Relocating to Michigan? Here are some interesting facts you should know about the Great Lakes State before you move.
- Michigan’s picturesque lighthouses adorn its miles of coastline
- Southeast Michigan is home to several vibrant downtown areas
- Unique activities abound year-round in and near the Motor City
- Michigan offers top-notch education
- Detroit is the world’s car capital
- Somerset Collection is a top shopping destination
- Michigan has fantastic cider mills
- Metro Detroit offers a myriad of museums
- Michigan is a land of firsts
- Southeast Michigan is where you’ll find a number of distinctive homes
Michigan boasts 3,288 miles of shoreline, second only to Alaska, and a longer freshwater coastline than anywhere else in the U.S. In addition to the natural beauty of Michigan’s lakes, sandy beaches, and majestic waterfalls, Michigan’s coastline is lined with quaint towns and more lighthouses than any other state. The beacon red lighthouse at Grand Haven, on a pier that stretches into Lake Michigan, is perhaps the Midwest’s most photographed lighthouse. From Mackinaw City’s candy cane-striped White Shoal Lighthouse, or farther north, the scenic Eagle Harbor Lighthouse on Lake Superior’s Keweenaw Peninsula, you may be perfectly situated to see the Northern Lights.
Downtown areas across southeastern Michigan have seen an influx in new businesses over the last few years. Downtown Detroit is enjoying a resurgence, with new restaurants and shops to visit in addition to concert and sporting venues. Birmingham is a bright spot in Oakland County, as is Royal Oak and Ferndale, all with frequent visitors to their downtown shops, restaurants, and salons. In Wayne County, Plymouth’s downtown is popular all year round, but particularly during the popular Plymouth Ice Festival, when the city offers an ice sculpture contest and entertainment to celebrate the season.
Every summer, Detroit hosts the Detroit Grand Prix at Belle Isle for Indy Car lovers. Love muscle cars instead? Then spend some time driving or just watching the wonderful vintage cars go by in the Woodward Dream Cruise up iconic Woodward Avenue just north Detroit each August. If art’s your thing, don’t miss the Ann Arbor Art Fair, a group of four simultaneous, award-winning art fairs that take place each July in Ann Arbor. Or if you feel like jousting, visit the Michigan Renaissance Festival, where they recreate the feel of a 16th Century English village for summer/fall fun and folly.
Your child’s education is in good hands – in addition to several excellent public school systems, Metro Detroit offers plenty of excellent private school choices, as well. At the collegiate level, the state boasts of prestigious public schools like the University of Michigan and Michigan State University, as well as well-respected regional schools like Oakland University, Wayne State University, and Lawrence Technological University. In addition, the state is home to several small, well-respected private colleges, such as Kalamazoo College, Hope College, and Albion College.
Widely recognized as the beating heart of America’s automobile industry, Motor City became home to the nation’s first car factory with the arrival of Henry Ford and other industry pioneers. Today, you’ll find various automotive attractions in the city, including the Henry Ford Museum and the Automotive Hall of Fame. It also hosts major auto events like The Woodward Dream Cruise and the Detroit Grand Prix at Belle Isle.
In the heart of Troy’s business district, you’ll find Metro Detroit’s high-end shopper’s haven. This retail indoor hotspot features anchor tenants Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, and Macy’s, and offers over 150 other stores in between, including Apple and Microsoft. It also offers a host of dining options from The Capital Grill and J. Alexander’s to Chick-Fil-A and California Pizza Kitchen. Can’t find what you’re looking for? No worries. All that downtown Birmingham has to offer is just a couple of miles away.
Midwesterners know the lure of the cider mill in autumn. With brisk temperatures and leaves turning color, there’s no better place to celebrate the season. In Metro Detroit, you have your pick. Franklin Cider Mill is easy to get to, just outside quaint Franklin Village. Want to hike, too? Head to scenic Yates Cider Mill on the banks of the Clinton River just outside Bloomer State Park in nearby Rochester Hills. Both are historic and offer plenty for a memorable afternoon of autumn fun.
Whether you’re into history, art, or science, Detroit has a museum for you. Southeastern Michigan’s most well-known museum – and a National Historic Landmark – is The Henry Ford, also known as the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation and Greenfield Village, and as the Edison Institute. As the largest indoor/outdoor history museum complex in the U.S., with contents as varied as Abraham Lincoln’s chair from Ford’s Theatre, Thomas Edison’s laboratory, and the Rosa Parks bus, The Henry Ford is a must-see. For more historical context, visit the world’s largest permanent exhibit on African-American culture at The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. If you want to learn more about the Great Lakes, head to Belle Isle and visit the historical maritime Dossin Great Lakes Museum. The museum features the bow anchor of the massive SS Edmund Fitzgerald, the freighter that sank during a Lake Superior storm, made famous by Gordon Lightfoot’s 1976 hit song “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.”
If art interests you, the Detroit Institute of Arts, which is free to Michigan residents, has a collection considered among the top six in the country, with exhibits that include ancient Egyptian relics to contemporary art. Or head uptown to Bloomfield Hill’s Cranbrook Art Museum, which showcases the best of contemporary art. If you’re into science, visit the nearby Cranbrook Institute of Science, or the Michigan Science Center in Detroit, both of which offer planetariums and hands-on interactive exhibits for youth and adult visitors alike.
According to the website mlive.com, The Detroit Zoo was the first zoo in the country to allow animals to roam freely in cage-less exhibits. Michigan was also the first state in the nation to abolish prohibition – and capital punishment. For other firsts, you just have to look to Woodward Avenue, home to the nation’s first mile of concrete roadway (between 6 Mile and 7 Mile, if you’re interested), and to the first four-way electric traffic light (at the corner of Woodward and Michigan Avenue).
Known for its architecture, Michigan has no shortage of distinctive homes, and several are open to the public for tours. The Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Gregor S. and Elizabeth B. Affleck House in Bloomfield Hills is one example. This Usonian-style home, which is on both the Michigan and National Registers of Historic Places, has been recognized as one of Michigan’s most significant structures. Another local landmark on the National Register is Meadow Brook Hall, Matilda Dodge’s Tudor revival style mansion on the campus of Oakland University in Rochester Hills. A final extraordinary example: the Art Deco home of Finnish-American architect Eliel and Loja Saarinen on the grounds of Cranbrook Academy of Art. The painstakingly restored interior features the family’s original furnishings, including furniture designed by Eliel and textiles designed by renowned artist Loja, as well as early furniture designs by their son, famous architect Eero Saarinen.