Tag: Featured

Movie Star’s Michigan Hometown Makes Great Winter Weekend Escape

The Jiffy storage silos tower 135 feet above Chelsea’s Main Street, a symbol of the role that the world’s leading manufacturer of baking mix has in the community. Just seeing the brand’s familiar blue and white boxes evokes feelings of an earlier era, such that Jiffy has been labeled in business circles as “retro hip.”

The grain silos at Chelsea Milling Co. stand over 135 feet tall.

You might say the same about Chelsea itself. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, downtown Chelsea features an eclectic mix of shopping, dining, arts and entertainment — all in a walkable space that feels like you’re strolling through a Norman Rockwell painting.

Chelsea truly is something else, a great place in Michigan to discover something special.

In the midst of the holiday rush, keep in mind that not every gift can be ordered online, packaged in a box and shipped to your door. Nor should it. Sometimes, the most extraordinary gifts are something else — something outside the box.

How about sharing the experience of a small-town getaway this winter? Follow this guide to plan an excursion to Chelsea in a jiffy:

Vibrant arts

As a historic place, downtown Chelsea itself is a gallery of art featuring quaint streets lined with Victorian homes and a business district with beautiful Italianate architecture. It looks like the set of a movie.

Emmy Award-winner Jeff Daniels, a Chelsea native, founded The Purple Rose Theatre in 1991.

Chelsea also is the setting for The Purple Rose Theatre, which brings original works by Michigan artists as well as American classics to the stage. The professional theatre company founded by actor/singer/playwright Jeff Daniels, a Chelsea native, performs in an intimate, 168-seat venue right downtown.

Daniels’ own “Diva Royale” is being performed at The Purple Rose through Dec. 29, with the curtain set to go up Jan. 17-March 16 on the world premiere of “Never Not Once.” The Purple Rose 2018-2019 season also features Arthur Miller’s “All My Sons” from April 4 through June 1 and the world premiere of “Welcome to Paradise” from June 20 to Aug. 31. Performances are nightly from Thursday through Saturday, with matinees on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays. Get tickets here.

 

 

 

Whatever your palate and dining style, you can find a restaurant you’ll love in downtown Chelsea. For fine dining, Common Grill is routinely ranked as one of southeast Michigan’s best restaurants. People travel from all over for the upscale bistro’s premier seafood and seasonal menu, and it does not disappoint.

Try local craft beers at the Chelsea Alehouse Brewery or go for craft spirits at Ugly Dog Distillery.

If your mouth waters for an old-fashioned burger or steak, stop by Cleary’s Pub. The classic Irish pub features outstanding food and live music in a space with old brick walls and a turn-of-the-century original tin ceiling.

Smokehouse 52 BBQ this fall was voted one of the 10 best barbecue restaurants in Michigan. The all-American BBQ sports a cow hanging from the sign outside the door.

For local craft beer paired with bites from a deli-style kitchen, check out Chelsea Alehouse Brewery, which hosts live music on Wednesday nights this winter. Across the street you can sip craft spirits at Ugly Dog Distillery.

Valiant Bar & Grill is a new sports bar that opens in December with a perfect mix of food, drink and sports. The diverse menu features everything from All-American burgers to Mediterranean cuisine to Tex-Mex along with a variety of beers, specialty cocktails and wines.

Pizza lovers will enjoy classic hometown pies at Thompson’s Pizzeria. And, in Chelsea, the Michigan chain Jet’s Pizza takes the form of a sports bar with unique craft beers and live music in The Rumpus Room next door.

Live music and open mics also are hosted regularly at Zou Zou’s Café in a French-themed setting where you can pair delicious cinnamon rolls and scones with a beer.

RELATED: This is what happens when Michigan housewives go looking for romance in Big Apple!

Unique shops

Whether you’re on the hunt for that perfect Christmas gift or shopping for yourself, there’s something for everyone in downtown Chelsea. If someone on your list is a challenge to buy for, check out Bumble’s Dry Goods. The store offers all kinds of hard-to-find items, unique artwork and homemade furniture.

