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Shake Shack (Detroit)

November 30, 2021
  • 660 Woodward Avenue
  • Detroit, MI 48226
  • (313) 672-0501
  • Website
  • Menu

Our weekend in Detroit was just about over. We were finally getting close to the time of L’s flag football game that brought us to the East Side in the first place.

We spent a pretty great day at Belle Isle. We walked through the Aquarium, the Conservatory, the Dossin Great Lakes Museum, went on a short hike to the lighthouse, then hit a playground over by the Nature Center. It was a pretty relaxing, enjoyable afternoon.

We took the kids to Chicago last summer for a mini vacation. L fell in love with the idea of the big city so we decided to let her see Detroit. I wanted to be right in the middle of town so she really got the idea that Detroit is a big city.

We needed to grab something for lunch before heading over to Ford Field so I went with something I knew the kids would enjoy.

I picked Shake Shack because…well, they have shakes.

The Detroit Shake Shack location is on Woodward Avenue in the First National Building near Campus Martius Park. We drove around the block a few times looking for street parking but ended up just finding a garage a few blocks away and walking through Campus Martius to find the restaurant.

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Dossin Great Lakes Museum

November 24, 2021
  • 100 The Strand
  • Detroit, MI 48207
  • (313) 821-2661
  • Website

We have lived in Michigan for 13 years now and playing tourist in Detroit is something we haven’t done very often.

We took a weekend just to hang out and see some things in Detroit we haven’t seen early in November when the weather was still nice. L was selected to play in a Flag Football game at Ford Field so why not make it a family weekend?

One of the things I’ve always wanted to do in Detroit but have never done is check out Belle Isle. I see it on TV all the time….well, at least once a year when I watch the Indycar Belle Isle GP…but we have never taken the time to hang out at the park.

The first thing we did when getting to the Island Sunday morning was walk through the Belle Isle Aquarium. This was a cool stop but took less than an hour. We still had four or five hours until L’s game so we needed to keep exploring.

We headed next door to the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory next door (I didn’t take pictures so I didn’t blog about it but I really should have) to tick off another half hour or so.

We walked around the grounds of the Conservatory for a few minutes because B was jumping from stone paver to stone paver. He was entertaining himself so we let him go.

I noticed another building off in the distance past the little lake on the south side of the Conservatory. I didn’t know what it was but I figured we should go check that out too.

Turns out, that building was the Dossin Great Lakes Museum.

The Dossin Great Lakes Museum is on the south side of Belle Isle on The Strand right along the Detroit River. The building, opened in 1961 and is home to the largest collection of model ships in the world among other artifacts telling Detroit’s maritime history.

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Belle Isle Aquarium

November 20, 2021
  • 3 Inselruhe Drive
  • Detroit, MI 48207
  • (313) 331-7760
  • Website

We had pretty much a whole day to kill in Detroit. We were in town because L was playing a flag football game at Ford Field through the Playworks program at her school. We decided to make a weekend out of it and do things we don’t normally get to do in Detroit.

We got up Sunday morning at our hotel in Dearborn and went to breakfast before the church rush began. After that, we still had several hours before we needed to be at Ford Field.

We’ve lived in Michigan for about 14 years now and we haven’t spent a ton of time in Detroit for anything other than an occasional sporting event or work. One of the things I’ve always wanted to do was go see what Belle Isle is all about.

We started our afternoon at the Belle Isle Aquarium. This almost 120 year old aquarium is on Inselruhe Drive just north of The Strand on the west side of the island. The 10,000 square foot single gallery museum is free but also accept donations.

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Rex’s Golden Grill

November 17, 2021
  • 2424 S. Telegraph Road
  • Dearborn, MI 48124
  • (313) 565-7066
  • Website
  • Menu

Breakfast. Man…have we missed breakfast.

We try really hard not complain during this pandemic but the one thing I think we all missed was eating breakfast at a restaurant. We found a couple places with outdoor seating over the last year and a half but the kids got really tired of sitting outside in the cold in a hurry.

We spent a weekend in Detroit not long after the kids got their first vaccine shot. We’re still not 100% comfortable doing all the things we did in the before times but there seems to be a weight lifted off our shoulders now. As long as we’re still vigilant and still take precautions, we can start doing some of the things we miss.

We were in town because L was playing in a flag football game at Ford Field Sunday evening. We made a weekend out of it by going to the Detroit Zoo on Saturday then getting a hotel in Dearborn that night. We ate dinner at a brewery for the first time in a long time then got some amazing ice cream before heading to the hotel to swim.

