Late Summer Road Trip: US-12 Heritage Trail

Late Summer Road Trip: US-12 Heritage Trail

Last year I ended the summer in style. I completed an amazing road trip along the US-12 Heritage Trail between New Buffalo and Coldwater. Having such a good time and with another summer winding down, I decided to hit up the same trail again. It was time to roll down the windows and road trip the eastern half of the route.

I experienced Michigan Avenue and US-12 between the heart of Downtown Detroit and Coldwater. This side of the US-12 Heritage Trail gives off a different feel. The vibe is an urban environment, mixed with historical small-town charm. Of course, there is a lot of comfort food involved.

Starting in Michigan’s biggest city, I parked the car near Campus Martius where Michigan Avenue begins. I experienced the beach (you heard that right), landscaping, city vibe, and the surrounding skyline. Right down Michigan Avenue in the Corktown neighborhood, Astro Coffee and the historic train station is where it is at. Tip: Slows BBQ. Enough said!

Late Summer Road Trip: US-12 Heritage Trail - The Awesome Mitten
Where Michigan Avenue and the US-12 Heritage Trail begins in Downtown Detroit.
Photo courtesy of Aaron Cruz

Westward

Heading westward out of the city brought me into Dearborn, the home of Ford Motor Company. I didn’t visit on this trip, but The Henry Ford and Greenfield Village come highly recommended for car lovers and history buffs. I did grab some more fuel at Common Grace Coffee and scope out the Dearborn Historical Museum. Then I took a walk around the old-school Ford Wyoming Drive-In Theater. Speaking of theaters, just a few miles further west, I admired the larger than life mural on the eastern side of the State Wayne Theater in Wayne.

Ypsilanti

After driving for a bit it was time to stretch the legs. Now in Ypsilanti, I walked the Riverside and Frog Island parks along the Huron River. After grabbing a coffee at Cultivate Coffee in Depot Town (yes, I like coffee!) it was time to head back outside. I spent time at the Ypsilanti Water Tower built in 1890.

Late Summer Road Trip: US-12 Heritage Trail - The Awesome Mitten
Downtown Ypsilanti at dawn along Michigan Avenue. Photo courtesy of Aaron Cruz.

Saline

The next town over is Saline. While enjoying a Benny’s Bakery pastry I took a walk on The Depot Trail going by the old Saline Railroad Depot. Tours are available here. I also strolled along the pond at Mill Pond Park and around downtown. Saline is home to the most picture-friendly house on the route, the Davenport-Curtiss House.

At this point in the trip, the urbanization ends, and the US-12 Heritage Trail turns into a two-lane country side journey for the duration. I parked alongside the road every so often (leading to curiously from the other drivers) to capture farmland road shots. In between, I stopped at the Clinton Inn built in the 19th century and the Michigan International Speedway. I also took time to stare out into Allens Lake in Irish Hills. Tips: Boaters, here you will find a public boat launch to hit the lake. All you need is a Recreation Passport. Also, come back to drive US-12 in Irish Hills in Autumn.

Late Summer Road Trip: US-12 Heritage Trail - The Awesome Mitten
Michigan Avenue Roadtripping along beautiful countryside. Photo courtesy of Aaron Cruz.

McCourtie Park

Now approaching the middle of the Mitten, I stopped in Somerset Center at McCourtie Park. You will find a vast park for the kids to play in or play disc golf. I stopped to take in the cement folk art bridges that dotted the grounds. A few blocks away I shopped the fruit, bakery, wine, and more of Meckley’s Flavor Fruit Farm where their orchard served as a backdrop. You’ll find numerous historic churches and buildings with old-school architecture along the US-12 Heritage Trail. Munro House B&B and the Great Episcopal Church were a couple of such stops I enjoyed in Jonesville.

Continuing on westward approaching Coldwater you can experience the antiquing capital in Allen and water fun on the chain-of-lakes near Quincy. I couldn’t believe how many places there were to antique. I stopped to see some of the types of things that were for sale. Marble Lake is where it is at in Quincy for water lovers. Bookmarking that spot for another trip.

Late Summer Road Trip: US-12 Heritage Trail - The Awesome Mitten
Allen is the Antique Capital of the World. Photo courtesy of Aaron Cruz.

Comfort Food

I haven’t mentioned the comfort food because I’m still full from it all – ha-ha! The trip started with watching them make my two loaded coneys at American Coney Island in Downtown Detroit. Chili, onions, and mustard topped hot dogs, what could be better?! Tip: Stop literally next store at Lafayette Coney Island and compare.

Late Summer Road Trip: US-12 Heritage Trail - The Awesome Mitten
Lots of delicious comfort food along the US-12 Heritage Trail. Photo courtesy of Aaron Cruz.

Ypsilanti’s Depot Town offers Sidetracks. A burger with sweet potato fries is the recommendation, delicious. If you are in town in the early morning, hit up Abe’s for breakfast. Further west I randomly came across Special Ed’s Donuts in Somerset Center. Everything is made and served fresh from a portable bus. The custard filled long john topped with a chocolate glaze -oh my goodness.

Coney Hut Drive Inn in Jonesville offers the vintage drive-in eating experience. A double bacon cheeseburger with battered fries was the selection to end the trip. I was definitely feeling comfortable at this point.Tip: Brecon Grille is the place in Saline to experience comfort food.

I captured a lot more to show off what it’s like to be on a Michigan road trip between Coldwater and Detroit along the US-12 Heritage Trail:

Checkout my late summer US-12 Herital trail road trip between New Buffalo and Coldwater.

What other spots would you recommend checking out along the US-12 Heritage Trail? What Michigan road trip would you like to take to end summer in style?