clock menu more-arrow no yes
Michelle Gerard | michellegerardphoto.com

26 Essential Stops on Your Michigan Road Trip

View as Map
This advertising content was produced in collaboration between Vox Creative and our sponsor, without involvement from Vox Media editorial staff.

A Michigan road trip can span any number of diverse locales, from lake shores to the uniquely Yooper cultural experience of going to the Upper Peninsula. But diving into Michigan’s urban centers — sometimes bypassed in favor of bigger cities elsewhere in the U.S. — would mean missing out on some truly special spaces.

Michigan’s cities are vibrant pockets of imagination and reinvention, with continually expanding museums, delicious multicultural cuisine options, thriving farmers markets, and hotbeds of art and music that speak to the soul of life in this Great Lakes state.

We’ve put together a unique itinerary that packs the best local favorites along with new and exciting flavors you’ll have to test for yourself. Fill your road trip with some new finds along the way — and don’t worry if you can’t quite get around to everything. We know you’ll be back soon.

Read More

1. Margaux

Copy Link
235 Louis St NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
(616) 242-1448
Visit Website

Located inside the JW Marriott Grand Rapids, this brand new French bistro offers classic European cuisine with stunning views of the downtown skyline. Start your romantic date night with steak tartare ($15) or escargots à la Bourguignonne ($12), a salad course of Belgian endives with roquefort and white balsamic dressing ($12), and a main dish of trout meunière ($27) or short rib Provençale ($34). Brunch is available on weekends, and a special French lunch menu is available during the week. Explore the cocktail menu, which includes a Grand Rapids Sour made with Long Road Michigan or a Frenchman, with vodka, Lillet Blanc, horseradish-honey simple syrup, grapefruit and lemon juice, and Jamaican jerk bitters.

Courtesy of JW Marriott Grand Rapids

2. Pind Indian Cuisine

Copy Link
241 Fulton St W
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
(616) 805-4767
Visit Website

One of GR’s newest restaurants that opened in 2019, Pind offers elevated Indian dining in a sleek dining space with muted, understated cream decor. Go for a variety of items on their lunchtime buffet ($11) or order from the menu for dinner. To start, try a bit of everything with the vegetable sampler, which includes a samosa, a paneer and vegetable pakora, and a vegetable kebab ($9). Lamb, goat, and chicken traditional specialties like korma, tikka masala, and curry are great choices, but there are also seafood options not typically found in Michigan Indian restaurants, such as crab meat curry ($19) and seafood masala ($19) with salmon, shrimp, or scallops.

3. Little Africa Cuisine

Copy Link
956 Fulton St E
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
(616) 222-1169
Visit Website

Eat with your fingers, using the spongy injera bread as your utensil during your Ethiopian meal at Little Africa, while you enjoy a platter with the people in your group. Start with a pot of seasoned tea or Ethiopian coffee as the flavors unfold before you: alicha (cabbage, green beans, green pepper), azifa (a lentil dish), gomen (spiced collard greens), tomato salad, and soy curry. In addition to being delicious in their own right, dishes are also all vegan.

4. Frederik Meijer Gardens

Copy Link
1000 E Beltline Ave NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49525
(616) 957-1580
Visit Website

An evolving space that changes based on the seasons and events hosted here throughout the year, this 158-acre botanical garden space features towering sculptures, from Auguste Rodin’s Eve to The American Horse by Nina Akamu, a now iconic 24-foot symbol of not only the gardens, but Grand Rapids itself. At different times of year, your choice of walking trail will lead to heirloom vegetables or beautiful springtime blooms. During the holidays, the gardens are lit up, honoring cultural celebrations across the world. And a summer concert series always brings big name acts to perform sold out shows at the amphitheater.

Courtesy of Experience Grand Rapids

5. Beer City Ale Trail

Copy Link
201 Michigan St NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
(616) 649-3020
Visit Website

Grand Rapids consistently earns its bragging rights to the Beer City USA moniker, boasting more craft beer per square mile “than just about any place on earth,” according to tourism officials. Fact check them for yourself by taking a self-guided (and delicious) tour of the Beer City Ale Trail, which includes more than 80 stops at craft breweries such as perennial favorites like HopCat or Atwater (where you’ll begin), or newcomers like Brass Ring Brewing Co., plus a splash of cideries, distilleries and meaderies. Just remember to drink responsibly and bring along a designated driver—or consider taking a tour through one of the local tour companies. 

