Southeast Michigan is loaded with fascinating, engaging and entertaining places to visit; one such place is the Cranbrook Institute of Science. Situated in Bloomfield Hills, the museum invites us to take a fun and thought-provoking look at science, technology and natural history. The museum expanded over the years, which is architecturally evident on the exterior of the building. The original structure is complimented by a reflecting pool complete with Mermaids and Tritons sculptures designed by Carl Milles. The main entrance is located in the museums newest wing; the architecture here is modern, large windows allow natural light to pour in. Once you purchase your ticket at the desk you are free to roam. The exhibits are laid out in a manner that enables you to traverse them as you desire. Dinosaurs are ever popular, the Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton gets lots of attention. Did you know the Mastodon was plentiful in Michigan during the last ice age?
Further on we are introduced to anthropology through the guidance of a virtual holographic-like woman named Meg, it’s amazing how life-like she is! There’s a wonderful collection of objects from the Great Lakes native peoples; beautiful items like traditional clothing really caught my eye. I think my favorite area is the Mineral Study Gallery; I can remember coming here as a child and being captivated by the shapes and incredible colors. George Booth (founder of Cranbrook) started this mineral collection in 1926, there are currently over 11,000 specimens. Case after case I stop and stare at the samples, I like to read the names and try to remember my favorites….it never works….Be sure and check out the Michigan Minerals. As we continued walking we found ourselves in the Hulbert Observatory, we lucked out as it was the first Sunday of the month so it was open to visitors. This is really cool! The observatory is home to a six-inch refracting telescope, I have no idea what that means, but from what I gather, it’s pretty impressive in the telescope world. The motion gallery is also well-liked, here adults and children can participate hands-on. Throughout the museum we are taught about the world in simple ways we can relate to, they really do make learning fun!
If you have driven down Woodward near 15 mile road you have probably seen the little white porcelain diner known as Hunter House. Established in 1952 by the Papazian family they have been serving up delicious sliders for over half a century, daughter Susan now runs the restaurant. We arrived late afternoon so seating was plentiful, we placed our order at the counter, paid, then took our seats in the front window overlooking one of America’s most well-known streets: Woodward Avenue. The diner seats only 28 on vintage black and chrome stools, either at the counter or facing the windows. After a brief wait our order was ready, I went over to the grill to retrieve them; 2 plates of burgers and an order of fries, I could hardly wait to dig in. After the addition of mustard for me, I replaced the warm steamed bun back atop the hamburger with the grilled onions smashed right into the patty. The first bite is always the best; the soft bun, crunchy pickles, a bit tart to go with the sweet onion, and the burger itself, delicious high quality beef tender and moist…awesome! The fries are the skinny variety, friend to a golden crisp, they are the perfect complement to the slider. Whether you’re in the mood for a little nostalgia or just have a hankering for a plateful of excellent little burgers, this is the place.
We made one more stop, this time for something sweet, at another Michigan original, Kilwins on Old Woodward. Opened in 1947 in Petoskey Michigan, Don and Katy Kilwin perfected their recipes for delicious chocolate, fudge and ice cream and shared it with the public. Their original recipe ice cream is still made at the dairy in Hudsonville. Kilwins now has 80 stores across the US, many of them situated in tourist-type towns. The Birmingham location is housed in a 100-year-old building that still retains the original hardwood floor. As soon as you walk in the door your senses are delighted with the sight and smell of ice cream and confections. It was just before Easter so chocolate rabbits and foil wrapped eggs decorated shelves. A batch of fudge was being made, oh how I long to dip my finger in and have a taste. The candy counter is filled with tempting treats, milk, dark and white chocolate all call my name. We just wanted a bite, so we split a Milk Pecan Snapper. Picture this: a large gob of rich chewy caramel pressed into a pile of crisp pecans, topped with a thick coating of luscious milk chocolate, Yum! UPDATE: This location is now closed.