clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

The 26 Best Things Made in Michigan’s Cities

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

Michigan has long been a center of innovation. From Motor City to Motown, the state’s contributions to the auto industry, music, food, drink, and culture run deep. You probably know that the factory assembly line originated in the Detroit area, but did you know that we have Michigan to thank for ginger ale, breakfast cereal, Jiffy muffin mixes, Domino’s Pizza, the Last Word cocktail, and even road lines and modern traffic signals?

The only US state to boast two peninsulas, Michigan is known for its natural beauty. But for a taste of its technological marvels, locally brewed beer, handcrafted products, and more, take a tour of Michigan’s urban cities. As the second most agriculturally diverse state in the country, Michigan has led the charge in the farm-to-table movement, which infiltrates the ethos of everything from restaurants to distilleries. Michigan boasts 357 craft breweries, which is the fifth most of any state, and has been at the forefront of the sour beer boom, not to mention seasonally and locally inspired mead, cider, and spirits. From homegrown artists, fascinating museums, music history, and, of course, great eats, here are just some of the things you’ll find in Michigan’s feisty urban centers.

Read More

Eastern Market

Copy Link

For a true taste — literally — of the best made-in-Michigan products, few places rival Detroit’s Eastern Market, a six-block public market and surrounding district that’s been a city institution and destination since 1891. In addition to seasonal markets on Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursday nights, the biggest draw is the year-round Saturday market, which boasts everything from farm-fresh produce to locally made goods. Stock up on locally roasted nuts and coffee at Germack, satiate your pickle cravings with a jar of McClure’s, satisfy your sweet tooth with a chocolate ganache cup from Birdie’s Something Chocolate, and even get your very own Detroit vs Everybody apparel from the place that coined the term.

Courtesy of Bill Bowen

Charles H. Wright Museum

Copy Link

The history of Detroit is deeply intertwined with that of the African American experience. In the 1800s, the city’s position across the river from Canada earned it the code name “Midnight” as a crucial stop along the Underground Railroad. And during the Great Migration of the early 20th century, thousands of African Americans left the South for Detroit. Founded in 1965, the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History—which houses more than 35,000 artifacts and boasts the world’s largest permanent exhibit on African-American Culture—celebrates this legacy in Detroit and in the country at large. Explore their incredible Underground Railroad collection, learn about the history of the labor movement in Detroit, take in a thought-provoking lecture or performance, and soak in the special visiting art and culture exhibits.

Knight Foundation

Buddy's Pizza

Copy Link

Michigan has strong pizza ties: National chains like Domino’s and Little Ceasars were born here and Detroit-style pizza is gaining popularity across the country. Similar to a Sicilian pie, Detroit-style pizza has crusty, caramelized edges, and, while it’s thicker than a New York slice, whatever you do, do not compare it to deep dish. Buddy’s Pizza is credited with first creating this style in 1946 by proofing and baking pizza dough in blue steel sheet pans that they snagged, appropriately, from nearby automotive plants. They also turn the typical pizza layering process on its head by putting pepperoni directly on the dough, followed by crumbled Wisconsin brick cheese, any other toppings, and finally sauce on the very top.

Courtesy of Bill Bown

Detroit Artists Market

Copy Link

Detroit, with its museums, galleries, and plethora of public art, is a creative hub with a rich history. For a view of the contemporary Detroit artist scene, visit Detroit Artists Market, a nonprofit gallery that is all about showcasing the work of local artists. Started in 1932 — yes, smack in the midst of the Great Depression — it’s one of the best established nonprofit art galleries in the Midwest and one of the top places to view and buy art that has been made in Michigan. Between rotating exhibits, an annual holiday show, the Elements Gallery, and featured artist wall, there are plenty of opportunities to feed your cultural side.

Courtesy of Detroit Artists Market

Motown Museum

Copy Link

One of Detroit’s greatest gifts to the world has been, without a doubt, Motown music — named for the Motor City in which it was born. Head to the Motown Museum to step inside the groundbreaking record company’s headquarters — with its iconic “Hitsville USA” sign — founded in 1959 by Barry Gordy. Here, you can see where music legends like Stevie Wonder, the Temptations, the Four Tops, Diana Ross and the Supremes, the Jackson 5, and Gladys Knight and the Pips got their starts. Check out Studio A, Barry Gordy’s apartment upstairs, rare photos, and one-of-a-kind memorabilia.