6. Zooroona Restaurant

Copy Link
1710 W Main St
Kalamazoo, MI 49006
(269) 382-4444
Visit Website

This Middle Eastern restaurant founded by four brothers from Iraq has earned a lot of fans in Kalamazoo for its authentic recipes and cozy ambience, where you can choose to dine while sitting on pillows at an intimate low table. The restaurant’s name translates as “visit us” in Arabic, and the brothers use the restaurant as a vehicle for sharing their culture. Main dishes include spiced beef with figs ($15) and Lebanese lamb medley ($17). For a starter, try the Mediterranean street fries ($6), loaded with veggies and spices and topped with garlic sauce, yogurt, harissa, and cilantro. Belly dancing events are planned throughout the year for an extra treat.

7. Kalamazoo Civic Theatre

Copy Link
329 S Park St
Kalamazoo, MI 49007
(269) 343-1313
Visit Website

Kalamazoo has a vibrant theater and arts scene, including the New Vic, Farmer’s Alley Theatre, Queer Theatre Kalamazoo, and Face Off Theatre Company, in addition to Western Michigan University’s theater department and Miller Auditorium, plus the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra. But the Civic, a whimsical building built in 1929, is a truly special place to watch a community theater production, and one of the largest in the country — even employing a staff of 35 full- and part-time employees to bring dozens of productions to life each year.

8. Kalamazoo Beer Exchange

Copy Link
211 E Water St
Kalamazoo, MI 49007
(269) 532-1188
Visit Website

Located in downtown K-zoo’s historic Globe Building, the Kalamazoo Beer Exchange features 28 rotating draft beer options, all priced according to their current market price, which fluctuates throughout the day based on how popular a particular craft brew is (think a sudsy stock market, like the Wall Street one, but a hundred times more fun). And sometimes the market “crashes,” offering rock-bottom prices on all beers. Pair your ales and lagers with food from the on-site gastropub; several items use beer in the recipe, like beer steamed mussels ($13) or a beer steamed hot dog ($6). Vegetarians can try the mushroom crepe ($14) or vegetarian lasagna ($13).

Courtesy of Adam Tabor

9. Food Dance Restaurant

Copy Link
401 E Michigan Ave
Kalamazoo, MI 49007
(269) 382-1888
Visit Website

A mainstay on the Kalamazoo culinary scene, Food Dance has focused on sustainable craft food for more than 20 years, showcasing the bounty of Michigan farmers and artisans. The restaurant’s bright interior is punctuated with colorful artwork evocative of fresh produce. Go for breakfast, lunch, or dinner every day— there’s even a kids’ menu that ventures beyond the traditional mac and cheese, and a meat and cheese menu showcasing the outstanding charcuterie. Plates range from new American favorites like a cider-brined pork chop ($26) to the Food Dance pad Thai ($18) to gochujang fried chicken ($12).

10. Old Town Lansing

Copy Link
1232 Turner Rd
Lansing, MI 48906

During your visit to Michigan’s capital, meander through Old Town and REO Town, two trendy areas that bookend the proper downtown region with the capitol building. Old Town on the north end is well established with dozens of restaurants, shops, galleries, and bars with an artsy vibe. Meanwhile, REO (pronounced “Rio”) Town, recognizable by three power plant smokestacks located on the south side, is Lansing’s oldest community. It was here that employees known as “REO Joes” manufactured cars at the R.E. Olds Motor Company starting in 1905. Nowadays, this borough is expanding its cultural offerings with a brand new brewery, thrift and vintage shops, and the annual Art & Craft Beer Fest in January.

Courtesy of Greater Lansing CVB

11. Soup Spoon Café

Copy Link
1419 E Michigan Ave
Lansing, MI 48912
(517) 316-2377
Visit Website

Soup isn’t considered traditional medicine, but there’s something about the love that goes into every bowl of house-made French onion, chowder and other rotating soups du jour at Soup Spoon Cafe that spreads warmth throughout your body and leaves you feeling revitalized. Can’t settle on one soup? Pick a flight of four, served with a chunk of French bread. Or visit for brunch, served Monday through Saturday and treat yourself to a specialty eggs benedict or a gourmet sandwich.

12. Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University

Copy Link
547 E Circle Dr
East Lansing, MI 48824
(517) 884-4800
Visit Website

Housed in a building designed by the late Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid with stainless steel pleats that unfolds and delivers visitors on a curious journey through angles and light inside, the MSU Broad opened on the Michigan State campus in 2012 and showcases thought-provoking contemporary artwork. The museum’s permanent collection includes more than 10,000 works representing Middle Eastern, African, Asian, Latin American, pre-Columbian, Greek and Roman sculptures, paintings and prints, while the Art Lab inspires budding artists to learn and create through regularly scheduled classes and lab sessions. Admission is always free to the museum, and there are docent-led tours available on weekends

13. El Oasis

Copy Link
2501 E Michigan Ave
Lansing, MI 48912
(517) 648-7693
Visit Website

This window-service restaurant has two year-round locations in Lansing, a food truck stationed on Michigan Avenue, and a counter inside Tony’s Party Store on Cedar Street, and is a bit of a cult classic among Lansingites. This is as unfussy as it gets — with no tables, it’s an eat-over-your-lap-in-the-car type of arrangement. But the food is so good (and reasonably priced, with nothing over $8), you won’t mind. Order from a variety of authentic Mexican favorites, such as sopes, tamales, beef tongue, and tripe, plus burritos and homemade tortilla chips. Loyal Oasis fans also rave about the salsas — the green tomatillo salsa and spicier varieties are favorites. 

14. MSU Dairy Store

Copy Link
474 S Shaw Ln
East Lansing, MI 48824
(517) 355-8466
Visit Website

Michigan State University, lovingly called “Moo U” because of its roots as a state agricultural college, is now home to more than 50,000 college students when school is in session, infusing Lansing’s neighbor East Lansing with a young vibe. Get a taste of college life — literally — with a stop at the MSU Dairy Store on the university’s campus. Choose from 32 flavors at $3 a scoop, each made “from cow to cone,” as the Lansing State Journal once described the method that involves MSU students at every stage of the process.

Courtesy of Monica Ortega

15. Vehicle City Tacos

Copy Link
119 N Grand Traverse St
Flint, MI 48503

One of Flint’s most popular food trucks has taken up permanent residence at Tenacity Brewing — and the craft beer and taco combination is a beautiful match worth a stop. Order up the Clucker (chicken), the Oinker (pulled pork), or the regular (with house-made chorizo), or any number of weekly specialty tacos featuring creative fixin’s (starting at $4), and pair it with a pint of Tenacity 2nd Shift IPA for the ultimate kick-back-and-relax experience in this proud, hard-working Michigan town.

Courtesy of Vehicle City Tacos

16. Flint Farmers Market

Copy Link
300 E 1st St
Flint, MI 48502
(810) 232-1399
Visit Website

Whatever you may already know about Flint, you’re likely to learn something new on a visit to the thriving Flint Farmers Market. A year-round destination that brings makers and growers of all kinds — farmers, bakers, fashion designers, florists, and restaurateurs — the market is open on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays and its success has been viewed by some as a symbol of the city’s rebirth. Start with a meal at Steady Eddy’s Cafe, MaMang Vietnamese restaurant, or B-Dogs for a hot dog, and then pick up some snacks for the road, like gourmet popcorn or fresh donuts and maybe a locally made souvenir or two.

17. Flint Institute of Arts

Copy Link
1120 E Kearsley St
Flint, MI 48503
(810) 234-1695
Visit Website

Explore the impressive collections at Michigan’s second largest art museum, which added an additional 20,000 square feet of gallery and education space in 2018. It houses in its collections work from Dale Chihuly, Helen Frankenthaler, and Mary Cassatt, among other noted American artists, as well as galleries devoted to Pre-Columbian, Native American, African, European, and Asian art, and new Contemporary Craft galleries with glass and ceramic artwork representing the mid-20th century to modern day. The museum hosts an annual Flint Print Fair highlighting the work of contemporary printmakers, while the Palette Cafe makes a great stop for a snack, meal, or cocktail. Admission is $12 for adults; $8 for students and senior citizens.

18. Dessous

Copy Link
312 S Main St
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
(734) 222-0202
Visit Website

Take a culinary journey through the memories of this restaurant’s diverse owner-chefs, who weave together elements of Indian, French, Cuban, and American cuisine. Opened in 2017, Dessous is decorated in billowy white drapery and comfortable, pillow-filled couches, creating a relaxed and intimate backdrop for a quiet dinner. Your dining experience begins with house-made naan slathered with curry butter. Order up a starter of duck confit nachos ($14), followed by a main entree of sweet and spicy halibut ($36) or wild mushroom spaccatelli ($26). Before or after your meal, pay a visit to Blue LLama Jazz Club next door to catch a jam performance and a cocktail.

19. The Ark

Copy Link
316 S Main St
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
(734) 761-1818
Visit Website

A quintessential stop for music lovers and storyteller fans, The Ark hosts live events in a cozy auditorium more than 300 nights a year, with the annual Ann Arbor Folk Festival being one of the highlights. Performers such as Keb’ Mo’, Ani DiFranco, Maz Jobrani, and Wynton Marsalis have all played at this legendary nonprofit venue. On any given night, snag a ticket (starting as low as $20) for a performance by one of the local or nationally known singers stopping through town, or even a live storytelling competition, such as The Moth story slams.

