Photo: Jacob Lund/Shutterstock

16 Things You Miss When You Leave Michigan

by Alyssa Brillinger Nov 3, 2016

Emptying all the change from your pockets to give to the homeless man outside Comerica Park.

“Raising money to assassinate the Yankees!” Your generosity is directly related to the outcome of the Tiger’s game.

Threats of tornados. Without many actual tornados.

It isn’t everywhere in this country where you can experience a sky turning green. Even the air looks green. It’s during these moments when your entire high school class is huddled in the girls’ bathroom that the boys finally find out that the girls have been lying about having a couch in there.

Being able to use your hand to show where you’re from.

People from other states eventually realize how convenient and charming it is, and try to make their own home state with their hand. Sure Washington, you kind of look like a fist with a thumb sticking out, but I’m not impressed. You either, Wisconsin. Accept that it’s just not happening for you.

Camping “Up North.”

Up North isn’t so much a direction as it is a destination. Camping here means nights spent beside a fire with incredible views of the stars, and days spent trying out breweries, shopping for treasures at flea markets, and exploring the cute towns like Frankfort, Leland, Petoskey.

Uber-distinct seasons.

In summer, the humidity and heat work as a force to lean as heavily against you as they can. In winter, the lake-effect snow makes you feel like you’re living inside of a snow globe. There is no better place to see the autumn golds and reds than on a drive “Up North,” and the sight of a spring crocus popping out of the ground after too many months makes you ecstatic.


Ginger ale isn’t often the drink of choice, but when it is, Vernors is the absolute only way to go. And I’m not sure what all this “soda” nonsense is about. It’s called Pop.

Lazy summer days on the lake.

Our state is surrounded by fresh water and there is nothing like napping on a pontoon boat after spending the afternoon water skiing, wakeboarding, jetskiing, paddle boarding, and fishing.

The ridiculously high quality of our beer.

Founders, Bell’s, New Holland, Atwater. Michiganders are proud of our brewers and with good reason. Nothing against Pacific Northwest beers, but Oberon tastes like home.

Not having to feel bad about eating your body’s weight in fudge.

You’ve earned it with all the biking on an island where there are no cars. Thank you for existing, Mackinac.

Running/sliding down sand dunes like a little kid, no matter what your age.

Sleeping Bear Dunes, Holland’s Bowl, Saugatuck’s dunes. It’s impossible to choose a favorite.

Traverse City cherry-induced food comas.

We put cherries in salsa, cover them in chocolate, use them in barbeque sauce or popcorn.

Staying inside with a bowl of stick-to-your-ribs chili instead of risking the roads.

Michiganders aren’t ones to shy away from driving in blizzards, but when you have the opportunity to take a snow day, that’s even better.

The carnies at Tulip Time.

The tulips, Dutch dancers, and international tourists filling up an otherwise quiet place are pretty great, also. Shout out to Lemonjello’s for keeping Hope College students adequately/excessively caffeinated.

Late night runs to your favorite 24-hour grocery/everything store, Meijer.

There for you when you need donuts, wine, or 3 x 5 note cards for that assignment due tomorrow.

The ferocity of the Great Lakes.

And that moment right after you jump off the Holland State Park Pier when you suddenly question your ability to swim, whether you jumped far enough, and whether you’ll have to time to readjust your swim suit underwater before anyone notices that the impact moved it to show places it should cover.

Michigander pride.

Nearly every car has a Michigan sticker, and what other state outline is printed on t-shirts with sayings like, “Talk to the Hand” or “America’s High Five”? Michiganders are definitely “Smitten with the Mitten.”

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