Tag Archives: Day trip

MARSHALL: Overnight

29 Sep

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Take I-94 west out of Detroit and in just under 2 hours you will find yourself in charming, historic, Marshall MI. The National Park Service calls Marshall “the best virtual textbook of 19th Century American architecture in the country.” It’s also just a great little town to visit; stroll neighborhood streets, shop at local businesses, enjoy a nice dinner, have a cocktail in the walkable district. We plan on doing all of those things while we’re here.

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First we check into our hotel, we are staying at the National House Inn on Parkview. This Greek Revival structure was built in 1835 and has spent time as a hotel for stagecoach travelers, a wagon and windmill factory and again as an Inn. Crisp white trim surrounds the doors and windows of the red brick building, the Inn has a direct view of Fountain Circle, the parking lot is on the side. As soon as I walk in the door I can tell it’s really old–in a good way. There’s nothing like the feeling of an old building, I imagine this one has its share of stories. A large brick fireplace greets us in the center of the room, the wood-beamed mantel holds a black and white photo of George Washington. The floor is wood plank, early beams criss-cross the ceiling, an old Detroit Times rack holds current area newspapers. We check-in at the massive wooden desk.

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We are led up the stairs to the second floor. A cozy sitting area sits quietly in the center surrounded by guest rooms; there are 16 in all. A bench rests in front of the fireplace, antique pieces mingle with the comforts of the present day. Our room is lovely; floral wallpaper, dark wood, hand-embroidered pillows and a modern bathroom will suit us nicely. Our host invites us to have a look around the unoccupied rooms, we amble from one to the other, each different and distinct; I’ve always liked canopy beds. We have some time before dinner so we sit on the back porch overlooking the garden.

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I love tradition so for me there’s only 1 place to have dinner in Marshall: Win Schulers. Schulers is a Marshall institution, a family owned business for more than 100 years, the 4th generation now runs the restaurant. One of our favorite menu items is “So much more than a veggie burger”, at this time of the evening it’s only offered on the Pub menu so we head to Winston’s Pub adjacent to the Centennial Room. Dark paneling, low lights, antique photos and paintings give the room a quaint feeling. I enjoy looking at the black and white photos of the Schuler family through the years. We start with the trademark Heritage Cheese Spread and crackers, honestly, I could make a meal out of this, maybe a Schuler Brew (made for Schuler’s by Bell’s) to wash it down. It’s so good. The veggie burger is quinoa, black beans, cilantro, oats, horseradish mayo, guacamole, onion straws, tomato and greens on a homemade bun. The meal alone is worth the trip.

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After dinner we stroll through downtown; it’s a beautiful night, the sky is clear, the moon bright, the stars are twinkling. The streetscape is frozen in time; state historic markers and Michigan milestone plaques dot the landscape. These buildings have been standing here on Michigan Ave since the late 18 and early 1900’s. Businesses are closed for the night, illuminated shop windows let us peek at merchandise inside. Shelves and display cases inside Hodges Jewelers look original to the building, the neon sign for the Rexall drug store is one of our favorites. Off Skate Vintage has some great pieces, I wonder what time they open tomorrow… At the end of the block is the iconic, replica Temple of Love fountain, a gift from Harold C Brooks to the city of Marshall in 1930. It’s even prettier at night. I watch as people pass on their evening walks, stopping at the fountain, enjoying the sight and sound of the water. We make the turn onto Kalamazoo Ave following it down to Dark Horse Brewery, it’s a perfect night for a beer on their patio. People are spread out all over the outdoor space, some are playing games, others are on the deck, we choose a couple of stools at the bar. I sip on my porter, Kris on a stout enjoying a late-summer Michigan night.

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In the morning we come down the stairs to the breakfast room. Tables are set, food is placed on serving tables. Fresh fruit, cereal, Quiche, homemade coffee cake, coffee, tea, juice; it all looks delicious. Waffles are being baked in the kitchen area, Kris will have on of those. After breakfast we pack up our stuff and load the car. We have one more stop to make before we head out of town. Last night at Dark Horse we noticed Dark Horse Commons, a combination coffee roastery, bakery, candy shop and creamery. We’re going to check it out and grab a couple of coffees for the road. Everything is made on site, they even roast the coffee here. The place smells amazing inside, kind of a mixture of fresh-baked bread, coffee and something sweet . We look at the ice cream flavors: cream soda, buttered popcorn and Double Crooked Tree IPA, very unique. Loaves of sourdough, beer bread and baguette are tempting, the croissants are picture perfect. I’m happy to see cold-brew coffee on the menu, I order 2, pay at the register and we’re off!