20. Miss Kim

Copy Link
415 N 5th Ave
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
(734) 275-0099
Visit Website

This Kerrytown Korean restaurant is fueled by the passion of owner Ji Hye Kim, who built the menu based on her own family memories and culinary research, including perfectly prepared Korean fried chicken ($25) and tteokbokki ($14). The restaurant has a fair wage and optional tipping policy, meaning employees do not depend on tips to earn their living. Most visitors to Ann Arbor will advise you to pay a visit to one of the popular restaurants under the Zingerman’s franchise — and you definitely should, whether it’s Zingerman’s Deli, Creamery, or Candy Manufactory. Zingerman’s also serves as a business incubator for up-and-coming restaurateurs, and Miss Kim is one success story that resulted from that partnership. 

Courtesy of Miss Kim

21. University of Michigan Museum of Natural History

Copy Link
Biological Sciences Building, 1105 N University Ave
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
(734) 764-0478
Visit Website

The University of Michigan boasts a collection of enriching museums — from art to archaeology and even a presidential library — but the Museum of Natural History is a brand new $261 million building that opened in 2019. This free-admission museum offers many ways for the public to learn about ongoing university research and even participate in an engaging, entertaining way. Stroll through galleries filled with dinosaur fossils, attend a lecture, take in a show at the planetarium, and peer through the window in the Biodiversity Lab to see researchers at work in real time.

Courtesy of University of Michigan Museum of Natural History

22. Casablanca

Copy Link
2333 Washtenaw Ave
Ypsilanti, MI 48197
(734) 961-7828
Visit Website

Located in a former Taco Bell in Ypsilanti, the humble exterior belies the culinary treasure that awaits you inside. The sweet and spicy aroma of Moroccan cooking surrounds you the minute you walk through the door. Owner and head chef Abdul Mani welcomes you to the table with a collection of traditional dishes tinged with fruits and spices evocative of his North African home, including bastilla, a phyllo dough pocket filled with shredded chicken, almonds, and orange blossom water ($14), and tagines of various meats combined with couscous, raisins, vegetables, and savory sauces ($12-$17).

23. Motown Museum

Copy Link
2648 W Grand Blvd
Detroit, MI 48208
(313) 875-2264
Visit Website

You’ve heard the music, whether it was The Supremes, the Jackson 5, the Temptations, or Marvin Gaye, now check out the birthplace: a humble white house with blue trim where Berry Gordy launched the soundtrack of America starting in 1959 in the heart of Detroit. The museum is currently undergoing a multimillion dollar expansion project that will add performance space, additional exhibits, and even recording studios, giving area musicians an opportunity to return to Motown’s roots. Admission is $15 for adults and $10 for senior citizens and youth.

Courtesy of Bill Bowen

24. Peso Bar

Copy Link
2547 Bagley St
Detroit, MI 48216
(313) 974-6197
Visit Website

A new Mexican eatery that opened in southwest Detroit in 2019, Peso Bar is gracing the Instagram feeds of visitors with its impressive line of 20 margaritas (such as mango with habanero), some of them served in hand-painted clay cups with spiced rims and fresh garnishes. The menu is stuffed with flavorful soups, tortas, and burritos (all under $12) representing Jalisco favorites, such as ancho chile-braised birria and street corn mixed with ancho chile aioli, queso fresco, and onion ($5).

Courtesy of Peso Bar

25. Yumvillage

Copy Link
6500 Woodward Ave
Detroit, MI 48202
(313) 334-6099
Visit Website

This African/Caribbean restaurant began as a pop-up restaurant and then a food truck, which won over so many fans owner Godwin Ihentuge zoomed through a crowd-funded campaign to generate support for a brick-and-mortar restaurant on Woodward Avenue. The food truck still remains, but the casual restaurant space now serves up North and West African flavors in hot bowls that you can fill with your choice of protein, including lemon jerk chicken and jollof rice ($11) and akara — hush puppy-style fritters prepared with black-eyed peas.

26. Momo Cha

Copy Link
474 Peterboro St
Detroit, MI 48201

Detroit’s culinary scene is booming, as evidenced by dozens of multicultural restaurants opening in the last few years. Head to the Detroit Shipping Company, a collection of shipping containers that have been reimagined into buzzy restaurants and bars that are drawing growing numbers of visitors. Momo Cha, located inside the Detroit Shipping Company, is one of the only Nepalese restaurants in the area. Order up some dumplings (momos), filled with your choice of chicken, pork, or vegetables and prepared either pan-fried, deep-fried, or steamed, along with a side of chutney (priced at $12 or less).

