LEGOLAND® Discovery Center is Coming to Great Lakes Crossing Outlets – Auburn Hills, Michigan

Wow, super exciting news for Michigan residents and those vacationing there – LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Michigan has broken ground on their newest location at the Great Lakes Crossing Outlets in Auburn Hills! Are you as ready for this as I am? I’m talking to all my LEGO® friends out there because I’ve got all the det’s you’re gonna wanna know! Read on to find out more!

Woot! I’m a LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Michigan ambassador – this means that I will get media info ahead of time to share with you about the progress of the build and will be compensated for my time with free passes to enjoy the grand opening with my family. All opinions are my own. #LDCMichigan
Photo credit: LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Michigan

This morning LEGO® fans from all over the area came together to celebrate a joyous occasion – the groundbreaking event to the brand new LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Michigan coming to the Great Lakes Crossing Outlets. This 32,000 square foot indoor attraction is positioned to hold over 1 million LEGO® bricks and themed exhibits by the time it opens it’s doors to the public in the spring of 2016 – but that’s not all!

Here’s what else you can expect: 

  • 4D Cinema
  • Two Interactive Rides
  • Large Soft Play Areas
  • Michigan Themed Miniland Display
Photo credit: LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Michigan
As a LEGO® loving family we couldn’t be happier about the new addition to one of our favorite Michigan shopping centers Great Lakes Crossing outlets – the same outlet mall that recently added a new SEALIFE attraction earlier this year. This entertainment hub, which already offers amazing dining options, a movie theater, and a broad range of shopping options can pretty much now be considered a one stop shop for fun. 

Photo credit: LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Michigan

Be sure to stay tuned for more information about this awesome new attraction coming to Michigan! I promise to spill the beans as the info becomes available. You can also following along with LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Michigan on Facebook or check out their website for more info. 

What are you excited about most for the new LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Michigan opening? Is this something you think your whole family will enjoy? Tell me your thoughts in the comments! 

Why Lansing, Michigan Might Surprise You

Are you looking for a place to unwind with friends, take in some history, dine on exquisite food and enjoy a weekend of fun with family oriented activities? Well if so then I have a secret to share – Lansing, Michigan has more to offer guests than one might expect. Just take a look at how I experienced all of these things and more during my recent trip to the State Capital of Michigan. 

Disclosure: This trip was sponsored by the Lansing Tourism Bureau. All opinions are my own.   
Why to Visit Lansing Michigan #hosted

Lansing, Michigan

When you tell people that you are taking a trip to Lansing, Michigan they may ask you two questions: Are you visiting someone at the university or going on business? However, on a recent tourism trip to the area, I found Lansing to be so much more than just a collegiate town or center for business meetings – I found Lansing to be a place I would want to take my family, a place to hang out with friends and a place to spend the weekend to have some good ol’ fashioned fun.

Old Town Lansing

The first place I checked out during my stay was Old Town Lansing – a historic shopping district (of course). As I walked down the streets past the obviously retro buildings, the buzz of pedestrians and chatter from people sharing a street-side bench surrounded me. I could tell right away that there was a community here and that the people enjoyed coming together in it. In one of the nearby parking lots people gathered to observe an outdoor junk art exhibit, one of the many different community exhibits this city puts together each year. 

Art exhibit in Lansing, Michigan #hosted

As I walked along further, following the sound of one of the communities outdoor public piano’s, I came across a gourmet popcorn shop called Cravings. I loved the retro feeling of the outside sign so I proceeded inward to find that I was able to taste test several different exotic and unconventional popcorn flavors right in the lobby – such as dill pickle, salt and pepper and BBQ. To tell you the truth, the dill pickle was my favorite and I liked it much better than traditional buttered popcorn. Who would have guessed? 

