1. The beaches
Growing up in Michigan, seeing the water is the most common occurrence you can think of. In a way, it doesn’t even faze you; it’s all part of the daily routine. However, once you move out of Michigan you begin to realize just how much you took those lakes for granted. When my husband and I got to our first assignment, the weather was just starting to warm up. I took this opportunity to do a quick Google search for beaches in the area. I knew I wouldn’t get anything as amazing as the Great Lakes but I was still quite surprised when I literally did not get a single thing. That’s right, I was completely landlocked. No beaches, no splashing in slightly chilly waters, nothing. It was then that I realized just how amazing growing up by so many beaches was and just how much I really miss it. After four years of being landlocked, we are now getting ready to move to the East Coast and one of the biggest things I’m looking forward to? Being back by water again!
2. National Coney Island
As a kid, it was going to Coney with my grandma for breakfast. As a teen, it was going with friends to just hang out and get a cheap meal. In college, it was the food for after a good, good night. As an adult, it’s the place for fixing that craving and for introducing my children to the “good stuff.” I have always been a big lover of the Hani. Once you get outside of the National Coney Island radar, no one has any clue what you are talking about. You try to explain it and all you get is “oh so a chicken tender wrap?” No, no, it’s so much more than that! I have survived two pregnancies outside of Michigan and, let me tell you, both would have loved a Hani being in the mix. There are “Coney Islands” outside of Michigan but they just don’t compare. I don’t think anything could ever compare to the deliciousness that is a Hani. In fact, I think I made myself want one just writing about it!
3. Comerica Park
Everyone who knows me knows that I am a huge Tigers fan. Baseball has been my sport since I was a very small kid, so it’s no surprise that I miss Comerica Park. While I can catch some games outside of Michigan, there’s nothing like being there in person to really make a game experience amazing. The atmosphere at Comerica Park is overwhelming in a positive way. You can’t go to a game there and not be completely enthralled by the third inning. I’ve been to other parks for their home team games and it doesn’t compare to Comerica. Every summer that I return to Michigan, I hope there’s a home game at Comerica that I can get tickets for. I took our oldest to her first game last season and I can’t wait to take our youngest this season. Baseball is the best atmosphere, best fans, and just an overall wonderful experience that I miss every season.
4. Royal Oak’s Main Street
I’ve always been a big fan of the streets that come to life at night, full of restaurants, hole-in-the-wall shops, etc. Royal Oak’s Main Street is just that, in my book. I have never seen Main Street empty, no matter the time or the day of the week. While there are places like Main Street all over the country, the memories I’ve made on that street will always make me miss downtown Royal Oak.
5. Olga’s Kitchen
Yep, more food from home that I miss. A trip to Olga’s means an orange cooler drink with a baby Olga salad, some spinach pie, and, of course, Snackers! While I miss all of it, it’s those darn Snackers that I keep finding myself wanting, even though there are no Olga’s anywhere nearby. If anyone can find a way to have them shipped, please let me know! I wouldn’t object to that one bit!
6. Founders Brewing Co.
Okay, I have to admit, I don’t drink beer. However, my husband insisted I put Founders on the list. He is very much a beer lover, especially the dark beers. He has told me numerous times that there is nothing that compares to a good, cold Founders. So, of course, when we moved somewhere where it isn’t sold, his heart broke a little bit. It does appear, however, that we might be able to get some when we move, at least I hope so for his sake!
7. Detroit Zoo
Sure, there are zoos all over the country, but how many have a huge tunnel you can walk through with polar bears swimming over your head? I don’t know of any except our good ol’ Detroit Zoo. I have always loved the zoo ever since I was a little kid, but there’s something even more magical about it when you have your own kids to take. There’s always so much going on at the zoo, no matter what your age. For my husband’s last birthday we went to the Zoo Brew, a large beer tasting where you stroll the zoo and enjoy all kinds of beers. I got wife of the year for that one! At Christmas time, my mom and I went to the Wild Lights and were completely blown away by how beautiful the displays were. Whether you just want to see animals or you want to do one of the many events offered through the year, the Detroit Zoo is seriously one of the best zoos in the country.
Greektown is another location my other half had me put down. We’re not talking the casino, we’re talking the actual neighborhood in Detroit. While I have only been there a few times, my husband has been going to eat there since he was a little boy. One of my most favorite dates with him, when we were first a couple, was going to eat down in Greektown. Probably one of the best meals I’ve ever had! Not to mention all the cute little shops, including some delicious bakeries with phenomenal baklava. Greektown is also special to my family, as it’s where my grandparents, aunt, and cousin all got married (at St. Mary’s). It’s a beautiful neighborhood that is obviously very proud of its culture. And it sure is yummy!
Okay, so Windsor obviously isn’t Michigan, I know, I know! But how many Michiganders went over that bridge or through that tunnel when they were 19 to get a little beverage? I know I did! Windsor also has the most spectacular view of the Detroit River fireworks. I’ve yet to see fireworks that could beat those! To this day it’s fun to tell people that if I drove just a few miles South, I could quickly be in another country. I never realized just how unique that was until I moved and people that I told this to seemed so fascinated by this magical ability us Michiganders have. So, while it may not be a Michigan location, I sure do miss that quick hop to another country.
Alright, this may be cheesy but of course I have to put that, of all of the things I miss in Michigan, my home is definitely number one. My hometown, my family, and my friends are what make Michigan so special to me. While I may miss all of the other things listed, nothing compares to pulling into my mom’s driveway and, to this day, just knowing that I am home. Truly there is no place like home and, no matter where the military sends my family, Michigan will ALWAYS be home to me.
Kati Bethuy, Contributing Writer