Courtesy of Michelle Gerard
This advertising content was produced in collaboration between Vox Creative and our sponsor, without involvement from Vox Media editorial staff.

1. Margaux

235 Louis St NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503
Courtesy of JW Marriott Grand Rapids

Located inside the JW Marriott Grand Rapids, this brand new French bistro offers classic European cuisine with stunning views of the downtown skyline. Start your romantic date night with steak tartare ($15) or escargots à la Bourguignonne ($12), a salad course of Belgian endives with roquefort and white balsamic dressing ($12), and a main dish of trout meunière ($27) or short rib Provençale ($34). Brunch is available on weekends, and a special French lunch menu is available during the week. Explore the cocktail menu, which includes a Grand Rapids Sour made with Long Road Michigan or a Frenchman, with vodka, Lillet Blanc, horseradish-honey simple syrup, grapefruit and lemon juice, and Jamaican jerk bitters.

235 Louis St NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49503

2. Pind Indian Cuisine

241 Fulton St W, Grand Rapids, MI 49503

One of GR’s newest restaurants that opened in 2019, Pind offers elevated Indian dining in a sleek dining space with muted, understated cream decor. Go for a variety of items on their lunchtime buffet ($11) or order from the menu for dinner. To start, try a bit of everything with the vegetable sampler, which includes a samosa, a paneer and vegetable pakora, and a vegetable kebab ($9). Lamb, goat, and chicken traditional specialties like korma, tikka masala, and curry are great choices, but there are also seafood options not typically found in Michigan Indian restaurants, such as crab meat curry ($19) and seafood masala ($19) with salmon, shrimp, or scallops.

241 Fulton St W
Grand Rapids, MI 49503

3. Little Africa Cuisine

956 Fulton St E, Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Eat with your fingers, using the spongy injera bread as your utensil during your Ethiopian meal at Little Africa, while you enjoy a platter with the people in your group. Start with a pot of seasoned tea or Ethiopian coffee as the flavors unfold before you: alicha (cabbage, green beans, green pepper), azifa (a lentil dish), gomen (spiced collard greens), tomato salad, and soy curry. In addition to being delicious in their own right, dishes are also all vegan.

956 Fulton St E
Grand Rapids, MI 49503

4. Frederik Meijer Gardens

1000 E Beltline Ave NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49525
Courtesy of Experience Grand Rapids

An evolving space that changes based on the seasons and events hosted here throughout the year, this 158-acre botanical garden space features towering sculptures, from Auguste Rodin’s Eve to The American Horse by Nina Akamu, a now iconic 24-foot symbol of not only the gardens, but Grand Rapids itself. At different times of year, your choice of walking trail will lead to heirloom vegetables or beautiful springtime blooms. During the holidays, the gardens are lit up, honoring cultural celebrations across the world. And a summer concert series always brings big name acts to perform sold out shows at the amphitheater.

1000 E Beltline Ave NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49525

5. Beer City Ale Trail

201 Michigan St NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Grand Rapids consistently earns its bragging rights to the Beer City USA moniker, boasting more craft beer per square mile “than just about any place on earth,” according to tourism officials. Fact check them for yourself by taking a self-guided (and delicious) tour of the Beer City Ale Trail, which includes more than 80 stops at craft breweries such as perennial favorites like HopCat or Atwater (where you’ll begin), or newcomers like Brass Ring Brewing Co., plus a splash of cideries, distilleries and meaderies. Just remember to drink responsibly and bring along a designated driver—or consider taking a tour through one of the local tour companies. 

201 Michigan St NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49503

6. Zooroona Restaurant

1710 W Main St, Kalamazoo, MI 49006

This Middle Eastern restaurant founded by four brothers from Iraq has earned a lot of fans in Kalamazoo for its authentic recipes and cozy ambience, where you can choose to dine while sitting on pillows at an intimate low table. The restaurant’s name translates as “visit us” in Arabic, and the brothers use the restaurant as a vehicle for sharing their culture. Main dishes include spiced beef with figs ($15) and Lebanese lamb medley ($17). For a starter, try the Mediterranean street fries ($6), loaded with veggies and spices and topped with garlic sauce, yogurt, harissa, and cilantro. Belly dancing events are planned throughout the year for an extra treat.

