Skip

Tourist Traps in Michigan
December 12, 2009 9:29 PM   Subscribe


 
The waxworks are actually people!
posted by Artw at 9:34 PM on December 12, 2009


MYSTERY SPOT
posted by delmoi at 9:37 PM on December 12, 2009 [6 favorites]


Cool! Growing up, every summer we camped at Irish Hills. Nice to see those photos.
posted by The Deej at 9:54 PM on December 12, 2009


NOT DETROIT

Also, yay, Frankenmuth.
posted by GuyZero at 9:54 PM on December 12, 2009


I am still bitter about never having seen the MYSTERY • SPOT when I was a kid. I begged every time we went on vacation to Mackinac Island.
posted by Heretic at 9:56 PM on December 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


was a bit more excited about this post before i clicked through. I was hoping for more of a "hey, don't go to these places" type of website.
posted by rebent at 9:58 PM on December 12, 2009


all my college classmates were from these places.
posted by pinky at 10:18 PM on December 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


rebent: don't go to these places.

srsly.
posted by el io at 10:21 PM on December 12, 2009


So, what isn't a tourist trap in Michigan?
posted by mollywas at 10:22 PM on December 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


The vintage sign collection is pretty good, too.
posted by jrochest at 10:37 PM on December 12, 2009


Jones Ice Cream, Baldwin, ......mmmmmmm
posted by caddis at 12:13 AM on December 13, 2009


Didn't all of those Paul Bunyans come from the Paul Bunyan restaurant chain? Am I wacked? I know I ate at one when I was a kid.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 12:46 AM on December 13, 2009


My, gas was cheap back in the day.
posted by netbros at 1:23 AM on December 13, 2009


One of the most anomalous characteristics of the various "Mystery Spots" around the world is their consistent proximity to roads.
posted by Tube at 1:56 AM on December 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


hmmm... "tourist traps" is a bit of a misnomer...

I've been to most of these places... Yea Michigan!!!

Hell is still here, I live about a mile and a half from the wonderful "Screams Ice Cream Parlor", the "Hell Wedding Chapel" and the "Hell Store and Post Office"...
posted by HuronBob at 3:12 AM on December 13, 2009


I've got a MYSTERY • SPOT on one of my shirts. Dammit.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:03 AM on December 13, 2009


Great find. I love the downtown views section, especially because there's a pic from the 60s of my hometown.

I would love to go back and time and walk those streets. Well, that street. And while I'm in the past, I'll get a pasty from here, and seduce a Pan Am stewardess over Manhattans in this joint.

Would totally move back to Michigan, if the state's economy wasn't in the shitter.
posted by GamblingBlues at 5:17 AM on December 13, 2009


They forgot the Nun Doll Museum and Cross in the Woods in Indian River, and Da Yoopers Tourist Trap, home of Big Gus, the World's Largest Chainsaw.
posted by mrbarrett.com at 5:39 AM on December 13, 2009


Always wanted to go to Bob-Lo Island when I visited my cousins in Detroit. Finally got to go in 1985 and it was even better than I expected. Some of the pictures here (scroll down) are depressing.
posted by punkfloyd at 5:52 AM on December 13, 2009


I can't believe they forgot the "Open On Sunday Liquor Store Just Across The State Line."
posted by paisley henosis at 6:17 AM on December 13, 2009


Where is the fudge?
posted by Mojojojo at 6:17 AM on December 13, 2009


You only want the fudge? Get it, then get back below the bridge, troll*. Frickin' fudgies. :)

We used to make an annual trip to Paradise to visit my grandpa for the 4th of July. Every year, we passed Castle Rock. Every year, I asked my dad to stop, and each time he said "No, it's just a tourist trap."

I drove up there once with my in-laws. I said something about Castle Rock. My father-in-law pulled off the road and said, "Well, we're here, so go climb the thing." Took me close to 25 years to finally get someone to stop there, and you know what? It's a tourist trap, sure. The same silly fake "Indian" souvenirs and polished rocks and whatnot, with a rock to climb as an attraction, but nonetheless if my kid asks me some day, I'll pull off the road and let him climb the rock.

It's OK, Mojojojo. I'm really only half Yooper myself.
posted by caution live frogs at 6:46 AM on December 13, 2009


My favoritest place in all the world. One day, I'm gonna win the superlotto and buy this place and live there.
posted by NoMich at 6:52 AM on December 13, 2009


FRONTIER VILLAGE COPPER HARBOR bears an uncanny resemblance to COUNTRY STORE KEWEENAW. Was it some kind of chain? Did they only allow those two makes and models of car to park there? What's the real story here?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 7:06 AM on December 13, 2009


Woah woah woah! Before this blasphemy gets any further, let's clear one thing up: this is Boblo Island
posted by jock@law at 7:21 AM on December 13, 2009


Frankenmuth is a strange little town. We were looking at buying a house in "Michigan's Little Bavaria" and there is a definite "Not one of us" vibe you get if you're not 3rd generation and German/Polish. Also, it's a little too close to the Thumb for my liking. Ugh, the Thumb.
posted by MaritaCov at 7:23 AM on December 13, 2009


So if I were to go to Frankenmuth and order my Weihenstephaner beer in German would I get a discount?
posted by joost de vries at 7:38 AM on December 13, 2009


I've only been to ten of those places. How they missed the "World's Largest Crucifix"* in Indian River, I have no idea.

