These 12 Ice Cream Shops in Michigan Are An Absolute Must-Try
It’s going to be springtime soon (hopefully) and that means the shutters are being lifted from the many delicious ice cream shops across the Mitten State. While it’s impossible to name them all, we put together a list of spots that have been pleasing Michigan families for generations. Whether you’re on the search for a scoop of Superman or Blue Moon, looking for old-fashioned charm or want to know which local dairy is behind the magic, these places have you covered.
This diverse sampling of delectable scoops should hold you over through the summer, but if you think of other favorite parlors, by all means let us know in the comments below. Better yet, tell us your favorite place for Superman or Blue Moon!
28 Spots for a Historic Road Trip Along US 12 Heritage Trail
Winding through more than 200 miles of scenic roads and historic landmarks, theUS 12 Heritage Trailis a journey through time. Along the way you'll enjoy wineries, monuments, incredible feats of innovation, and a relaxing end to your journey at the beach.
Start the adventure in Detroit. The Motor City has a distinctive personality and an incredibly storied past, which make it an exciting place to explore. Check out Woodward Avenue, the All-American Road and Automotive Heritage Trail, for some of the city's best architecture and coolest attractions, like theDetroit Institute of Artsand theDetroit Historical Museum. Get more in-depth into the city's auto history at theFord Piquette Avenue Plant, the former factory and birthplace of the legendary Ford Model T. The Z Lot is a one-of-a-kind parking garage/art gallery where you can experience a different side of the city's car culture (oh, and The Belt, the alley beside the garage, is an art space as well).
Visit one of the oldest and largest markets in the United States,Eastern Market, where you can browse a vast array of local foods and goods. Grab coffee at Trinosophes and pizza atSupino Pizzeriaand walk from the market along the 1.5-mile Dequindre Cut Greenway down to the Riverfront. At the Riverfront, you can stroll throughMilliken State Park and Harbor, the state’s first urban state park, and take in some great views of the Ambassador Bridge and Canada. The Riverfront is also home to the Department of Natural Resource's Outdoor Adventure Center, which is great for kids, with its many interactive and innovative exhibits.
You could easily spend a whole day exploring everything that Belle Isle Park has to offer. The island in the middle of the Detroit River features a restored aquarium, a conservatory, a nature zoo, and a museum. Crossing the MacArthur Bridge from Detroit to the island is like entering a whole other world!
4. Soldiers and Sailors Monument– Detroit
The Michigan Soldiers and Sailors Monument is one of Detroit's oldest and most special pieces of public art. It's one of the country's first Civil War monuments, having been built in 1872, and has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places. A lot has changed in Detroit since it was unveiled, but it's stood the test of time, and remains a beloved sight in the city.
5. Exploration Bike Trails
If you're looking to further explore the surrounding region of Detroit, head to nearby Wyandotte to bike the Downriver Ramble. The neighborhoods "downriver" from Detroit are worth touring, and this 18-mile ride is a great way to do it. There's also the considerably longer 86-mile Tour de Wayne and Washtenaw Classic, which Tour de France finisher and Dearborn native Frankie Andreu likes to take through the suburbs.
If you're looking for a wild adventure in Detroit, head to the Detroit Zoo. It's a world class facility with more than 2,500 animals of 270 different species, and it features incredibly detailed habitats to house them. All of your favorites are here, including penguins, bears, camels, gorillas, kangaroos, lions, rhinos, crocs, sloths, zebras and more. There's even a giraffe encounter, the world’s largest penguinarium and one of North America’s largest polar bear habitats.
One of the most prestigious history museums in the country is right along U.S. 12: The Henry Ford. It is, of course, named for Henry Ford, of Ford Motor Company, but it's so much more than just a museum about cars. Of course, there's auto history here, but they also have airplanes, helicopters, presidential cars (include the limo that JFK was assassinated in), the bus Rosa Parks rode, and the historical Greenfield Village (that you can tour in a Model T). If you want to make the most of a trip here, leave at least a day to explore... that's how much incredible history is contained within. At Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation, you’ll discover America and hundreds of hands-on ways to explore it.
Inkster is a suburb of Detroit that's worth spending time exploring. TheInkster Farmer's Market is nice on weekends, and nearby you'll find theWayne Historical Museum, which is located in the old Town Hall, a gorgeous Victorian building that's loaded with history. Old photos, maps, artifacts, art, and more tell the story of this part of Michigan.
