857, the building was originally a livery stable, once a stagecoach stop between Coldwater and Lansing, a gas station, and later converted into city hall. A great first stop in town to gather information and get started.

Marshall's Self-Guided Walks
If you are looking for pamphlets, information, or self-guided walk maps, which we highly recommend, this is where you should go. The self-guided tours include the Historic Homes Walk, Downtown Walk, Capitol Hill Walk, River Walk, and the Oakridge Cemetery Walk. The map has information on all the walks, Historical Markers, the museums, as well as the North Country National Scenic Trail, Mill Pond, Stuart's Landing, Ketchum Park, Brooks Nature Area, Brooks Air Field, and Grever's Nature Center. Throughout Marshall, there are painted dots on the sidewalks that coordinate with the walks on the map.

The best time to visit Marshall is spring through fall when there are lots of events, and the museums are open for visiting. Saturday, May 20, is Free Museum Day, where you can visit all 8 museums for free. July 8 and 9 is the My Garden Tour, to see a video of the 2016 garden and quilt tours, click this link: September 9 and 10 is the Marshall Historic Home Tour where historic homes and the museums are open for the public to visit. 

From the Visitor's Center, you can see the Brooks Memorial Fountain, the Registered Historic Sign for Marshall, The National House Inn Bed and Breakfast, the Honolulu House Museum, downtown, and the start of the Historic Home Walk.

The National House Inn Bed and Breakfast is the oldest operating hotel in the State of Michigan and recognized as a Michigan Historical Site. Built in 1835, it's the oldest brick building in the county. It is also believed to be a stop on the Underground Railroad.  The inn offers 15 rooms with various packages and specials. While staying at the inn you can enjoy complimentary homemade breakfast each day, afternoon tea and sweets, and freshly popped popcorn each night.  The National House is a great location for those looking to stay within walking distance of Marshall's downtown and most attractions.

The homes of Harold C Brooks, Mayor of Marshall from 1925 to 1931, and his brother are part of the Historic Home Walk. The beautiful homes are located across the street from each other on the corner of N. Kalamazoo Ave. and W. Prospect St. Harold Brooks a very successful company, Brooks Rupture Appliance Co. in Marshall. The company manufactured appliances for people with hernias because, at that time, they did not repair them surgically. Brooks is noted as responsible for beautifying Marshall through the design of the Post Office, conversion of the Old Stone Barn, and presentation of the Brooks Memorial Fountain.

At the East end of town, at the end of the Historic Home Walk, there are two Historic Monuments. The first is for the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, the BLET, officially established in 1863 in Marshall. The BLET is the oldest transportation labor organization in North America. The monument was erected and dedicated in 1943.

The second monument is a large stone with a marker for the Cabin of Adam Crosswhite, the scene of an attempted Slave Recovery in 1847. Adam Crosswhite and his family fled North from Kentucky and found sanctuary in Marshall, Michigan, located on the Underground Railroad.  Kentucky slave catchers tracked the Crosswhite's to Marshall, and while attempting capture, hundreds of neighbors and citizens of Marshall congregated to stop the men. The slave catchers were arrested instead. The event, along with others like it, led to the passing of the Fugitive Slave Law, as well as eventually the Civil War. The monument was erected in 1929.

Downtown Marshall
Downtown Marshall not only includes several museums, M. Shragg Postal Museum (located in the basement of the Post Office), Walter's Gasoline Museum, American Museum of Magic, and Grand Army of the Republic Hall but also many restaurants, stores and an Artisan Market, The Realm of Creativity.  This artisan market features products by local Michigan artists including jewelry, photos, soaps, lotions, clothing, hats, glass artwork, candles, and quilts. Some of the featured crafters are Mercantile 519, Samuel's Soaps & Candles, Barb's Country Creations, The Green Flame Candle Co., DLC Glass Studio, and MiM Gear.

While downtown, it's hard to miss the historic orange and blue Rexall sign outside of Hemmingsen Rexall Drugstore.  Hemmingsen's, a family-owned store, has been in business since 1639. The Rexall Company was founded by Louis Kroh Liggett, a Detroit patent medicine salesman who convinced 40 independent drug stores to create a manufacturing cooperative for franchised drugstores in 1903.

