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Suggestions for Michigan Trip


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#1 ljohn2030

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Posted 04 December 2017 - 09:51 AM

Hello! My wife is a huge Michigan fan, and has always wanted to visit. Worse, I promised her we would visit, so I need to make this happen.

She does want to see Ann Arbor and Holland, at least. I want to ride all three Michigan lines - Pere Marquette, Wolverine, and the Blue Water.

Any suggestions would be greatly welcomed.
Thank you in advance!


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#2 Bob Dylan

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Posted 04 December 2017 - 09:55 AM

You're on Sarah!😉
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#3 tim49424

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Posted 04 December 2017 - 11:12 AM

Pere Marquette does go to Holland. I’ve ridden it well over 100 times. It’s 151 miles from Chicago, arrives at 10:34 Eastern time, has business class and a cafe car.


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Edited by tim49424, 04 December 2017 - 11:15 AM.

Over 50,000 miles traveled on Amtrak since December, 2007.  Next trip: February 18, 2018 - HOM-CHI RT

 

Amtrak trains traveled on as of October, 2017:  Pere Marquette, Empire Builder, Hiawatha, Wolverine, Coast Starlight, California Zephyr, Southwest Chief, Pacific Surfliner, Sunset Limited, Texas Eagle, Cardinal, Northeast Regional, Downeaster, Lake Shore Limited, Heartland Flyer, Amtrak Cascades and Ethan Allen


#4 crescent-zephyr

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Posted 04 December 2017 - 11:36 AM

On the top of your list should be the Henry Ford Musem and Greenfield Village. It is located at Dearborn (walking / short cab ride distance to the new Amtrak station) on the Wolverine line.

This is simply one of the best museums in the country, the village has a working roundhouse complete with 3 operational steam locomotives that operate on a 3 mile loop around the village. The village houses restored building such as the Thomas Edison Menlo park laboratories, Wright Brothers bicycle shop, Noah Websters home and much much more. Model T's and horse drawn omni busses also operate through the village.

Edited by crescent-zephyr, 04 December 2017 - 11:37 AM.

Amtrak: - Coast Starlight*, Pacific Surfliner, San Joaquin*, Cascades*, Empire Builder*, California Zephyr*, Southwest Chief*, City of New Orleans*, River Cities, Illinois Zephyr*, Wolverine, Cardinal, Capitol Limited*, Lake Shore Limited, Downeaster, Acela Express*, Crescent*, Carolinian*, Silver Star*, Silver Meteor*, Maple Leaf* Texas Eagle.

 

VIA: - Canadian*

 

Iowa Pacific - Hoosier State*, and City of New Orleans Pullman*.   


#5 tommylicious

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Posted 04 December 2017 - 11:51 AM

I concur with crescent-zephyr re: henry ford.  allow a full 2 or even 3 days to see it.  go to the river rouge plant one day, then museum & greenfield village next/2 days. i think it's one of the best museums in the world.

 

On the top of your list should be the Henry Ford Musem and Greenfield Village. It is located at Dearborn (walking / short cab ride distance to the new Amtrak station) on the Wolverine line.

This is simply one of the best museums in the country, the village has a working roundhouse complete with 3 operational steam locomotives that operate on a 3 mile loop around the village. The village houses restored building such as the Thomas Edison Menlo park laboratories, Wright Brothers bicycle shop, Noah Websters home and much much more. Model T's and horse drawn omni busses also operate through the village.


Edited by tommylicious, 04 December 2017 - 12:10 PM.


#6 tim49424

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Posted 04 December 2017 - 06:35 PM

The attractions in Holland are anything having to do with the Dutch heritage (i.e., Windmill Island, Dutch Village, Wooden Shoe Factory, Veldheer’s Tulip Farm, etc.), Lake Michigan and New Holland Brewery.....plus in May, the Tulip Festival.


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Edited by tim49424, 04 December 2017 - 06:36 PM.

Over 50,000 miles traveled on Amtrak since December, 2007.  Next trip: February 18, 2018 - HOM-CHI RT

 

Amtrak trains traveled on as of October, 2017:  Pere Marquette, Empire Builder, Hiawatha, Wolverine, Coast Starlight, California Zephyr, Southwest Chief, Pacific Surfliner, Sunset Limited, Texas Eagle, Cardinal, Northeast Regional, Downeaster, Lake Shore Limited, Heartland Flyer, Amtrak Cascades and Ethan Allen


#7 SarahZ

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Posted 04 December 2017 - 11:57 PM

I'm not sure where you're coming from, so I don't really know what to suggest as far as the trains are concerned. Due to their schedule and the lack of a decent connection between Grand Rapids and Lansing and Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo, it's kind of hard to combine all three.