Speaking of furniture and home décor, Merkel Furniture offers three stories of it in downtown Chelsea and is an inspiring place to wander around and dream. La Maison is a boutique home décor store that features Chalk Paint® by Annie Sloan and holds workshops on refinishing furniture.

 Elsewhere downtown you can browse the shelves at Serendipity Books, peruse old-world quality at La Jolla Fine Jewelry, find a one-of-a-kind pieces at Chelsea Antiques or visit the fitting rooms at one of Chelsea’s boutique clothing stores to try out a new style (inspired, perhaps, by the costume design at The Purple Rose!). Then, take a break and unwind at Wines on Main, be pampered at Amber Indigo Facials, grab a snack at Chelsea Bakery or treat yourself at Hair By Trios, a certified organic salon.

Extraordinary activities

On Feb. 8-9, Chelsea will transform into the world headquarters of chocolate and curling. The community will set up four sheets of ice for the Curling Fest that involves competition, lessons, beer, food trucks and fire pits. That same weekend is the Chocolate Extravaganza when stores in Chelsea give out free samples of everything chocolate.

Chelsea Milling Co. has been making Jiffy baking mix for 90 years.

Just outside of town in Michigan’s largest state park in the Lower Peninsula you can find some of the best mountain biking and hiking around. The DTE Energy Foundation Trail inside the Waterloo Recreation Area features more than 20 miles of trails, including one loop that’s been named the best in Michigan. The recreation area also is home to the Eddy Discovery Center, a nature center with hiking loops through Michigan’s great outdoors.

And, of course, the Jiffy Mix plant is open for tours. “It’s actually fascinating to watch them fill thousands of boxes of mix,” said Monica Monsma, executive director of the Chelsea Area Chamber of Commerce. “It’s really a huge operation. They’re one of our largest employers and it’s what we’re really known for.”

Relaxing places to stay

The Chelsea House Victorian Inn is just a few steps away from The Purple Rose Theatre in downtown Chelsea.

Just a few steps from The Purple Rose and the rest of downtown, Chelsea House Victorian Inn bed-and-breakfast offers period-decorated rooms and an intimate carriage house suite. So much of the home’s interior, from the woodwork to the furniture, is original to the 19th century with details perfectly preserved.

A short drive out of town is the Waterloo Gardens Bed & Breakfast, a country inn in a beautiful setting close to hiking and biking trails and near the Triple Crane Monastery that offers yoga and meditation classes.

If a B&B isn’t your style, check in to the Chelsea Comfort Inn where you can relax in an in-room whirlpool or lounge by the indoor pool.

Start building your small-town Michigan getaway with tickets to a Purple Rose play and go from there!

The advertiser paid a fee to promote this sponsor article and may have influenced or authored the content. The views expressed in this article are those of the advertiser and do not necessarily reflect those of this site or affiliated companies.

Car Enthusiast Bucket List: R.E. Olds Transportation Museum

 

Long before Henry Ford’s assembly line produced the first Model T, and before General Motors was even conceived, Pliny Olds moved his family up from Ohio to Michigan’s capital city and started a small machine shop. It was there in the late 1800s that P.F. Olds & Son built steam engines, and young Ransom Eli Olds tinkered with development of a horseless carriage.

When R.E. Olds built a three-wheeled vehicle with a steam engine in 1887, it worked — just barely. His father quipped that “Ranse thinks he can put an engine in a buggy and make the contraption carry him over the roads.”

Said the elder Olds: “If he doesn’t get killed in his fool undertaking, I’ll be satisfied.”

Good thing R.E. Olds was foolish enough to keep trying. A decade later he had built a four-wheeled carriage with a gasoline engine and, at speeds of up to 15 miles per hour, that “contraption” attracted the attention of financiers who helped start the Olds Motor Vehicle Co.

Utilizing a progressive assembly line — a precursor to Ford’s moving assembly line — the inventive Olds was able to build the world’s first mass-produced automobile. Pricing the Curved Dash Oldsmobile at an affordable $650, Olds sold thousands of them before Ford ever built a single Model T. By 1905, Lansing had become the car capital of the world with both Olds Motor Works and the new REO Motor Car Co. making vehicles in the city.

