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The Perfect (and Affordable) Summer Road Trip for A Weekend in Michigan

As a car owner, you know that one of the most enjoyable things to do is take your vehicle on an adventure. The problem is that we so rarely have time to set aside for an extended road trip. Luckily, there are so many great places to visit in Michigan that you donít have to travel too far to get somewhere fun. So if you are looking to hit the open road this summer, but donít have a specific destination in mind: read on.

One great road to travel through in Michigan is M21. Also known as The BlueWater Highway, it is a wonderful road leading through several small towns in the central-lower belt of our state. The highway, originally commissioned in 1919, still runs from Grand Rapids to Flint ó though it originally spanned from coast to coast (Port Huron to Holland). Modern interstates have eaten up its ends, but along the way, one can still find a plethora of eateries, coffee houses, and quaint hometown shopping opportunities that you might not otherwise think to visit.
Traveling M21 makes for a perfect, affordable and family-friendly weekend getaway for anyone looking to escape the noise and hassle of a familiar city and reconnect with small towns that exemplify the simpler side of life. This road trip also offers its travelers the luxury of time because it is only 100 miles one-way. Meaning, you donít have to rush and can spread your activities out and really explore the places you encounter.

You can begin your journey at either end, but here are some suggestions for a three-day trek along this historic route.

Day 1: Perk Up & Eat Up

While Flint might not be the first place you think of when you think of a getaway, this big city on the mend is a great spot to start because it has all the amenities one can ask for swanky restaurants, Vehicle-City charm, and retro digs.

Pit Stop 1: Visit Totem Book Store. This bookstore is not only a bookstore, but it is also a vinyl record store and a cafe. So, grab a coffee, peruse the used books section. This Flint staple is open Tuesday-Saturday. Check out upcoming events here.

Meander your way west to Owosso, MI. Located 20 miles west of Flint, this touted historic village has a lot to offer ó especially when it comes to food and history.

Pit Stop 2: Eat at The O Town Cafe or Lulaís Louisiana Cuisine. This hometown coffee shop/cafe offers up fresh ingredients in dishes made with love and taste (the veggie omelet with muenster cheese is a real treat). If you arrive around dinnertime, Lulaís famous Louisiana Cuisine is the place to go. Famous for their southern entrees, this slice of the Deep South (fried chicken, biscuits and gravy) in Central Michigan is a welcome addition to the culinary scene.

Day 2: Shop ĎTil You Drop

After a good nightís sleep, pick up a cup of coffee on your way out of town.

Pit Stop 3: Foster Coffee Company is the perfect place to drop in before leaving Owosso. This 2014 addition to the Owosso community upholds long-standing traditions of what a coffee shop is really about: conversation and caffeine. The baristas are knowledgeable, and the product is outstanding.

As you drive, notice that one of the things that makes this route enchanting is the number of refurbished farmhouses and schoolhouses you will see along the way.

Pit Stop 4: Many historic churches are either still in use, or repurposed on this route. The (very) small city of Ovid is home to one of these beautiful historic landmarks: First Congregational Church. Ovid is also home to a couple of great scrapbooking shops, so if you are feeling crafty and creative, this might be a good place to stop.

Pit Stop 5: Heading westward, you will come upon St. Johnís, MI. A favorite small-town gem, most commonly known for its August Mint Festival, or its Uncle Johnís Cider, St. Johnís downtown strip has also been in revival throughout the last ten years. There are a number of shops along the main strip (just off of M21), but two places, in particular, stand out.

The first is Rehmannís clothing shop. This complete menswear shop, that also offers some limited womenís clothing, prides itself in providing high-quality goods at reasonable prices. It can sometimes be fun to acquire new things while out of town!

After shopping at Rehmannís, make sure to walk a block over to Debís Sereni-TEA Lounge and cool off with a delicious beverage. This tea stand offers a fantastic variety of hot or iced teas. (We recommend trying the iced Lemon Meringue ó yum!)

Day 3: Get in Touch with Nature

As you continue your journey, you will notice a marked shift in the landscape. Where there were once farmlands and fields, there are now densely wooded areas and flowing streams. This means it is time to stop, get out of your car, and do some exploring. There are many places along the way, as you get into Ionia, Lowell, and Ada, but here are just a couple of suggestions to help you get moving.

Pit Stop 6: Hike Bertha Brock Park. This park, founded in 1931, provides its visitors with ample opportunity to explore, take pictures, or just be in awe of the natural surroundings. Take advantage of the trails, or simply stop and have a picnic and enjoy the Michigan sunshine.

Pit Stop 7: Before heading into Ada, MI for a bite to eat at Nonnaís, stop by the Cascade Peace Park. This park intended for relaxing meditative engagement with nature is the perfect place to end your journey. Relax by the water, take a short stroll through the wood, engage in all that nature has to offer your tired soul.

These suggestions only scratch the surface of what M21 has to offer its visitors, but if you are looking for a great weekend getaway or a variety of different places to visit with your family, you donít have to look much farther than the center of The Great Lakes State.
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