1710 W Main St
Kalamazoo, MI 49006

7. Kalamazoo Civic Theatre

329 S Park St, Kalamazoo, MI 49007

Kalamazoo has a vibrant theater and arts scene, including the New Vic, Farmer’s Alley Theatre, Queer Theatre Kalamazoo, and Face Off Theatre Company, in addition to Western Michigan University’s theater department and Miller Auditorium, plus the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra. But the Civic, a whimsical building built in 1929, is a truly special place to watch a community theater production, and one of the largest in the country — even employing a staff of 35 full- and part-time employees to bring dozens of productions to life each year.

329 S Park St
Kalamazoo, MI 49007

8. Kalamazoo Beer Exchange

211 E Water St, Kalamazoo, MI 49007
Courtesy of Adam Tabor

Located in downtown K-zoo’s historic Globe Building, the Kalamazoo Beer Exchange features 28 rotating draft beer options, all priced according to their current market price, which fluctuates throughout the day based on how popular a particular craft brew is (think a sudsy stock market, like the Wall Street one, but a hundred times more fun). And sometimes the market “crashes,” offering rock-bottom prices on all beers. Pair your ales and lagers with food from the on-site gastropub; several items use beer in the recipe, like beer steamed mussels ($13) or a beer steamed hot dog ($6). Vegetarians can try the mushroom crepe ($14) or vegetarian lasagna ($13).

211 E Water St
Kalamazoo, MI 49007

9. Food Dance Restaurant

401 E Michigan Ave, Kalamazoo, MI 49007

A mainstay on the Kalamazoo culinary scene, Food Dance has focused on sustainable craft food for more than 20 years, showcasing the bounty of Michigan farmers and artisans. The restaurant’s bright interior is punctuated with colorful artwork evocative of fresh produce. Go for breakfast, lunch, or dinner every day— there’s even a kids’ menu that ventures beyond the traditional mac and cheese, and a meat and cheese menu showcasing the outstanding charcuterie. Plates range from new American favorites like a cider-brined pork chop ($26) to the Food Dance pad Thai ($18) to gochujang fried chicken ($12).

401 E Michigan Ave
Kalamazoo, MI 49007

10. Old Town Lansing

1232 Turner Rd, Lansing, MI 48906
Courtesy of Greater Lansing CVB

During your visit to Michigan’s capital, meander through Old Town and REO Town, two trendy areas that bookend the proper downtown region with the capitol building. Old Town on the north end is well established with dozens of restaurants, shops, galleries, and bars with an artsy vibe. Meanwhile, REO (pronounced “Rio”) Town, recognizable by three power plant smokestacks located on the south side, is Lansing’s oldest community. It was here that employees known as “REO Joes” manufactured cars at the R.E. Olds Motor Company starting in 1905. Nowadays, this borough is expanding its cultural offerings with a brand new brewery, thrift and vintage shops, and the annual Art & Craft Beer Fest in January.

1232 Turner Rd
Lansing, MI 48906

11. Soup Spoon Café

1419 E Michigan Ave, Lansing, MI 48912

Soup isn’t considered traditional medicine, but there’s something about the love that goes into every bowl of house-made French onion, chowder and other rotating soups du jour at Soup Spoon Cafe that spreads warmth throughout your body and leaves you feeling revitalized. Can’t settle on one soup? Pick a flight of four, served with a chunk of French bread. Or visit for brunch, served Monday through Saturday and treat yourself to a specialty eggs benedict or a gourmet sandwich.

1419 E Michigan Ave
Lansing, MI 48912

12. Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University

547 E Circle Dr, East Lansing, MI 48824

Housed in a building designed by the late Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid with stainless steel pleats that unfolds and delivers visitors on a curious journey through angles and light inside, the MSU Broad opened on the Michigan State campus in 2012 and showcases thought-provoking contemporary artwork. The museum’s permanent collection includes more than 10,000 works representing Middle Eastern, African, Asian, Latin American, pre-Columbian, Greek and Roman sculptures, paintings and prints, while the Art Lab inspires budding artists to learn and create through regularly scheduled classes and lab sessions. Admission is always free to the museum, and there are docent-led tours available on weekends

547 E Circle Dr
East Lansing, MI 48824

13. El Oasis

2501 E Michigan Ave, Lansing, MI 48912

This window-service restaurant has two year-round locations in Lansing, a food truck stationed on Michigan Avenue, and a counter inside Tony’s Party Store on Cedar Street, and is a bit of a cult classic among Lansingites. This is as unfussy as it gets — with no tables, it’s an eat-over-your-lap-in-the-car type of arrangement. But the food is so good (and reasonably priced, with nothing over $8), you won’t mind. Order from a variety of authentic Mexican favorites, such as sopes, tamales, beef tongue, and tripe, plus burritos and homemade tortilla chips. Loyal Oasis fans also rave about the salsas — the green tomatillo salsa and spicier varieties are favorites. 

