Got a hankering for a treat? There are plenty of family restaurants in southeast Michigan that will satisfy – but none quite like food tours and trails.
Families can make a whole day out of stopping at different local eateries and sampling all of the goods that they offer. Here are three options in Detroit, Ohio and Wisconsin to choose from.
Pack the kids up and head down to Eastern Market to create your own makeshift food trail, or make the trip to Ohio and Wisconsin for doughnut and cheese delicacies.
Close to Home: Sample Detroit’s Best Eats
Spilling over from one shed to the next, for a total of five indoor-outdoor areas spread among 43 acres, Eastern Market is a Detroit food institution. And for good reason: The 128-year-old market can include upwards of 200 food, produce and other vendors on any given Saturday – its busiest day.
For families, notes marketing manager Sam Morykwas, Saturdays are ideal – but there are many options.
“Tuesday Market is a scaled-down version of Saturday with a focus on health and wellness,” Morykwas says. “Sunday Market is a street market featuring Michigan-made clothes, art, beauty products, crafts, prepared food products and more. Thursday Night Market features a similar group of vendors to Sunday with various evening activities thrown in the mix. Any of these markets would make a great family outing.”
To turn it into a DIY “food trail,” Morykwas suggests “trying a few spots for lunch and dessert, walking around to find all of the Murals in the Market that you can, shopping the sheds for flowers and produce, and stopping to take in all the live music on Saturdays. You could also bring the kids down and let them follow whatever catches their eye and their attention the most.”
Other tips on a successful trip for all involved includes “pack(ing) your patience for parking,” which can be tight at the market, says Morykwas – especially if you’re not there early.
Another tip: bring a wagon to pull smaller kids around. The wagon can double as a spot to stash your market finds. There are a few groups offering organized, paid food tours as well, like Feet on the Street Tours.
You can find more details, along with a market map, at Eastern Market’s website.
A Day Trip: Doughnut Hopping in Ohio
Two words: Donut Trail.
That’s probably all you’ll need to convince your kids to take a trip south to Butler County, just outside Cincinnati, which happens to be dotted with mom-and-pop doughnut shops.
These enthusiasts get up in the wee hours of the morning to churn out yeast-lifted, sweetened dough that’s shaped, fried crisp and then frosted. Butler County whipped up the idea of a Donut Trail in 2016 and it took off.
Download your Donut Trail passport online or pick one up at any one of the 12 (yes, a full dozen) participating shops. Get your passport stamped at each stop to receive a complimentary Donut Trail T-shirt. Filling your passport is about more than a blissful sugar rush, explains county spokesperson Tracy Kocher.
“The best advice is to start early,” she says. “Most people don’t realize that it takes about four hours to make a yeast doughnut. So when the shops sell out for the day, they close regardless of posted hours. If you’re attempting to do it in one day … start early!”
For more information visit the Butler County website.
Even Farther Away: Get Cheesy in Wisconsin
Wisconsin is home to around 60 artisanal cheesemakers who whip up over 600 different varieties of cheese. And these cheesemakers relish sharing their creations.
The Great Wisconsin Cheese Trail offers several itineraries depending on what part of the state you’re exploring.
If you’re in the Appleton Area, just north of Lake Winnebago, the self-guided tour includes Trega Foods/Simon’s Specialty Cheeses, Lamers Dairy and the Union Star Cheese Factory. But don’t limit yourself to the official list. Have the kids watch for other cheese stops along the way – you’ll likely find plenty!
Visit travelwisconsin.com for more.