 

If you want to do anything in Michigan, you're going to need a car. Our cities do not have the transit like you would find in large cities like Chicago. Yes, we have some local buses, but they're basically useless for sightseeing. Plan to rent a car when you visit each major city.

 

You could take the Pere Marquette from Chicago to Holland and spend some time there. I also suggest completing the trip to Grand Rapids. GR is the largest city in western Michigan and has a plethora of museums and restaurants. I suggest the Frederick Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, which is open year-round.

 

From GR, take 131 south to Kalamazoo. Park downtown and enjoy the pedestrian mall with all of its boutique shops. If you like beer, you're in luck. The entire east end of downtown has developed into umpteen craft breweries, some with incredible food. Arcadia is my favorite; if you sit near the rear of the building, you'll have a view of the river, and you can watch Amtrak go by.

 

After you eat, drive west on Kalamazoo Ave until you get to the Stuart neighborhood (just a mile or so). Enjoy the gorgeous historic homes and then continue west. You'll go through a tight S-curve and up a hill (West Main Hill), where you'll happen upon Henderson Castle. Spend the night there. Go to the rooftop and enjoy a view of Kalamazoo and the valley while relaxing in the hot tub.

 

From Kalamazoo, you can take the Blue Water to Lansing and Port Huron or the Wolverine to Ann Arbor and metro Detroit. There is no way to go to Port Huron and back; it requires an overnight. You could, however, take it as far as Lansing and then come back. Lansing is our capital, so you could check out the Capitol Building and the Michigan History Center.

 

I used to live in Ann Arbor. Here are my favorite things:

 

- Take a stroll along Main St. and Liberty St. Great restaurants and shops. True, quirky Ann Arbor culture. Look for the fairy doors.

 

- Go book shopping at Literati (new books) and Dawn Treader (used books). If you're on the west side of town, you absolutely have to go to Nicola's Books.

 

- Walk through the "Arb" (https://mbgna.umich.edu). There's a great path along the river.

 

- Go to the Law Quad at U of M. You'll feel like you're walking around Oxford or Hogwarts. 

 

- If you're over by Michigan Stadium, which you should be if your wife is a big Michigan fan, stop and get ice cream at Washtenaw Dairy

 

- If you want to eat somewhere rail-related, go to either the Gandy Dancer ($$$$) or Sidetrack's (in Ypsilanti, just a few miles away). Sidetrack's is more affordable and has incredible food. I used to eat there all the time. Amtrak passes right in front of the restaurant; when you're seated on the patio, it's tradition to raise your glass and "toast" the train passengers. It has a neighborhood pub feel. Gandy Dancer is much fancier and is usually reserved for special evenings. On the other hand, it's housed in the historic train depot and sits right on the tracks (next to the "new" Ann Arbor station), so it's nice if you want some history and a romantic meal.

 

- Zingerman's Deli in Kerrytown. You'll thank me for this one.

 

So, onward to Detroit. I second (third?) everyone's recommendation to visit the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village. While the museum is practically on top of the Dearborn Amtrak station, it's actually a mile walk from the station to the entrance to the museum, as you have to go around the block. I really wish they'd create some kind of pedestrian bridge, as they could attract a ton of visitors that way.

 

Anyway, once you get into Detroit proper, go to Lafayette for a coney dog. They have a rivalry with their next-door neighbor, American, for who has the best coney, so if you want to get in on that, go to both. They're owned by the same family, so it's a friendly rivalry. :) I say Lafayette's coneys are better, and I like their restaurant better - very old school Detroit, with the turquoise/black tiles and everything. American is more modern diner.

 

Once you do that, check out everything Detroit has to offer. Take a ride on the People Mover. Check out the old theaters. Admire the gorgeous architecture. Many of the buildings have been purchased and restored (yay!) or are in the process of being restored (double yay!). You can also go to a few casinos, and if you have your passport, you can take a cab across to Windsor to check out Canada for a bit.

 

I don't know if you like books, but you're getting another suggestion: John King Used & Rare Books. I can't even call it a bookstore. The building is an old leather glove factory, and it's four or five stories of thousands and thousands of books. It hasn't been renovated, so it still has that industrial look and feel - old wooden floors, piping, naked bulbs for lights, etc. It really is a gem. 