The kids were pretty disappointed when we woke up on Sunday morning and the hotel didn’t have a hot breakfast bar. Next to the pool, that was always their favorite thing about staying in a hotel.

There were some tears when J got back to the room with the kids (I usually sleep through breakfast then get up when they get back) so she asked if there was any place close we could stop and get something. We figured if we got someplace right when they opened, we could avoid the big crowd we’re still not totally comfortable being around.

I did my typical Google search and came up with a few places. I chose Rex’s Golden Grill on Telegraph Road not too far south of US-12. The restaurant had pretty good reviews and they had all of the things we look for in a breakfast menu.

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Milkster Nitrogen Creamery (Dearborn)

November 16, 2021
  • 22079 Michigan Avenue
  • Dearborn, MI 48124
  • (313) 626-6789
  • Website
  • Menu

Typically, I’m the one who plans out all the meals when we travel. I’ll book hotels close to restaurants I want to go to or scour Google looking for places if we just pick the cheapest hotel near our destination.

Our weekend trip to Detroit was a little different. I didn’t really plan any meals. For once, we just kind of winged it.

J was talking to one of L’s friend’s parents when we were trick or treating a few weeks ago. Their daughter was also selected to play in the flag football game at Ford Field I mentioned briefly in my previous post. They were excited about an ice cream place and once we found out about it, we were excited too.

L loves the idea of the big city after our trip to Chicago this summer. I started looking at hotels in downtown Detroit to give her that experience but we were looking at the last minute and everything was just too expensive. J started looking at suburban hotels. They were much cheaper so we went that route.

We didn’t really care where we stayed but J remembered that ice cream place she was told about….so she got a hotel near it.

Milkster Nitrogen Creamery in Dearborn is on a very busy stretch of Michigan Avenue near Mason Street. The building is a pretty typical downtown type building connected to it’s neighbors and very close to the very busy street. There was no parking on Michigan Avenue but we found a spot just around on the corner of Mason Avenue. There’s a parking ramp across the street on the backside of the building that we would have eventually found if we’d kept going but there was no need.

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The Royal Oak Brewery

November 15, 2021
  • 214 E. 4th Street
  • Royal Oak, MI 48067
  • (248) 544-1141
  • Website
  • Menu

We haven’t spent a weekend in Detroit in a very long time. I’ve been there for a couple nights for work but just us, as a family, hanging out and sightseeing around Detroit…it’s been a while.

I’m still not exactly sure how this happened or what it is, but L got picked to play a flag football game at Ford Field last week through school. They do something called Playworks and somehow, that led to the Flag Football Jamboree.

The game was on Sunday but we decided to make a weekend out of it. L really, really wanted to ride the school bus from Kalamazoo to Detroit but we had to say no to that. We finally won her over (sorta) with a trip to the zoo and a hotel pool.

Yeah…the Detroit Zoo…something we’ve been saying for years we needed to do again. We took J when she was just under 2 years old. We actually took her to see The Wiggles at the Fox Theatre but we got a hotel that weekend too and made a trip out of it. Come to think of it…that’s the last time we had been to Detroit, not counting a Tigers game, together….that was in 2013.

We actually had a really good day at the zoo. Not a lot of whining. Kids got excited about a few things. The penguin building is closed again and the polar bears didn’t swim directly over our heads, but we all had fun and B made a friend in the reptile house (another kid, not a lizard) as we were getting ready to leave.

Something else we haven’t done in quite a while was eat in a restaurant with the kids. We came sort of close when we went to Chicago over the summer. We ate at Labriola downtown. J likes to remind me the front of the restaurant is open to the street so not technically an indoor restaurant.

J and I have eaten inside a restaurant a few times since last March….mostly since we’ve gotten vaccinated. We finally got the kids their first shots and one of the things they were really looking forward too, eating in a restaurant again.

I gave J the choice of brewery or BBQ…she chose brewery. Good choice…although BBQ would have been good too.

The Royal Oak Brewery is in what I assume is downtown Royal Oak. The brewery is on 4th Street a couple of blocks east of Main Street. We didn’t see any really convenient parking so I drove around the block a few times before I found someone leaving a street parking space. I let them leave then let my kids make fun of my parallel parking (I’d like to see them do it!)

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Jersey Giants Subs (Plainwell)

November 12, 2021
  • 1265 M-89
  • Plainwell, MI 49080
  • (269) 204-6627
  • Website
  • Menu

I don’t know if I’ve ever related to a TV character as much as I relate to Joey Tribbiani when he says his favorite food is sandwiches. Sandwiches are so good.

