100+ Adventures Around the Lake: Michigan
Uncover the secrets of Monroe and get the scoop on ways to make the most out of a trip to Rochester.
Meet Me in Monroe
Located midway between Toledo and Detroit, Monroe is an underrated gem. It’s home to William C. Sterling State Park (2.dnr.state.mi.us) — Michigan’s only state park on Lake Erie — with more than a mile of sandy beach, plus boating, fishing and bird-watching.
Grab a coveted spot on the waterfront deck of the Clamdigger, a favorite dock-and-dine spot that serves a legendary mashed potato pizza with creamy mashed potatoes, smothered in cheddar cheese with bacon bits on a garlic and Parmesan-infused crust. Try the surf-and-turf options at the Quarry Modern Eatery (thequarrymoderneatery.com), which perches on the edge of a 333-acre spring-fed quarry.
The Public House (publichousemonroe.com) is a great downtown spot for a meal and craft beer, plus afternoon tea service by reservation. Finally, don’t let the gas station setting fool you; the Eureka Eatery (eurekaeatery.com) has the best Nashville-style hot chicken in Southeast Michigan. A changing rotation of over-the-top milkshakes will cut the heat.
William C. Sterling State Park attracts people year-round, whether it’s for ice fishing in the winter, spotting birds during the spring and fall migration or swimming, fishing, kayaking and boating in the summer. By boat, you’ll discover hidden beaches and spots accessible only by water. On land, explore the River Raisin Heritage Trail (monroemi.gov) by bike. Close to the state park, you’ll find the River Raisin National Battlefield Park, the only national park marking a site of the War of 1812. You can absorb more history at the Monroe County Museum and the Navarre-Anderson Tradition Post.
William C. Sterling State Park has a popular and busy campground, which recently added 10 waterfront cottages that sleep up to seven people. In addition to a full bathroom and kitchen, each cottage has a screened-in porch oriented to the rising sun over Lake Erie. For a more boutique hotel experience, Hotel Sterling has large suites with luxurious touches, housed in a posh historic building in downtown Monroe with cafes, shops and museums within walking distance.
Spotlight on Rochester
Located about 25 miles north of Detroit, Rochester is a college town with hip hangouts, historic homes and one of the best holiday light displays in the entire state.
Eat: Kruse & Muer is a local seafood and pasta restaurant chain known for its homemade loaf of bread that hits the table warm and fresh out of the oven. kruseandmuerrestaurants.com
Stay: Royal Park Hotel is a modern tribute to the English Manor House complete with 143 luxurious rooms.
Play: Located on the Oakland University campus, Tree Runner Adventure Park (treerunnerparks.com/rochester) offers 60-plus obstacles and ziplines. Or, tour Meadow Brook Hall, one of the best examples of Tudor-revival architecture in the U.S. It was owned by Matilda Dodge Wilson, widow of automobile pioneer John Dodge, who donated her land to Michigan State University to form the campus. meadowbrookhall.org
Events: If you’re in the area in December or early January, check out the Big, Bright Light Show in downtown Rochester. From November through the New Year, the buildings on Main Street are decked out with millions of lights. Shops have extended hours for holiday shopping, and you can dine at some fantastic restaurants. downtownrochestermi.com
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