Courtesy of Bill Bowen

The Henry Ford Museum

Copy Link

Henry Ford didn’t invent the car, but he certainly revolutionized the auto industry — and industrial production across all sectors (thanks, assembly line). For a firsthand look at some of Ford’s contributions (as well as other American marvels), head to the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation or take a ride on an antique Model T at neighboring Greenfield Village. From the museum, hop on a bus to the Ford Rouge Factory Tour where you can see a modern car factory in action, including a firsthand look at where the contemporary F-150 pickup truck is assembled, tested, and shipped. A multisensory video experience rounds out the tour, along with a display of classic cars that were once manufactured on site, like the Mustang and Thunderbird.

Courtesy of the Henry Ford Museum

Jolly Pumpkin Cafe & Brewery

Copy Link

Brewmaster Ron Jeffries has been brewing professionally since 1995, and he opened Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales in 2004. With a focus on wild yeast open-fermented, oak-aged sour beers long before the style hit any sort of mainstream popularity, Jeffries is considered something of a craft brew pioneer. Today, Jolly Pumpkin has become a destination for sours and has expanded well beyond their brewery in Dexter (just outside Ann Arbor). They now have brewpubs in six cities across Michigan and even one in Chicago where you can get a flight of their signature sours. But the Ann Arbor location is special for its granite baked pizza made from a century-old sourdough starter. 

Courtesy of Jolly Pumpkin Brewery

Argus Farm Stop

Copy Link

Ann Arbor’s year-round outdoor covered farmers market, which celebrated its centennial this year, is well worth a visit. But should you be in town on a non-market day (or just a frigid one), Argus Farm Stop, which opened its doors in 2014, offers farmers market goods daily in an indoor market and cafe setting. Everything is local from independent farms and producers within 50 miles and is about as fresh as it gets. Besides produce, meat, fish, and eggs, they feature goodies like baked goods from Crust bakery in Fenton (near Flint), corn chips from Ann Arbor Tortilla Factory, organic tea from Ann Arbor-based Arbor Teas, and unbeatable frozen treats from Go! Ice Cream in nearby Ypsilanti. Follow up your shop with a local latte and nibble in the cafe.

Zingerman's Delicatessen

Copy Link

When it comes to food in Ann Arbor, nowhere can match the name recognition of Zingerman’s. Their food mail order business, which ships up to 20,000 boxes a day during the holiday crunch, helped put it on the national map. And Obama famously enjoyed one of the signature Reuben sandwiches at the flagship deli back when he was president (and may make a repeat visit now that Sasha is a University of Michigan student — Go Blue!). Today, Zingerman’s is a community of 10 distinct businesses (including a creamery, candy shop, coffee roasters, BBQ, bakehouse, and even a Korean restaurant) rooted in their signature anarchist-inspired, equitable, triple bottom line business model. But the deli remains the heart and soul, and it’s where you can find a little bit of everything from their empire.

Courtesy of Zingerman’s Deli

Bløm Meadworks

Copy Link

Although mead (aka honey wine) is likely the world’s oldest alcoholic beverage and experienced centuries of popularity, it fell out of popularity around the 18th century. But with the rise of the craft brewing and distilling movements, mead production is once again on the rise, and Bløm in Ann Arbor is approaching it with local gusto — all of their meads and ciders are made in small batches with local fruits and spices. This means that the offerings change regularly but may include things like blueberry maple mead or hopped apricot cider (made with Michigan apricots and local Copper hops).

Synecdoche Design

Red Haven Farm to Table Restaurant

Copy Link

In 2011, the Purple Carrot Food Truck created buzz as Michigan’s first “farm-to-truck” food stand featuring almost entirely products and ingredients from within the state. Started by Nina Santucci and partner Anthony Maiale (who studied under Michel Richard at Citronelle in DC, among other kitchens), the food truck took off and in 2013 they opened Red Haven, named for a Michigan-developed peach variety. Their menu of seasonal small plates changes but continues to reflect their use of local ingredients. Even their décor is local — the woodwork is reclaimed from an old barn in Charlotte and the wine storage boxes are made from cherry lug boxes from farms along Old Mission Peninsula. 