Next stop on the route is Ypsilanti. This funky, artsy community has a bold personality that you can delve into at their historic district,Depot Town. It has an old train station and Civil War barracks, plus old buildings that now contain trendy restaurants and museums. One cool spot is theAutomotive Heritage Museum, which has a massive collection of old cars and auto-related memorabilia.
10. Ypsilanti Museums
Ypsilanti is also home to theMichigan Firehouse Museum, which is located in a 19th-century firehouse and filled with historical artifacts and modern info on firefighting, and theYpsilanti Historical Museum, which is located in a Victorian home filled with beautiful old artifacts and cared for by incredibly passionate docents.
11. Hiking Trails
For hiking near Ypsi (as the locals call it) try the North Bay Trail. Two miles of trail are contained within a 15-acre park, and the hike takes you across boardwalks and bridges to islands on Ford Lake. Fishing fanatics: bring your gear, because the angling here is awesome.
The Lenawee County town of Tecumseh is home to the Cemetery Tour. The 20-mile bike route takes you to three old graveyards, which look like city parks, with their landscaping and old, ornamental headstones. Between the graveyards, one of which is the historic Brookside Cemetery, you'll pass by rural farmlands.
At Cambridge Junction Historic Park in Brooklyn, you'll find the famed Walker Tavern. Historically, a stagecoach ride from Detroit to Chicago took approximately five days, and a stop-off at Walker's Tavern was highly anticipated by many weary travelers. Today if you visit, you'll find it decorated as it was in the 19th century, with living history interpreters and awesome exhibits. You'll get a really unique look at life in Michigan back when it was considered the frontier!
Lenawee County is a great region to explore in Southern Michigan. It's the home of the Pioneer Wine Trail, lovely lakes, and quaint towns. Take a ride on theSouthern Michigan Railroad, the state's first branch railroad, to enjoy the scenery of the county. It's not all relaxing train rides and sipping wine here in Lenawee, though: feel the rush of pure speed at the Michigan International Speedway or by jumping 18,000 feet out of a plane atSkydive Tecumseh, the highest skydive jump offered in the U.S.
As U.S. 12 makes its way west from Detroit, you'll pass through wine country. Plan to visit a few of the vineyards and wineries along the Southeast Michigan Pioneer Wine Trail.Cherry Creek Cellarsuses old-world techniques to make wine in an 1870s schoolhouse, Sleeping Bear Winery uses all-Michigan grown fruits and grapes, and also has a sister brewery nearby, and thePentamere Winerylets you peek into the winemaking process as you sip their offerings in their tasting room.
The next stop is Hillsdale County, which is loaded with charming historic sites. TheGrosvenor House Museumis the Victorian Italianate mansion where Lt. Governor E.O. Grosvenor once resided. It's got a whopping 32 rooms, and is open for tours during weekends in the summer. Or, check out the original J.J. Deal buggy built in the 1890s; it's standing in the lobby of the former J.J. Deal and Son Carriage Factory, the only remaining factory in Jonesville. It now houses apartments.
Coldwater, in Branch County, is another highlight of the trip. If you're visiting during the summer, spend a night of vintage fun at theCapri Drive-In, one of the country's last remaining drive-in theaters. It's also home to Michigan's second-oldest theater, the opulentTibbits OperaHouse, which features gorgeous architecture and attention to detail, and provides an intimate experience for whatever show or performance happens to be on the schedule.
The town of Colon is “The Magic Capital of The World”. It got that title by being home to one of the largest magic shops on Earth, hosting the annual Magic Get Together for the past 76 years, being the home of some famed magicians, opening a magic museum, and generally embracing the quirky hobby.
You can tour the town and see their many magic stores, the museum, and even a magic-themed brewery on the Colon Magical Mystery Tour, which is only about 22 miles long.
For more small-town fun, head into Cass County. Fish or boat on one of the lakes, hike through one of their parks, explore the town ofMarcellus(make sure to grab some ice cream at Wild Patch), and bask in the serene, natural beauty!
Keep the adventure going in Berrien County, whose history dates back to the Colonial period. Once the largest train yard in Southwest Michigan, the New Buffalo Railroad Museum still sees trains pass through, and has vintage train cars (like a Chesapeake & Ohio boxcar and a Pullman sleeper car), an incredibly detailed model train set, and tons more.
Toast your journey with a glass of something strong from Journeyman Distillery in Three Oaks. Reserve a tour of their impressive operation, where they make whiskey, gin, vodka, rum, brandy, and other liquors, order a cocktail at theStaymaker Restaurant, and even grab dinner or brunch (their breakfast pizzas are crazy good!).