2501 E Michigan Ave
Lansing, MI 48912

14. MSU Dairy Store

474 S Shaw Ln, East Lansing, MI 48824
Courtesy of Monica Ortega

Michigan State University, lovingly called “Moo U” because of its roots as a state agricultural college, is now home to more than 50,000 college students when school is in session, infusing Lansing’s neighbor East Lansing with a young vibe. Get a taste of college life — literally — with a stop at the MSU Dairy Store on the university’s campus. Choose from 32 flavors at $3 a scoop, each made “from cow to cone,” as the Lansing State Journal once described the method that involves MSU students at every stage of the process.

474 S Shaw Ln
East Lansing, MI 48824

15. Vehicle City Tacos

119 N Grand Traverse St, Flint, MI 48503
Courtesy of Vehicle City Tacos

One of Flint’s most popular food trucks has taken up permanent residence at Tenacity Brewing — and the craft beer and taco combination is a beautiful match worth a stop. Order up the Clucker (chicken), the Oinker (pulled pork), or the regular (with house-made chorizo), or any number of weekly specialty tacos featuring creative fixin’s (starting at $4), and pair it with a pint of Tenacity 2nd Shift IPA for the ultimate kick-back-and-relax experience in this proud, hard-working Michigan town.

119 N Grand Traverse St
Flint, MI 48503

Related Maps

16. Flint Farmers Market

300 E 1st St, Flint, MI 48502

Whatever you may already know about Flint, you’re likely to learn something new on a visit to the thriving Flint Farmers Market. A year-round destination that brings makers and growers of all kinds — farmers, bakers, fashion designers, florists, and restaurateurs — the market is open on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays and its success has been viewed by some as a symbol of the city’s rebirth. Start with a meal at Steady Eddy’s Cafe, MaMang Vietnamese restaurant, or B-Dogs for a hot dog, and then pick up some snacks for the road, like gourmet popcorn or fresh donuts and maybe a locally made souvenir or two.

300 E 1st St
Flint, MI 48502

17. Flint Institute of Arts

1120 E Kearsley St, Flint, MI 48503

Explore the impressive collections at Michigan’s second largest art museum, which added an additional 20,000 square feet of gallery and education space in 2018. It houses in its collections work from Dale Chihuly, Helen Frankenthaler, and Mary Cassatt, among other noted American artists, as well as galleries devoted to Pre-Columbian, Native American, African, European, and Asian art, and new Contemporary Craft galleries with glass and ceramic artwork representing the mid-20th century to modern day. The museum hosts an annual Flint Print Fair highlighting the work of contemporary printmakers, while the Palette Cafe makes a great stop for a snack, meal, or cocktail. Admission is $12 for adults; $8 for students and senior citizens.

1120 E Kearsley St
Flint, MI 48503

18. Dessous

312 S Main St, Ann Arbor, MI 48104

Take a culinary journey through the memories of this restaurant’s diverse owner-chefs, who weave together elements of Indian, French, Cuban, and American cuisine. Opened in 2017, Dessous is decorated in billowy white drapery and comfortable, pillow-filled couches, creating a relaxed and intimate backdrop for a quiet dinner. Your dining experience begins with house-made naan slathered with curry butter. Order up a starter of duck confit nachos ($14), followed by a main entree of sweet and spicy halibut ($36) or wild mushroom spaccatelli ($26). Before or after your meal, pay a visit to Blue LLama Jazz Club next door to catch a jam performance and a cocktail.

312 S Main St
Ann Arbor, MI 48104

19. The Ark

316 S Main St, Ann Arbor, MI 48104

A quintessential stop for music lovers and storyteller fans, The Ark hosts live events in a cozy auditorium more than 300 nights a year, with the annual Ann Arbor Folk Festival being one of the highlights. Performers such as Keb’ Mo’, Ani DiFranco, Maz Jobrani, and Wynton Marsalis have all played at this legendary nonprofit venue. On any given night, snag a ticket (starting as low as $20) for a performance by one of the local or nationally known singers stopping through town, or even a live storytelling competition, such as The Moth story slams.