MSU Dairy Store

Copy Link

Michigan State University (Go State!) has a robust food science and human nutrition program in which students get to focus on solving issues in food production and food safety. They also get to make cheese, ice cream, and more with milk from MSU cows — it doesn’t get much more local than that. The fruit of their labor is available for purchase at the three locations of the MSU Dairy Store. Try one (or more) of their 32 ice cream flavors made with Michigan products like Michigan black cherry or blueberry pie, or one of their 13 types of cheese, like grass-fed cheddar and Dagano: a unique creation of the MSU dairy, a blend of cheese and, yes, cocoa powder.

Courtesy of Monica Ortega

R.E. Olds Transportation Museum

Copy Link

Detroit may get a lot of car hype, but Lansing has a rich transportation history as well; learn about it at the R.E. Olds Transportation Museum. Lay your eyes on a steam-powered, horseless carriage from 1886 that ultimately became the first car exported from Michigan and the US, the very first gas-powered Oldsmobile car dating from 1897, a 1938 REO Speedwagon Fire Truck, and even a selection of lawnmowers designed and made by R.E. Olds of the Olds Motor Vehicle Company. Olds is even credited with coming up with the initial idea for the assembly line (which Ford took a few steps further by automating) and producing the world’s first mass-produced gas car, the Curved Dash. 

Courtesy of Greater Lansing CVB

American Fifth Spirits

Copy Link

Opened in 2015, American Fifth Spirits is the state capital’s first distillery. They rely on local Michigan ingredients to craft their vodka, gin, bourbon whiskey, and signature malt whiskey. Their vodka, for example, is made with 100% Michigan-sourced premium soft red winter wheat. Take a distillery tour on Thursday or Saturday evenings, snag a spot in one of their spirit or cocktail classes, or just grab a chair in their tasting room for a cocktail, mocktail, and snack, like local popcorn or spiced cheese curds.

Lansing Brewing Company

Copy Link

Long before there was talk of trendy craft beers—heck, back when every brewery was a microbrewery—the Lansing Brewing Company was pouring pints for the laborers and tradesmen who were building a city worthy of being the state capital. One of the first breweries in Lansing, it was famous for its Amber Cream Ale but had to close shop during Prohibition. Luckily, it was resurrected in 2015 as Lansing’s only full-production brewery. They brought back their iconic Amber Cream Ale alongside a full range of styles to suit every taste. Even the food menu incorporates beer into many of the popular recipes.

Tenacity Brewing

Copy Link

Downtown Flint is undergoing an exciting revitalization led in part by the city’s only brewery. Tenacity Brewing — named for the tenacious spirit of its hometown — came to fruition in 2015 following a successful Kickstarter campaign. The brewery, which is housed in an old fire station, became an instant hit and an indelible part of the contemporary story of Flint. Their Farmer’s Daughter IPA is a favorite, but they offer a range of beer styles as well as a recent cider made from locally foraged apples fermented with wild yeast. Besides making great brews, Tenacity also aims to be a focal point of the community with regular events like trivia, yoga (sometimes even goat yoga), open mics, live music, coloring parties, and more. Tenacity is planning a Detroit taproom next.

Courtesy of Tenacity Brewing

Buckham Gallery

Copy Link

To get your finger on the pulse of the local Flint cultural scene, pay a visit to artist-run, nonprofit Buckham Gallery, which has been a steadfast part of the community since 1984. Founded by local Flint artists, the mission has always been to provide an exhibition and performance space for homegrown creatives and to make contemporary art accessible to the public. In addition to the more than 400 visual art exhibitions (which typically rotate monthly) they’ve hosted over the years, they also present performances, poetry readings, films, performance art, and more.

Sloan Museum

Copy Link

Like many cities in Michigan, Flint’s modern history is intertwined with the auto industry — its nickname is Vehicle City. Home to the largest GM complex in the world in the early 20th century and the birthplace of Buick and Chevrolet, Flint played an important role in American car manufacturing. Get a deeper understanding of Flint’s contributions with a look at some of the classic cars and archives at the Sloan Museum. Their permanent home in the Flint Cultural Center is closed for renovations until 2021, but you can still check out more than 30 vehicles from their collection in their temporary location at the Courtland Center Mall.

Courtesy of Sloan Museum

Bell's Brewery

Copy Link

Founder Larry Bell’s interest in beer started with yeast when he was working in a Kalamazoo bakery. Soon after homebrewing was legalized, he opened a homebrew supply store and by 1985 was selling his first beer — made in a 15-gallon soup pot. A little less than a decade later he opened the Eccentric Cafe, the first onsite pub at a Michigan brewery, and began distributing their beer throughout the country. Today, Bell’s is one of the oldest craft breweries in the region and brews like Two Hearted Ale and Oberon Ale are national favorites. Take a tour, sip on a pint, and have a bite at the original brewery, or head over to the newer facilities in nearby Comstock.

Courtesy of Bell’s Brewery

Food Dance Restaurant

Copy Link

Well before “farm-to-table” was a household term, Food Dance was setting the scene as one of the first restaurants in Michigan dedicated to the eat local ethos (it has been going strong since 1994). Open daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, it offers a seasonally changing menu inspired by the local farms they work with; expect dishes like wood-fired, cider-brined local pork chop with polenta hash, roasted carrots, and charred applesauce. They also boast a butcher shop with local meat, artisan cheeses, prepared food, and house-made baked goods.

Heritage Guitars

Copy Link

Gibson Guitars may be associated with Nashville, but its roots are in Kalamazoo. The iconic instrument company was started by Orville Gibson in 1917 and was headquartered in Kalamazoo until 1984. At that point, some senior employees who chose not to make the move to Nashville bought the space and remaining equipment and started Heritage Guitar, which makes high-end custom guitars to this day. They’re undergoing some renovations at the moment, so factory tours are on hold, but folks can pop into the showroom during the week (though it’s best to call ahead to make sure someone is available).

Courtesy of Heritage Guitars

Madcap Coffee Company

Copy Link

Leading the charge on high-end caffeinated beverages in Grand Rapids, Madcap opened in 2008 and has continuously impressed aficionados with its freshly roasted seasonal coffee beans named for its farmers, its obsession with the science of coffee brewing, and its fastidious commitment to quality and staff training (baristas have to earn their spot at the espresso machine). Madcap’s seasonal drink offerings look more like cocktails than your typical pumpkin spice latte. Recent autumn drinks included Hot for Teacher (espresso, cayenne, and apple cider) and Peck’s Drug Store (nitro cold coffee, cranberry, lime, tarragon, and cacao juice). They now have three cafes in Grand Rapids and one in Detroit.

Courtesy of Madcap Coffee

Cascade Winery

Copy Link

With five distinct American Viticultural Areas in Michigan, the state has a lot to bring to the winemaking table. Grand Rapids’ first winery, Cascade Winery carries over the eat local ethos to their beverages, which are fermented and bottled on-site and made with Michigan fruit. Their offerings include red, white, blush, dessert wines, a few meads, and an assortment of fruit wines. The family-owned winery also operates Jaden James Brewery, with unique brews like Black Walnut Brown and a peanut butter porter called Monkey Butter, and Sierra Rose Winery with cold-fermented, small-batch hard ciders in flavors like cherry and cranberry. Stop by the tasting room to see their process and sip on a flight.

Beltline Bar

Copy Link

Promising some of the best Tex-Mex food in Grand Rapids, Beltline Bar has a very distinct claim to fame: It’s said that the wet burrito was first created here in 1966. A wet burrito is not your typical handheld variety. Instead, an oversized ground beef burrito is covered with red chile sauce and melted cheese; a knife and fork are a must. While the wet burrito is their biggest draw, Beltline also feature tacos, fajitas, margaritas, and more. Michigan may border Canada, but Beltline offers a taste of the Southern border up north.

Courtesy of Beltline Bar

Brewery Vivant

Copy Link

There are no shortage of breweries in Grand Rapids—it didn’t earn the title of “Beer City, USA” for nothing. But Brewery Vivant lays claim to being the world’s very first LEED-certified microbrewery and gets major ambiance points for setting up shop in a refurbished historic funeral home (talk about being Instagrammable). But, most importantly, they’re making noteworthy, rustic farmhouse-inspired beers using unique yeasts and locally sourced ingredients. They even make all their French and Belgian-inspired food in-house with a focus on local and sustainable products that are often harvested straight from their own garden. This isn’t your typical pub fare; expect treats like escargot, roasted bone marrow, housemade sausage, and duck confit nachos. 

Grand Rapids Public Museum

Copy Link

For a look at some really cool stuff made in Michigan, head to the Grand Rapids Public Museum. On first glance a collection of 1,500 carpet sweepers might not seem thrilling, but then you learn that they were invented in Grand Rapids in 1876 by Melville Bissell (recognize the name?), and that his wife Anna became one of America’s first female CEOs of an international company. Or, delve into why Grand Rapids was nicknamed “Furniture City” with the Furniture Industry Archives Collection. The permanent exhibit Anishinabek: The People of This Place tells the story of the Ottawa, Potawatomi, and Chippewa people of West Michigan in their own voices, while Newcomers: The People of This Place looks at the immigrant groups that made Grand Rapids—and the United States—what it is today.

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

Eastern Market

Courtesy of Bill Bowen

For a true taste — literally — of the best made-in-Michigan products, few places rival Detroit’s Eastern Market, a six-block public market and surrounding district that’s been a city institution and destination since 1891. In addition to seasonal markets on Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursday nights, the biggest draw is the year-round Saturday market, which boasts everything from farm-fresh produce to locally made goods. Stock up on locally roasted nuts and coffee at Germack, satiate your pickle cravings with a jar of McClure’s, satisfy your sweet tooth with a chocolate ganache cup from Birdie’s Something Chocolate, and even get your very own Detroit vs Everybody apparel from the place that coined the term.

Courtesy of Bill Bowen

Charles H. Wright Museum

Knight Foundation

The history of Detroit is deeply intertwined with that of the African American experience. In the 1800s, the city’s position across the river from Canada earned it the code name “Midnight” as a crucial stop along the Underground Railroad. And during the Great Migration of the early 20th century, thousands of African Americans left the South for Detroit. Founded in 1965, the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History—which houses more than 35,000 artifacts and boasts the world’s largest permanent exhibit on African-American Culture—celebrates this legacy in Detroit and in the country at large. Explore their incredible Underground Railroad collection, learn about the history of the labor movement in Detroit, take in a thought-provoking lecture or performance, and soak in the special visiting art and culture exhibits.

Knight Foundation

Buddy's Pizza

Courtesy of Bill Bown

Michigan has strong pizza ties: National chains like Domino’s and Little Ceasars were born here and Detroit-style pizza is gaining popularity across the country. Similar to a Sicilian pie, Detroit-style pizza has crusty, caramelized edges, and, while it’s thicker than a New York slice, whatever you do, do not compare it to deep dish. Buddy’s Pizza is credited with first creating this style in 1946 by proofing and baking pizza dough in blue steel sheet pans that they snagged, appropriately, from nearby automotive plants. They also turn the typical pizza layering process on its head by putting pepperoni directly on the dough, followed by crumbled Wisconsin brick cheese, any other toppings, and finally sauce on the very top.

Courtesy of Bill Bown

Detroit Artists Market

Courtesy of Detroit Artists Market

Detroit, with its museums, galleries, and plethora of public art, is a creative hub with a rich history. For a view of the contemporary Detroit artist scene, visit Detroit Artists Market, a nonprofit gallery that is all about showcasing the work of local artists. Started in 1932 — yes, smack in the midst of the Great Depression — it’s one of the best established nonprofit art galleries in the Midwest and one of the top places to view and buy art that has been made in Michigan. Between rotating exhibits, an annual holiday show, the Elements Gallery, and featured artist wall, there are plenty of opportunities to feed your cultural side.

Courtesy of Detroit Artists Market

Motown Museum

Courtesy of Bill Bowen

One of Detroit’s greatest gifts to the world has been, without a doubt, Motown music — named for the Motor City in which it was born. Head to the Motown Museum to step inside the groundbreaking record company’s headquarters — with its iconic “Hitsville USA” sign — founded in 1959 by Barry Gordy. Here, you can see where music legends like Stevie Wonder, the Temptations, the Four Tops, Diana Ross and the Supremes, the Jackson 5, and Gladys Knight and the Pips got their starts. Check out Studio A, Barry Gordy’s apartment upstairs, rare photos, and one-of-a-kind memorabilia.

