3 Days in Michigan
Detroit in the winter: Cold, snowing, miserable.
Detroit in the summer: Warm, sunny, enjoyable.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why we decided to visit the Detroit area during the summer this year, as opposed to our typical annual winter sojourn.
During this trip, we stayed with my folks in the “O.C.” (that’s Oakland County, not Orange County for the uninitiated) and I got to show Caitlyn all the “frills” of living in upscale suburbia. For my Indy friends, it’s a lot like hanging out in Carmel and Fishers – plenty of places to shop at, but lacking the diversity or soul of a larger city.
If there’s one thing upper-middle and upper-income people like, it’s to shop, and the O.C. is no stranger to shopping malls. From swanky Somerset to gargantuan Great Lakes Crossing, one only need jump in his or her Mercedes or BMW to take a quick trip to the mall. We chose Great Lakes Crossing, which claims to be the largest outlet mall in Michigan. It has a wide variety of stores, including upper-echelon Lord & Taylor, Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue and more Kristofer- and Caitlyn-friendly TJ Maxx, Marshalls and Gap.
I knew I was home when the first thing I saw upon entry were two gumball machines next to each other, one with MSU gumballs and one with U-M gumballs. Ironically, there was no machine for Oakland University, which is just a couple miles away. This mall has everything, from a Rainforest Café, to a soon-to-be-open aquarium and 200 stores covering shoes, clothing, “As Seen on TV” and outdoors/hunting. If you can’t find it here, it probably doesn’t exist (at least not in outlet form).
The mall is fun, but people in the O.C. also like to look at caged animals, so we trekked to Royal Oak to the Detroit Zoo, where, to our surprise, most the animals were out and about, as opposed to sleeping in the corner with their butts facing the crowds. We recommend visiting the prairie dogs and going to the underground viewing area, where you can step on a platform and have your head pop up through a Plexiglas cube so you can go nose-to-nose with the pint-sized pooches. Also check out the new baby river otters, Ernie and Sparky (named after two Tigers greats). A huge “Penguinarium” is currently under construction and will open next year.
What trip to Detroit is complete without a stop at IKEA? Correct answer? None! Caitlyn and I met up with my sister and brother-in-law to view the Swedish offerings on this most Swedish of weekends, Fourth of July. Word on the street is this IKEA is expanding. We’re not sure why, as you currently need a Sherpa to guide you through the maze of furniture, but we’re sure it will be even more awesome when it happens. We needed to refuel, so it was off to my old haunt, Dairy-Go-Round in Plymouth. Yeah, you sit on plastic horseys in a faux carousel, but, dang, their version of DQ’s Blizzard, called a “Mud” here, is exceptional. They also have hard ice cream and soft serve, so everyone goes home a winner.