Chosen as the home of state government because of its central location, Lansing was transformed by Olds’ tinkering into the center of an emerging automotive industry that would revolutionize the city and beyond. Automotive production hasn’t stopped since, and to this day Lansing remains a major automotive player by making popular vehicles including the Chevrolet Traverse, Buick Enclave, the Cadillac CTS and the sporty Camaro.

“If it wasn’t for R.E. Olds, Lansing wouldn’t be Lansing,” said Bill Adcock, director of the R.E. Olds Transportation Museum. “He brought industry to this place. It built the middle class.”

The story of R.E. Olds is chronicled at the downtown Lansing museum, where visitors can see his early vehicles like the Curved Dash Oldsmobile and one of the four original gas-powered carriages. More than 60 classic vehicles are on display including the REO Speedwagon, REO Royale and “Baby REO,” the world’s first fully functional miniature car.

Plus, there are exhibits on R.E. Olds’ other exploits like patenting the first power lawn mower, designing yachts and developing Oldsmar, a residential community in Florida. There also are artifacts from the Olds family mansion, which, ironically, was torn down in 1971 to make way for the I-496 Olds Freeway.

Of course, long after R.E. Olds passed away, Lansing continued to make Oldsmobile cars and REO trucks, and many of these models from the last half of the 20th century are on display at the museum, too. Each car has its own story, and a common heritage that goes back to R.E. Olds.

“It’s a wonderful walk down memory lane,” said Lori Lanspeary, museum president.

The museum is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday throughout the year. An especially good time to visit is during the upcoming Car Capital Auto Show on Saturday, July 28. The free event celebrates Lansing’s automotive heritage by showcasing more than 200 classic cars and collectible vehicles on the streets near the Capitol Building. Proceeds benefit the R.E. Olds Transportation Museum.

Another great opportunity to visit the museum is Wednesday, Aug. 22, when the Old US 27 Motor Tour stops in Lansing. This premier event starts in Coldwater with hundreds of classic cars that make stops in DeWitt, St. John’s, Ithaca, Alma, Clare, Grayling, Gaylord and more on the way to Cheboygan as they travel historic Old U.S. 27 over the course of five days.

Any time of year you visit the R.E. Olds Transportation Museum, you can also drive around Lansing to see the city’s historic automotive sites — from the River Street site of the original P.F. Olds & Son machine shop to the GM Grand River Assembly plant where vehicles are still made today. There are signs at seven MotorCities National Heritage sites around the city detailing the development and legacy of the automotive industry.

The advertiser paid a fee to promote this sponsor article and may have influenced or authored the content. The views expressed in this article are those of the advertiser and do not necessarily reflect those of this site or affiliated companies.

The Rapid Helps Family Teach Environmental Stewardship

Irene and Ken Kraegel believe actions speak louder than words.

“That’s especially true when it comes to parenting: Children do what we do — not what we say,” said Irene Kraegel, a counselor at Calvin College. “So part of our parenting strategy with our son is modeling for him the qualities that we think are important.”

That’s where The Rapid comes in.

As a way to do their part in reducing carbon emissions and helping the environment, the Kraegels choose to own only one vehicle and instead ride The Rapid whenever possible.

Irene takes the bus several times a week from their home in Grand Rapids to her job at Calvin College. Along with the environmental benefits, public transportation is a great way to feel connected to the community.

“Being in a car is a solitary experience. But when I’m on the bus, it broadens my horizons a little bit and enriches my life by being around other people,” she said.

On The Rapid, she’s discovered a community of like-minded people who value many of the same things she does. And that’s translated into some new friendships.

When she’s not chatting with other riders, Irene likes to read a book or listen to music. And just relax. Walking to and from her bus stop is also a welcome break in her busy day.

In their spare time, the Kraegels love taking their son downtown on the bus to visit the library or a museum. It’s one of the many ways they teach him about being good environmental stewards.

Even when it’s not easy.