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All Aboard! Destination Holly

13 Mar

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The Village of Holly is located in the northwest corner of Oakland County. Primarily known for the Michigan Renaissance festival and the Annual Dickens festival, this town has plenty to offer year-round. Saginaw Street is the main street through the village, and what a charming one it is; Victorian-style red brick buildings line the sidewalk,  indeed the city looks straight out of Dickens. The town’s personality has changed throughout the years; good things are happening, new businesses are moving in and people are coming to Holly to shop, eat and have a good time.

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The Detroit Model Railroad Club is located in the old theater on Saginaw, they were having an open house so we thought we’d check it out. Wow, what an amazing set-up! The railroad is 1/4″ to the foot, referred to as “0” scale among railroaders. In layman terms that means that the model of a 40 foot long boxcar will be 10 inches long. The amazing display depicts the fictitious Detroit Union Railroad, a freelance double track line running from Detroit to Dorrance MI. The detail is captivating; a downtown complete with hotel, gas station and train station. Tiny figures wait for long silver passenger trains,  others stroll past minuscule buildings. Vintage passenger cars, buses and taxi’s are at the ready to take the townsfolk where they need to go. Mini street lamps and billboards complete the scene. Trains travel from the city to the country and into the mountains, I counted four levels of tracks. The scenery is beautiful; bridges cross over a river, tunnels cut through the jagged rocks. Signs of life in the country include cabins, wells with diminutive red pumps and horses. You have to look closely, but there is something going on everywhere; a truck that lost a load of tires, policemen chasing down a bad guy. And of course, the trains! It’s very relaxing to watch their travel, notice how they slow down as they go up in elevation, they even sound cool. Check their website for open house dates.

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We stepped outside and headed south towards more shops and restaurants. We ducked into the boutique right on the corner called My Sweet Holly, in addition to home goods they have a large selection of Made In Detroit merchandise. A few doors down is one of the newer stores called Great Lakes Marketplace. A Made In Michigan grocery store featuring; Guernsey Ice Cream, Sanders, American Spoon, Cherry Republic, and loads of other food products, both big name and independents, native to the mitten state. When we came in the door a cheerful woman was handing out samples of her homemade candy, the dark chocolate espresso crunch was to die for! (I couldn’t leave the store without buying some….) Up front you can order an espresso drink or a double dip of your favorite ice cream. It was cool to see so many locally produced food items in one place. I am told beer and wine will be stocked soon! At the back of the store is a hallway connecting to the Great Lakes Artisan Village. What a marvelous find! Here you can purchase artwork crafted by Michigan artists, often using a Michigan product. They have a little bit of everything here; gorgeous jewelry, funky birdhouses, watercolor paintings and folk-art. A nice selection of books written by Michigan authors, intricate woodwork and sculptures for indoors or out are found throughout the space. If you’re looking for something unique, chances are you’ll find something here. The back of the store has been turned into a mini theater; on weekends they offer Movies In The Village featuring silver screen classics. What a fun idea! Most of the shops interiors retain their historic charm; some have exposed brick walls and wooden floors, most have tin ceilings, it really adds character.

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 We crossed Saginaw St to Bittersweet Cafe to catch some lunch. We had become quite hungry from shopping and staring at all the different food products at the marketplace. As we looked over the menu it was easy to be distracted by plates of mouth-watering food passing by. Finally a decision was made; the Vintage Pastrami sandwich and a Maurice Salad. The restaurant has classic Victorian appeal, again complete with an ornate tin ceiling. Up by the register is a glass case filled with scrumptious looking desserts. Passerby’s stop in for a coffee to go and linger over the selection. Our food arrived; the salad was a very generous size. Mixed greens with chopped turkey, ham and swiss, I liked the addition of black olives. The dressing was homemade and excellent. The sandwich was served on grilled pumpernickel bread; two slices filled with thinly sliced pastrami, swiss cheese, red onion and pepperoncini topped off with a creamy horseradish sauce, yum! We enjoyed our time in Holly and are already planning a return trip to visit their array of antique shops and other stores. I just may have to have more of that dark chocolate too….

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Next time you’re in the mood to visit a quaint little town with pretty streetscapes, good restaurants, and great shopping, head on over to Holly.