316 S Main St
Ann Arbor, MI 48104

20. Miss Kim

415 N 5th Ave, Ann Arbor, MI 48104
Courtesy of Miss Kim

This Kerrytown Korean restaurant is fueled by the passion of owner Ji Hye Kim, who built the menu based on her own family memories and culinary research, including perfectly prepared Korean fried chicken ($25) and tteokbokki ($14). The restaurant has a fair wage and optional tipping policy, meaning employees do not depend on tips to earn their living. Most visitors to Ann Arbor will advise you to pay a visit to one of the popular restaurants under the Zingerman’s franchise — and you definitely should, whether it’s Zingerman’s Deli, Creamery, or Candy Manufactory. Zingerman’s also serves as a business incubator for up-and-coming restaurateurs, and Miss Kim is one success story that resulted from that partnership. 

415 N 5th Ave
Ann Arbor, MI 48104

21. University of Michigan Museum of Natural History

Biological Sciences Building, 1105 N University Ave, Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Courtesy of University of Michigan Museum of Natural History

The University of Michigan boasts a collection of enriching museums — from art to archaeology and even a presidential library — but the Museum of Natural History is a brand new $261 million building that opened in 2019. This free-admission museum offers many ways for the public to learn about ongoing university research and even participate in an engaging, entertaining way. Stroll through galleries filled with dinosaur fossils, attend a lecture, take in a show at the planetarium, and peer through the window in the Biodiversity Lab to see researchers at work in real time.

Biological Sciences Building, 1105 N University Ave
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

22. Casablanca

2333 Washtenaw Ave, Ypsilanti, MI 48197

Located in a former Taco Bell in Ypsilanti, the humble exterior belies the culinary treasure that awaits you inside. The sweet and spicy aroma of Moroccan cooking surrounds you the minute you walk through the door. Owner and head chef Abdul Mani welcomes you to the table with a collection of traditional dishes tinged with fruits and spices evocative of his North African home, including bastilla, a phyllo dough pocket filled with shredded chicken, almonds, and orange blossom water ($14), and tagines of various meats combined with couscous, raisins, vegetables, and savory sauces ($12-$17).

2333 Washtenaw Ave
Ypsilanti, MI 48197

23. Motown Museum

2648 W Grand Blvd, Detroit, MI 48208
Courtesy of Bill Bowen

You’ve heard the music, whether it was The Supremes, the Jackson 5, the Temptations, or Marvin Gaye, now check out the birthplace: a humble white house with blue trim where Berry Gordy launched the soundtrack of America starting in 1959 in the heart of Detroit. The museum is currently undergoing a multimillion dollar expansion project that will add performance space, additional exhibits, and even recording studios, giving area musicians an opportunity to return to Motown’s roots. Admission is $15 for adults and $10 for senior citizens and youth.

2648 W Grand Blvd
Detroit, MI 48208

24. Peso Bar

2547 Bagley St, Detroit, MI 48216
Courtesy of Peso Bar

A new Mexican eatery that opened in southwest Detroit in 2019, Peso Bar is gracing the Instagram feeds of visitors with its impressive line of 20 margaritas (such as mango with habanero), some of them served in hand-painted clay cups with spiced rims and fresh garnishes. The menu is stuffed with flavorful soups, tortas, and burritos (all under $12) representing Jalisco favorites, such as ancho chile-braised birria and street corn mixed with ancho chile aioli, queso fresco, and onion ($5).

2547 Bagley St
Detroit, MI 48216

25. Yumvillage

6500 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48202

This African/Caribbean restaurant began as a pop-up restaurant and then a food truck, which won over so many fans owner Godwin Ihentuge zoomed through a crowd-funded campaign to generate support for a brick-and-mortar restaurant on Woodward Avenue. The food truck still remains, but the casual restaurant space now serves up North and West African flavors in hot bowls that you can fill with your choice of protein, including lemon jerk chicken and jollof rice ($11) and akara — hush puppy-style fritters prepared with black-eyed peas.

6500 Woodward Ave
Detroit, MI 48202

26. Momo Cha

474 Peterboro St, Detroit, MI 48201
Courtesy of Michelle Gerard

Detroit’s culinary scene is booming, as evidenced by dozens of multicultural restaurants opening in the last few years. Head to the Detroit Shipping Company, a collection of shipping containers that have been reimagined into buzzy restaurants and bars that are drawing growing numbers of visitors. Momo Cha, located inside the Detroit Shipping Company, is one of the only Nepalese restaurants in the area. Order up some dumplings (momos), filled with your choice of chicken, pork, or vegetables and prepared either pan-fried, deep-fried, or steamed, along with a side of chutney (priced at $12 or less).

474 Peterboro St
Detroit, MI 48201