“It’s harder to live right than to talk about living right. And living as simply as possible is not something we do perfectly,” Irene said.

“But we notice that our son has started coming up with his own ideas for environmental stewardship. That’s really fun to watch,” she said.

The advertiser paid a fee to promote this sponsor article and may have influenced or authored the content. The views expressed in this article are those of the advertiser and do not necessarily reflect those of this site or affiliated companies.

8 Unique Michigan Experiences for Your Next Date Night

So, axe throwing is a thing. Just pick up a hatchet, stand about 15 feet from a target and let it fly.

How about that for your next date night?

“We’ve actually had a lot of people come in looking for an alternative to dinner and a movie,” said Rich Baker, owner of Bull’s Eye Axe Throwing in Lansing. “It’s one of the only sports where men, women and kids are all on the same playing field.

“It’s not about strength at all. It’s all about technique and consistency. We have as young as 8-year-olds that throw with us and our oldest people that we’ve had throwing with us is 90.”

Axe throwing in the past couple years has emerged as a popular leisure activity that’s growing around the country, although Bull’s Eye is one of only a few places in Michigan where you can do it.

Wanna give it a shot, er, throw? Book a hotel and come hang out at Bull’s Eye for an hour or two. While you’re in town, you can check out other unique Michigan experiences that you can only have in Lansing:

1. There’s yoga, with stretching and breathing exercises. Then there’s goat yoga, with cute little animals climbing over, under and on top of you as you do stretching and breathing exercises. Goat Yoga Michigan in Williamston, just east of Lansing, is one of a handful of centers around the country where yoga turns into animal-assisted therapy with the playful presence of goats. It’s a memorable way to get some exercise while bonding with friendly animals that pine for your attention.

2. The Beatles never performed in Lansing, but the city is home to one of the most impressive collections of Beatles memorabilia. The Spector Beatles Collection includes about 2,000 square-feet of paraphernalia in a private house in Dimondale. Fans can make an appointment to tour the collection for $10. Artifacts include many vintage items from the 1960s, original works of art and hand-signed items that owners Victoria Spector-Walker and Jim Walker have collected over the years.

3. ChrisCross SlaughterSauce and Malice in Plunderland are real characters in the Capital Region, where the Lansing Derby Vixens and East Lansing Mitten Mavens compete in the rough-and-tumble realm of roller derby. The sport is chronicled in the 2009 Michigan-made movie, “Whip It,” and is truly a change of pace from mainstream sports like football and basketball. Check out the team sites for match schedules and see the women make incredible moves on the flat track.

4. If you’d rather participate in an activity than watch it, check out the District 5 Extreme Air Sports trampoline park. The facility in Lansing has 10,000 square-feet of connected trampolines for crazy jumping, slam dunking, extreme dodgeball and even a ninja obstacle course like on TV. And, no, it’s not just for kids. Grown-ups can have a blast here, too.

5. Don’t have tickets to the basketball game? No problem. The Izzo Hall of History at Michigan State University’s Breslin Center is open throughout the year on non-game days. You can relive the glories ofMSU basketball by getting a look at the program’s trophy collection, paying tribute to notable former players and taking a selfie in Sparty heaven. Afterwards, head on over to the MSU Dairy Store and taste what even Michigan fans will tell you is the best ice cream in the state.

6. You can taste the best food in mid-Michigan by visiting any number of Greater Lansing restaurants, and with JoyRide Pedal Tours you can combine the area’s fine cuisine with the happiest biking experience in the world. Get a group of friends together on a bike with 15 seats and go on an extraordinary pub crawl, progressive dinner or exercise expedition.

7. Cross something off your Michigander bucket list by attending the lighting of the official state Christmas tree, a 62-footer from Alpena. The 2018 event in front of the Michigan Capitol building is part of the annual Silver Bells in the City that kicks off the holiday season with a gift market, live concert and arrival of Santa Claus in an incredible Electric Light Parade.

The advertiser paid a fee to promote this sponsor article and may have influenced or authored the content. The views expressed in this article are those of the advertiser and do not necessarily reflect those of this site or affiliated companies.