*wooden, free-standing.
posted by acrasis at 7:48 AM on December 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's nice to see an article about my state without the words "urban decay" in it.

(Detroit is not the whole of Michigan, rest of the world)
posted by HostBryan at 7:53 AM on December 13, 2009


Michigan is a pretty disappointing place for tourist traps, compared to the Wild West, I'd say. On the road, I stop at the Traps these days (Live Alligators!), because my family of eight was too cheap and elite to stop at these joints.
posted by kozad at 7:57 AM on December 13, 2009


Also, yay, Frankenmuth.
QFT.
Spent an inebriated road-trip weekend there once, many moons ago. I'd never met so many local girls who seemed so desperate to get the hell away from a place as I did in Frankenmuth.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:09 AM on December 13, 2009


Been there, been there, been there, worked there, been there, been there ...

And how odd - I remember the slogan as Winter Water Wonderland. That flows better, no pun intended.

Anyway, this just brought out the love for my state even more. And a bit of regret that I haven't been way Up North in awhile (although I love my scenic southern areas too). And some nostalgia for those places my parents took me as a kid, at the time (or perhaps slightly later) that some of these photos were taken.
posted by NorthernLite at 8:11 AM on December 13, 2009


>I'd never met so many local girls who seemed so desperate to get the hell away from a place as I did in Frankenmuth.

To be fair, there are many small towns in Michigan like that; Frankenmuth is just the most ornate of them.

I was once walking in the woods near Pellston (upper lower peninsula), and got hopelessly lost. I finally came to a trailer in the woods, and the woman inside gave me a glass of water and directions back to the road. She had decorated the trailer in typical Michigan decor: Mirror tiles with gold-etched marbling over them, a wall tapestry of a leaping white-tail deer. She worked in a tourist trap during the summer, and holed up in the trailer during the winter. I was only 19 at the time, but I got a clear sense that I didn't want to follow this career path.

But: SEA SHELL CITY! That brings back memories. I think I still have a shell necklace from there.
posted by acrasis at 8:20 AM on December 13, 2009


It's OK, Mojojojo. I'm really only half Yooper myself.

Impossible. That's like being half of a pasty.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 8:50 AM on December 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Hey, I went to the Sleeping Bear Dunes. They were...all right.
posted by danb at 9:04 AM on December 13, 2009


Frankenmuth is a strange little town. We were looking at buying a house in "Michigan's Little Bavaria" and there is a definite "Not one of us" vibe you get if you're not 3rd generation and German/Polish.

I think if you're at least Lutheran, they might let the whole not German thing slide. One of my uncles married a nice Lutheran girl from Frankenmuth, and her family is pretty nuts. I once witnessed her mother scolding her for having an unorganized Tupperware drawer.

But damn, Bronner's sure is something else.
posted by lexicakes at 9:35 AM on December 13, 2009


I was also going to say that Mackinac Island is the biggest tourist trap in Michigan. I'm so glad I never have to make that ferry trip again.
posted by lexicakes at 9:37 AM on December 13, 2009


A result of growing up in a touristy area (apart from ample summer employment as a teen) is that my family has this weird complex about appearing as a tourist when visiting other places.

Has anyone else stayed in King Kole's Kabins somewhere near Pictured Rocks? They were all awesomely decorated with paint by numbers nature scenes, but the monogram written in black sharpie on the linens creeped me out.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 9:45 AM on December 13, 2009


Sleeping Bear Dunes is not a tourist trap. It's a National Lakeshore maintained by the NPS. And it is awesome (particularly if you get out and really explore it).

The Totem Shop in Glen Arbor, on the other hand, is totally a tourist trap. I spent what seemed like hundreds of hours there when I was a kid begging my parents to buy me some crap toy or another.