Harbor Shore Golf Club is one of the country's premier golf courses, hosting Senior PGA tournaments. It's also home to a luxurious inn and a scenic marina, making it worth a visit if you're looking to tee off while on vacation.
If you're more outdoorsy, head to the legendary Third Coast Surf Shop (yes, a surf shop in Michigan!) to get lessons and rent the gear to kayak the Paw Paw River.
26. Wineries and Breweries
Berrien County is also home to famed wineryTabor Hill Winery and Restaurantin Buchanan, known for their light, bright whites and incredible onsite restaurant; it's in a gorgeous setting and features an elegant menu.Greenbush Breweryis a little more laid back but just as fun to stop by: it's renowned for its craft brews (paging any IPA fans) and BBQ.
Then make your way into St. Joseph. This region is known for its art galleries, cultural institutions, and vacation-ready vibes! Weko Beach, Box Factory for the Arts, and the Heritage Museum & Cultural Center are favorite spots to explore.
Visit Silver Beach and be enchanted by the whimsical Silver Beach Carousel. Choose one of the 48 unique animals and take a spin on the merry-go-round... it'll have you feeling like a kid again! Speaking of kids, if you have them with you, there's enough here to keep them entertained for hours. Michigan's tallest kaleidoscope, theCurious Kids' Museumand the Whirlpool Compass Fountain splash pad are all right nearby. And, of course, you can celebrate crossing the state of Michigan by dipping your feet into Lake Michigan's water!
We love that Michigan showcases both, the historic vibe yet small town feel. Our mitten state has so much history, it's easy to miss it. Hopefully these towns and cities provide you with an adventure you're sure you won't forget.
Thank you again Pure Michigan for sharing such an awesome article to showcase Michigan and some of it's history.
Start in Kalamazoo, home ofWestern Michigan University. The downtown district keeps a laid-back and fun attitude, with a whopping 12 craft breweries, a bunch of totally unique museums, and water activities on nearby lakes. It's right in between Chicago and Detroit, and it can hold its own against its neighboring metropolises on quirkiness alone!
The Kalamazoo Air Zoo is one of those completely one-of-a-kind museums. It's half aerospace museum, half indoor amusement park, and 100% fun. Go from seeing the fastest plane ever built (the SR-71B Blackbird) to feeling the rush of a full flight simulator or paratrooper jump... and that's just the beginning of what you can see and do there!
If you prefer to get your thrills from a pint glass, the nationally-famousBell's Brewery, Eccentric Café and General Storeis in Kalamazoo, and they offer weekend tours of their operation. End it all with a glass of Oberon in the beer garden, or with a meal at their Eccentric Cafe. If you're really into the nitty-gritty of brewing, callHop Head Farmsand ask about a tour: They provide the hops that flavor the beers at Bell's, Founder's, Goose Island, and more!
There are so many historic autos at the Gilmore Car Museum (we're talking nearly 400 vehicles) that the grounds cover 90 acres. From the early cars of the 1930s to hot rods from the 50s, and everything in between, even the least car-savvy will enjoy drooling over the retro details on the cars in this collection.
The next college town on the list is Ann Arbor, home of theUniversity of Michigan. Here, there's always something new and exciting to try or experience... whether you're in search of arts and culture, foodie delights, or outdoor adventure, you won't have trouble filling several days here.
If you're a sports nut, a trip to the Big House (aka Michigan Stadium) is in order. Before that, spend some time strolling around the peaceful campus and enjoying the architecture and stately college vibes. VisitMotawi Tileworks'retail shop in downtown'sAnn Arbor Arts Centerto bask in the beauty of their handcrafted ceramic tiles, inspired by American artists like Charley Harper and Frank Lloyd Wright. History geeks can make their way right to the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology, which contains 10,000 ancient and Medieval artifacts.
Sweetwaters Coffee and Tea is a classic little cafe and coffee shop where you can hunker down and do some work, or simply unwind with a drink and a snack... but there's something extra special about it: It has a fairy door. Tiny, intricatefairy doorscan be found all over Ann Arbor, but the one outside Sweetwaters was one of the first to pop up. Local author Jonathan Write is suspected to be the man behind the doors, which can be incredibly detailed. They've been popping up around town since 2005, and if you see one, make sure to leave a penny outside it for good luck.
If you're feeling adventurous, head to Ann Arbor's nearby neighbor Ypsilanti, whereEastern Michigan Universityresides. This decidedly funky community has some incredible dining, drinking, and shopping in theDepot Townportion of the city!
