TwoSix Team Are Tourists in Their Own Towns

Posted: May 4th, 2022

It’s no doubt that the last two years have had an immense impact on tourism. This year, the travel industry is focusing on the future. In honor of National Travel and Tourism Week, the TwoSix Digital team became tourists in their own towns. Continue reading to learn more about where the members of the team reside and how to experience them like a local.

Dave Serino | Founder & Cheif Strategist

Town: Brighton, MI

Brighton, Michigan, the home of TwoSix Digital, is a great place to visit! As a Tourist in My Own Town, I would like to share with you a few places that I enjoy most

We are blessed with such great outdoor activity options in the Brighton area along with some excellent food and beverage and retail options.  When friends or family come to town, I like to share these activities with many of them.

The outdoor activities are what sets this area apart from many others.  There are are some many great trails for running, biking and hiking.   Our two state run recreation areas – Island Lake and Brighton Recreation areas are two of the best in southeast Michigan.

The Brighton Recreation Area features my favorite trail – the Penosha.  It’s a 5-mile loop that locals say is uphill, both ways.  It’s a refreshing run or hike with plenty of elevation change and challenging climbs.   The trails are well marked and can be combined with others for a lengthier experience in nature.

Following a hike or run, we sometimes make our way downtown for a beer at Brewery Becker.  It’s the only brewpub in the downtown area and is located in the old Western House Hotel, which was built next to railroad tracks in 1873 to welcome visitors to the area.  The building has been meticulously renovated to capture some of the past history and the tap room and upper level of the building are worth the trip alone.

The property also has a Biergarten, which is home to a large Catalpa Tree. It is believed to be planted in 1873 and is considered one the oldest known catalpa tree in the State of Michigan and maybe even the world.

And, if you are looking for a great meal downtown, there are also plenty of options.  My two favorites are Bourbons and Ginopolis’ Bar-BQ Smokehouse.  Both locations feature great menu choices, but two of my favorites are at Bourbons. The southern style themed menu includes a Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwich and the Southern Fried Chicken Salad – be sure to add a side of blue cheese dressing to each.  It also has retractable sun-room windows which provide great seats to soak up the sunshine while enjoying the sites on Main Street while you dine.

The barbeque at Ginopolis’ is unmatched!  The ribs are smoked right outside of the restaurant and I can often smell them when I enter our office in the morning, which is only two doors a way.  We’ve also made the ribs part of our football Saturday tailgates traditions.  Be sure to say “Hi” to Pete Ginopolis.  He is frequently in the dining room visiting with guests and is always willing to give you a tour of his smoker operation!

If you happen to be a tourist in Brighton, Michigan, be sure to also check out some of my other favorite locations:

2 Dandelions Bookshop – This is a must-do when visiting downtown.  It has a great selection of books, plenty of author-related events and activities for young readers.  It is a true gem.

Running Lab – My go-to for everything running! A great selection of shoes and clothing and also the home to Tuesday Night Runs – which is always open to everyone at all paces!

Brighton Coffee House and Theatre – The “BCAT” has some of the best coffee, muffins and scones around.  It’s also the home to some real-life dramatic arts, cinema, and music – which takes place in the evenings throughout the year.

Cheryl’s Place – The best breakfast in the county! Great service and the biggest pancakes you will ever see!

Champ’s Pub – It’s pretty much Brighton’s version of Cheers.  Be sure to get there on Friday by 4pm to get a bar seat.  Great burgers to, including elk and bison if you’d like a little variety!

Cozy Inn – Of course how can’t you like a place called the Cozy Inn? Their burgers are also pretty awesome, and they frequently have live music on the weekends.

Ashley Maddix | Digital Advertising Strategy

Town: Ludington, MI

Ludington, Michigan is a picturesque beach town seated on the Lake Michigan shoreline. I grew up in Ludington and spent the first 18 years of my life there, so, let me show you around my town.

When you come to Ludington, expect to be outside as much as possible, Stearns Beach is right at the end of Ludington Avenue and is a perfect place to put up your beach umbrella and take a dip in the water. You can also take a mid-day walk on the breakwall to the Ludington Breakwater Lighthouse. On select days you can even tour the lighthouse itself. When you’ve had your fill of the sun, take a walk into town and grab some ice cream from House of Flavors, it’s an absolute Ludington must-do.