 

Check out the Riverwalk and the RenCen (Renaissance Center). While there, head to nearby Greektown to see the old churches and restaurants. I love the Greektown streets at night, with the string lights and flags. It always feels like a festival.

 

Do not be scared of Detroit. If you're downtown during the day, you're going to run into a ton of other people who are going to shows, sporting events, the casinos, restaurants, etc. Greektown is extremely popular, but not crowded. If you feel like you're heading into an area with fewer people and things feel "off", just turn around.

 

Speaking of "off", the area around Michigan Central Station is kind of sketchy. I definitely recommend heading over to check out the building, but I wouldn't recommend parking and walking around. I don't say that to scare you - I've been there plenty of times by myself - it's just so close to downtown that it can feel like it's ok to let your guard down a bit. 

 

If you have any questions, please let me know. Michigan is a HUGE state, so I'm always at a loss when people ask for suggestions. Those are the highlights, but if you provide a little more info about your interests, I'm sure we can help you create a nice itinerary. :)


Edited by SarahZ, 05 December 2017 - 12:00 AM.

Amtrak Miles: 43,318

 

Amtrak Routes: Blue Water, California Zephyr, Capitol Limited, Carl Sandburg, City of New Orleans, Coast Starlight, Crescent, Empire Builder, Hiawatha, Illinois Zephyr, Lincoln Service, Southwest Chief, Texas Eagle, Wolverine

 

Metropolitan Rail: Chicago Metra, Chicago L, Dallas TRE, Detroit People Mover, New Orleans RTA, San Francisco MUNI, Seattle Monorail, South Shore Line (NICTD), Toronto Subway & RT, Washington DC Metro


#8 EmCee Al

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Posted 05 December 2017 - 12:46 AM

I concur with SarahZ and say that getting a car is a wise idea, but for a different reason.  What I am going to recommend in Michigan is some of the amazing scenery and places along the Lake Michigan shoreline north of Holland. Unfortunately, the days that passenger trains could take you to these places is in the past, so an auto is the best answer.

 

I am assuming that you may be visiting in the summer or fall.  If so, consider driving north to the Sleeping Bear Dunes near Traverse City.  And while you are in the vicinity, take the drive up the peninsula between the East and West Arm of Traverse Bay to Mission Point.  You won't forget it!  

 

You might consider going even further north to the Straits and Mackinac Island.  Yes, the Island is touristy, but for good reasons.  The Island is unique and there is much to do.  Rather than me pointing out something, you will be better able to find out on your own what would work best in your situation.  If you don't visit the Island, even driving over the Mackinac Bridge can be memorable!

 

Once you are "up north" as Michiganders say, you will probably discover your own favorite sights and places.  It is one of my favorite places on the planet!



#9 SarahZ

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Posted 05 December 2017 - 12:57 AM

Once you are "up north" as Michiganders say, you will probably discover your own favorite sights and places.  It is one of my favorite places on the planet!

 

Oh my gosh. Don't even get me started on the upper peninsula.

 

I second the recommendation to drive along Lake Michigan, if you have time. 


Amtrak Miles: 43,318

 

Amtrak Routes: Blue Water, California Zephyr, Capitol Limited, Carl Sandburg, City of New Orleans, Coast Starlight, Crescent, Empire Builder, Hiawatha, Illinois Zephyr, Lincoln Service, Southwest Chief, Texas Eagle, Wolverine

 

Metropolitan Rail: Chicago Metra, Chicago L, Dallas TRE, Detroit People Mover, New Orleans RTA, San Francisco MUNI, Seattle Monorail, South Shore Line (NICTD), Toronto Subway & RT, Washington DC Metro


#10 JRR

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Posted 05 December 2017 - 07:00 AM

Yes, the drive up the Lake Michigan shoreline is awesome. I like visiting the lighthouses!


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#11 Bob Dylan

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Posted 05 December 2017 - 09:21 AM

As the Well Done Commercials say: "Pure Michigan!"😍
( directly from Michiganers!!!)
"There's Something About a Train! It's Magic!"-- 1970s Amtrak Ad
 "..My heart is warm with the friends I make,and better friends I'll not be knowing,
Yet there isn't a train I wouldn't take,No matter where its going!.." -Edna St. Vincent Millay

#12 Wolverine72

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Posted 05 December 2017 - 12:57 PM

Or you could make a loop out of the Wolverine and Blue Water if you can find a cab, Metro Car or Uber ride between Port Huron and Pontiac. it's about a 60 mile drive. I'd suggest staying over night in Port Huron as opposed to Pontiac to help make that connection. You can make trip in either direction and stop off at many of the points of interest along the way.