Also, I was at Disneyland a couple of days ago with my kids and came to the realization that the It's A Small World Ride is like if Frankenmuth exploded and they put it in a big box with boats. When I mentioned that to my wife (who is not from Michigan), she just looked at me funny.
posted by The World Famous at 9:57 AM on December 13, 2009


My aunt and uncle lived in Fennville, so when we were kids our family went up to Saugatuck and Holland at least once per year for part of our family vacation. Riding the Chain Ferry and the pedal boats were always a must. Saugatuck was always just a tiny, quaint little lakeside artsy village (Hope College, a private school specializing in arts/music was nearby.) My husband and I stopped in Saugatuck a few years ago after having not visted in over a decade. Quelle surprise! The Saugatuck/Douglas area is now a major gay/lesbian tourist destination, and Oval Beach (or part of it) is now a nude beach. Couldn't believe how crowded the place was (it used to be such a sleepy little place) and how the Mom and Pop motels and restaurants had been replaced with pricey chains and upscale boutiques.
posted by Oriole Adams at 10:05 AM on December 13, 2009


Sleeping Bear Dunes is a tourist trap? Maybe it's more tourist trappy outside the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lake Shore area. Same with Tahquamenon Falls, although I haven't been there since I was a little kid.

I'm disappointed that the prehistoric forests all seem to be closed. "The gates to the place are chained shut, and there are motion sensors and an alarm system to discourage trespassers." Because there's no more attractive a nuisance than rusty dinosaurs.
posted by paulg at 10:08 AM on December 13, 2009


Sleeping Bear Dunes is not a tourist trap. It's a National Lakeshore maintained by the NPS. And it is awesome (particularly if you get out and really explore it).

Yeah, Sleeping Bear is definitely not a tourist trap. I spent many summer weekends camping there as a kid. It's really beautiful, and a great place to hike. We also used to take side trips to Leland and the Cherry Hut in Beulah. Leland is pretty tourist trappy, but you can get some great smoked fish there.
posted by lexicakes at 10:31 AM on December 13, 2009


I worked on Mackinaw Island for a summer during high school. It was interesting because 80% of the kids they employed were foreign-exchange students. That was the summer a Yugo got blown off of the Mackinaw Bridge. Northern Michigan is beautiful (Northern LP and the UP).

Perhaps the finest campground in the state is Harrisville State Park. Somewhere near their is a tourist trap Ice-Cream stand called "Happy Jack's." I still have nightmares about that guy.

The Mystery Spot was fun as a kid, but it IS interesting how they are all located near highways.

What, no Autoworld?

Once, my friend and I ate some acid and somehow ended up in Frankenmuth. During Bavarian-Fest. We participated in a Guiness Book attempt for the World's Largest Chicken Dance. I still have nightmares about that.
posted by peewinkle at 10:40 AM on December 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


When I was in high school my cross country team would have our summer camps held near the Sleeping Bear Dunes. One of our runs involved running up the dune and to Lake Michigan, grabbing a stone from the shore for proof of completion, and running back again. The entire area is very beautiful and I would like to see it again someday.
posted by Green With You at 11:42 AM on December 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Hell is still here, I live about a mile and a half from the wonderful "Screams Ice Cream Parlor", the "Hell Wedding Chapel" and the "Hell Store and Post Office"...

I spent the first half of my childhood living on a little farm just down the road from Unadilla. I love seeing the photos on Google of the sign for Hell with the icicles hanging off. Is the Dam-site Inn still there? (sure I spelled that wrong, but I haven't been there in decades)
posted by The Light Fantastic at 1:08 PM on December 13, 2009


I worked on Mackinaw Island...

INFIDEL!
posted by jock@law at 3:33 PM on December 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


For anyone planning to visit the Mystery Spot, don't waste your money on the maze- there's no exit.
posted by Dr-Baa at 3:51 PM on December 13, 2009


But there's not entrance either, Dr-Baa. No ENTRANCE!
posted by NoMich at 3:58 PM on December 13, 2009


mmm I got mad Michigan love. I agree with others who say that Sleeping Bear is certainly NOT a tourist trap and umm " Hey, I went to the Sleeping Bear Dunes. They were...all right. LIES. I am biased, I will admit, but most of my favorite memories are from Lake Michigan et al.
posted by janelikes at 7:04 PM on December 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yay Kalkaska Trout Festival! Only possibly overshadowed by neighboring Mancelona's Bass Festival. Annual Bass Queen ftw.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 8:13 PM on December 13, 2009


Over in Tawas they can only afford Perchville USA. But it's in the winter.
posted by NorthernLite at 8:42 PM on December 13, 2009


Yay Kalkaska Trout Benzie Coho Festival!

FTFY
posted by jock@law at 8:53 PM on December 13, 2009


It's OK, Mojojojo. I'm really only half Yooper myself.

Impossible. That's like being half of a pasty.


Geez, I was born in Hancock, eh?
posted by Mojojojo at 1:33 AM on December 14, 2009


Annual Bass Queen ftw.

AKA: Miss Fish.
posted by NoMich at 7:12 AM on December 14, 2009


« Older Southern masters, new and old   |   Bittorrent site resurrected Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post