For more fun in the sun, head to the Ludington State Park! You can camp or spend the day wandering around. They have endless places to walk including the skyline trail, which literally gives you a bird’s eye view of the park. There’s another great beach waiting for you here too, just find the big brick beach house and make your way down the sand to the water. Follow the sandy trail about a mile and discover the Big Sable Lighthouse, a favorite among locals and tourists alike. Further back in the park you can walk around the Hamlin Lake Dam. Back here you can also rent a kayak, canoe or paddle boat to venture out onto Hamlin Lake, safely away from the dam I might add.

Explore downtown Ludington’s shops and eateries. Stop at the Book Mark to pick up your next beach read, check out Gordy’s for all your Ludington merch or design your own T-shirt and stop by Todd and Brad Reed photography to take a little bit of Ludington home with you.

Getting hungry? A breakfast at House of Flavors is a perfect way to start your day. From sweet to savory, this 50s style diner has it all. For lunch check out Sportsman’s, this Irish Pub offers comfort food at its finest, their pizza is fantastic. For dinner head down James Street to James Port Brewery for a burger and a local brew! Their Cajun Chicken Sandwich is amazing! Or looking for something a little out of the ordinary? Head to the Blue Moon Bistro, a fusion restaurant featuring American, French and Japanese flavors with an in- house sushi kitchen. Blu Moon also has a rooftop open air deck that is open during the summer months.

End your night by watching the Badger come into port at the Ludington Municipal Marina and then after it docks take a walk along the water to the Harbor View Marina for a beautiful sunset view. On your way back home grab a Chuck Wagon pizza, it’s a life changing pizza that’s kept secret by the locals.

I hope you have a wonderful time exploring my town, it’s a beautiful treasure nestled on the shore of Lake Michigan.

Brian Matson | Senior Director of Strategy & Education

Town: Pinckney, MI

A great day in Pinckney, Michigan begins with a morning walk along the Lakeland Trail that runs just north of town. It’s a perfect mix of paved and gravel trails to take Alice_the_Pupper for a walk. You can also ride bikes or horses on the trail that stretches east and west for 22 miles.

After a brisk morning jaunt, it’s off to grab breakfast at the Pinckney Diner. It’s your classic, old-school diner with a massive menu. My favorite part is that they serve breakfast all day! Get yourself the Country Fried Steak & Eggs. Trust me. It’s delicious.

With a full belly filled with a hearty breakfast, it’s time to take a stroll by the community gardens where locals grow pretty much everything you can imagine! Vegetables and flowers line the newly created park. You may even run into some volunteers planting something new. It’s a fantastic place.

Time to warm up the bikes! Motorcycles I mean. Pinckney, MI’s surrounding highways make for some incredible riding on two wheels! The roads curve through the lakes area of SE Michigan where the canopy of the trees engulfs you as if you’re in a tunnel. It’s absolutely gorgeous. The area is a prime spot for motorcyclists due to the limited traffic and well-maintained surfaces. You never know where you’ll end up.

Along the way it’s always prudent to make a pit stop in Hell, MI. Hell, is a unique place with a fun park, a gift shop, and many photo opportunities. There’s always a curious bunch out and about in the area. If you’ve never been to hell, you might as well stop by and cross that off the list. It makes for a fun conversation starter.

With the bikes put away, it’s time to cool off. I can’t think of anywhere better to cool off than heading to Zukey Lake Tavern where you can sit outside by the lake whilst sipping a cold craft beverage. Their menu is delightful too if you’re hungry. Something for everyone as they say. You can enjoy conversations with locals and watch as people enjoy various watercraft on the beautiful chain of lakes.

Pinckney is a special place, surrounded by nature, small-town charm, and everything you could ever need. It’s always fun to get out, support local businesses, and explore new trails to discover something new around the bend.

Scout Delicato | Lead Digital Advertising Strategist

Town: Ann Arbor, MI

Ann Arbor is lucky enough to have the Huron River flowing directly through some of the prettiest parts of our town. In the spring and fall, paddling is a great way to enjoy the cooler weather and see the seasons changing. In the summer, floating on a tube is one of the most fun ways you can spend a summer day.

One of the first places I really fell in love with in Ann Arbor was Nichol’s Arboretum – or simply “The Arb”. Not only does the 123-acre park have one of the largest collections of flower species in the state, but it’s also home to many art & cultural activities like Shakespeare in the Park, hidden Fairy Doors, and more!

University of Michigan’s campus is so intertwined with the city of Ann Arbor, it becomes hard to tell whether you’re on or off campus. This creates an atmosphere where campus seems to belong to students and locals alike with the center of campus, or the Diag, serving as a town square. Covered in large trees, the area is perfect for picnicking with a blanket or hammock. The people watching will never disappoint.