I ate at the new Jersey Mike’s Subs a few weeks ago and it reminded me….I haven’t been to Jersey Giant in a while…and that’s a travesty.

I was in Otsego last week for work and I was hungry. I passed the Jersey Giant in Plainwell on my way to Otsego and the idea of, “I really need to get to Jersey Giant” popped in to my head. As I made my way back to the highway to head back to Kalamazoo, I made a slight detour to grab a sub.

Jersey Giant Subs in Plainwell is on M-89/Allegan Street in Otsego Township near the Home Depot. The small building in front of Southwicks has been a few things over the years. Most recently it was an AT&T store then a vape shop. Last spring, Jersey Giant Subs remodeled the building an opened up the sub shop.

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Slap N Chicken

November 8, 2021
  • 3942 S. Westnedge Avenue
  • Kalamazoo, MI 49008
  • (269) 743-7149
  • Website
  • Menu

It’s been a while since I’ve eaten out. I just haven’t felt inspired really recently and while there are new places opening up in Kalamazoo, not a lot has really grabbed my attention to the point that I needed to be there right after they opened.

There is one exception to that though. I love chicken places and I’ve always been pretty disappointed in Kalamazoo’s chicken offerings. A place on South Westnedge is trying to change that though.

Slap N Chicken opened up recently in the South Westnedge neighborhood on Westnedge Avenue near Denway Drive. If you’re coming from downtown, the restaurant really sneaks up on you. It’s in the old Papa Murphy’s location which got infinitely harder to find when TNT Pawn Brokers expanded their building and blocked view of the sign coming from the north.

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Happy Poochie Eatery

November 1, 2021
  • 325 W.  Main Street
  • Benton Harbor, MI 49022
  • (269) 757-7267
  • Website
  • Menu

I always have a hard time finding places to eat in Benton Harbor. I’m looking a little harder when I go that way but it just seems easier to cross the river over in to St. Joseph.

I hate that way of thinking though. If I’m in Benton Harbor, I want to find as many delicious options as I can.

The hard part about finding places in Benton Harbor is that there isn’t really a city center that’s built up. Over the years, I’ve seem dramatic improvement along Main Street with those improvements have come some new restaurants in some cool old buildings.

A co-worker and I were in Benton Harbor a few weeks ago on an assignment. I was hungry and wanted to grab something quick. I got a couple restaurant recommendations from some people but those will have to wait. I was in a sandwich mood and I found a sandwich place.

Happy Poochie Eatery is right on West Main Street near 10th Street just to the west of downtown Benton Harbor. This building has been so many different restaurants over the years. A Mexican place, a hot dog place, a breakfast joint, fried fish shop. This stretch of road is how many people get from I-94 to Silver Beach. We’ve been driving it for years and every time we drive by, it seems to be something new.

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Pennfield Ice Cream and Coffee

October 15, 2021
  • 956 Capital Avenue NE
  • Battle Creek, MI 49017
  • (269) 282-1398
  • Website
  • Menu

It has been a while since we took a trip to the zoo.

We’ve been members at Binder Park Zoo for several years. We usually do a few trips to the zoo in Newton Township and take advantage of the reciprocal membership by doing one big zoo trip every summer.

COVID stopped both of those. We didn’t go to Binder Park at all last year nor did we do a big zoo trip.

This past summer, the only zoo trip we did was Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago….which is free, so we didn’t need our membership.

We still hadn’t been to Binder Park Zoo since 2019 and I kind of missed it. The hours are not great right now. They close at 4:00 so that makes it a little harder to get over there after soccer gets over around 12:30.

We decided to just go. It doesn’t cost us anything so even if we only get to spend 2 1/2 hours there, it will be nice to get out of the house and walk around the zoo.

We pushed it right up to the 4:00 closing time. We had to get over to the Bears and the Snow Leopard and it was 3:55. We got our last two animals in then headed for the exit a little stressed from trying to get everything in such a short amount of time but ultimately glad we made the trip over.

The kids were….eh…ok. Not great. Still, we limited the whining by offering ice cream. They could have whined less but they whined less enough we took them for ice cream.

There aren’t a lot of ice cream places still open right now. Most closed after Labor Day. My search kept bringing back to one place that still has a month or so left in their season.

Pennfield Ice Cream & Coffee is on Capital Avenue Northeast south of Montford Street in Calhoun County’s Pennfield Township. The shop is a standalone restaurant right off the very busy Capital Avenue. The building was Fogg Motors in a former life but was converted in to an ice cream and coffee shop just before COVID hit last year.

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