Cravings Popcorn in Lansing Michigan #hosted
Cravings Popcorn Flavors in Lansing Michigan #hosted

My final stop in old town Lansing was a carnivorous restaurant appropriately named MEAT. Here patrons are welcome to dine on fabulously BBQ’d brisket, turkey, pork and other types of meats -while those searching for a vegetarian option are ironically handed a drink menu. They do, however, serve a pretty kickin’ mac-n-cheese. Just an FYI. 🙂 

MEAT review in Lansing Michigan #hosted

State Capitol Tour

Not far from Old Town Lansing, I could see the State Capitol building standing tall. I could remember taking a tour of this Capitol building as a middle school student, but back then I don’t think I appreciated it to it’s fullest – as I am sure my kids wouldn’t appreciate it today. However, during this trip as an adult I found myself mesmerized by the intricate carvings and designs in the architecture, the history behind the Capitol buildings beginnings and the way the government system still worked here today. The best part about this tour – its completely free! Just show up any Monday – Friday , 9 a.m to 4 p.m. and follow along with a guided tour through the hallways and offices of the Michigan State Capitol building.

Take a Michigan State Capitol Tour #hosted

Michigan Historical Museum

After finding out how Lansing came to be the State Capitol of Michigan, I next headed to the Michigan Historical Museum to browse some of the vintage cars and artifacts from the area’s past. Walking in to this museum was like walking in to the streets and homes of era’s from the prehistoric through the 1950’s and today. In one room I was guided through a dark copper mine where I could hear the clank of the pick axes. Next I was walking through Motown and checking out a retro kitchen. Being a museum lover – I must say that is museum is one of the better ones. Its very well put together and not very busy. 

Tip: If you plan to go on a Sunday it is free admission for everyone!

Dine at Red Haven

With the farm to table craze sweeping the area, I was excited to visit Red Haven, a gourmet, small plate restaurant of this sorts located within the greater Lansing area. This place came highly recommended and I must say that I found the recommendation to be spot on. The menu was short and the plate sizes were small, but that was the idea. This restaurant encourages guests to try more than one item from the menu, share with friends and dine in a way that encourages socialization. While I was there I tried the zucchini blossom, the buffalo burger and for dessert a chocolate anglaise. Even though I was a little confused with the tomato foam on the stuffed zucchini blossom, everything was spectacular and I cannot go back again and try more menu items. 

Eat at Red Haven in Lansing Michigan #hosted

Watch a Baseball Game

Lansing, Michigan also happens to be home to the Lansing Lugnuts – the area’s professional baseball team. After dinner we found our seats at the Cooley Law Stadium and got ready for the game. I had forgotten how much I liked to watch baseball – in person that is. I was quickly caught up in the moment of singing the national anthem, drinking beer and watching people drive around the field shooting hot dogs into the stands. Everyone at the game was excited and that vibe rippled through the entire audience. They were here to have a good time and it made the experience just that much better. After the game ended (we lost, boo) the stadium put on one of the most spectacular fireworks displays. I hate to admit it, but they were better than my city’s fourth of July ones. I wont say that too loud. 

Going to a Lugnuts Game in Lansing Michigan

Take a River Boat Tour with River Town Adventures

To end the weekend in style, we jumped in a riverboat and floated happily along the Grand River which runs through the city. Stepping on to that boat was like stepping into a canoe in the early settler days. The river banks were grown with natural flowers and brush, the fallen logs along the river allowed us to view turtles sunning themselves in the warm morning sun and with every turn of the river bend we were welcomed with more lush and calming views. It was a beautiful sight, not at all what I expected to see when visiting the State Capital of Michigan. 

Taking a tour with River Town Adventures in Lansing Michigan

In the beginning as I headed on a road trip in to the city of Lansing, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. However after diving in to all of the amazing adventures greater Lansing had to offer all I can say that Lansing will surprise you and leave you wanting to come back time and time again. After all, during this trip I only touched on the surface of what the area has to offer. To find out more about the adventures you can have, visit the Lansing Tourism page

Want to watch a quick two minute re-cap of my weekend? Here it is!

Where to Stay

For this trip I stayed at the Radisson downtown. Excellent hotel, close to all of the area attractions. Plus, it has a Starbucks in the lobby. Win/Win.

Have you visited Lansing, Michigan on vacation? What was your favorite thing to see or do in the area? Share your comments with us in the section below. 

Couples Weekend in Southwest Michigan : WINE TOUR

Disclosure: This trip was taken in collaboration with #SWMIsipstroll tour and we were hosted at all of the locations mentioned in this article. 
Southwest Michigan Wine Tour #ad #SWMISipStroll

Being a Michigan native, our family has always kept with tradition and gone north for the summer. Traverse City, Mackinac Island, these have always been our summer vacation destinations. How many of you remember spending your summers at “the cabin up north”? Seriously, my mom even begins her childhood memories that way. It is just what we Michigander’s do! Over my lifetime I have spent quite a bit of time touring around my hometown state of Michigan but for some reason this entire time I have neglected one important part of the state: Southwest Michigan.