Hands down the best breakfast place I have ever been too, Northside Grill is a time-less diner style restaurant and local favorite. Right off the Broadway Bridge near Argo Canoe Livery, this tiny diner has been serving amazing breakfasts and great soups for nearly 3 decades. Pro tip –ask to substitute the regular mayo for their house-made pepper mayo.

Right off of central campus at the corner of North University and Main, the Red Hawk Bar & Grill can be easy to miss or confuse with its more famous neighbor Ashley’s. Almost never busy but always serving incredible food and draft beer, Red Hawk is truly a hidden state-street gem. This is my go-to for fish and chips or fish tacos. Grab an outside table in the late afternoon to really feel the pulse of the city.

Picking a favorite dinner spot in this foodie-city is nearly impossible. Ann Arbor is blessed to have many different thriving ethnic communities, and this is reflected in our restaurant scene. If you’re in the mood for traditional American, I always recommend Pretzel Bell. Indian food? Shalimar. Asian fusion? Black Pearl or Of Rice and Men. You really can’t go wrong with any of the amazing establishments along Main Street.

Nick Danowski | Lead Content Strategist

Town: Royal Oak, MI

I just moved about to a city 20 minutes outside of Detroit less than a year ago — as a first-time homeowner with my partner! It’s impossible to separate where I live, Berkley, from Royal Oak and Ferndale because everything is so close together — so I’m claiming all three cities and no one can stop me. Here’s what I’d do as a Tourist in My Own Town(s):

Detroit Zoo: I’m a big fan of anteaters and red pandas and seeing the species in their habitats is a treat. Of course, there’s more than 2,000 animals in award-winning attractions and, if you like penguins, the largest facility for penguins in the world.

Go! Comedy in Ferndale: Who doesn’t like to laugh? This improv comedy club in Ferndale is absolutely hilarious and both incredibly welcoming and friendly. On my first visit, my friends and I stayed for the after show — where my best friend & I ended up on stage doing improv for the first time. You’ll have a blast here.

Vinsetta Garage: Located in the oldest garage east of the Mississippi right on the famous Woodward Avenue, there’s a reason this place is always buzzing. The “menu is built on the kind of custom Detroit eats that the mechanics and techs would have called their own back in the day”. The massive burgers, Union mac & cheese, and coal-fired pizzas are delicious, the beer list extensive, and the desserts amazing (Cherry Blueberry Fried Pie). Just don’t plan on running a marathon after.

Imperial Brewing: They call themselves a “Joint, Roadhouse, Honky-Tonk Or Tavern…”, but the real takeaway here is crazy good street tacos. It’s one of those places that is always packed because everyone takes their friends from out-of-town there to show off. Think specials like “Blackened Shrimp Nachos” and “Fish Taco Mondays”. Cold beer cans, great margaritas, and tasty mocktails abound.

Trisha Patrias | Director of Special Projects

Town: Howell, MI

Being a true Michigander, I have lived in other states yet continue to come back to the beautiful state of Michigan. For the majority of my life, I have resided in Howell, MI – and let me tell you, there is no other place I would live. From a bustling, unique downtown – to the beautiful nature that surrounds us, there truly is something for everyone.

To start your day off right in Howell, MI head to grab a cup of coffee or tea from Uptown Coffeehouse. The building was originally built in 1893 and is a part of the rich history of the downtown Howell area. Don’t worry, this historic building has been renovated! My typical order here is an iced Green Tea or a large Chai Tea Latte! Don’t forget to grab a tasty pastry or bagel made fresh daily at Crust Baking Company.

Once you’ve filled up on caffeine, it’s time for some shopping! My absolute favorite part of downtown Howell is all the unique places to shop for antiques, home decor, hand-crafted gifts, and more. Begin your shopping spree at Simply Charming to find unique home decor, clothes, shoes, wall decor, and even potpourri!

After your shopping spree, head right next to the infamous M Baking Co. This baking company is popular for its towering milkshakes that will give you a sugar high for days. Not only does this popular sugar hot spot offer sweets, but they also handmake pizza and other pastries. This is definitely a must-visit while in the Howell area!

Grab your milkshake or pastry and head over to the lawn of the courthouse. The courthouse lawn offers a beautiful view of the downtown area and is a popular spot to sit and enjoy your sweets.

End your Howell tour by grabbing dinner at Tomato Brothers. This local favorite is popular for one simple reason, mouthwatering breadsticks. If you’re coming here for dinner, be sure to get there early! Tomato Brothers is so popular that they almost always have a wait to be seated. If you’re lucky, grab a spot at the bar.

Don’t forget to get the cheese dip that comes with the breadsticks – your belt may not be happy but your stomach will!