Just a few doors down from Hemmingsen's is Louie's Bakery, a family-owned and operated business located established by Louis Bagi, in November 1952. Louie's is a great place to stop in and grab some sweet treats and a Starbucks coffee. The staff was very friendly and helpful. Louie's is a small store with a large offering of doughnuts, tarts, Danishes, cookies, cakes, breads, pies and old pan toffee. Louie's also has online ordering on their website.  We highly recommended Louie's, it was hard to choose but after leaving with several sweet treats, we knew we'd be making a return trip on our next Meander!

I have to say, I'm familiar with the Mole Hole stores, but it's been year's since I've been in a Mole Hole. I didn't realize that the Mole Hole is a chain outside of Michigan. After visiting the Mole Hole in Marshall, I did a little research and found that the Mole Hole originally started in Michigan. The Marshall location has been open for 35 years and is a great place to look for unique gifts. The store really is overflowing with home décor, books, kitchen items, candles and many other charming and unique gifts and collectibles.

The name for the Mole Hole comes from the character, Mr. Mole from the story Wind in the Willows. Attached to the Marshall location, is a boutique store, Wind in the Willows.  Wind in the Willows offers the same charm with unique clothing, jewelry, handbags, and more.

Another historic stop in Marshall is Schuler's Restaurant & Pub, originally established in 1909 by Albert Schuler. Schuler's has remained a family owned. You may be familiar with Win Schuler Bar Scheeze, created by the family in 1952. Schuler Foods and Bar-Scheeze  was sold to Vlassic Foods in 1984. In 1977, Schuler's Restaurant became a Michigan Historic Landmark Site.  If you are interested in additional historical information on the restaurant, visit the website for the full story.

Schuler's is open every day except Christmas. Schuler's describes the menu as Classic & Contemporary. The menu includes fish, seafood, steak, chicken and includes Italian, German, and classic American offerings. The Sunday Supper is described as a Comfort Food at it's Best. While in the pub, you can try an ice-cold draft pour of Schuler Brew, produced by Bell’s Brewery especially for Schuler’s. Check out the bread schedule before stopping into the bakery to be sure you can pick up your favorite loaf to take home. No worries for Sourdough lovers, it's on the daily schedule!

Green Scene Natural Living of Marshall is a must stop when downtown. Green Scene offers quality environmentally friendly consumer goods by The Beehive, Honey House Naturals, Stormy Kromer, SmartWool, Yala, Totally Bamboo,

Shops at Marshall House
The Marshall House, built in 1838 is registered as a Michigan Historic Site. For many years it was one of the largest hotels outside of Detroit. The building is now home to Quilts at Marshall House and Double D Iron Art studio. If you are a quilter, this quilt store is worth stop with more than 4000 bolts of quilting fabric, specializing in Asian, Batik, and 19th-century reproduction fabrics.

Double D Iron Art studio was not open during our visit, but many of pieces are featured outside of the building. Double D offers custom made metal pieces and sculptures.

Capital Hill Walk
The Capital Hill Walk south of downtown has the Governor's Mansion, Capital Hill School Museum, and the Calhoun County Fairgrounds. The Governor's Mansion was built because Marshall was in the running to be the capital city for the State of Michigan, however, Marshall lost to Lansing by one vote. Capital Hill School Museum built in 1860, also named for the proposed state capital and was used as a school for just over 100 years. Today, Museum visitors can see the restored 19th Century school room featuring classic children's toys and games. 

Calhoun County Fair is Michigan's oldest continuous running fair, first held in 1839. The grounds include historic buildings. Floral Hall, the oldest building on the fairgrounds, was constructed in 1860 in the then-popular octagon style. The other historic buildings include Calhoun County Fair Museum, Belcher Building, Houston School, Old Maple Grove Church.

South of Capital Hill Walk is Perrinville, Marshall's Power Plant, the Gauss Ice House, and Stuart's Landing where the Kalamazoo River flows into Mill's Pond. Stuart's Landing has a scenic walk with informational stops to learn about local fish, the Kalamazoo River, and other interesting facts. Perrinville is an informal name given to this industrial section of Marshall, named after Horace Perrin, prominent businessman and industrialist.  

Check back this summer for our follow Meander to Marshall. We'll be visiting the museums, touring homes, visiting additional historic sites, visiting the Dark House Brewery and shopping and sampling great food.

More to come from the mind of ...

To see all the photos from Meander through Marshall, use either the Google or Facebook Link below: