This Friday I won’t be flashing back to a specific trip I’ve taken, but rather to a time and place that makes me truly happy. I grew up in metro Detroit and for the first 20 something years that I lived there, I hated it. I didn’t see any positives, only things holding me back. It wasn’t until I moved away for the first time, when I studied in Rome in 2009, that I became a proud Michigander. Now that the days are getting shorter and I’m thousands of miles away, I am starting to yearn for my home state. What are the things I miss most about fall in Michigan? Take a look.
1. Football games at the Big House.
I’m a proud University of Michigan alumna and strongly believe that there is no better place to spend an autumnal Saturday than in Ann Arbor. Football Saturdays are a lifestyle and nothing is spared when planning the perfect tailgate. Last year my family and I cooked a a prime rib in a travel infrared oven, and deep fried turkeys make an appearance at least once a season. You will see people with campers decked out in maize and blue, big screen televisions on the golf course, and kegs in the trunk of a Ford Focus.
Once the imbibing has finished, over 100,000 people head over to Michigan Stadium to watch their beloved Wolverines. Aptly nicknamed The Big House, Michigan Stadium is the largest stadium in the country and the third largest in the world. The official capacity is 109,000 people but attendance often exceeds that. Last fall’s home opener set a record for the largest in NCAA history with 113,090 people in the stadium. The enormity of the crowd, passionate fans, a top notch marching band, and the history and tradition of the Wolverine football program combine to make an experience that is unmissable for any person even slightly interested in sports.
And you’ll be able to say you had a chance to see the winningest (it’s a word) team in college football history play in person.
2. The cider mill.
No fall in spent in the Mitten is complete without a trip to the cider mill. Scattered across the state, many of these places are also fully functioning orchards. Michigan has the third highest apple production in the country, and as a child fall meant my mom’s apple pie made with apples we had picked from the tree.
Picking apples works up an appetite and nothing is quite as satisfying after picking bushels as a big glass of cold, sweet cider straight from the presses, and a cider mill donut. For those not in the know, cider mill donuts are donuts rolled in cinnamon and sugar and served still warm. Cider mill donuts are only available in the fall and are talked about year round.
3. Getting away and heading north.
In the summer northern Michigan is known for its lakes, dense forest and cabin lifestyle. Large numbers of people from the southern part of the state go “up north” every weekend from Memorial Day to Labor Day for boating and relaxing. After Labor Day, though, northern Michigan is still a great destination. There are significantly less cars on the major freeways, the leaves have begun to change, and you may be able to catch one of the last few days of summery weather. Fall further north provide beautiful scenery and some much needed solitude after a Football Saturday.
Michigan is a state that is highly underrated by the majority of the country (when I lived in Philadelphia I had people ask me where Michigan is located) and has a lot to offer in all four seasons. More people should check out this beautiful state. Dispel the major Michigan stereotype, and help out a state in need.
Oh, and wherever you go, GO BLUE!