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It’s Date Night in Michigan

Pubished in the Battle Creek Enquirer 5/16/2012

Every couple needs a night out from time to time, just to keep the home fires burning! Whether you’ve been a couple for two weeks or 25 years, sometimes ‘date night’ can fall into a boring routine.  By the time you’ve aligned your calendars, found a baby sitter, written the emergency contact number notes, planning your special evening can seem daunting. Admit it, you’ve settled for home and a delivered pizza. Boring.

Never fear, The Indulgent Traveler is here with suggestions for a romantic evening, or an overnight trip that will recharge your batteries in that way only a little romance can accomplish — all within driving distance. One rule, you have to leave the house. I’m all for candlelight dinners on the patio, but to rediscover, talk, laugh, and enjoy each other, you have to be interruption-and-television free, preferably for 24 hours.

Most couples have a special restaurant. Ours is Schuler’s Restaurant and Pub In Marshall. Call ahead and ask for a table by the fire in the main dining room. They’ve been open for more than 100 years, so they must be doing something right. Prime rib is the specialty, but the Great Lakes White Fish is melt-in-your mouth good. They make all their own bread, crackers and desserts on property, so leave lots of room for the peppermint ribbon pie.

Walk hand-in-hand down Marshall’s quaint main street and window shop. If your time away includes an overnight, you can walk another block and spend the night at the National House, an upscale bed and breakfast right on Fountain Circle—a Marshall landmark.

Another fabulously romantic bed and breakfast in the area is Greencrest Manor, overlooking St Mary’s Lake.  Plan an overnight at the French Normandy-style Manor House in one of their suites. It’s guaranteed to spark something. Owners Tom and Kathy VanDaff have lovingly restored the mansion and will lavish attention on you, as well. Stroll through the lovely gardens soaking up serenity and spending precious time with each other.

A wonderful daytime date is a trip to Leila Arboretum in Battle Creek with a picnic lunch. You can wander the gardens and lose yourselves in the gardens if nature is what you like to experience together.

And then there is Lake Michigan. Something about that broad expanse of blue water t is good for romance. Pick any of the terrific towns within an easy drive of Battle Creek. Saugatuck and South Haven are particular favorites.

In Saugatuck, try the Wickwood Inn, where a champagne brunch, wine and hors d’oeuvres and endless fresh baked sweets are part of the overnight package.  The Inn’s owner is author of five acclaimed cookbooks including my personal favorite, The Silver Palette.  The Inn is cozy and charming. Saugatuck is another wonderful town for a stroll along the lakefront known as the “Art Coast.” Plop down some beach chairs and wiggle your toes in the sand for a few hours.

At the other end of the date spectrum and the state, how about a trip to the Big D, (Detroit) and a Tigers game?  Stay at the newly renovated Westin Book Cadillac. Right now, hey have a special room and tickets rate. The hotel is one of Detroit’s many architectural treasures — an Italian Renaissance–style hotel, built by Detroit’s famous Book brothers. It was the tallest hotel in the world when it was built in 1924.  It’s a big hotel, with beige marble and warm wood, accenting spacious rooms. They have a lovely spa. Roast, off the lobby, is the signature restaurant of celebrity chef Michael Symon.

If sports don’t work for both of you, Detroit has many other dynamic date options from Detroit Institute of the Arts to a walk on the three-mile RiverWalk. Or visit Eastern Market on Saturday, a six-block public market that has been feeding Detroit since 1891. A foodie’s delight  with hundreds of open-air stalls.

No matter where you go or what you decide to do, the most important thing is to choose an evening or afternoon where you can spend time together, laughing and talking, doing something a little out of the ordinary.

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