Michigan Welcome Sign - M-52
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Leaving Michigan: 13 Things You Miss Most When You’re Gone

Growing up in Michigan, I’ve always loved the wonderful things about our state—the people, the food, the lakes, the beautiful scenery, and the ability to show strangers where I live on the palm of my hand. But part of me has also taken the simple pleasures our Great Lakes State for granted. Like some Michiganders do so often, I left for an extended period of time… and let me tell you, the rest of the country could not be as wonderful as our state is.

Leaving Michigan has given me an appreciation for so many things I once took for granted—the accessibility to freshwater lakes (Great Lakes and inland), the plethora of local craft brews, local produce, and so many other things I never would have thought I would miss.

Since leaving, I’ve discovered a serious newfound FOMO (fear of missing out) for Michigan. Between all the amazing local festivals, the thousands of pristine miles of coastline, and did I mention, MICHIGAN BREWS. (I’m looking at you, Founders.)

Michigan Welcome Sign - M-52
photo via Ashley Pichea

Below are 13 of the things I miss most while being away from Pure Michigan.

1. Michigan craft brews

Finding Michigan craft beers outside of our state is nearly impossible. Sure, some breweries are gracious enough to bottle and ship around the country, but nothing tastes as good as a freshly poured Two Hearted Ale.

Besides the ever-popular Oberon, nothing beats an evening outside at Founder’s in Grand Rapids, or a night out on the patio drinking local craft brews.

Leaving Michigan: 13 Things You Miss Most When You're Gone
Short’s Brewing Company

2. Michigan-made food

Coney dogs, Superman ice cream, Mackinac Island fudge, pączki, pasties… The list could go on FOREVER. I once had someone ask me if I’ve ever had Superman ice cream. I GREW UP ON SUPERMAN ICE CREAM.

Leaving Michigan: 13 Things You Miss Most When You're Gone
Photo via Rebecca Calkins @Tallblondchick1

3. Small town charm

No matter where you find yourself in the Mitten, small town charm exists. We all know you can go from a big city (Detroit, Lansing, Grand Rapids) to a rural area within minutes, but that’s what makes us Michiganders so special.

Even just on our daily commute, we’re going from culture to culture.

4. Detroit Tigers

This might be my first summer not attending a Tiger’s baseball game. Though I’m a girl who doesn’t care about the sport, I truly miss the experience of a baseball game at Comerica Park followed by an evening in downtown Detroit.

Leaving Michigan: 13 Things You Miss Most When You're Gone
Photo Courtesy of The Detroit Tigers

5. Picturesque views

Greenery for miles, sand dunes riddled along the coast, and blue waters as far as the eye can see. Whether you’re hiking or driving, Michigan views are unparalleled.

Lake Of The Clouds In Ontonagon. Photo Courtesy Of Instagram User @Splat_Me - The Awesome Mitten
Lake of the Clouds in the Porcupine Mountains. Photo courtesy of @splat_me

6. Wacky summer festivals

Growing up in Howell, I was exposed to a bunch of random festivals. The two favorites were the Howell Melon Festival and Balloonfest. Though at the time the city seems so hot and overcrowded, some of my most prominent childhood memories took place around these iconic city wide events.

Some other fun festivals in Michigan include the Potato Festival in Edmore, Traverse City’s Cherry Festival, and Tulip Time in Holland.

7. The sweet Midwestern charm  

One thing that makes Michigan so unique is our people. There are few places around the country where people are so generous (despite our everlasting issue with left-lane drivers).

8. Our unique carbonated beverages

No one realizes what a necessity Vernors is until they can’t find it ANYWHERE. Not feeling well? Drink a Vernors. Feeling great? Drink a Vernors. Have a few extra scoops of vanilla ice cream? Add Vernors!

Luckily if you’re not a fan of the ginger pop (yes, it’s POP), we can also choose from a plethora of Faygo flavors, which are also Michigan-made! Though the two famous Michigan-made drinks are available across the country, they still seem impossible to find.

Leaving Michigan: 13 Things You Miss Most When You're Gone
Photo Courtesy of Margaret Clegg

9. Michigan made tunes

We’re lucky enough to have the ability to brag about Motown, Jack White’s record plant, and a slew of other Michigan-made musicians. It’s always a treasure to find your favorites at local record stores, and even more joyous when those favorite Michigan songs come on.

10. Detroit Rock City

If you’re lucky enough to visit Detroit during its revival, you’re lucky enough. The history behind Detroit is so fascinating that we can’t help but explore the city in awe. Through its exciting shops, delicious restaurants, and gorgeous city-scape views, we’re truly so lucky to witness the city in action.

11. We’re basically two states in one

“If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you…” Unlike any other state in the U.S., we have TWO peninsulas! We know downstate is full of exciting cities (big and small), delicious food, and gorgeous views; but the U.P. still feels like foreign land every time we visit.

There’s not a bad spot to be in the Mitten state.

Leaving Michigan: 13 Things You Miss Most When You're Gone
Photo courtesy of @jason_feirick via Instagram

12. The University of Michigan versus Michigan State University rivalry

When asked one of the famous first questions asked by all non-Michiganders — “are you a U of M or MSU fan?!” — most of us have a loud and proud response. The iconic head-to-head rivalry is incomparable anywhere else in the country.

Whether it’s “Go Green!” or “Go Blue!” both schools are great in their own regard. And one thing is for sure, we all hate Ohio State!

13. Lastly, being able to sing the most iconic lyrics of all time…

“Just a small town boy; BORN AND RAISED IN SOUTH DETROIT…”

Even though no one has ever fit that description (unless you count Windsor, downriver, or any of the other places that aren’t actually South Detroit), we’re all proud to be from the state of Michigan. So, thanks for the love, Journey.

What do you miss most when you leave Michigan? Let us know in the comments!

43 Comments

  1. Better Made brand snacks; Big John Steak and Onion; a Koegel’s or two from Weinerlicious and the Smoked Whitefish Dip at the Dixie Saloon (both in Mackinaw City); Sea Shell City; Curio Fair, The Mystery Spot, and lunch lakeside in St. Ignace (U.P.); The Soo Locks and Sault Ste. Marie … just to name a few more things I love about Michigan.

    1. The water. Lakes and rivers everywhere. The trees. Festivals, Vernor’s, canoeing, pasties, state pride, wild blueberries and strawberries,

      1. Your comment was almost the same as what I was going to say. I will add our great wineries and in the fall- cider mills.

  2. Euchre, I was told, is particular to our great State, or at least had its origins here? At Kalamazoo’s WMU, it was my major area of study anyway…
    Lake Michigan sunsets
    Lake Huron sunrises
    Old Faceful
    M-22 Lookout

    1. “Euchre, I was told, is particular to our great State, or at least had its origins here? ” Heck, Euchre is how we identified fellow Michiganders in the Navy.
      Me: Want to play Euchre?
      Random Sailor : Heck yeah!
      Me: So where in Michigan are you from?
      Random Sailor: Grew up around Kalamazoo! You?
      Me: Howell
      and back in the 80’s, there was a LOT of us Michigan boys in the Navy 🙂

  3. How i cry and miss The greatest FREE JAZZ FESTVAL EVERY LABOR DAY FOR 4 DAYS! I HAVE LOVED SEEING THE WORLD’S BEST MASTERS OF JAZZ LIKE MCCOY TYNER, AHMAD JAMAL, HERBIE HANCOCK, CHICK COREA, SAVE BRUBECK, SERGIO MENDEZ AND BRAZIL 66, PAT METHNEY AND THIS IS JUST SCRATCHING THE SURFACE! YOU WOULD HAVE TO PAY THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS TO SEE JAZZ GENIUSES LIKE THIS!

  4. Bakers Keyboard Lounge the oldest continuous jazz club in the USA ON LIVERNOIS AND 8 MILE WITH GREAT SOUL FOOD

  5. I miss black dirt, clear lakes, blue moon ice cream, cool dry evenings, walking through the sand going to Lake Huron and the low squeaking noise it makes when you walk, lighthouses, walking through the state park in the evening when there’s campfires, round colorful rocks and a million other things <3

  6. Grew up in the north (Cheboygan) but lived in several parts of the state (and country). Michigan is a special place. Vernor’s is a rarity in some places. I tried to buy some for my wife when we lived in Indiana, but the cashier was not sure she could sell it on Sunday because it was stocked with the mixers.

  7. Auburn corn fest, Ubly Homecoming, Michigan’s fireman’s memorial in Roscommon, Flint coney from Angelo’s, Birch Runs 4th of July parade, Coldwater lake in Wiedman, Taymouth Township Fire Department.

  8. Superman ice cream!
    Faygo Rock ‘n Rye
    Crisp Michigan apples in the fall
    Crunchy fall leaves (I’m in Seattle and they are soggy)
    Swimming in warm freshwater
    Fall bonfires

  9. Steve Perry wrote the line about ‘South Detroit’ while touring here. From the tour bus, he saw a sign on the freeway that read “I-75 South Detroit” and thought that was the name of the area.

  10. I was working in the operating room last week, at a hospital out of state, when Journey came on, not thinking I instinctively, belted out “born and raised in South Detroit” needless to say I everyone’s attention.

  11. Living in California does not even compare to my Beautiful home town of Charlevoix Michigan. Miss it soooo much!!!!

    1. I live in California too. Born and raised outside of Kalamazoo but Charlevoix is one of my favorite places.

  12. Better made chips Morley’s choclate sanders aww who am I kidding I miss everything about Michigan Iam just a Michigan girl living in a Wisconsin world
    #puremichigan
    #noplacelikehome
    #lionsfan4life

  13. Michigan means Cherry Festivals, miles and miles of lakeshore and all the water sports you could ever want, the rich taste of the meat, dairy, and eggs that is entirely different from the West Coast. I love seeing all the oversized statues dotting mostly the upper part and the UP of Michigan: 60+foot high Hiawatha in Ironwood, the huge Uniroyal Tire in Allen Park, a giant Grizzly statue near Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes, a giant Santa Claus in Christmas, MI. The Porkies & Lake In the Clouds. My home state of Michigan has the most lighthouses in the U.S.! And, of course, all my family and friends sprinkled far and wide throughout the state. That’s just a few off the top of my head.

    1. Don’t forget the 60- foot Snowshoe Priest, Father Baraga, between L’Anse and Baraga in the UP.

  14. i could never leave mich mainly because our falls are so beautiful and who could leave behind cidar & donuts

  15. I really don’t miss anything because here in SoCal, I can have anything that I had growing up in Michigan. Maybe I would enjoy seeing my Red Wings more often in person instead of on tv or in a hostile arena where the Kings or Ducks play. I can get Vernon’s here and watch football on tv. We actually have seasons more and more, fall leaves are here.

  16. I like to joke that I’m the first person in the history of our Wolverine State who left employment in Florida to retire in Michigan. I did that in 2015. My job moved me away from Michigan in 1978, but when I finally could choose where to spend retirement and the remainder of my life, I chose western Michigan.

  17. I live in Connecticut. On the very rare occasion that I met somone from Michigan I have a quick attachment to them. I seriously miss the kindness of people AND Vernors. Find me if you live in CT but grew up in Michigan.

  18. Clyde’s Drive-In has three locations and the best burgers in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Locations are St.Ignace. Saulte St. Marie, and Manistique

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