Meet Kristin Coppens, media relations director and writer here at The Awesome Mitten.
1.) You’ve lived a few places in the mitten (GR, Ann Arbor) – where’s your favorite? Why?
As is apparent when you talk to most Michiganders, it’s tough to pick just one spot in Michigan and call it the best. But let’s be honest, check out how awesome Grand Rapids is. I grew up in Ann Arbor, and have to say that I didn’t experience the same Ann Arbor I would experience if I still lived there. Though I love the Ann Arbor-ite atmosphere, my adulthood is in Grand Rapids and the best experiences of my life (college, jobs, friends, community) are there too. The start-up and urban place-making community is an extremely attractive quality for millennials in Grand Rapids. I always say that we have everything you need–sun, snow, city. A big city feel, with a small community vibe.
2.) Most surprising thing you’ve discovered about your city in the last month:
Probably the history behind our urban planning, architecture, beer history, and general city history. This was less surprising, but more just interesting and enthralling in the sense that I had yet to dedicate the time and energy in learning about the history of this place I love. The contagious emotion behind Grand Rapids has been strong all along and we are a seriously passionate community of Grand Rapidians.
3.) Favorite place to eat in each city you’ve lived?
What?! Well, I’m a foodie. I also try (whenever possible) to eat and drink only Michigan local foods and drinks. That being said, this question is ridiculously hard. In Ann Arbor, my favorites include: Prickly Pear, Grizzly Peak Brewing Company, Seva’s, and Jerusalem Garden (the best dang falafel sandwiches). Grand Rapids is much harder to narrow down, in my opinion. We do farm-to-table right. I honestly have yet to find a restaurant in Grand Rapids that I don’t like, but my favorites are The Green Well, San Chez, Brewery Vivant, Wolfgang’s, and Cherry Deli.
4.) Favorite place to drink in each city you’ve lived?
These questions are torturous and they are making a traditionally indecisive person break out in hives. I’m an IPA girl through and through, so any brewery is my go-to. In Ann Arbor, my favorite brewery is Arbor Brewing Company. (Another favorite place is Dominick’s). Grand Rapids is Beer City, USA, so you can’t go wrong with the over 30 breweries in the West Michigan area. Favorite breweries: Hopcat, Founders Brewing Company, New Holland Brewing Company (actually in Holland), and Brewery Vivant. Favorite places to drink, non-brewery related: Rockwell/Republic (Sangria pitchers for the win), San Chez (clearly, I have a slight obsession with Sangria), and Sunday bloody mary bars at The Winchester.
5.) Why have you stayed in Michigan?
I spent 10 months in Chicago–I spent 6 of those 10 months working on getting back to Grand Rapids. I always encourage those Michiganders unsure on if they want to leave or stay to go ahead and leave for a bit. You’ll come back–you can’t resist us. It’s home, friends, family, and the greatest jobs I could ask for–promoting the Mitten state.
6.) What’s your favorite thing to do in Michigan in every season (Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer)?
Fall: apple orchards, pumpkin patches, and color tours.
Winter: I keep telling myself to pick up winter sports, but haven’t yet. I need to get on that! Other than that, there’s not much better than snow falling, hot coffee, a fireplace, and a good book.
Spring: Hikes are probably my favorite part of the weather warming up in Michigan.
Summer: The beaches and the Great Lakes, hands down. Kayaking on Reeds Lake in East Grand Rapids is also ridiculously beautiful and peaceful.
7.) What’s your favorite story you’ve written for the Awesome Mitten (favorite place, event, whatever)?
I’ve been lucky to have the opportunity to feature and experience a number of different businesses and events in the West Michigan area. However, Hudsonville Creamery was my very favorite feature. Touring and learning of the process behind the ice cream making was extremely interesting. The creamery itself has unique architecture and an inviting, home-y presence. Plus, I left the tour with about 10 different cartons of ice cream–can’t beat that.
8.) Where is one place in Michigan that you’ve never been, but would like to go?
Hands down, Pictured Rocks. I swoon over any and all pictures of the Rocks and would love to spend some serious camping time up there. In general, I’d like to make a resolution to spend more time up north and up in the U.P. experiencing more of the outdoor atmosphere that Michigan has so much of.
9.) Advice to people who have recently moved to Michigan?
Get out. Travel. Michigan has the benefit of providing us with changing experiences and landscapes within a small day trip of driving. Plus, you are never more than a 1/2 hour away from State parks, trails, and forests or more than 6 miles from any inland river or lake (and a pretty quick drive to the Great Lakes).
10.) Anything else?
The thing that is so contagious about Michigan is our pure Mitten pride. Our state has a geographically built-in marketing tool and we make that mitten-shape proud. It’s impossible to live or visit here without drinking the kool-aid–I dare you to prove me wrong.