Meandering Around Michigan

Posted by on December 17, 2017 in Art, Entertainment, Grand Rapids, Michigan | 22 comments

For the first time after 3 solid years of foreign and domestic travel, I returned to my home state of Michigan to visit family and friends in various towns, reflect on my roots, and see what’s new. It turns out there’s a lot! On the west side of the state, Grand Rapids has been named Beer City USA, and the foodie scene has exploded. In the fall Artprize takes over Grand Rapids, bringing thousands to peruse paintings, sculpture, photography and more. Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park has sprouted a new Japanese garden and more artwork. Old buildings on both sides of the state have disappeared, and new ones have taken their place. The stalled economy has perked up in a big way. But some things have stayed the same in Michigan – the down-to-earth, friendly, salt of the earth people are still there to welcome both the home-grown, and new visitors alike. First, a peek at the food and beer scene…

The Beer City Ale Trail in Grand Rapids boasts over 60 breweries, calling beer snobs to take a beercation here. Many have great food to match. And that’s just in Grand Rapids – there are now artisan breweries all over the state! (If you’re really observant, and have better than average beer knowledge, you’ll notice in the photo above one bottle NOT brewed in Michigan, but I don’t have the skills to photoshop it out. Can you pick which one?) Having worked in the Napa Valley, California wine industry for years, I had much to learn about this form of liquid refreshment, and there were many people in Michigan happy to help educate me (Like my friends and local Beer Snobz, Bill and Liz).

If culture is more to your taste, come visit Grand Rapids in the fall for the now-famous ArtPrize, an international art competition with more than half a million dollars in prizes. Artists from around the world working in any medium can participate and art is on exhibit throughout the city in parks, museums, restaurants, offices, hotels, and more. ArtPrize is open to the public for free and attracts over 500,000 visitors, one of the most attended public art events in the world.

Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park is world-class, including a huge glass conservatory, outdoor gardens, and dozens of sculptures by renowned artists. It’s a place to come for some green inside on a snowy winter day, or wander the acres of verdant grounds in spring, summer, and fall.

You can walk under da Vinci’s giant horse, dance around Keith Haring’s Julia, or gaze up at Alexander Liberman’s Aria.

I was very pleased to see the completion of the new Japanese garden, which was just being started before I left on my journey. Now it’s lush, and beautifully landscaped. Take a look…

This mid-sized city of my youth is growing up, in a good way, attracting visitors and new transplants from around the world. And on the other side of Michigan, there is growth as well. The once-beleaguered city of Detroit is undergoing it’s own renaissance. But that story is for another visit.

Summer is my favorite season in Michigan, although I was visiting in the fall, which has it’s own virtues. like spectacular displays of colorful leaves. Michigan’s moody weather can change dramatically in the span of a minute…

…and speaking of weather, even in November, especially when headed “up North,” the temps can drop and precipitation turns from clear to white. I spent a couple of days with friends in and around Frankfort, in Northern Michigan, and look what I saw…

There is a reason Michigan is called the “Great Lakes State.” It’s full of bodies of water, both large and small, and is known for its water sports – swimming, sailing, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, diving, and water skiing. Winter snow brings other kinds of skiing, both downhill and cross country, as well as snowboarding, ice skating, snowmobiling, ice fishing, and snowshoeing. And there is also a reason Michigan is called the “mitten state,” (besides the fact that you need to wear mittens there). If you look at a map of the US, it’s the only state shaped like a mitten, hence the Michigander’s propensity to hold up their hand as a map when you ask where they live.

But the best reason for me to come to Michigan is to see family and friends, greatly missed! There was a wedding and a funeral to attend – my father passed away and my daughter got married. It was a time for tears of both sadness and joy. And a time to reconnect with dozens of friendly and welcoming faces. Many thanks for all who took the time and made the effort to get together, way too many to picture here, but know that you’re always in my heart. My dear friend Beth provided me with temporary wheels, and friends on both sides of the state, Bill and Liz (see Beer Snobz above) and Sara and Dan, and their two darling daughters, provided me with a bed and a roof over my head. Many others treated to meals and hours of conversation and fun. My gratitude is overflowing! I hope to be back sooner next time…









  1. Beautiful Lynn
    . Thanks for sharing this.

    • You’re very welcome, Cheryl! Thank you for taking the time to read 🙂

  2. Looks like a beautiful and exciting place to live. So much to see and do. Wonderful seeing old griends again also. Thanks for sharing your visit and thoughts Lynn.

    • Thank you for reading my blog post, Paula 🙂 Michigan is a beautiful state, although I admit I’m feeling lucky to be in warm Mexico right now!

  3. Always intersting to observe home after a while outside! You do it ell, Lynn!

    • Thanks, Florence! Yes, it’s true, it’s an interesting experience to go back with “new eyes.”

  4. It was great to see you while you were here.

    • It was so wonderful to see you too, Ginny! I love your new book!!

  5. Yes Grands Rapids has changed a lot since we were kids. I’m glad I got to see you and look forward to seeing you again
    Enjoy the warm weather in Mexico !

    • Fond memories of ice skating in winter with you, Brenda! Lots more to do there now. So glad we could get together 🙂

  6. Another great blog post, and I loved every single picture. I’ve come to fully appreciate my adopted hometown of Grand Rapids aalongnwith my lifelong appreciation of my state. It was so wonderful to have you back here this fall. But the snow is now piled higher than my hat, so enjoy your warm and sunny Mexico.

    • Yes, it is a great state Beth, with lots to appreciate! Especially the wonderful people, which of course includes you xo Loved getting time to hang out together & so appreciate the freedom you gave me with your loan of wheels Missing you (and those kale salads!) Sending sunshine & warm thoughts your way…

  7. This is wonderful. I had to share on Facebook

    • Thanks for sharing, Karen. Glad you enjoyed it!

  8. Fantastic!! Wonderful read about our glorious state! Thank you!

    • You’re welcome Daina! Bet you recognized a few places in the photos 😉

  9. This is wonderful. Glad I got to see you.

    • Thanks Susan, so glad I got to see you too!! Love your new home!!

  10. Great post. Nothing like family & friends <3

    • Thanks! I agree 🙂

  11. I love the way you honorand appreciate your home – Michigan reminds me of places in Canada I’ve been. It’s easy to think all the best places are those far away and out of sight! Have to leave a place sometimes, for it to come into focus. Thanks Lynn – having fun with some virtual travel by exploring your site!

    • Thanks for your comments, Anne. I’m glad you’re enjoying the site 🙂 It’s very true sometimes we have to leave a place to see it with fresh eyes & appreciate it (although I just heard it snowed today in MI – winter in mid-April does make me appreciate still being in Mexico 😉

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