Pop quiz! How much do you know about our neighbours in Michigan?
1. Wait, which direction is the USA in?
The Detroit-Windsor border is the busiest land crossing between the U.S and Canada. This suggests Canadians already know about many of Michigan’s charms, but we’d bet that even the most experienced traveler hasn’t heard all of these surprising facts. After all, they're our southern neighbour. Actually for Windsorites, it’s their northern neighbour; Windsor is south of Detroit, creating the only mainland border crossing to the U.S. that requires travelling north.
2. Water, water everywhere
Many know that “Michigan” is from the Ojibwa word mishigamaa meaning “large water.” It’s easy to see that the state is formed of two peninsulas, but only the more observant will notice that the state touches four of the five Great Lakes. In fact, the lucky residents of the state are never more than 135 miles from one of the great lakes, and always within six miles of an inland lake.
See: Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
Do: Visit Mackinac Island where cars have been banned for over a century
Eat: Whitefish or lake perch
3. Boat capital
Although Detroit is often called the car capital of the world, the state has over one million registered boats – more than any other state. With 11,000 inland lakes, there’s certainly more than enough water for all of them.
See: Surfers hanging ten on Lake Michigan
Do: Sail in summer and ice fish in winter
4. Michigan, feeding us the breakfast of champions
https://www.flickr.com/photos/x-ray_delta_one/Battle Creek is home to Kellogg, one of the largest cereal companies in the world. Started in 1906 to produce toasted Corn Flakes, the company has grown to be the second largest snack-food company in the world. Most Canadians will always think of Michigan as Tony the Tiger’s home state.
See: Up until 2007 visitors could tour the Kellogg's Cereal City USA, a museum dedicated to the brand and product. Battle Creek Regional History Museum, currently in construction, is expected to display items onced housed by Cereal City. Stay tuned.
Do: Traveller's today will just have to pay homage by eating a bowl within state lines.
5. Detroit Rock City
Steven Pham, The Crofoot FacebookThere must be something in the air that inspires creativity, allowing Michigan to produce an unprecedented number of talented performers. Iggy Pop, Stevie Wonder, Eminem, Madonna and Big Sean all originated in the state and Motown Records originated in Detroit. The label produced some of the most influential musicians in the country including Diana Ross, the Jackson 5, Smoky Robinson, Marvin Gaye and many others.
See: Catch a live show at The Crofoot, The Magic Stick/Majestic Theatre, or Ann Arbor's Michigan Theatre
Do: Visit the Motown Museum in Detroit
6. Home of an American innovator
https://www.flickr.com/photos/52224388@N02/Did you know that Henry Ford was born in Greenfield Township? He would ultimately be credited for manufacturing the first mass consumer automobile; it changed the world forever.
Do/See: When visiting Michigan, experiencing the Henry Ford Museum is a must. The museum houses many permanent and temporary exhibitions celebrating American innovation. Also on site is Greenfield Village. Experience 300 years of American history through 83 authentic, historic structures, four living history farms and artifacts.
7. Got milk? Elsie does
The village of Elsie is home to one of the largest registered Holstein herds in the world. With over 3,200 cows, the herd at Green Meadow Farms far outnumber the 100 residents of the village.
Do: Attend the Dairy Festival, an annual event that happens in July.
Eat: Ice cream!
8. So call me maybe
U.S. phone numbers originated in Detroit in 1879 when the population of the city became so large that phone operators could no longer correctly identify recipients of calls by name alone.
Do: Visit the Montrose Historical & Telephone Pioneer Museum
9. Winter sport mecca?
Did you know that Manistee is home to over 230 kilometres of snowmobile trails? It also boats nearly 160 kilometres of groomed cross country and snowshoeing trails carved out of the famous Manistee National Forest.
10. Where the wind blows
https://www.flickr.com/photos/bsabarnowl/The largest working weathervane in the world stands at the corner of Dowling and Walter Streets in Montague. The 48 foot tall metal structure was built by a local company and points the direction of the wind with a 26 foot aluminum arrow. The schooner that adorns the arrow is the Ella Ellenwood, a vessel that went down in a storm in 1901. Curiously the ship was never recovered but its nameplate floated back to Montague in 1902.
See it here: Dowling St & Water St, Montague, MI 49437
Do: Take a selfie and share with us on Instagram (@CanadianTraveller) and use the hashtag #PureMichigan
11. Debate a birthplace
https://www.flickr.com/photos/auvet/Several cities claim to be the birthplace of Paul Bunyan, but three of them are in Michigan and statues of the famous lumberjack and his blue ox can be found all over the state. Although his images make it seem that the pair is forty feet tall, the legend is based on a French-Canadian lumberjack who worked around Grayling, MI in the 1800s.
See: The larger than life Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox statue in Ossineke
12. Art imitating art
https://www.flickr.com/photos/rkramer62/To see an equestrian sculpture that could have been created by Leonardo da Vinci (but wasn’t), visit the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids. The 24 foot tall bronze piece is based on a design by da Vinci and completed in the 1990s.
See: Don't miss the exotic cacti at the Earl and Donnalee Holton Arid Garden
Do: Attend one of their outdoor concerts; the series runs June through September
Eat: Have a nibble at the Tastes of the Garden Cafe.
13. Have a Bavarian experience within state lines
Located in southeast Michigan, Frankenmuth is known as Michigan's "Little Bavaria". Come stroll the village centre, adorned in German style and ethos. The architecture, decor and businesses are so picturesque, it feels as if one has stepped right into a fairy tale. The setting attracts Oktoberfest revelers and in winter it buzzes with Christmas festivities. https://www.flickr.com/photos/frankenmuthmi/
Do: Oktoberfest in mid-September, shop Bronner's Christmas Wonderland
See: The Bavarian Festival each June, the Glockenspiel
Eat: Franeknmuth's famous all-you-can-eat chicken dinner
Drink: Zee German beer, natürlich!
https://www.flickr.com/photos/battlecreekcvb/It's a word well-known to magic fans and Colon, MI is well-known to magicians. Hailed as the Magic Capital of the World, the village is the resting place of Harry Blackstone Sr. and home of the Abbot Magic Company, supplier to professional stage magicians around the world. Two other magic companies are based here and village celebrates its history with an annual four-day magic convention.
Do: Visit Colon during the Magic Festival (summer)
See: Visit the American Museum of Magic in Marshall
15. A Sweet Celebration
"Ponczki" by Taken byfir0002 | flagstaffotos.com.au- Own work via WikicommonsNothing cures a bad mood like a jelly donut and Hamtramck is so convinced of this they dedicate an entire day to the scrumptious sweet. Paczki Day celebrates the Polish version of the treat that is so popular that the line for the more popular paczki bakeries starts at 5 a.m. and doesn’t decrease for the 36 hours the bakery is open.
Eat: Do we have to tell you?!
Which item surprised you the most?
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