Courtesy of Bill Bowen

The Henry Ford Museum

Courtesy of the Henry Ford Museum

Henry Ford didn’t invent the car, but he certainly revolutionized the auto industry — and industrial production across all sectors (thanks, assembly line). For a firsthand look at some of Ford’s contributions (as well as other American marvels), head to the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation or take a ride on an antique Model T at neighboring Greenfield Village. From the museum, hop on a bus to the Ford Rouge Factory Tour where you can see a modern car factory in action, including a firsthand look at where the contemporary F-150 pickup truck is assembled, tested, and shipped. A multisensory video experience rounds out the tour, along with a display of classic cars that were once manufactured on site, like the Mustang and Thunderbird.

Courtesy of the Henry Ford Museum

Jolly Pumpkin Cafe & Brewery

Courtesy of Jolly Pumpkin Brewery

Brewmaster Ron Jeffries has been brewing professionally since 1995, and he opened Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales in 2004. With a focus on wild yeast open-fermented, oak-aged sour beers long before the style hit any sort of mainstream popularity, Jeffries is considered something of a craft brew pioneer. Today, Jolly Pumpkin has become a destination for sours and has expanded well beyond their brewery in Dexter (just outside Ann Arbor). They now have brewpubs in six cities across Michigan and even one in Chicago where you can get a flight of their signature sours. But the Ann Arbor location is special for its granite baked pizza made from a century-old sourdough starter. 

Courtesy of Jolly Pumpkin Brewery

Argus Farm Stop

Ann Arbor’s year-round outdoor covered farmers market, which celebrated its centennial this year, is well worth a visit. But should you be in town on a non-market day (or just a frigid one), Argus Farm Stop, which opened its doors in 2014, offers farmers market goods daily in an indoor market and cafe setting. Everything is local from independent farms and producers within 50 miles and is about as fresh as it gets. Besides produce, meat, fish, and eggs, they feature goodies like baked goods from Crust bakery in Fenton (near Flint), corn chips from Ann Arbor Tortilla Factory, organic tea from Ann Arbor-based Arbor Teas, and unbeatable frozen treats from Go! Ice Cream in nearby Ypsilanti. Follow up your shop with a local latte and nibble in the cafe.

Zingerman's Delicatessen

Courtesy of Zingerman’s Deli

When it comes to food in Ann Arbor, nowhere can match the name recognition of Zingerman’s. Their food mail order business, which ships up to 20,000 boxes a day during the holiday crunch, helped put it on the national map. And Obama famously enjoyed one of the signature Reuben sandwiches at the flagship deli back when he was president (and may make a repeat visit now that Sasha is a University of Michigan student — Go Blue!). Today, Zingerman’s is a community of 10 distinct businesses (including a creamery, candy shop, coffee roasters, BBQ, bakehouse, and even a Korean restaurant) rooted in their signature anarchist-inspired, equitable, triple bottom line business model. But the deli remains the heart and soul, and it’s where you can find a little bit of everything from their empire.

Courtesy of Zingerman’s Deli

Bløm Meadworks

Synecdoche Design

Although mead (aka honey wine) is likely the world’s oldest alcoholic beverage and experienced centuries of popularity, it fell out of popularity around the 18th century. But with the rise of the craft brewing and distilling movements, mead production is once again on the rise, and Bløm in Ann Arbor is approaching it with local gusto — all of their meads and ciders are made in small batches with local fruits and spices. This means that the offerings change regularly but may include things like blueberry maple mead or hopped apricot cider (made with Michigan apricots and local Copper hops).

Synecdoche Design

Red Haven Farm to Table Restaurant

In 2011, the Purple Carrot Food Truck created buzz as Michigan’s first “farm-to-truck” food stand featuring almost entirely products and ingredients from within the state. Started by Nina Santucci and partner Anthony Maiale (who studied under Michel Richard at Citronelle in DC, among other kitchens), the food truck took off and in 2013 they opened Red Haven, named for a Michigan-developed peach variety. Their menu of seasonal small plates changes but continues to reflect their use of local ingredients. Even their décor is local — the woodwork is reclaimed from an old barn in Charlotte and the wine storage boxes are made from cherry lug boxes from farms along Old Mission Peninsula. 