What to do in New Buffalo Beach as a couple #SWMISipStroll #ad

Ask me why I have never ventured past Kalamazoo to the west side of the state and I will tell you “I have no idea”. I guess I thought there was nothing to do in that side of the state, just farm fields and such. So last weekend, to fix this problem, my husband and I jumped in the car for a couples weekend away and drove out to the southwest side of Michigan, also known as New Buffalo. I considered stopping here to talk about the importance of a weekend away with your spouse every once in awhile, but I think many of you already know why it’s a good idea. Especially with young kids, sometimes you just need to reconnect and relax together to remember why you love each other. So back to my story: As my husband and I drove past field after field into the slow paced town of New Buffalo my only thought was “This is brilliant”. Within this adorable tiny town of only three stop lights sat a luxury hotel, a beautiful beach full of mounds of sand, vineyards all around and quiet. Yes, perfect quiet. There was no traffic humming past or loud construction noises to be heard, just the sounds of birds chirping, water swishing in the harbor and my thoughts finally able to gain my own attention again.

What is there to do in southwest Michigan?

I was right. Southwest Michigan IS full of fields, but guess what? Those fields are full of grape vines! What are grapes used for? Ding Ding! WINE!! Southwest Michigan is full of wineries, distilleries, gourmet restaurants and even a casino! Vacationing to this part of Michigan was like saying to myself “Seriously, where have you been all my life?”

Hickory Creek Winery #SWMISipStroll #ad

During our two day visit we were able to check out four wineries. This number, two wineries per day, seemed like the perfect amount of wine tasting since each winery allowed us to sample around 5-8 different wines. It is good to pace yourself and even take the time to sit outdoors and enjoy the views for awhile. This isn’t speed dating people.

Wine Tour Southwest Michigan #SWMISipStroll #ad

There were so many great wineries to visit, but here are a few highlights from our favorites.

The first stop on our tour was Domaine Berrien Cellars. This quaint, family owned winery believes that good wine is grown in the vineyard, not made in the cellars. It is for this reason that Domaine Berrien takes a lot of pride and care in growing their own grapes. As we made the drive up their long driveway we could witness their rows upon rows of vines hugging the way. This winery has won a lot of awards for their craft and is definitely worth visiting.

My favorite wine from Domaine Berrien: 2012 Vignoles (Vee-nole) – a refreshing wine with tropical flavors of sweet pineapple, mango and kiwi. 

Domaine Berrien Cellars, Berrien Springs, MI #SWMISipStroll #ad

The second stop on our wine tour was Lemon Creek Winery. This upscale tasting room was larger than the others we’ve seen and featured fun gifts and shopping. This winery is a fun place to hang out and was quite busy during our visit. In the center of the room was a large tasting bar where we were enlightened to learn about the art of mixing wines together. Seriously, who knew you could mix wines and create a whole different level of flavor?

My favorite wine from Lemon Creek Winery: (a mix) Cherry wine mixed with peach spumante. 

Lemon Creek Winery, Berrien Springs Michigan #SWMISipStroll #ad

 Next up was Hickory Creek Winery. A fun winery with a laid back feel. The staff was very personable and the wine was delicious. I especially loved their wine scented candles for sale in the tasting room. Seriously, look for them. Also, something I loved about this winery is that they sell a Laughing Lab Rose that they donate a portion of the sales from to helping the Midwest Lab Rescue find forever homes for their dogs.

My favorite wine from Hickory Creek Winery: 2012 Gentil

Hickory Creek Wine #SWMISipStroll #ad

The last winery stop of our weekend was at the Contessa Wine Cellars. This winery was a bit retro, just like me. They even had a Marilyn Monroe themed bathroom! While I loved the decor, I really loved the wine. I stuck to the sweeter wines and they didn’t disappoint. This winery also has a large deck area to sit and enjoy the day with outdoor bars and a great view of the vineyards.