Or, for a taste of the great outdoors, just north of the city isIsland Lake State Recreation Area, which has some trails, including a great 12-mile-long one through the dense woodland. There's also thePinckney Recreation Area, which is just as scenic, but features a shorter 3-mile trail.
Lakelands Trail State Park nearPinckneyis one of Michigan's many gorgeous rail trails, which follow the paths laid by old, out-of-use railroad track. Lakelands Trail is great for hiking and biking, as well as horseback riding and cross-country skiing. It's 13 miles long and meanders through forests and fields, making it an easy trail with tons of scenery.
8. Hiking and Biking Trails
There are lots of other hikes in the area. The epic 62-mile-longNorth Central State Trailwinds its way from Gaylord to Indian River to Cheboygan to Mackinaw City, passing by some of Michigan's best views and coolest resort towns along the way. TheWaterloo-Pinckney Recreation Area Trailis a 36-mile round-trip that takes you past farms and lakes, up rocky hills, and through forests and streams.
If you're a sports fan, then go nuts at aLansing Lugnutsgame. The class-A minor league team is much loved by the locals, and the games are always a fun time. Or, if you're looking for something a little more low-key, MSU'sEli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, which is loaded with brain-bending and thought-provoking contemporary art, is worth a visit as well.
Plus, there's loads of natural beauty. In between Ann Arbor and Lansing, you'll find the lake-studded beauty that is Waterloo State Recreation Area; explore it with a quick hike on the 5-mile trail.
Learn about Michigan’s history at the Michigan Historical Museum. Discover the stories of Michigan’s native people, see the role the state played in the Civil War, learn how Michigan shaped the automotive industry or experience the landscape of the state during the Ice Age.
Open from the spring until late fall, Uncle John's Cider Mill almost always has something going on. Wine tastings for adults, play areas and inflatables for kids, animals to pet, bakery goods to sample, and more during the summer, and pumpkin- and apple-themed fun in the fall. And don't leave without grabbing a cider donut and a bottle of their signature apple cider!
Mount Pleasant is the next college town on the route, as it's the home ofCentral Michigan University! It is also a town rich in Native American heritage. Delve into the culture of the Saginaw Chippewa and the Great Lakes Anishinabek at the Ziibiwing Center, which preserves artifacts, traditions, and stories.
If you happen to be traveling with smaller kids, the Mt. Pleasant Discovery Museum is an awesome children's museum with all kinds of interactive exhibits. A music room, a water table, a Japanese cultural play area, a farmer's market display, and tons more will have kids learning while keeping them entertained for hours!
Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort in Mount Pleasant is another great stop: the pool (with its indoor/outdoor jacuzzis) and the rooms (some of which have fireplaces) plus the spa, casino, entertainment, and multiple restaurants make for a relaxing stay. Plus, their indoor water parks are an incredibly fun way to spend an afternoon!
While you're in the area, enjoy the outdoor fun to be had inHoughton Lake. Trails, beaches, canoeing, farms, windsurfing, fishing, evening ATVing, snowmobiling, and cross-country skiing all make for excellent adventures in the area.
Smack dab in the middle of Northern Michigan is the Alpine-themed town of Gaylord. When the locals aren't golfing, biking, hiking, or snowmobiling, you can probably find many of them downtown, either browsing the twice-weekly farmers' market, exploring a fair, or dining out at one of their cozy, rustic eateries. During the summer, you can visit one (or a few) of the region's 15 golf courses (that's why it's Michigan's golf mecca), or canoe, kayak, and raft the Au Sable River. During the spring and fall, Gaylord is a great place forelk viewing, which can be very active and are popular to observe. There's great shopping and some nice resorts here if you want to stay inside, but why wouldn't you want to explore the natural beauty to be had in Gaylord?
Thank you Pure Michigan for the content and the share!
Isle Royale National Park, surrounded by Lake Superior, offers comfort, solitude and adventures for backpackers, hikers, boaters, kayakers, canoeists and scuba divers!
In the next 3-5 years, wolves are expected to make an imprint on the island in hopes to preserve the species and create a more natural environment for all wildlife.
Isle Royale National Park is an island cluster in Lake Superior, near Michigan’s border with Canada. It’s, car-free and full of wilderness, forests, lakes and waterways! All animals and nature roam freely. There are several trails that link you to the the islands coasts! There is a small, Rock Harbor Lighthouse that has a smaller museum. Dive sites in the lake include several shipwrecks from years past!
Who's adding this to their travel bucket list?! #bucketlist #traveling #newyear #michigandiscoveries #lakesuperior #michigan #hiddengems