MSU Dairy Store

Courtesy of Monica Ortega

Michigan State University (Go State!) has a robust food science and human nutrition program in which students get to focus on solving issues in food production and food safety. They also get to make cheese, ice cream, and more with milk from MSU cows — it doesn’t get much more local than that. The fruit of their labor is available for purchase at the three locations of the MSU Dairy Store. Try one (or more) of their 32 ice cream flavors made with Michigan products like Michigan black cherry or blueberry pie, or one of their 13 types of cheese, like grass-fed cheddar and Dagano: a unique creation of the MSU dairy, a blend of cheese and, yes, cocoa powder.

Courtesy of Monica Ortega

R.E. Olds Transportation Museum

Courtesy of Greater Lansing CVB

Detroit may get a lot of car hype, but Lansing has a rich transportation history as well; learn about it at the R.E. Olds Transportation Museum. Lay your eyes on a steam-powered, horseless carriage from 1886 that ultimately became the first car exported from Michigan and the US, the very first gas-powered Oldsmobile car dating from 1897, a 1938 REO Speedwagon Fire Truck, and even a selection of lawnmowers designed and made by R.E. Olds of the Olds Motor Vehicle Company. Olds is even credited with coming up with the initial idea for the assembly line (which Ford took a few steps further by automating) and producing the world’s first mass-produced gas car, the Curved Dash. 

Courtesy of Greater Lansing CVB

American Fifth Spirits

Opened in 2015, American Fifth Spirits is the state capital’s first distillery. They rely on local Michigan ingredients to craft their vodka, gin, bourbon whiskey, and signature malt whiskey. Their vodka, for example, is made with 100% Michigan-sourced premium soft red winter wheat. Take a distillery tour on Thursday or Saturday evenings, snag a spot in one of their spirit or cocktail classes, or just grab a chair in their tasting room for a cocktail, mocktail, and snack, like local popcorn or spiced cheese curds.

Lansing Brewing Company

Long before there was talk of trendy craft beers—heck, back when every brewery was a microbrewery—the Lansing Brewing Company was pouring pints for the laborers and tradesmen who were building a city worthy of being the state capital. One of the first breweries in Lansing, it was famous for its Amber Cream Ale but had to close shop during Prohibition. Luckily, it was resurrected in 2015 as Lansing’s only full-production brewery. They brought back their iconic Amber Cream Ale alongside a full range of styles to suit every taste. Even the food menu incorporates beer into many of the popular recipes.

Related Maps

Tenacity Brewing

Courtesy of Tenacity Brewing

Downtown Flint is undergoing an exciting revitalization led in part by the city’s only brewery. Tenacity Brewing — named for the tenacious spirit of its hometown — came to fruition in 2015 following a successful Kickstarter campaign. The brewery, which is housed in an old fire station, became an instant hit and an indelible part of the contemporary story of Flint. Their Farmer’s Daughter IPA is a favorite, but they offer a range of beer styles as well as a recent cider made from locally foraged apples fermented with wild yeast. Besides making great brews, Tenacity also aims to be a focal point of the community with regular events like trivia, yoga (sometimes even goat yoga), open mics, live music, coloring parties, and more. Tenacity is planning a Detroit taproom next.

Courtesy of Tenacity Brewing

Buckham Gallery

To get your finger on the pulse of the local Flint cultural scene, pay a visit to artist-run, nonprofit Buckham Gallery, which has been a steadfast part of the community since 1984. Founded by local Flint artists, the mission has always been to provide an exhibition and performance space for homegrown creatives and to make contemporary art accessible to the public. In addition to the more than 400 visual art exhibitions (which typically rotate monthly) they’ve hosted over the years, they also present performances, poetry readings, films, performance art, and more.

Sloan Museum

Courtesy of Sloan Museum

Like many cities in Michigan, Flint’s modern history is intertwined with the auto industry — its nickname is Vehicle City. Home to the largest GM complex in the world in the early 20th century and the birthplace of Buick and Chevrolet, Flint played an important role in American car manufacturing. Get a deeper understanding of Flint’s contributions with a look at some of the classic cars and archives at the Sloan Museum. Their permanent home in the Flint Cultural Center is closed for renovations until 2021, but you can still check out more than 30 vehicles from their collection in their temporary location at the Courtland Center Mall.