My favorite wine from Contessa Wine Cellars: Dolce Vita & the Cherry wine

Contessa Wine Cellars Coloma Michigan #SWMISipStroll #ad

After our fun filled day out and about exploring, we were excited and ready to come back to our hotel home and relax. During this trip we were lucky to have found a great place to stay that caters to couples looking to relax. The Harbor Grand is an spa style hotel that offers complimentary breakfast in bed, whirlpool tubs, updated showers, a masseuses on premise and incredible views of the harbor. You can read even more about this luxurious hotel over on my review article on

While Southwest Michigan looks to be a wonderful place to vacation as a family, from this past weekends’ experience, I can tell you that southwest Michigan is definitely a place to go for an adult weekend away!

Have any questions about the best places to visit as a couple? Comment below and I will respond. Plus, tell me, where was the last place you went alone or with a significant other to relax? Has it been awhile?

Winery Locations:

Hickory Creek Winery – 750 Browntown Rd, Buchanan, Michigan
Domaine Berrien Cellars – 398 E Lemon Creek Rd. Berrien Springs, Michigan
Lemon Creek Winery – 533 E Lemon Creek Rd. Berrien Springs, Michigan
Contessa Wine Cellars – 3235 Friday Rd, Coloma, Michigan

The Sights of South Haven {Michigan} in the Winter

I know what you are thinking, why would you take a road trip to the west side of Michigan in the dead of winter? The lake effect snow there is terrible! I know. In fact, I learned that the hard way. You can read all about it in my first article, Our Road Trip to South Haven was ALMOST Ruined.

After getting through that winter storm though, the second day of our trip made up for the first and reminded me why I wanted to take a trip to South Haven in the first place. So I apologize in advance, but this article is going to be chocked full of photos because there aren’t proper words to describe how lovely South Haven is in the winter.

South Haven Lighthouse

This is just about the entire reason I wanted to go to Lake Michigan in the winter, to see the ice covered lighthouses. I’ve seen so many photos of them circulating around the internet that I just needed to see it for myself. Even though the lighthouses weren’t as covered in ice as I had hoped, they were still strikingly beautiful against the white snow covered landscapes.

Most of the water was frozen solid near the shores, however in some spots it was still open, only peppered with chunks of floating ice. 
In other spots the water on Lake Michigan had frozen and expanded to create mounds of ice and pointy slabs (this one reminds me of the Sydney Opera House). 

The Harbor

South Haven is pretty much known for its lake side community so even though it was the dead of winter, I still wanted to check out the well known area known as the Old Harbor Village and see the vibrant colors that had beckoned me from the internet.

From the view out my window at the Old Harbor Inn, I could see the remnants of the small beachfront community. To the other side of these buildings was the harbor where ships could pull up to dock and enjoy the rows of businesses, restaurants and bars along this small corridor. At the very end of this strip was my hotel, I can image what a great place this would be to stay in the summer, overlooking the entire madness below.

 The party deck, completely covered in snow. What a shame.

Downtown South Haven

Less than a block away from the harbor is the downtown area of South Haven. Here I was able to get a hot cup of coffee to warm me up as I continued to navigate through the streets. I was happy to find that everywhere I looked here I found color and beauty!

The Michigan Theater

Within the downtown area I stumbled upon the Michigan Theater, a retro movie theater which shows newer movies but still with vintage prices. It was beautiful. Seriously, I think all movie theaters should be like this, but that is a whole new story. In case you are wondering, I believe they have $4 movie tickets and $0.50 popcorn. I didn’t stay for a movie, but would be worth checking out.

As we headed out of town on our way home, I spotted something unusual, a caboose in docked right next to the harbor. I made my husband pull over the car and I got out to check it out. This, my friends, is an old caboose turned into a hotel! Next time, I am totally staying here!! How awesome is that?

While South Haven in the winter is extremely cold, it is worth it! The sights of Lake Michigan frozen over were breath-taking. There are also several other lake front communities within half hours drive that each have their own lighthouses too. We took time to drive through Saugatuck/Douglas and Holland as well and I was able to get this photo.

Saugutuck/Douglas Light House 

Where do you like to vacation in the winter months? Do you see the beauty in the snow and ice or do you seek out the sun? 
For more information on visiting South Haven, Michigan check out the South Haven Visitors Bureau website.