#13 RPC

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Posted 05 December 2017 - 02:14 PM

Or you could make a loop out of the Wolverine and Blue Water if you can find a cab, Metro Car or Uber ride between Port Huron and Pontiac. it's about a 60 mile drive. I'd suggest staying over night in Port Huron as opposed to Pontiac to help make that connection. You can make trip in either direction and stop off at many of the points of interest along the way.

Might be worth noting that Amtrak offers Thruway service between Port Huron and Detroit, though you'd have to connect to a train at one end or the other. You could also try contacting Hoosier Ride (who provides the service) and see if they'd ticket you directly, avoiding the need for the connection. There's also a Thruway connection between Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo.

EDIT: Ha! Amtrak will let you make a reservation between PTH and DET without a connection! Thank you, State of Michigan!


Edited by RPC, 05 December 2017 - 02:47 PM.


#14 brianpmcdonnell17

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Posted 05 December 2017 - 02:49 PM

Or you could make a loop out of the Wolverine and Blue Water if you can find a cab, Metro Car or Uber ride between Port Huron and Pontiac. it's about a 60 mile drive. I'd suggest staying over night in Port Huron as opposed to Pontiac to help make that connection. You can make trip in either direction and stop off at many of the points of interest along the way.

Might be worth noting that Amtrak offers Thruway service between Port Huron and Detroit, though you'd have to connect to a train at one end or the other. You could also try contacting Hoosier Ride (who provides the service) and see if they'd ticket you directly, avoiding the need for the connection. There's also a Thruway connection between Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo.
EDIT: Ha! Amtrak will let you make a reservation between PTH and DET without a connection! Thank you, State of Michigan!
Since the OP would be travelling on Amtrak trains on other segments of the trip, it would be possible to use Amtrak's multi-city feature to use the bus without a train connection.

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#15 SarahZ

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Posted 05 December 2017 - 08:53 PM

I forgot to post these last night.

 

This is Ali. Ali works at Lafayette Coney. Ali has skills.

 

Attached File  lafayette-coney-island.jpg   38.56KB   10 downloads

 

Attached File  QZDSJih.jpg   113.88KB   10 downloads

 

 

(Annnnnd now I want a coney so bad I can taste it.)

 

 

Oh! And be sure to try some Vernors while you're here. :) I can't stand the stuff, but it's such a Michigan thing that you really must sample a glass.


Amtrak Miles: 43,318

 

Amtrak Routes: Blue Water, California Zephyr, Capitol Limited, Carl Sandburg, City of New Orleans, Coast Starlight, Crescent, Empire Builder, Hiawatha, Illinois Zephyr, Lincoln Service, Southwest Chief, Texas Eagle, Wolverine

 

Metropolitan Rail: Chicago Metra, Chicago L, Dallas TRE, Detroit People Mover, New Orleans RTA, San Francisco MUNI, Seattle Monorail, South Shore Line (NICTD), Toronto Subway & RT, Washington DC Metro


#16 Dan O

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Posted 05 December 2017 - 09:53 PM

 

I concur with crescent-zephyr re: henry ford.  allow a full 2 or even 3 days to see it.  go to the river rouge plant one day, then museum & greenfield village next/2 days. i think it's one of the best museums in the world.

 

 

 

 

We visited the Ford Museum  and Greenfield Village from California a few years ago. It was worth it at that time to become a member even though we were only going to be there a weekend. At that time membership saved on parking (free vs a few bucks) and made it so we could go back and see the museum the following day, even though we had spend all day there before. I don't know what the prices are now but it's worth checking out to see if membership is worthwhile. I second that it is a world class museum.


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#17 anumberone

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Posted 06 December 2017 - 03:25 AM

Sarah, could you suggest a time frame required to fully enjoy your must see,taste and participate in tour. Thanks!

#18 reppin_the_847

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Posted 06 December 2017 - 03:31 AM

I am very happy for you.  Although I'm a Chicago area native, I currently live in the Detroit area & I'm very biased (in favor) of almost anything Michigan-based heheh (I have Michigan State University-ties though).  Truly one of the most beautiful states in America.  There's something to see in many pockets of the state & many pockets of the Detroit metropolitan area.


Edited by reppin_the_847, 06 December 2017 - 03:32 AM.





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